COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Your Questions––Answered

Your Questions––Answered

We know you have questions, and we will strive to answer them as best we can. If you have a question on a topic that isn’t listed below, please contact us here.

Schedule and Operations

Calendar changes include:

  • The Fall 2020 semester starts Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, one week early
  • On-campus courses end Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, before Thanksgiving Break
  • Final Exams will be online from Dec. 1 4, 2020, two weeks early, so that students need not return to campus between Thanksgiving and Winter Break (they may stay in campus housing if necessary)
  • Mid-Fall Break (previously, Oct. 16, 2020) is eliminated 
  • The Sept. 7 Labor Day holiday will occur as scheduled: but students are advised to remain in Gunnison County during that long weekend

Orientation will take place from August 12 – 16. Many components are online, but many also will be on campus in small groups. The parent and family component has shifted online. For questions, contact the LEAD office.

Move-In Dates:

  • First-Year Residents (Ute Hall/Escalante Complex-Dolores/Colorado/Tomichi/Crystal)
    • 8 am – 4 pm Wednesday, August 12
  • Transfer and Returning Residents (Chipeta/Pinnacles/Mears Complex-Moffat/Mears/Robidoux)
    • 8 am – 4 pm Friday, August 14:
  • Returning Residents (Chipeta/Pinnacles/Mears Complex-Moffat/Mears/Robidoux)
    • 8 am – 4 pm Friday, August 14 – Sunday, August 16

Before you leave home:

  • Bring no more than two support people to help you move in.
  • Fill out your Emergency Plan at housing.western.edu
  • Sign up for a move-in time
  • You will have 30 minutes to move all items into your room.
  • Pack all items in enclosed boxes or containers. We are recruiting volunteers from Mt. Movers to help you move your items safely and securely. If your items are packaged incorrectly, you alone will be responsible for moving them in.
  • Your hall’s Resident Director has provided you with move-in details specific to your hall.
  • Bring a thermometer, extra masks, disinfectant cleaning supplies for your personal space and hand sanitizer.

When you arrive:

  • Contact the Office of Residence Life at 970.943.2101 if your travel plans are altered.
  • Come at your assigned check-in time. You will begin with the temperature check. Western staff will take touchless temperatures of each vehicle occupant and will ask if anyone has any symptoms related to COVID-19.
    • Once temp is confirmed below 100.4, we will give you a W sticker to show at the assigned check-in location to serve as confirmation.
    • If symptoms arise, you will be asked to call the Gunnison County Health & Human Services COVID-19 Hotline for added guidance.
    • You will not be allowed to move into your assigned hall, if county health determines your symptoms may be related to COVID-19, until such symptoms subside.
  • Vehicles will be guided to an assigned parking area, and occupants will be asked to unload all items into an assigned area at once.
  • With the aid of Mt. Movers, your belongings will be carried to your assigned room. Mt. Movers staff will have gloves and/or hand sanitizer for each move and will wear masks at all times.
  • As you depart your vehicle, wear your mask.
  • Approach the outside check-in table and use the hand sanitizer on the check-in table and/or wash your hands once you enter the hall.
  • Please follow flow patterns (entry and exit) in the halls.
  • Community bathrooms in first-year areas will be cleaned twice a day.
  • Residents in suite or apartment-style living are responsible for their own disinfectant cleaning supplies.
  • High-touch areas will be cleaned three times a day (twice by custodial staff and once by Resident Assistants.)
  • If a resident’s roommate is symptomatic and not self-isolating or notifying anyone, please have the resident communicate this to a student Resident Assistant (RA) or professional Resident Director (RD) assigned to the building.

