Coronavirus Updates & Resources
Baker University continues to closely monitor developments in the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The college’s multidisciplinary COVID-19 Readiness Taskforce is meeting regularly to assess the situation and plan for impacts to our campus community.
First and foremost, we want to maintain safe campuses and encourage and adopt practices that protect the health of students, faculty, staff, and the community. We also want to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of a pandemic. We are taking proactive steps to address a number of concerns.
Update of May 28
Masks No Longer Required on Campus, Effective June 1
In light of recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people who are vaccinated for COVID-19 could resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, Governor Laura Kelly’s announcement that the state of Kansas would adopt these CDC guidelines, and Douglas County officials recently letting the county health order expire, masks are no longer mandatory on the Baldwin City campus or in the offices in Overland Park, effective Tuesday, June 1.
Because protecting the health of the Baker community remains a priority, the BU Recovery Task Force and I would like to offer these reminders.
- Vaccinations have proven highly effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and of severe illness.
- Even if you are vaccinated, masks are recommended in crowded areas and required when traveling on public transportation.
- Be respectful of the choices some may make to continue to wear masks.
The university will continue to monitor local conditions and protocols and take actions accordingly.
Rely on accurate sources of news and information about the virus.
BU Emergency Relief Fund
Update of May 14 – Mask Policy for Outdoors
Baker University has lifted its outdoor mask mandate on the Baldwin City and Overland Park campuses, effective immediately. Per the current Douglas County Health Order, masks are still required for indoor settings and where social distancing cannot be ensured.
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention issued new COVID-19 recommendations stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or be physically distanced, except where required by federal, state, or local law. Governor Laura Kelly later announced that the state of Kansas is adopting this guidance.
However, Douglas County has not yet adopted this new guidance, but is evaluating the recommendations and will address how it will impact the current county Health Order at the May 19 Commission meeting.
In light of these developments, Baker University has lifted its outdoor mask mandate on the Baldwin City and Overland Park campuses, effective immediately. Per the current Douglas County Health Order, masks are still required for indoor settings and where social distancing cannot be ensured.
As new information becomes available from Douglas County that might impact the university’s policies, updates will be shared accordingly. We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
There are still appointments available for the vaccination clinic at Collins Center in Baldwin City on Monday, May 17.
To schedule a vaccination, please visit www.ldchealth.org/getmyvaccine. Use registration code 2051721. This clinic is open to anyone 12 years of age or older.
For now, please continue to practice social distancing and wearing masks when appropriate.
Update of April 21 – COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines (two dose series) will be available at Collins Gym (524 Sixth St., Baldwin City, KS 66006).
You must register for a vaccine through the website www.ldchealth.org/getmyvaccine and use the registration codes.
First dose: Thursday, April 29, 1-6 p.m., code: 1042921
Second dose: Monday, May 17, 1-6 p.m. code: 2051721
Update of March 25 – Visitor Policy for Spring 2021
In light of decreasing positive coronavirus cases nationally and locally and increasing vaccination rates, visitors will be allowed on the Baldwin City campus for certain academic events starting April 5.
If you are in a concert or a play, if you are giving a senior seminar presentation, or if you are participating in something else in your academic life and you would like to invite a few members of your family to attend, this may be permitted according to these guidelines:
- Before inviting visitors, check with the faculty member associated with the activity to make sure the event is open to guests. Not all academic activities will be open for guests, particularly if the space being used is already full with other students.
- If an event is open to guests and will be held outside, a student may invite four guests. Students must preregister their guests with the Office of Academic Affairs (by submitting the online form) in case we need to contact trace. We need the registrations 48 hours before the event. This is similar to our current policy in athletics.
- If an indoor event is open to guests, a student may invite and register two guests with the Office of Academic Affairs (by submitting the online form).
- Masks are still required of all individuals on campus, including guests. Continue to practice social distancing between individuals you do not share a household with. And continue to wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
Our primary goal is to navigate safely through the end of this term and to celebrate with the seniors as they graduate in an outdoor commencement ceremony at Liston Stadium. With this goal in mind, we will continue to monitor the statistics on a statewide and national level. We will continue to watch the rules and guidelines for our state and county.
