• The Southwestern

Fall Semester 2020: SWOSU students required to wear face mask

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

SWOSU President Randy Beutler announced an outline for opening the university for Fall 2020. The key takeaways: Face masks are required in buildings, and at least 4 feet distance in classrooms.


Faculty, staff, students, and administration have been involved in numerous meetings over the past two months planning the opening of SWOSU for face-to-face classes. Preventing the spread of the virus among our community has been the key focus of our plan. The following items comprise a general outline of the plan - specifics will be added as we approach August 17.

Our plan is to teach traditional face-to-face classes; however, we realize that the spread of the pandemic may affect that plan. SWOSU will rely on guidance from state and federal health authorities in deciding whether to shift to virtual learning at any point before or during the semester.


Classes will start on the currently scheduled date – Monday, August 17. Campus will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Fall Break will be cancelled and classes will meet on October 15 and 16. Commencement (delayed from May) will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. Classes will meet as usual on November 23 and 24.

After Thanksgiving Break, in order to minimize the spread of the virus from potential holiday travel, all classes will transition to virtual. There will be three days of virtual Dead Days, November 30-December 2. Virtual finals will start on Thursday, December 3, and end on Wednesday, December 9.


SWOSU will require facial coverings for students, faculty, visitors, and staff in hallways and classrooms for the Fall 2020 Semester. Details of specific types of coverings will be forthcoming. Students who do not wish to wear facial coverings may enroll in online sections.

We recommend that teachers wear clear face shields instead of cloth coverings when lecturing in person, in order to help those students who have hearing difficulties. SWOSU expects to provide all faculty with face shields before the fall semester. Faculty teaching with face shields will need to remain six feet from students, and should wear masks in hallways or between classes.


Deans, chairs, faculty, and Physical Plant staff are adjusting classrooms to create as much distance between students as possible. We will maintain at least four feet between students in all classrooms.

In some classrooms (and upon request), we are placing clear plastic at the front of rooms and in front of podiums. SWOSU will provide hand sanitizer in hallways and classrooms and ask that students use them frequently throughout the day. We will also ask that faculty develop seating charts and track attendance at each class. This will aid preventative measures in the event of a positive case among class members.


SWOSU anticipates that most faculty and staff will work in person unless we must suspend face-to-face instruction. However, the university provides the option for a staff or faculty member to request to work remotely through an application process.

The SWOSU Remote Work Task Force is composed of the Provost, the VP for Administration and Finance, the Assistant VP for Human Resources, and the Assistant Director of Human Resources (ex officio member). The committee meets to assess applications to work remotely, using the CDC guidelines and the ability to perform the particular job remotely as criteria. The committee will ask for medical documentation to verify the existence of a condition that is within the CDC guidelines. Letters from healthcare providers will only be seen by Human Resources, not the entire committee.

Faculty who are approved to teach remotely must complete online course development training and have CETL rubrics approved for all courses by August 10. These requirements only apply to faculty who are approved for remote work for the fall. Please contact your department chair and CETL for guidance.


Faculty are encouraged to use the SWOSU Canvas learning management system to its fullest in preparing courses for Fall 2020. The best practice is to prepare the course in such a way that learning is not interrupted in the event of another shutdown of campus during the semester.


If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, call your medical provider as soon as possible. Consider calling ahead to tell the health care provider’s office about any recent travel, symptoms, and concerns. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel unnecessarily. For additional information about COVID-19 and its symptoms, click here. To find out if you should be tested and where, call the Oklahoma State Department of Health Coronavirus Call Center at 877-215-8336 or visit the state’s coronavirus web site.

Employees who test positive or directed to self-isolate should notify Human Resources.

By Randy Beutler, SWOSU President

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