We have worked all summer, with county public health partners and CDC guidance, to reconsider spaces and operations to decrease the likelihood of viral spread. A full list of such adaptations would be too long to list here, and they will evolve as conditions change. Here, we outline some specific changes being made to certain physical environments:

Residence Halls:

  • High-touch areas will be cleaned three times a day; community bathrooms will be cleaned twice a day
  • Common areas will have required mask-wearing and reduced capacity, calculated and in accord with County Health recommendations to maximize social distancing)
  • Residence halls will have a no-guest policy
  • Some spaces will have improved filtration and ventilation
  • Increased access to hygiene and sanitation materials in bathrooms and common areas

Dining Halls:

  • Mask-wearing required until you are at your table and are eating
  • One-way flow through Rare Air Café food-service area (all “normal” options available and all dietary restrictions accommodated!)
  • Touchless service, and elimination of self-service for your safety
  • New Bite+ App, enabling you to order ahead of time to minimize stand-around time
  • Increased Rare Air Café spacing and substantial reduction in maximum capacity; substantially increased dining spaces in meeting rooms throughout the University Center 2nd floor

Classrooms:

  • We are providing masks and shields (either face-fitting or standalone Plexiglas) to all faculty members for classroom use.
  • The university will utilize several tents to enable courses (barring inclement weather) to be taught outside with greater distancing
  • All faculty will have on-demand access to a camera and microphone; students whose symptom screening requires them to stay home will be able to continue their classes from their Gunnison residence.
  • All students will be expected to clean personal spaces in classrooms before and after each class, using cleaning supplies stocked in each academic building.
  • All classroom capacities and spacing have been calculated and reviewed by Gunnison County Health & Human Services to maximize distancing; in some spaces, floor signage will encourage specific directional flow.
  • All courses will have some online component, and all faculty will be prepared to move courses fully online as quickly as may be necessary.
  • Start/end times of classes will stagger to reduce hallway flow and volume during between-class intervals.
  • Our Course Catalog now has updated modalities for numerous courses faculty have opted to move online-only or into hybrid mode.

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference has postponed Fall NCAA team sport competition (which at Western includes football, women’s soccer, and volleyball teams) to Spring semester, the RMAC Presidents’ Council voted August 6.

University Center: We will be using the ballroom this fall as a dining facility for our students. The North and South Conference rooms can only accommodate small meetings up to 8 people and will available on a limited basis. Common spaces on the first floor will be utilized for Mad Jack’s dining seating and limited common seating for students. The second floor will have limited seating in the common spaces. The Games Area will be closed.

Beginning August 16, hours of operation will be:
University Center: 7:15 am – 9 pm weekdays; 10 am – 9 pm weekends
Mad Jacks: 7:30 am – 9 pm weekdays; 1 pm – 9 pm weekends
Rare Air Café: 7:15 am – 3 p.m. weekdays, 4:45 pm – 7 pm (6:15 pm Fridays)
10 am – 1 pm and 4:45 pm – 6:15 pm weekends
Bookstore: 8 am – 5 pm weekdays
Mail Center: 8 am – 4:30 pm weekdays

Mountaineer Field House: The Mountaineer Field House is open in limited capacity for individual fitness activities (no group classes) and basketball (groups of 10 or fewer, all players must arrive/depart together). Summer hours have been 6 – 9 am, 11 am – 1 pm (11 am hour reserved for vulnerable populations) and 4 – 7 pm. We anticipate expanded hours of operation once classes resume.

Health

Most classes, including labs, will be held in person, in classrooms: where we have made major adaptations to support social distancing, cleanliness and hygiene. A small proportion of Fall 2020 classes are online-only, and 20 percent of classes will have a “hybrid” mode, with students attending some class sessions in-person, others partially or fully online. Faculty are preparing courses in a flexible manner to enable them to transition online more seamlessly if campus health conditions change mid-semester.

Western commits to providing the same education, support, and crediting regardless of the educational modality. Therefore, tuition cost will remain the same.

Western also commits to continuing curriculum even if public health conditions change. We would likely consider some remedy or credit if campus presence is disrupted, depending on circumstances and timing.

You can, as is always true with Western admission and enrollment. That said, in light of the difficult job market and restricted travel, this may be a great year to continue your education with other opportunities being limited.

Though we intend for all students to join us on campus this semester, it may be possible for some students to complete their Fall 2020 curriculum path online, with accommodations you would make on a professor-by-professor basis. If you wish to seek an online Fall 2020 course schedule, please directly contact each professor in your enrolled courses. If this does not enable a viable online-centric pathway, contact your advisor, who may be able to recommend other online-only courses. If you have medical imperative to study remotely, contact Cheyenne Terry at Disability Services.

