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COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Announcements

UPDATED JULY 29, 2020

Drover Family,

We’re excited for you to be back on campus! Beginning Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, the USAO Phase III Reopening Plan will begin. While the Reopening Plan provides guidance on university operations for the fall, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing situation.

We are continuously monitoring the virus’ impact, and as a result, the plan for the fall semester could change as the situation evolves. Be assured that the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.

Highlights:

  • Classes begin Aug. 17.
  • All Drovers must wear a mask.
  • You may find changes to your schedule as we evaluate each course for appropriate social distancing.

Check out all of the details of our reopening plan at https://usao.edu/about/coronavirus/fall-reopening-plan.html.

If you have specific questions about what this current plan means for you, please contact: vmcnabb@usao.edu

Forever Green & Gold,

President John Feaver

ARCHIVED ANNOUNCEMENTS

Drover Family,

I want to inform you that a member of our campus community has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. This person, who is a residential student, has been quarantined since June 24, 2020, in accordance with public health protocols. Once we were notified, we began disinfecting all affected areas.

The University will not be releasing the name of this individual to ensure that they can focus on their health and recovery. If you are aware of their identity, please respect their privacy and abide by all privacy rules related to personal information.

We will be working closely with the Grady County Health Department who will reach out to anyone who may have been exposed to the virus for screening. Those exposed will be asked to self-isolate for a two-week period, in accordance with public health protocols.

Anyone in our campus community who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should contact their primary care provider and/or their local health department for immediate guidance and/or testing information. If you test positive for COVID-19, you are asked to contact your local county health department. It is imperative that you follow the instructions of your medical provider and avoid situations in which you may come into unnecessary and unprotected contact with others. We also encourage you to notify Nancy Hughes, Dean of Students at nhughes@usao.edu if you test positive and have been on campus.

We are proceeding with our existing campus protocols including regularly disinfecting frequently trafficked areas. Everyone should continue to wear a face covering, practice social distancing and good hygiene practices such as covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and avoiding touching your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth, as recommended by the CDC.

As we carry on successfully, please, all of you remain safe and secure.

Information about USAO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at https://usao.edu/coronavirus. Members of the USAO community may email studentservices@usao.edu with additional questions.

Forever Green and Gold,

John Feaver

President

USAO Students,

The University has applied for and now received funding from the federal CARES Act for Emergency Student Grants.  These grants have eligibility restrictions placed by the U.S. Department of Education that would have kept many of our students from receiving assistance. 

However, we are pleased to announce that the USAO Foundation has funded grants to the portion of the student body that was excluded.

Grants are being based on enrollment status as of the Friday before Spring-break. The tiers are part-time $181 (3-5 credit hours), half-time $354, three quarter time $548, and full-time $768.

The funds are to help offset the cost associated with moving from traditional delivery of education to on-line delivery. This would include the cost of internet service, laptops, fuel, moving expense, and childcare. 

The Business Office will begin processing the grant May 11, 2020. We anticipate that all checks and deposits through Herring Bank (if you have previously elected to receive refunds through that process) will be completed and mailed by the end of that week.  We will be mailing checks to the last address on file so if you need to change you address you will need to email Katie Sanders at ksanders@usao.edu using your University email account by Tuesday May 12, 2020. For security reasons we will not accept change of addresses by any other form.

Additionally, the University and Foundation are setting up a fund that students can apply to if you have  expense related COVID-19 change in education delivery that exceeded the amount received through the initial grant above. There will be additional information released as we establish the process. 

Forever Green and Gold,

Mike Coponiti

Vice President for Business & Finance

Drover family,

Every last one of us is all too keenly aware of how severely these past few months have disrupted the course of our lives. Beyond the very real danger of the coronavirus, we have found ourselves beset with all manner of anxieties related to an economic and cultural future that suddenly seems much less certain than it did just in January. Despite these tribulations, we have also seen an outpouring of courage, compassion and ingenuity that makes me proud to be a Drover and helps illuminate our way forward as we prepare for the fall semester.

After carefully considering the current situation and available models for the coming months, we fully intend to return to our traditional academic and residential college life this fall. Our top priority will always remain safeguarding the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty.

Unlike many larger institutions, USAO is well-positioned to adapt to this ever-changing situation. By design, USAO’s close-knit nature means that we have an ability to maintain a safe learning environment without unduly affecting student success.

With a student-to-faculty ratio of only 12:1, we are looking into a variety of ways to modify classrooms and housing to further ensure that we create the safest possible environment for everyone on our campus, while also providing our students with the sort of traditional college experience that they desire.

While we cannot predict what the future holds, I am confident that, with the steps in place now, and with the dedication of our faculty and staff moving forward, we shall overcome this difficult time and find ourselves both stronger and kinder for it.