Update of January 14 – Return to Campus Protocols
The university has established protocols for students’ return to campus for the winter and spring terms based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease and Prevention and Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
These protocols affect the following situations:
- Quarantine related to travel restrictions
- COVID-19 testing on return to Baldwin City
- Quarantine related to potential COVID-19 exposure
- Return to campus of recovered students
- Students who receive COVID-19 vaccination
Update of January 8 – Return to Campus
During the January interterm and spring semester, we will continue the processes that served us well in the fall: wearing masks, social distancing, using classrooms that can accommodate students with more distance between seats, some online and remote course options, and quarantining when necessary.
Travel Policies & Recommendations
- We will follow travel restrictions and quarantine procedures as posted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The Office of Student Affairs will monitor the site and personally contact students if their country or state is listed.
- Students coming from outside the United States or from a CDC “hot spot” should expect a communication from the Office of Student Affairs.
- Student Affairs will communicate with all students in the coming weeks with more details regarding plans for returning to campus.
- Students driving back to Baldwin City should reduce their number of stops if possible and pack food for the trip.
- Students using public transportation should wear a face covering and keep their distance from others
- Students should use disinfecting wipes to clean touchable surfaces on the plane, train, or car.
- Students should delay their plans if they are sick or exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19.
Residence Hall Move-In Procedures
- Students should go to their residence hall office to retrieve a room key.
- Immediate family is allowed to help students move in as needed. All must wear masks unless they are in the student’s room.
- After move-in, no guests are permitted in residence rooms. Only people assigned to the suite may be in the suite.
- All visiting must occur in common areas of campus. All residents and guests must wear masks and observe social distancing.
Sorority & Fraternity Move-In
The leaders of each chapter will communicate with members, and students will follow the procedures set for their house.
Students will be tested for the coronavirus within a few days of arriving on campus.
- All students have been assigned testing dates and locations and should check their emails for updates and reminders.
- In preparation for testing and results gathering, interterm classes will be held online January 11-15 and from February 2-5, to start the spring semester.
- After this time, students must show a negative test result to return to classes and are expected to attend in-person classes unless they have been approved through ADA accommodations and the Student Academic Success office or if the student is on the quarantine list kept by the academic dean’s office.
- Choosing not to test so that classes remain online is not an option, and students falling into this category will be considered absent from class.
- The Department of Athletics continues to follow the protocols set forth by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.
- At this time, no spectators are allowed at home competitions. We will reevaluate this before the start of the spring semester based on the best information available and county regulations in place at that time.
- Home events can be watched via livestream.
Update of November 13 – Revised Sports Spectator Policy
Although the Baker community has worked diligently to create a positive and safe environment for all involved, Douglas County has recently seen a rise in positive COVID-19 cases. Douglas County experienced its highest number of new cases since the pandemic began with 112 on Thursday, leading to the county’s health official limiting mass gatherings to 15 people to help fight the spread of the virus. See more information in this Lawrence Journal-World article.
For this reason and after careful consideration, Baker University and the Department of Athletics, in accordance with Douglas County, will return to a no-spectator policy for the remainder of the fall semester.
As always, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount, and we believe that these steps will continue to keep our environment as healthy as possible as we look toward the end of the semester.
Spectators will be able to watch and cheer our Wildcats online. All home events will be available via livestream.
Athletic facilities will be open to the student-athletes who are competing and their coaches, athletic staff, and essential game day workers. Tailgating and congregating outside the stadium, gym, or other facilities before, during, and after competitions are also prohibited for the remainder of the fall semester.
Because the reality of the pandemic changes quickly, we will evaluate the spectator policy throughout the rest of the semester. We expect to make a spectator policy announcement before the start of the spring semester based on the best information available and regulations in place at that time.
Thank you for following the safety measures that have allowed us to remain on campus. Good luck to all of our student-athletes!
Update of October 1 – Fall Sports Spectator Policy
At this time, we plan to allow a limited number of Baker University students, faculty, and staff to home events during October.
The following outlines the spectator policy at this time:
- Open only to Baker University students, faculty, and staff with a current ID
- Tickets distributed on a first-come, first-served basis
- Liston Stadium: 240 tickets
- Collins Gym: 60 tickets
- Temperature will be taken before entering the facility
- Social distance must be maintained in the facility
- Masks are required while in the facility
- Parking lot at the stadium and ball fields will be closed on game days
The Baker community has worked hard to create and maintain a safe environment. In an effort to keep campus open, we are limiting spectators to current students, faculty, and staff. Bringing guests from out of town to a university-hosted event at this time would be irresponsible to our campus community as well as the Baldwin City community.