Western’s academic programs include many disciplines for which performance and exhibition are key to curriculum and community engagement. As a result, there can be theatrical, musical, or art events at Western this Fall, if they align with county public health guidelines. Such events and performances additionally would need to align with Western’s standard event policies, available in the Student Affairs section of Western’s internal Collaborate website.

Such events would occur with certain restrictions: for example, current Colorado guidelines stipulate that performers must be at least 25 feet from audiences, so some venues typically used may be offline, while outdoor venues (such as the Quigley outdoor bandshell) may see more use. Cultural event guidelines may shift as state and county health circumstances change.

Campus and Residence Life

The Office of Student Affairs has developed COVID-19 Campus Protocols and Expectations for Students, a key document for all students to adhere to. It outlines rules and principles guiding behavior in student life realms such as campus housing, dining, classrooms, visitation, athletics and more.

We expect adherence to these protocols will be universal, as we aim to build a positive culture of best practices rather than one of unpleasant enforcement. Due to the seriousness of COVID-19 and the potential for individual behavior to impact the entire community, Student Affairs also has developed a system to hold students accountable to these protocols. Students who violate them will be subject to the Western Student Conduct Process and may face sanctions up to and including suspension and expulsion.

Contact Residence Life at 970.943.2101 with any questions on these procedures.

Students will be able to have roommates. We will follow state and local guidance on what is acceptable and advisable, and adapt residence halls to reduce risk to good health and welfare.

Prospective Students and Campus Visits

Yes, with limited capacity to ensure safety and social distancing. After a brief break to accommodate move-in and the start of classes, campus tours will resume Monday, August 24 and occur daily from the Welcome Center in Taylor Hall, with information session beginning at 10:30 am and the tour beginning at 11 am. In-person tours will be limited to 10 individuals and you can schedule a visit at this page. All campus visitors, including prospective students and families, are required to wear masks on the tour.

Note that there are numerous ways to discover Western from your computer: see this page for our Virtual Tour and other Western resources, and stay tuned for information on our Preview Days later this Fall. Contact Admissions at 970-943-2119 with any questions you may have on experiencing Western.

Faculty and Staff Resources

With the August 2020 launch of the Return2Work app and expected widespread usage of it in Fall 2020, it is anticipated that when school is in session, initial case notifications will come directly from Gunnison Valley Public Health personnel. If you are the first at Western to learn of a positive case, please follow this process to report the (confirmed or symptomatic) case—immediately after you become aware of it.

  • If faculty or staff: Notify Kim Gailey, [970.943.3142/kgailey@western.edu],
  • If student: Notify Gary Pierson, Dean of Students [970.943.2049/gpierson@western.edu]
    • They will share case details with appropriate stakeholders—DO NOT identify the individual in any communications with any other parties.

For more on faculty/staff reporting protocols, see the July 23 email in Executive Communications on COVID-19 section.

As of August 6, we continue to advise that Western faculty and staff work from home if their job duties permit remote work.

If you need equipment or assistance related to studying or working remotely, please submit a request through the IT Work order system. IT staff are able to fix most problems remotely but will schedule an in-person appointment with you if necessary. The primary tools available for staff remote access are:

  • Zoom Conferencing Service
    • We have a Zoom account for all employees. You can activate your account by going to https://western.zoom.us and selecting Sign In.  Use your @western.edu email address as the username and your regular Western password. NOTE: If you are already using a Zoom account, you should continue to use that account.
      After you have activated your account, you may also install a mobile app on your phone. If you choose to use the app, you must select SSO and enter “western” when prompted. Sign in with your email address and normal password.
      Zoom is intuitive but if you need a quick tutorial, put in a work request and we will walk you through Zoom use.
  • Office 365 Suite
    • Office365 provides access to the Microsoft Office Suite of desktop tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) as well as OneDrive for online file storage/sharing, 365.western.edu. Use your @western.edu email address as the username and your Western password to login.
    • You can access your email from any device by going to https://mail.western.edu.
    • Forward your Western phone number to a cell phone by using the Shoretel desktop application.
    • If you are already set up and using access Banner from home, you may continue to do so.
  • Native web services like MyWestern, Skype for Business, etc. will work as usual.

