WSU starts to reopen Tuesday. Here’s what you should know before returning to campus 

After shutting down in March to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Wichita State University will begin the first step to reopen campus in earnest on Tuesday. 

The university’s first “preopening” phase spanned from May 7 to May 25. Much like Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s plan to reopen the state, university officials are taking an incremental approach. 

“I don’t take this lightly,” Provost Rick Muma said at a virtual town hall in May. “I understand all of the concerns moving forward. We’re going to be reopening the campus very slowly.”

In Phase II, most buildings and services will start to reopen with limited hours and/or capacity. 

People are required to wear masks on campus when meeting together, and the university instructed departments to “stagger” their work schedules to enforce social distancing and allow faculty and staff to work at home when possible. 

And while summer classes will be completely online starting next Monday, some staff, faculty and students are still preparing to come back for their work. That includes Mathew Tucker, a graduate teaching assistant in the math department. 

Tucker’s session of Contemporary Math will be online, but he says his teaching style makes it hard to teach from home and he will record his lectures in an empty classroom. 

“I want my chalkboard with me in front of it, so I can gesture and deliver that information,” he said. “My apartment isn’t set up for that. I don’t really have the ability to do that from home in an effective, meaningful way for a whole semester.”

Luckily for Tucker, that means little-to-no interaction with other people when he comes to campus. 

For those who have to be around others, WSU Facilities Services is distributing “starter kits” of personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and painter’s tape to help accommodate the mask policy, extra sanitation and social distancing. Departments can request face coverings and other supplies by filling out a work order form

Employees are also expected to perform a wellness check each day before coming to campus. The university is providing virtual training for those who are planning to work on campus over the summer. 

Some important guidelines for Phase II

  • Gatherings of more than 15 people prohibited through at least June 8 (determined by the state)
  • Masks and appropriate PPE are required unless walking alone outdoors or working alone in an office 
  • Maintain 6 feet of social distancing when possible, limit close encounters to 10 minutes or less
  • Facilities Services will clean classrooms daily 
  • Nonessential travel is discouraged 
  • Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for two weeks before returning to campus

University Libraries will reopen with limited hours on Tuesday. The first floor of Ablah Library will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Special Collections access will be available by appointment only. 

The Rhatigan Student Center will also reopen on Tuesday, with operating hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

The RSC Starbucks and the Shocker Card Store will reopen on Tuesday. Starbucks will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and the card store from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Click here for more information about specific spots in the RSC. 

Once open, restaurants in the RSC food court will only offer carryout, and dining areas will be closed off to the public. 

The Steve Clark YMCA, on Innovation Campus, opened for business last week with a plethora of safety precautions. The Heskett Center will do the same Tuesday, June 1.  

The Flats will house about 40 students over the summer. Shocker Hall will have no residents. 

Parking Services will again enforce faculty and staff parking on campus, meaning anyone who parks in a yellow lot during regular business hours will need a valid ePermit. Those who had a parking pass before the shutdown don’t need to renew it. 

Green and yellow lots are open for anyone. Students do not need to have an ePermit to use them. 

WSU’s move to reopen campus comes a few days after the state of Kansas entered Phase 2 of Gov. Kelly’s plan to resume the economy. Kelly expects the state to move into Phase 3 by June 8. 

WSU is aiming to enter its own Phase III by August, a critical step before allowing students to return for in-person instruction in the fall semester. The university is transitioning all in-person courses in the fall to hybrid instruction in case it needs to move curriculum online again.