A Message from the President

BSU Outlines Plans for Fall 2021 Return to Campus

April 21, 2021

It has now been more than a year since Bowie State University began mostly remote operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, our community of faculty, staff and students has demonstrated tremendous resolve and creativity in maintaining the Bulldog spirit and our commitment to academic excellence. We have mastered virtual tools and found new ways to develop a sense of community.

With growing availability of the vaccine, we can now look forward to returning to normalcy as we prepare to resume the full spectrum of in-person on campus operations for the fall 2021 semester. Members of the BSU community are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to enhance the safety of our fall return.  The matter of requirements for vaccination for some groups is still under review.

The COVID-19 Coordinating Team has worked with key units across the campus to develop the framework for a fall return with input from faculty, staff and students in multiple town hall sessions and a campus-wide survey. The Fall Planning Group of shared governance and administrative leaders has been an integral part of the review process in developing the plan. Your input to these groups will be important as we continue to assess and refine the plan in light of any new data or changes in the science leading up to the start of the fall semester.

Over the next several months, we are working towards a phased return of students, faculty and staff to the campus. Key elements of the planned return include the following:

Academics:  We will return to our pre-COVID academic offerings of mostly in-person classes with hybrid and online classes in certain disciplines.

Residential and campus life: Residence halls will open with double occupancy and we look forward to welcoming the first students to our new Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community.

Staffing Schedules:  We intend for all staff to return to offices for regular schedules beginning July 12. Options for telework and special accommodations will be available for Individuals who may have special circumstances.

Athletics: We look forward to a full complement of fall sports resuming including football, volleyball and cross country.

As we welcome faculty, staff and students to come home to BSU, we will continue to observe federal, state and local guidance regarding health and safety precautions and be prepared to adjust the plan as needed. Please see an overview of the plan below.

Fall Return Overview

Planning for Fall 2021 builds on the same guiding principles adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. We continue to make health and safety the top priority as we focus on sustaining the core mission of delivering quality educational experiences for our students. 

Our ability to implement a phased approach to increasing campus density, similar to that used last summer, is based on several key assumptions being in place by the fall semester

Phased Return Fall 2021

The phased return for fall 2021 expands the original plan to provide gradual increase in density over the summer. We have operated at a low density level since fall 2020. We will gradually increase to medium density over the next few months before reaching pre-COVID full density in August to begin the fall semester. The phases are outlined below:

Phase 1: April 1 –May 31– Low Density - Assessing needs and assuring infrastructure to support increased campus density

  • Fall class schedules developed based on pre-COVID delivery modes with a small number of in-person classes for Summer Session II
  • Preparations for classroom readiness and return of furnishing to study spaces
  • Plan for expansion and communication of health and safety protocols
  • Prepare for campus vaccination delivery
  • Update personnel procedures for telework and accommodations requests

Phase 2: June 1 – July 30 –  Medium Density – Limited Return

  • June 1 – June 30 -- Staff visit offices to assess need for any facilities or technology services to be completed prior to July 12 return-to-work day)
  • July 6 – Aug. 6 -- First phase of in-person instruction with limited classes in-person classes
  • July 12 -- All offices fully staffed for 8 – 5 operations to respond to phone calls and provide in-person services
  • Limited on-campus activities permitted for entering freshmen, i.e. Bulldog Scholars.

Phase 3: Aug 2 – Campus is fully operational; final preparations for student and faculty return

  • Residence halls open in mid-August.
  • Classes begin Aug. 30, in-person with the pre-COVID online offerings
  • Athletic competition schedules resume, beginning with fall football
  • A full program of student life and co-curricular programs for student engagement

Our students have expressed strong desire to reconnect with faculty and their peers in an active learning environment where they can interact in ways that expand ideas and personal development. We look forward with great anticipation to welcoming them back to the campus and restoring the vibrant energy that defines the Bowie State experience.

I want to thank each of you – faculty, staff and students – for your dedication and commitment over the past year. Together we can now move forward to continue our Race to Excellence. Please stay attuned to weekly messages from the COVID Coordinating Team for more details about implementation of the return.