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 as 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.
Rely on accurate sources of news and information about the virus.
BU Emergency Relief Fund
Update as 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 as 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 as 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 as 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 as 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.