Equipment: If your Western computer is a laptop (late model PC or Mac; not Chromebook) equipped with a camera, you should have what you need for basic requirements. The Zoom client is very effective by phone. We have a limited number of laptops, webcams, etc. on site and will distribute these on a case-by-case basis.

Refer to this online guide created by Western library staff that offers resources, tips, articles and tutorials to help you deliver courses in online format.

Western faculty and staff on athletic or field trips should note these procedures for Fall 2020:

  1. No more than 10 individuals in each vehicle, including driver. When reserving vehicles for trips, consider that you may need to reserve more vehicles than usual to meet the guidelines.
  2. Masks must be worn by driver and passengers at all times in the vehicle.
  3. Vehicle drivers and passengers should all be using the daily Safe2Return app screeners to ensure they are asymptomatic, or to self-report COVID-19-related symptoms: which would prohibit them from entering a university vehicle.
  4. Hand sanitizer is supplied in each vehicle; please utilize it, and wash hands often.
  5. We will suspend back-to-back reservations, due to enhanced safety procedures and prolonged cleaning/disinfecting times. There will be at least 24 hours of downtime after each reservation to clean and disinfect each vehicle.

You should see the client pop up during a computer restart. If you do not, hit the Windows Key and type Global and you should see the client installed (see below).

Please submit an IT work request if you have any access issues related to VPN.

Documents: Documents on Canvas and Blackboard need to be accessible to students with disabilities. For documents using the Office 360, built-in accessibility checkers will provide feedback on errors and guidance on how to fix them.

Text Equivalents for Audio and Video: For any recordings, either audio or video, a text equivalent must be provided. For audio, this is a transcript; for video, captions. The best way to create a text equivalent is to write a script and record from that. However, if this is not an option, you can use auto-generated captioning tools like YouTube or Otter.ai to generate a transcript or caption file. You will need to edit the file to be accurate; auto-generated captions are typically only 60-70% accurate

Make a text announcement in advance of a live video call informing students about the live meeting, and tell students to reach out to Disability Services if they need live captioning.

Text Equivalents for Images: Any images included in the course site need a text description. In documents, the accessibility checker will advise on how to add a text description. In Canvas or Blackboard, the image uploader may have a field for alternate text, which is where you can add a brief description of the image. We recommend this description be no longer than 140 characters.

For more about creating an accessible course, contact Cheyenne Terry at Disability Services at 970-943-2113.

The state of Colorado has authorized 30 days of paid administrative leave for individuals who are unable to work due to COVID-19. Individuals with COVID-19 illness must complete the state self-report form (in lieu of a doctor’s note) to receive this benefit.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers, including Western, to provide employees – faculty, staff and temporary – with (1) emergency paid sick leave or (2) expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

Effective Dates: The FFCRA is effective through December 31, 2020.

Qualifying Reasons for Leave: Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) if the employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee:

  • Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  • Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19;
  • Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Eligibility: The emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) applies to all employees – faculty, staff and temporary. The expanded family and medical leave provides emergency public health leave (EPHL) for all employees – faculty, staff and temporary – who have been employed at least 30 days.

Duration of Leave: For reasons (1) – (4) and (6): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of EPSL, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.

For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (2 weeks EPSL and up to 10 weeks EPHL) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

Calculation of Pay: Employees unable to work for leave reasons (1) – (4) and (6): EPSL shall be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

Employees unable to work for leave reason (5): EPSL and EPHL shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period—two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave). Employees may supplement the 2/3 pay with their own accrued leave to make wages whole.

Any employee in need of either type of FFCRA leave must complete the request form and forward it to Kim Gailey, Human Resources Director.

How to Help

If you are inspired to support our students with a donation, please consider a gift to the Western CARES (Critical Aid Relief Emergency Support) Fund. Your gift will support students who need assistance with unexpected emergency expenses and other essentials to sustain their continued education and success at Western.