More than a year after Vincennes University was forced to adjust to pandemic life, VU is taking major steps to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
Extensive plans are in the works to welcome students back for a full and vibrant campus experience for Fall Semester 2021 and beyond. Classes will be fully in person and VU is prepared to host a slew of activities and events, including the Blazerpalooza music festival for students on Saturday, Aug. 21.
VU has revised its masking policy as it edges closer to a return to pre-pandemic life. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks on VU campuses and sites, including inside VU facilities. Fully vaccinated individuals may choose to continue wearing a mask for a variety of personal or health reasons. Social distancing will continue to be encouraged.
“With this announcement, we are taking one more step back to normalcy,” VU President Chuck Johnson said. “In the meantime please remain vigilant and, if you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you are able to.”
While the university encourages individuals to get vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccinations are not mandatory for VU students, faculty and staff.
VU has navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with great diligence, transparency, and commitment to the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff and communities.
“Vincennes University has done an absolutely stellar job,” Knox County Health Officer Dr. Alan Stewart said. “From the very beginning, it was all hands on deck. It was, “We want to do this, we want to do this right, we want to err on the side of caution, and we want to work with public health to make sure that the many complex protocols for every aspect like classrooms, residence halls, and extracurricular events are the correct way and were as safe as possible.”
“Keeping students, faculty, and staff safe was the University’s primary goal,” Stewart added.
“In the spring of 2020 that meant canceling everything and going online. In the fall of 2020, VU went through a lot of work to make it possible to be on campus.”
By adopting the best practices and putting forth a myriad of protocols, VU opened for Fall Semester 2020 in a safe and healthy way.
“It was a remarkable success,” VU Vice President of Government Relations Tony Hahn said. “We had some of the lowest positivity rates of any campus. That speaks volumes to our diligence and the speed of our responses. Similar to some other universities in Indiana, we had no verified in-classroom transmission of student to student, and that speaks volumes to the work the faculty put forth in distancing students in the classroom and adhering to the mask requirements. I couldn’t be more proud that we were able to have a fall semester and students were able to stay on track with their education.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to combat the spread of the virus, VU took numerous measures to protect the health and safety of all while Safely Blazing Forward:
Worked with public health officials and followed the recommendations of the Knox County Health Department, Indiana State Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control.
Established a volunteer contact tracing team led by Cindy Beaman of more than 30 staff members. The team collaborated closely with University Primary Care Clinic (UPCC) Director Deborah Bedwell, VU Police Department Chief Adam Daugherty, Assistant Provost for Student Affairs/Dean of Students Whitney Daugherty, and Associate Dean for Housing and Residence Life Adam Booher.
Adapted traditional course work, select student services, and select operations to virtual formats.
Dedicated space on the Vincennes Campus for residential students quarantining or isolating.
Partnered with the Knox County Health Department and hosted two COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students, faculty, and staff on campus at Green Activities Center.
Supported students with coronavirus relief aid through CARES Act funding and other emergency grants. Some emergency funds were distributed to students to help offset expenses such as internet, food, and gas.
Provided masks and PPE to students, faculty, and staff.
Created a portal for self-reporting and provided regular updates on active cases via an online dashboard. VU also provided timely communications services.
Offered free rapid testing for COVID-19 through the UPCC.
Reduced capacity in areas within buildings and facilities, installed protective dividers/barriers, deployed body temperature detectors, and maintained enhanced sanitizing procedures and sanitizing stations.
Hahn points to the Trailblazer togetherness that has helped VU successfully navigate the pandemic.
“This was truly a team effort,” he said. “We could not have accomplished this without everyone’s commitment and trust. A “Trailblazer Trust” that was on display throughout the pandemic. The trust that, “You are washing your hands, I am wearing my mask, and the trust that we are doing the right things together and for a common purpose.”
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