Fans unable to attend in person may watch all Baker University home events via livestream: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/Baker/
Because the reality of the pandemic changes quickly, we will evaluate the spectator policy throughout October. We expect to have another update in November but understand that the situation could change before then.
Thank you for following the safety measures that have allowed us to remain on campus and begin our fall sports seasons. Good luck to all our athletes!
Update of September 2
Athletic events in September will be held without spectators. Baker has invested in new streaming capabilities with BlueFrame Technology that will allow all home events to be viewed via livestream. Access the livestreams here:
The decision to play without fans in September was not made lightly.
Director of Athletics Nate Houser and his staff are committed to providing the safest environment for our Baker community. They concluded that having no fans in the stands for the first month of games would not only help reduce the chances of exposure and spread of the coronavirus, but also give them the opportunity to reevaluate this policy and make the best decision for our student-athletes, fans, coaches, and game day staff.
Facilities will be open to student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff, and essential game day workers. Tailgating and congregating outside of the stadium, gym, or other facilities before, during, and after games is also prohibited during the month.
Throughout September, the Baker Athletic Department will reevaluate this policy and will continue to work with public health officials to ensure that student-athletes and their game day experience is as safe as possible.
A decision about fan attendance for the remainder of the season will be made toward the end of September.
Update of August 20
As we begin the fall semester, the welfare and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are a top priority. The university has implemented several new policies, which have been communicated over the past few months, and all students participated in testing upon their arrival on campus.
The university required a COVID-19 test for each student when they arrived on campus. The saliva tests were sent to a lab in Lenexa.
As of August 20, at 10:20 a.m., we have received test results for 878 students. Of those 878 students, six were positive. Two students who were nasal swab tested off campus tested positive. In addition, 26 students have been quarantined because they were exposed to someone who tested positive. Numbers will be updated weekly and posted on the test-results page.
- In the case of a positive test, the individual was immediately notified and isolated off campus for 10 days.
- County health officials were notified.
- Anyone known to have had direct exposure to the individual who was not wearing a mask or separated by at least 6 feet for more than 15 minutes was also contacted and asked to quarantine for 14 days.
These protocols are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We acknowledge that these tests capture only a snapshot in time, and this is just the first step in ongoing self-monitoring for our community members.
Since June, faculty and staff have begun their return to campus. It is university policy that any employee of the university who experiences two or more symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 must contact the Office of Human Resources. As of August 20, there has been one confirmed positive test result for an employee, and this person is in isolation. In addition, two employees have had to quarantine as a result of coming in close contact with someone who tested positive as defined by the CDC.
As we begin the fall semester, the university expects everyone to be extra-cautious, wear a mask, wash hands, and practice social distancing.
To assist students, faculty, and staff in self-monitoring, Baker has created an online COVID-19 daily monitoring form. This assessment offers a way to monitor health and symptoms, whether feeling sick or well, to recognize possible symptoms of COVID-19 early and seek treatment, which is important for reducing the risk of transmission.
- If a person records symptoms, they receive instructions for what to do next.
- If there are no symptoms, no instructions are given.
- The information submitted through the form allows the Task Force to monitor the health of the Baker community to help with decision making.
The submissions are anonymous and not tied to a student or employee ID.
To stay informed on what to do if you test positive but have no symptoms, what to do if you have been around someone who has COVID-19, and whether you can be re-infected after recovering from COVID-19 visit the CDC website.
Update of August 6
As we all know, the actions we take individually affect not only our own well-being but also have the potential to affect everyone we come into contact with, both on and off our campus. For this reason, your commitment to abide by the policies established by the BU Recovery Task Force, which follow the best practices and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal, state, and local health authorities, is vital to our effort to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on campus and ultimately our ability to keep campus open.
We have created an anonymous online COVID-19 daily monitoring form. The digital assessment is intended to prompt you to monitor your own health and symptoms, whether you feel sick or well, so you can recognize possible symptoms of COVID-19 early and seek treatment, which is important for reducing the risk of transmission.