Forever Green and Gold,

President John Feaver 

Drover Family,

As we continue to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, your administrative staff are working to best ensure the health and safety of every single person in the USAO family. To this end, several important decisions have recently been made:

  • All courses will be delivered online through the Independent Study period, April 27—May 9, as well as the regular summer term, June 1—August 7.
  • All campus gatherings and other events are cancelled through Aug. 5.
  • Students enrolled in courses during either session should plan to work from home.
  • For those students who rely on campus services, housing will remain open and students will continue to have limited access to campus computer labs.
  • Food services will provide takeout meals under strict guidelines to minimize contact with supplemental assistance from the C-Store and Campus Co-Op.
  • Faculty will have access to workspaces on campus as needed for distance learning purposes.
  • Essential staff will serve as frontline providers for students. All others will continue to telecommute and make irregular visits to campus when necessary.
  • All buildings and office spaces are being regularly sanitized to best promote the health and safety of all personnel.
  • Campus remains closed to the public.

Our faculty are engaged in a truly extraordinary endeavor as we continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of this deadly disease. Not only are they maintaining their relationships with students online, providing them with the sort of focused instruction we are so known for, they are ensuring that every student has the opportunity to progress towards completing their degree without significant delays. Our college administrators and other staff have also done a remarkable job at navigating this abrupt transition to an online workspace.

While we plan to return to normal operations for the fall semester, for the time being, please continue to follow Governor Stitt’s “safer at home” directive, practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary gatherings and practice rigorous personal hygiene. Considering the insidious way that this virus spreads, remember that mitigating this pandemic is a two-way process: protecting oneself from others and protecting others from oneself!

Forever Green and Gold,

President John Feaver 

Drover Family,

Due to the COVID-19 executive order signed by Governor Stitt, the USAO campus will be closed to public access beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. Workers supporting colleges and universities for purposes of distance learning and provision of school meals are considered critical infrastructure sectors. At USAO, this includes security, housing, food services, custodial and information technology staff.

All other employees are to begin teleworking. Although we are closed to the public, we will continue to operate virtually to accommodate our students. Everyone at the director-level or above must be contactable to meet the needs of your area. Staff need to seek guidance from their supervisor regarding their duties.

All buildings will be secured. Faculty who need to access to their office or other campus facilities for the purpose of distance learning need to inform Mike Coponiti each time at mcoponiti@usao.edu so he can ensure that custodial staff clean and disinfect the areas used.

Students, there will be limited access to computer labs. The 24/7 lab in Nash Library will be accessible 24/7. Use your student ID to enter the doors on the south side of the building. If you have trouble using your ID, contact Security at 405-222-8066.

The following labs will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. To access one of these labs, contact Security at 405-222-8066.

  • Austin Hall, Room 201-Chemistry Lab: Only open for chemistry majors
  • Austin Hall, Room 212-Physics Lab: Only open for physics majors
  • Canning Hall, Room 204-ASL Lab: Only open for deaf ed majors
  • Davis Hall, Room 247-Music and Foreign Language Lab: Only open for music or foreign languages majors
  • Gary Hall, Room 214-Education Lab: Only open for education and speech-language pathology majors
  • PE Building, Room 116-Physical Ed Lab: Only open for physical ed majors

All other computer labs on campus will be closed.

If you have questions, email the appropriate office. You can find a listing of all offices and staff at https://usao.edu/directory/index.html.

Visit https://usao.edu/coronavirus for more information including a list of frequently asked questions. We are continually monitoring the situation and will provide updates as they become available via email, on https://usao.edu/coronavirus and on our official USAO Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

 

Forever Green and Gold,

President John Feaver

Memorandum from President John Feaver

Re: Plans and Procedures Moving Forward

Hello to all. As you are fully aware, we are operating in unprecedented territory fraught with any number of variables and unknowns. It is an environment that poses the greatest of health threats to our society and to the society’s political and economic well-being. It has created an operating context that offers little respect for the normal practices of the brick and mortar campus. It is especially unkind to this school’s stress on the value and virtues of personal interactions and communication between teachers and learners.

