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Coronavirus Announcements

If you are a SWOSU employee or student and are not receiving university email announcements, please email brian.adler@swosu.edu.

September 18, 2020

SWOSU and Weatherford Regional Hospital President Provide COVID Information

As COVID cases continue to increase across Weatherford and western Oklahoma, Weatherford Regional Hospital President Brian Denton has several suggestions for Southwestern Oklahoma State University students and area residents.

The first thing to do when a person suspects COVID is to contact their primary doctor, health department or go to an area convenient care facility, according to Denton. Medical workers can then determine if testing is needed or required by asking a series of questions.

“There is a risk of getting a false negative result if tested too soon,” Denton said. “Typically it is recommended to wait 5-7 days before testing after being exposed.”

People can have a misconception on what exposure means. Denton said a person has to be in close proximity to a positive case for at least 15 minutes and within six feet of that person. Exposure also takes into consideration if Personal Protective Equipment was being used or not. Being in the same room with the person doesn’t necessarily mean “exposure.”

Denton reminds students and residents that nurses and medical workers can be very helpful in answering questions, as well as guiding toward the best course of action to take.

As for testing, Denton said the Weatherford hospital has an adequate supply of test kits—unlike last spring. Results of the rapid tests are typically known by the end of the day. Testing is not a painful procedure but can be uncomfortable for some people. Once a result is known, the hospital will contact the individual’s ordering provider (primary doctor or convenient care provider, for example) with the results and that facility will reach out to the patient.

Denton said it is extremely important for everyone to 1) maintain a distance of 6 feet from people when possible; 2) wear a mask; and 3) wash hands often.

August 21, 2020

In our commitment to provide full information to the students, faculty and staff, we present the following information about the current COVID-19 situation at SWOSU.

  • SWOSU will post the number of known active cases among students and employees each Tuesday on the COVID-19 case dashboard. The numbers are updated weekly after confirmation from health officials, the Office of Human Resources and the Dean of Students. 
  • As of August 17, we have 0 known active employee cases and 25 known active student cases. It is important to note that an active case does not necessarily mean that the individual is currently on campus, has visited the campus while infected, or has ever been on campus.
  • We encourage people to view these numbers in context. As mentioned, some students who test positive may have never visited campus. For instance, of the 25 known active cases reported on August 17, only 7 were actually on campus. In addition, many of those cases reported on August 17 were already several days old and were reported and dealt with before classes actually started on campus.
  • Once a student or employee is identified as an active case, campus officials follow CDC and university protocol in advising the student or employee to isolate for 10-14 days. 
  • We encourage people to visit the State Department of Health’s COVID-19 website -- https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/ -- for the OFFICIAL numbers of cases in each city and county in Oklahoma. These numbers are updated daily. As of August 21, Weatherford has 14 active cases.
  • Upon notification of a positive test, the Custer County Department of Health coordinates contact tracing efforts to determine people who may have been in close contact with the person who tested positive. The Department of Health works with SWOSU to identify and contact students or employees who may have been exposed.
  • Information about cases on campus can be obtained by calling the SWOSU Public Relations & Marketing Office at 580-774-3063.
  • We remind people that no matter where you live, we are all experiencing and dealing with a pandemic. We will have active cases on campus and deal with them accordingly.  Every higher education institution in the country will also have this experience.  That is why we have our safety protocols.  Our mandates of masks, hand washing and social distancing are efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. They are in place to lessen the chance of a person with COVID-19 infecting others.

This information and other updates on the university’s pandemic response is located on the university’s COVID-19 website.

Randy Beutler
President

8-7-2020

We are fast approaching the beginning of another academic year at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.  We are anxious to welcome our new and returning students to campus in these challenging times.  Classes will begin on Monday, August 17.

As you may know, we at SWOSU have enacted a mandatory face covering policy on campus to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in the community and at the institution.  No current plan provides 100% protection, but this policy will help to lessen the possibility of conveyance from one person to another.  We want to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and be able to conduct classes on campus.

The Weatherford/western Oklahoma community has always been very supportive of SWOSU.  We know that this unique relationship will continue.  Due to all of these things, I would ask, I would implore, the community to please support SWOSU in this action by also practicing and encouraging your family members to please wear face coverings when in public and unable to responsibly distance.  We are greatly appreciative of those businesses that have also decided to implement a mask policy.

Over the past several weeks, I have been approached by many people in the area expressing concern regarding the economic need for in-person instruction on the Weatherford campus to begin again and continue.  Please help us ensure that situation by taking extra precautions as we begin to receive students back into the community.

This is not a political issue; it is not a social issue; this is a health and economic issue for our community based on credible research and common sense.  Let’s support each other during these stressful and difficult times.  At SWOSU the Focus Is Others Too!