The form asks for your temperature and about other symptoms of possible illness or COVID-19 infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath). It also records your possible exposure to COVID-19. The submissions are anonymous and not tied to a student or employee ID.
Update of July 15
The following are updates surrounding the preparation for students returning to the Baldwin City campus in the fall.
To be able to study safely, we are taking these steps:
- We will limit the number of students in a class to 40 and arrange furniture in classrooms so that social distancing is possible.
- Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies will be available near every classroom.
- Students and faculty will wear face coverings; see revised policy below.
- Plexiglas shields will be installed in the computer labs between stations.
- Faculty have developed courses to include a remote-learning option. Large classes (25 to 40) may be divided into two groups and rotate between in-person and remote experiences.
- Technology in classrooms will enhance the Zoom experience, and faculty will be able to record classroom activities.
The Baker Task Force has developed a staged contingency plan should confirmed COVID-19 cases arise on campus. The implementation and duration of each stage of the response will be determined by criteria and input from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the CDC.
Early in the semester, a detailed email about the remote learning contingency plans will come from Dean Darcy Russell (drussell@bakerU.edu), including points such as access to a laptop and appropriate technology for attending courses remotely or whether assistance is needed in procuring devices.
We are developing videos and signage to help students, faculty, and staff work together safely, and RAs are undergoing training. Students will be required to complete a video module prior to coming back to campus that includes education and assessment. Emails will be sent to students around July 20 with more direction.
Update of July 2
Policy on Face Coverings
Baker University is committed to preserving the health and safety of our university community. For this reason, as of July 2, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors must wear face coverings over their mouths and noses while on Baker campuses in the following settings:
- Public outdoor spaces where social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained
- Public spaces that may be visited by a member of the public
- Common areas such as hallways, stairways, and elevators
- Inside an enclosed area where social distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained
This policy has been established based on Governor Laura Kelly’s Executive Order No. 20-52 requiring most Kansans in a public space to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible, the Douglas County Health Officer Order, and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recent studies show that a significant portion of people with COVID-19 lack symptoms (asymptomatic) and that those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms (presymptomatic). The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.
In addition to maintaining 6 feet of social distance for slowing the spread of the virus, here are other important measures:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when unable to wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow/arm or a single-use tissue and promptly dispose of it in the trash.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Update of June 15
Fall Return to Baldwin City Campus
The following are updates surrounding the process of reopening and returning to the Baldwin City campus in the fall. Since the Baker Task Force began meeting many months ago, our goal has been to resume face-to-face education and activities on the Baldwin City residential campus in the fall and provide as much of the on-campus Baker experience as possible while taking precautions to protect our community.
The collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic from Baker students, faculty, staff, and community members has been nothing short of extraordinary. We remain focused on providing an exceptional student experience, acknowledging that Baker’s impactful liberal arts education is based on in-person academic experiences as well as through participation in clubs and organizations and on athletic teams. However, we know that life on campus must and will look different this fall. Baker is adhering to CDC and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health guidelines in response to COVID-19 regarding health and safety measures to protect you, our faculty, and staff with our best efforts.
Updated Fall Calendar
To mitigate the health risks posed by holiday travel, flu season, and a potential second wave of COVID-19, we have modified our fall calendar as follows:
- The 2020 fall semester will start on August 17 and conclude on Tuesday, November 24 (before the Thanksgiving holiday on November 26). This modified academic calendar will allow us to align with state, federal, and accreditation regulations for the required number of weeks in the semester while mitigating health risks during flu season.
- Move-in dates for fall athletes are scheduled on August 3 (football), August 4 (men’s soccer) and August 7 (women’s soccer, cross country, and volleyball).
- The move-in date for new students living on campus is Saturday, August 15. Please watch for an email from Residence Life for more information.
- The move-in dates for returning students living on campus is Sunday, August 16. Please watch for an email from Residence Life with more information.
- Final exams will be November 18-20 (Wednesday-Friday) and November 23-24 (Monday and Tuesday).
- In order to release students from classes by Thanksgiving, we will hold classes on Labor Day, September 4, and we will not hold a fall break.
- Winter commencement exercises are tentatively scheduled to be held in December.
The Baker Task Force has also provided the following guidance, which will be shared in more detail from our Deans.