Our ultimate success, and we will succeed, in battling through the challenges of these times will depend on the strength and resilience of this special college’s academic and service culture and how well it continues to serve its members. However, for the immediate future, we face a health crisis. Our highest priority must be to operate in ways that minimize threats to the safety and well-being of all personnel as we support student progress through to degree completion. With this in mind, we have made certain decisions, and are implementing plans and procedures for moving forward for the remainder of the spring semester:

  • Our scheduled April 25, 2020 commencement exercise has been cancelled. For those very disappointed graduating seniors and their families looking forward to the ceremony and your hard-earned recognition, at this time we can only offer the prospect of participating in our next scheduled graduation in December of this year. Should you choose to do so, contact the Registrar’s office at registrar@usao.edu.
  • All university organized and sponsored travel has been cancelled for the remainder of the semester. The travel ban will remain indefinitely depending on future circumstances.
  • Some of the campus computer labs will remain open for those students who require access to the school’s computing network. This will include very limited access to Nash Library. All computer labs will have a mandatory limit on the number of users allowed in the room at any given time. Security will regularly monitor all labs to ensure compliance in this regard. As a student in need of access, you will be required to honor the maximum number allowed in any one space. For information concerning general and special use computer labs, locations, and restrictions, see the March 24, 2020 memorandum issued by the Director of Network Services. For information concerning Nash Library operations and restrictions, see the March 23, 2020 memorandum issued by the Director of Nash Library.
  • Refunds or credits for Room and Board will be calculated from the date of proper checkout as of March 22, 2020 or later. It will be calculated at a per day rate. If a student receives a room and/or board scholarship the scholarship amount will be deducted and refund/credit will be calculated at that point. Due to the continued delivery of courses in a modified platform, tuition and fees will not be reimbursed. For additional information contact the Business office.
  • Enrollment for independent study, the summer, and fall terms will proceed and be done via the MyUSAO portal. Every effort will be made to remove or minimize enrollment obstacles, thus easing the process of online registration. This will include most business office holds. Contact the Business office for additional information.
  • In order to best accommodate student needs campus will remain open. However, to minimize the risk of exposure, the operations of each office will include staffing plans for in-office rotation and off-campus telecommuting. We will also be changing our hours of operation to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. to allow us time for additional cleaning and sanitizing. Expect maximum space lockdown of rooms and gathering places across campus. While offices and departments will remain open, we encourage you to communicate as much as you can via email or phone. Call in advance to schedule any necessary visits.
  • Mail will not be delivered to offices. Mail must be picked up in the mailboxes at Lawson Clubhouse. Each day, an e-mail will go out announcing that mail has been sorted to all mail boxes.
  • For faculty using on-campus office space for distance teaching-learning, please keep our maintenance and custodial services informed so they can assist in maintaining the hygiene of your office. This must remain a critical routine in order to best sanitize your working space.
  • Beginning, March 24, 2020, the Student Success Center will begin offering virtual tutoring and mentoring services. While Student Success Center operating hours will remain the same, students will need to schedule appointments by email at ssc@usao.edu.
  • Please keep an eye on your email for additional guidance concerning work study and part-time as needed students and course grading for the remainder of the semester.
  • As always, check usao.edu/coronavirus for up-to-date information on the university’s response.

Everyone, please do all to remain as safe as possible. Exercise constant attention to personal and space hygiene. Avoid gatherings and close contact with others. I will very much appreciate my future opportunity to collaborate and commensurate with you all.

Drover Family,

To begin this important communication, I wish to stress that there are NO confirmed cases of Coronavirus on the USAO campus. 

However, due to recent events to include spring break travels I wish to not only protect your health but to also minimize the possibility of Coronavirus spread in our community and state. We are enacting a partial campus closure. 

Keep in mind that this situation is fluid, decisions are being made by the moment and are likely to change as the Coronavirus spreads in our country.

Please follow these instructions beginning immediately.

COMMUTING STUDENTS:

For the foreseeable future, DO NOT come to the USAO campus for any reason whatsoever. Communicate by distance. Campus access will be severely restricted.  

RESIDENTAL STUDENTS:

If you are already on campus and live in Sparks Hall or Robertson Hall and can go home, do so immediately. For those of you who live in Sparks Hall or Robertson Hall and cannot go home, please contact the Dean of Students who will make alternate living arrangements for you. 

All other residential students (Lawson Hall Apartments), may remain in place or return home. 

For those who have no other options to shelter in place, expect mandatory campus-based restrictions on movement, gathering, living, work and study-related activities.  

USAO on-campus dining services will be operating on a highly modified schedule and with only to-go options.  

ALL access to public spaces on campus will be severely restricted. This includes Nash Library, USAO Fieldhouse, food services, workout facilities – all public gathering places. 

Please keep no less than six feet between you and other individuals.  Practice sanitizing your environment.  This includes 20-second handwashing, using tissues and practicing every recommended method by the Center for Disease Control and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 

Please direct any questions to studentservices@usao.edu

FACULTY:

You will need to work with the Office of Academic Affairs to determine the solutions for how to proceed for the remainder of the term to ensure student progress, especially for graduating seniors. All options are on the table. Never have we faced circumstances such as this, therefore we do not have a precedent for creative solutions nor does anyone else. I repeat, all options are on the table! 

