The letter you are about to read is based on actual plans and policies of actual colleges and universities, for the most part. Your mission, dear reader, should you accept it, is to determine which plans and policies are real, somewhat real, or fantasy. (Note: some of the actual policies are fantastic, but still very real.) Good luck!
Liberty Bell University
Two University Plaza
Bell City, MI 55471
An Early Welcome Back!
I want to take this opportunity to offer you and your fellow Wolverines a big early bear hug of a welcome back. We know that there has been a lot angst—-or call it anxiety if you prefer—-among students and their parents at the thought of a return to campus this fall with Covid-19 still somewhat present in our country. But we want to assure you, and reassure you, that every precaution has been taken. Liberty Bell’s administrators have spent countless hours in meetings, undistracted by interaction with the faculty, to design and implement a comprehensive plan, which we have laid out in our new Web Site: ONE LIBERTY BELL. http.//www.onelibertybell.edu You can find all the information that you will need to prepare for the semester at this site, which I guarantee will appeal to visually inclined Wolverines. Here I want to share with you some of the ideas that went into our planning, and highlight some of the changes that you can expect on campus.
First, I should supply some background regarding what led us to the decision to reopen. We knew that teaching classes online would be easier than a return to campus, but this is not the Wolverine way. We take challenges head on, and we meet them as heroes, reflecting the can-do spirit of our pioneer ancestors who tamed the land. As we have said for generations, Liberty Bell never cracks. The administration stood united as one in its commitment to reopen. We understood from the get-go that any sickness or death at or near Liberty Bell, on or off campus, had to be placed in a wider context: the necessity for the show, the educational show, to go on. To this end we have insisted that Liberty Bell’s faculty teach in person, on campus, with exemptions only for really old faculty (who are or should be close to retirement), and faculty who are unhealthy, diseased if you will, and have documentation to prove it. No one gets an easy pass, as we like to say at the Bell.
In making our decision to reopen we were first and foremost concerned, as always, about the educational development of our students. This was our guiding light, for it is only education that can scatter the dark, ashen smoke of benighted ignorance. We were also concerned about the psychological importance of having young people surrounded by their own kind, but not on social media, in-person, where they can mingle, where they can reach out and touch someone (not literally, of course). What other motivation could we possibly have had for reopening, knowing that there is a 50% chance that we will have to close again in the next six weeks? Nada! Nothing! Our mission is to educate. Let us never forget that there is no gain without risk, as the many entrepreneurs on our Board of Trustees remind us so often in both words and deeds. (Thank you Board, thank you for always being there for us! And a special thanks for funding our Wall of Heroes, using bricks that will be engraved with the name of every student who returns to campus this fall.)
There was one other factor in the decision to open. We were determined to get through the year without undermining the future of Liberty Bell by drawing from our endowment. The only way to assure that this wouldn’t be necessary was to have our classes held on campus and our students back in their dormitories (with a minimum 77% occupancy rate to get us across the finish line). Please understand that this was not a crude financial decision. We felt obligated to future Wolverines. We had to make sure that all of the building and improvements that we have seen on campus this past decade are there for future generations. This is why I say to all Wolverines of this generation, you are heroes. You will be remembered when you are gone, and not only because of a brick in a Wall.
On returning to campus, everyone will notice changes, but especially students living in the dorms. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- You will find a mask with the university logo waiting for you in your dorm room. Wear it and wear it proud.
- You should not hesitate to report anyone who is not wearing or properly wearing a mask to Security. Safety and health first. There will be fines for the unmasked. You can phone your report anonymously to the mask tip line, dial, 800-4NO-MASK. Be assured that your identity will not be revealed. Note: false or malicious reports against other students can lead to suspension.
- But don’t worry too much about always having to wear your mask, because our plan allows for pod or “family” dormitory halls! You don’t have to wear a mask when you encounter someone from your hall family, no matter where you meet them. They are your little family in the midst of your big Bell family. (Please don’t hesitate to report to Security anyone who shows up on your floor who is not part of your family. If you see someone, say something.)
- We know that as mature young adults you understand the gravity of spreading the virus. We expect you to keep your most intimate relations in the family.
- If you test positive for the virus, you will have to Go Directly to Jail. No, just kidding. You won’t be able to stay in your dorm, but we will have a special set of nicely appointed rooms in the Old Towne Dorm for Covid Positives or Co-Poes, as we like to call them. If we don’t have enough rooms on campus, we have made arrangements with hotels scattered around town for this purpose.
But wait, there’s more. Here are some other important items from our anti-Covid menu:
- We will be giving every student a bottle of hand sanitizer and a container of wipes when they arrive on campus, gratis.
- Because we must prevent the spread of Covid-19, students living in suites will be required to clean their own bathrooms twice a day. (The janitorial staff will be cleaning hall bathrooms and doorknobs regularly.)
- Should you feel ill, know that we have a team of volunteers standing by to arrange a date and time for a Covid-19 test. We have partnered with Alpha-Omega Laboratories to make sure that we get the results of the tests in a timely fashion. However, if for some reason we do not receive the results promptly, students will be quarantined for as long as it takes. Health first!
- There will be no gatherings of more than ten individuals, so there will be no audiences for sporting events, assuming that these take place.
- You must report to one of the four testing booths found in the Foursquare Courtyard to be tested every four days for the virus. If you fail to report without a legitimate excuse, you will be asked to leave campus.
- If you leave campus for any reason, you will be quarantined when you return. (This may sound extreme, but health first!) The quarantine will only last for two weeks.
- Some classrooms will have plastic barriers between you and the professor. Those that don’t have the barriers will require you to sit further back. (Please avoid talking to the older professors for long periods of time. As noted really old professors won’t be on campus, but there will still be some older professors, roughly 55-64 years old. They could die if they get the virus.)
- Given the relatively small size of professors’ offices, there won’t be any in-person office hours this fall, unless your prof is a President’s Scholar with a Presidential Scholar’s office. If you want to speak with a regular professor, you can meet for online office hours.
- We plan to keep everyone informed about the virus while on campus. In the lobby of every building we will have color coded chart informing you of the threat level of the virus for the week in this part of the country: red, yellow, blue, and green. Red is danger. Green, the Wolverine color, means safety.
- There will be no classes on campus after Thanksgiving, because we value your health. Everything will be online after Turkey Day!
I could go on, but I think you can already see how comprehensive our plan is, and how we have done all that we can think of to make your return to campus a safe and rewarding experience.
I know that you must be as excited as I am to begin the semester! Don’t forget to visit our web site: One Liberty Bell. And remember to sign The Liberty Bell Pledge, in which you acknowledge that you assume the risk of returning, and understand and accept all of the relevant rules and policies.
Looking forward to seeing you back on campus for a rewarding semester and school year! Great things will be happening at the Bell this fall!! Never forget, the Bell tolls for YOU at Liberty Bell!!!
Dr. Oscar “James” Bridges III, President