Randy Beutler

SWOSU President

Update 8-4-2020

Fall 2020 Schedule

Classes will start on Monday, August 17. Campus will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Fall Break will be cancelled and classes will meet on October 15 and 16. Commencement (delayed from May) will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. Classes will meet as usual on November 23 and 24.

After Thanksgiving Break, in order to minimize the spread of the virus from potential holiday travel, all classes will transition to virtual. There will be three days of virtual Dead Days, November 30-December 2. Virtual finals will start on Thursday, December 3 and end on Wednesday, December 9.

Masks and Shields

SWOSU will require cloth facial coverings for students, faculty, visitors, and staff in hallways and classrooms for the fall 2020 semester. Students who choose not to wear a mask are encouraged to enroll in sections that will not require on-campus attendance. Students with questions regarding this requirement can contact Dean of Students Joshua Engle at 774-3767 or joshua.engle@swosu.edu.

General Guidance on Wearing Masks and Protecting Yourself and Others

SWOSU encourages students to follow CDC guidelines on wearing masks and protecting yourself and others in order to keep the campus safe.

Safety Measures Within Classrooms

We are adjusting classrooms to maintain at least four feet between students. In some classrooms, we are placing clear plastic at the front of rooms and in front of podiums. SWOSU will provide hand sanitizer in hallways and classrooms and ask that students use it frequently throughout the day. We will also ask that faculty develop seating charts and track attendance at each class.  This will aid preventative measures in the event of a positive case among class members.

Commencement

Commencement will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. More details will be announced soon on the website. Commencement will be limited to two guest tickets per graduate.

General Guidance if You Start to Experience Symptoms

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, contact your medical provider as soon as possible. Consider calling ahead to tell the health care provider’s office about any recent travel, symptoms, and concerns. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel unnecessarily. The CDC provides this link for additional information about COVID-19 and its symptoms. To find out if you should be tested and where, call the Oklahoma State Department of Health Coronavirus Call Center at 877-215-8336 or visit the state’s coronavirus web site.

Signage

Signage will be placed on campus buildings to alert students, employees, and visitors of the safety policies within the building. When possible, buildings will have designated entrance and exit doors and signage designating traffic flow. Signage will also be placed on areas to increase the practice of social distancing, including stairwells and elevators.

Cleaning

The university will follow CDC guidelines in cleaning university buildings and rooms. Each classroom will be cleaned daily. Common areas will be cleaned frequently. Hand sanitizers will be located in hallways in campus buildings.

Residence Hall safety measures

Residence Halls will implement measures to increase social distancing, including rearranging furniture in commons areas. Students will be expected to wear masks in commons areas. Staff will increase frequency of cleaning. Accommodations for vulnerable populations will be provided.

Where to get masks

The Alma Mater Merc store space in the Student Union will have masks for purchase, including SWOSU masks. Additionally, department offices in each building will have free disposable masks when possible.

Self-screening checklist

Students are encouraged to go through a voluntary self-screening check using this online checklist each day before arriving on campus.

Athletics

Per the decision of the Great American Conference, fall sports have been delayed. The first day of practice will be August 31st. No games will be played before September 28th.

Large events

SWOSU will follow state and federal guidance when limiting attendance or changing the schedule for large events. Many large outdoor events such as the Organizational Fair will have safety measures to ensure social distancing. Indoor event attendance will be limited.

Update 7/8/2020

Introduction

Faculty, staff, students, and administration have been involved in numerous meetings over the past two months planning the reopening of SWOSU for face-to-face classes. Preventing the spread of the virus among our community has been the key focus of our plan. The following items comprise a general outline of the plan - specifics will be added as we approach August 17.

Our plan is to teach traditional face-to-face classes; however, we realize that the spread of the pandemic may affect that plan.  SWOSU will rely on guidance from state and federal health authorities if changes are needed.

Fall 2020 Schedule

Classes will start on the currently scheduled date – Monday, August 17. Campus will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Fall Break will be cancelled and classes will meet on October 15 and 16. Commencement (delayed from May) will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. Classes will meet as usual on November 23 and 24.

After Thanksgiving Break, in order to minimize the spread of the virus from potential holiday travel, all classes will transition to virtual. There will be three days of virtual Dead Days, November 30-December 2. Virtual finals will start on Thursday, December 3 and end on Wednesday, December 9.

Masks and Shields

SWOSU will require facial coverings for students, faculty, visitors, and staff in hallways and classrooms for the fall 2020 semester. Details of specific types of coverings will be forthcoming. Many courses will feature online sections for those students who do not wish to wear facial coverings.