- If needed, free testing will be available through Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to those with at least two symptoms.
- We will follow CDC recommended procedures if a student becomes sick and immediately isolate them.
Preventative Changes Throughout Campus
- Some environmental changes will be seen in Residence Life, classrooms, common area lines and large-group events, and athletic facilities.
- Policies will be updated regarding mass gatherings, campus visitation, athletic travel, and so on in the coming weeks.
- More communication will come prior to your arrival on campus.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
Residential Life Changes
- Monitoring of residence halls and apartments will be increased, social distancing practices will be enforced, and additional cleaning of private living areas will be expected.
- There will be additional cleaning in common spaces.
- The number of common spaces in the residence halls and apartments will be limited.
Changes in the Dining Hall and Late Night Grill
- Self-service stations will not be available.
- Sneeze guards have been installed.
- Seating will be reconfigured.
Classrooms and Labs
- The majority of our classes are already small (our average class size is 16) and we are limiting classes to no more than 40 students.
- We encourage faculty and students to avoid sharing equipment or reduce the amount of sharing.
- Baker faculty and staff will sanitize high-touch areas frequently.
- Staggered seating will be implemented.
Campus Events in the Fall
- Masks will be strongly encouraged for campus events.
- Whenever possible, events will be moved outdoors, and indoor events will have a limited number of attendees.
- Spectator sports will continue as scheduled with social distancing or online viewing or both available.
- NAIA and Heart of America Athletic Conference guidelines will be followed.
- We will practice the required social distancing guidelines in the spectator stands.
- Routine disinfecting of shared equipment and high-touch surfaces will take place.
Community Engagements and Campus Visitors
- We will limit the number of visitors on campus.
- Visitors should follow up-to-date Baker health practice guidelines, including mask recommendations.
- Visitors should monitor their own symptoms and refrain from visiting if they don’t feel well or exhibit symptoms.
Before Returning to Campus
- Students coming from outside the United States or from a CDC “hot spot” should expect a communication from Student Affairs.
- Student Affairs will communicate with all students in the coming weeks with more details regarding plans to return to campus.
University Contingency Plan
- Students will be asked to prepare a remote education plan indicating whether they have access to a laptop and appropriate technology for attending courses remotely or indicating the need for assistance in procuring devices. A checklist of probable technology needs will be provided to every student.
We appreciate your flexibility and your patience as Baker University continues to navigate these unusual times. If you have not yet registered for fall semester classes, please contact your academic advisor.
Travel Guidance & Reporting
Given the rapidly evolving situation with regard to COVID-19, the Baker community is encouraged to carefully consider nonessential international travel. We encourage you to check the World Health Organization (WHO) website for travel advisories as well as the CDC’s website for travel advisories and their FAQs for travelers. Depending on your destination, you may have to make the difficult decision to change or cancel plans to ensure your own well-being and timely return to Baker.
If you are traveling to areas affected by COVID-19, we strongly encourage you to reconsider your plans because of potential quarantine in either that country or when you return to the United States. This could severely affect your plans and delay your return home.
If you do plan to travel, we appreciate your registering your travel plans ahead of time using this online form.
No matter where you are traveling, if you have an underlying medical conditions, please discuss all travel with your health care provider.
What You Can Do
COVID-19 is a virus that causes symptoms similar to other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. Symptoms may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure and range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Your risk of getting COVID-19 depends on where you are, where you’ve traveled recently, your age (people over 65 are at greater risk) and whether you have a preexisting or chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease like asthma. The CDC recommends calling your doctor immediately if you have concerning symptoms and have recently traveled to an area that has ongoing cases of the virus, or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Taking preventive steps is key in preventing the spread of infection.
Here are a few reminders:
- Stay home when you are sick! (Currently, the CDC recommends that people remain home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.)
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or if soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not share food or drinks, eating utensils, or smoking devices with others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and frequently touched objects.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu symptoms.
- Cover a cough or sneeze with your forearm or a tissue and then throw away the tissue.
- Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
- Practice social distancing if you or the other person is infected. View guidelines.
- Practice healthy habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- If traveling, wipe your airplane seat, tray, and arm rests with disinfectant wipes.
- If traveling, remain in your hotel or resort if you are sick, and seek medical care as needed.