While all in-person instruction is cancelled, distance learning with your students begins Monday, March 23, 2020. Again, only return to campus if you cannot provide this service from your home. 

If you must come to campus, restrict your movement and contact with others as much as possible. Exercising personal and working space hygiene can prevent the spread of this virus. Campus access will be severely limited.

STAFF:

We are trying to maximize everyone’s safety by minimizing the need for close contact. Please communicate with your supervisor to discuss on-going office and campus operations under these critical circumstances. While many of you are our first-line responder/caregivers and may need to be on campus, we do not want to put anyone in jeopardy. Available options may include rotational work schedules and/or telecommuting but these will be worked out by your department and supervisors. Campus access will be severely limited. 

ALL:

I do not know how long we will be on partial campus closure. It will depend on how well we as a community, state and nation can avert the spread of this disease. Please stay informed and take care of yourself by sheltering in place.  

Despite our separation and the enormous inconvenience it will cause, we must find a way to work together as staff, teachers and learners, to find solutions on how to continue as an effective organization. I repeat, we literally have no precedent for overcoming this social and economic crisis. Lives are at stake! Your cooperation is imperative.  

Updates will be communicated to campus via email, on https://usao.edu/coronavirus and on our official USAO Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Best regards,

President John Feaver

Drover Family,

While we continue to monitor the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, it is our obligation to do all we can to limit the spread of the disease and protect the members of our extended community, particularly those who are most vulnerable. 

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 all classes will move to online and remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. Campus will remain open. Please make your own decision whether to return to campus based on your own circumstances and ability to complete classes from afar.

Housing will remain open and food services will open again on Sunday, March 22 for dinner. If you must return to campus, please know that we have prepared a housing plan for your return to include deep cleaning and disinfecting of common spaces on a regular basis.

If you have questions regarding housing, contact Student Services at nhughes@usao.edu.

Unfortunately, the rapid pace of this unfolding crisis does not allow us to have the answers for all questions at this time. We will address all questions as quickly as is possible. Please stay tuned for further communications and guidance as things unfold.

Updates will be communicated to campus via email, on https://usao.edu/coronavirus and on our official USAO Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

 

Best regards,

President John Feaver

 

Drover Family,

With yesterday’s announcement that K-12 schools will be closed until April 6, I want to reiterate USAO’s plan following spring break.

For one week following spring break (March 23-27), classes will transition to alternative instructional delivery methods. Students need to check Canvas AND their email for guidance from their professors. For additional questions, contact Academic Affairs at (405) 574-1221. 

Note that campus is not closing. Offices will be open after spring break to ensure the availability and delivery of campus programs and services. 

We are continually monitoring the situation and could potentially extend the timeframe for conducting classes via alternative methods. We will update you as soon as decisions are made.

Visit usao.edu/coronavirus for more information including a list of frequently asked questions.

 

Best regards,

President John Feaver

Drover Family,

University officials have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus) and its potential impact to our campus community. 

In accordance with the CDC’s latest guidance for large events and mass gatherings, USAO is cancelling or postponing all events from March 16-May 9. This includes the university’s annual Spring Triad which consists of the Montmartre Chalk Art Festival, Scholastic Meet and Droverstock Music Festival. 

Right now, the university intends to end the semester as planned and will do everything possible to ensure that students complete their graduation requirements and we celebrate their accomplishments. As of right now, the April 25 commencement is not cancelled. However, conditions could change. We will communicate any changes as they occur.

This is an evolving situation that may require the university to quickly alter its policies and procedures. Updates will be communicated to campus via email, on our COVID-19 response website and on our official USAO Facebook and Twitter accounts. Critical, urgent alerts will be communicated via the Drover Alert system.

Be assured that the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are our first priority.

Best Regards,

President John Feaver

Drover Family, 

Before spring break, I want to assure you that university officials are continuously monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the coronavirus) and its potential impact to our campus community. 

As a precautionary measure, for one week following Spring Break (March 23-27), classes will be delivered online. Faculty and students are encouraged to take their learning materials with them when they leave for Spring Break.

We ask that you self-report planned spring break travel via this online form before leaving for the break. This will help us ensure the safety of our Drover community. 

Note that campus is not closing. Offices will be open March 16-18 and after Spring Break in order to ensure the availability and delivery of campus programs and services. 

Our COVID-19 response website (usao.edu/coronavirus) is live and will be updated as things change. 

This is an evolving situation that may require the university to quickly alter its policies and procedures. Updates will be communicated to campus via email, on our COVID-19 response website and on our official USAO Facebook and Twitter accounts. Critical, urgent alerts will be communicated via the Drover Alert system.

Be assured that the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are our first priority. 

Best Regards,

President John Feaver