Safety Measures Within Classrooms

We are adjusting classrooms to maintain at least four feet between students. In some classrooms, we are placing clear plastic at the front of rooms and in front of podiums. SWOSU will provide hand sanitizer in hallways and classrooms and ask that students use it frequently throughout the day. We will also ask that faculty develop seating charts and track attendance at each class.  This will aid preventative measures in the event of a positive case among class members.

General Guidance if You Start to Experience Symptoms

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, contact your medical provider as soon as possible. Consider calling ahead to tell the health care provider’s office about any recent travel, symptoms, and concerns. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel unnecessarily. For additional information about COVID-19 and its symptoms, click here. To find out if you should be tested and where, call the Oklahoma State Department of Health Coronavirus Call Center at 877-215-8336 or visit the state’s coronavirus web site.

Students who test positive or are directed to self-isolate should notify the Dean of Students.

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 7/6/2020

Fall Schedule

Classes will start on the currently scheduled date – Monday, August 17. Campus will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 7.

SWOSU will cancel Fall Break and classes will meet on October 15 and 16.

Commencement will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. More details will be announced soon on the website. Classes will meet as usual on November 23 and 24.

After Thanksgiving Break, in order to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus from potential holiday travel, all classes will transition to virtual. We will have three days of virtual Dead Days, Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Virtual finals will start on Thursday, December 3, and end on Wednesday, December 9.

Update 5/28/2020

Phased Reopening of SWOSU Offices Starts June 1

Staff, Administrators & Faculty,

I know this has been a trying and challenging time for us in the SWOSU community as we have adapted to a closed campus and altered working situations. I am proud of SWOSU staff and faculty for making the adjustments necessary to offer our services in a very different environment. I also thank the students, parents and community for adjusting to a variety of virtual educational methods. We have met the challenges while continuing to provide effective teaching, scholarly endeavors and civic engagement in this uncertain time.

With that in mind, I inform you of our intention to begin a phased reopening of our department and administrative offices to employees and visitors starting June 1.  We have constructed a phased plan that is built on Oklahoma’s approach to re-opening the state’s economy. By June 1, offices will reopen on a limited basis and the campus will be accessible to visitors. Keep in mind that this is a gradual re-opening and therefore we will keep in place the virtual delivery of coursework for the summer semester and cancellation of campus activities and gatherings through the end of June.

This plan to reopen campus is dependent on the decline of COVID-19 cases in the area.  We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health officials in taking these steps. Full compliance with state and other public health guidelines will help to ensure that we will be able to resume our return to work in a quick and safe manner.  Accepting this shared responsibility will be an essential part of keeping our campus safe.

While we know that the structure of our life and work will not be the same, I am optimistic about the future of SWOSU!  The planning taking place at all levels is impressive, and we will share more information as soon as we can. This includes our preparations for the fall semester, when we intend to resume in-person instruction on our campuses.

What is paramount in this situation is the care that we all demonstrate toward our students, faculty, staff and visitors.  Because, in the final analysis, we will all be judged by the compassion and consideration for the health of others that we show in this trying time.  To that end, I would ask you to please read and follow the guidelines that have been listed in this document. 

I greatly appreciate your support in this important effort!

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Guide to Reopen SWOSU Campus

Update 5/20/2020

Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope that your summer is going well. SWOSU’s summer semester is about to begin and a new academic year will be here before you know it.

CARES Funding

SWOSU received funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to distribute emergency financial aid grants to students. We acted quickly and was one of the first universities in the state to release these grants to students. By May 9, we had distributed more than $1.6 million to students.

Phased Campus Reopening

In the next few days, we will release information related to our phased reopening of the Weatherford and Sayre campuses set to begin June 1. Because we are offering summer courses exclusively online, our campuses are in a position to safely phase in the reopening process throughout June and July. We will follow local and state recommended guidelines in this controlled approach.

Fall Enrollment

SWOSU is currently enrolling students for our fall semester.  Remember, it is our intention to hold in-person classes this coming fall.  Classes will begin on Monday, August 17. Please visit our new website for instruction on how to enroll for the fall.

Construction

We have several projects that will be ready for students, faculty and staff in the fall. The construction project on the second floor of the Al Harris Library is going well.  It should be completed by the start of the fall semester.  The renovations will include the Stafford Archives, which will be the depository for the papers of Gen. Thomas P. Stafford. The Berrong Music Hall will have a new addition. Also, the eSports Arena is being added in the Wellness Center. This arena will house SWOSU’s eSports program, host tournaments and broadcast competitions.

Finally, SWOSU will be producing one-minute video updates periodically this summer which will be posted on our website and social media.  Please look for these features.

Have a safe summer!

Randy Beutler
President

Update 5/8/2020

Students, Faculty & Staff,

SWOSU has recently made several important announcements about the summer and fall semesters that I would like to cover again.

For our students, as you are aware, we are planning to conduct SWOSU summer classes online.  If you have not enrolled for your summer courses, please do so now.  If you need help or advice on enrollment, please contact your advisor or the Enrollment Management office by calling (580) 774-3782 or emailing enrollment@swosu.edu. The enrollment information page provides additional guidance.

FALL SEMESTER

Late last week, we announced that it is our intent to conduct in-person classes on the Weatherford and Sayre campuses for the upcoming fall semester.  We will open the cafeteria, grill and our residential housing.  We are currently working on plans to implement social distancing and other safety protocols that meet recommended guidelines.

Students, please keep in mind that some classes may have limited enrollment capabilities and will fill up quickly. It is important that you enroll as soon as possible for the fall semester in order to keep pace with your graduation timeline.

PHASED-IN REOPENING OF CAMPUS

We will proceed to gradually reopen our campuses up over the summer months. For now, we are still practicing limited personal contact by limiting access to buildings on campus.  However, we have staff and personnel who are ready and willing to help you with any issues that you may encounter.  Please see our website for a directory of assistance to contact us by phone or email.

SWOSU will not host camps during the months of May and June.  An announcement regarding the status of summer camps scheduled for the month of July will be made by May 22. 

OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL BAN CONTINUES

All institutional travel to out-of-state events, conferences and other events will not be allowed from now through June 30.  We will provide an updated status on travel after June 30 by late May.

UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD

For SWOSU employees, you should be aware that there have been several reports of fraudulent unemployment claims across our state.  In some cases, applications for OESC benefits have been fraudulently made using state employees’ names or social security numbers.  This is not a breach of information that involves our institution.  If you suspect unemployment fraud, please contact SWOSU Human Resources. 

STUDENT WORKERS

In regard to the status of SWOSU student workers, we continue our guidelines that students are not allowed to work until June 1. Some departments may be provided exceptions for student employment in May, and we are working with them to enable the best way to proceed in a way that protects the health of these workers. As we gradually reopen campus, we will provide departments with guidance on employing student workers.

SWOSU GRADUATES

Finally, I would like to personally congratulate all of the 2019-20 SWOSU graduates!  Good luck in your future endeavors and come back to visit your alma mater.  I hope that you will consider participating in our commencement ceremonies, which are now scheduled for Saturday, December 12.  More details about this graduation ceremony will be announced later.

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 5/4/2020

SWOSU INTENDS TO RESUME IN-PERSON TEACHING FOR THE FALL 2020 SEMESTER

Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and Sayre has announced that it intends to resume in-person teaching, learning and residential life for the Fall 2020 semester. 

SWOSU President Randy Beutler said the university will use a measured approach to the fall semester and continue the tradition of an excellent education at an affordable price.  

“The value of a SWOSU education is known far and wide,” Beutler said. “However, in order to sustain the quality of many of our programs, we cannot continue to rely solely on remote learning.  Digital and virtual learning technologies are an important part of our educational system and will continue to be so, but these tools cannot be a long-term substitute for the facilities and support that our campuses at Weatherford and Sayre provide.” 

Many of SWOSU’s faculty and students need access to classrooms, library, rehearsal rooms and labs to fully engage with their learning, research and instruction.

Beutler said it will be important to recognize that campus life will be different when the fall semester resumes in August. SWOSU will continue to monitor developments in the western Oklahoma area and the state related to the virus.  

Using this information, SWOSU will analyze and develop ways in which students, faculty and staff can safely return to campus, including: 

  • Safety protocols such as social distancing will be of utmost importance in the return to classrooms, labs and residence halls.
  • The dining facility serving lines are being changed to improve safety.
  • Future plans will also include recommendations regarding the use of protective masks, testing and other tools.
  • SWOSU will also consider ways to reduce the density of groups in campus housing, dining facilities and classrooms. 

Until a vaccine is developed, many members of the SWOSU community may not be able to risk teaching or attending in-person classes.  

“We recognize the needs of our faculty and staff, our non-traditional students, and the members of our community with underlying health concerns,” Beutler said. “To these and others, SWOSU will develop strategies for fall instruction which will involve a blend of online and face-to-face classes.”

Beutler said he knows there will be many questions about the logistics of how a return to campus will ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus. 

“As we continue to work through this process, we will keep everyone updated in a timely manner,” Beutler said. “We look forward to seeing our community’s eventual return to campus and the start of a great, new academic year.” 

SWOSU Fall semester classes begin August 17. 

Update 4/29/2020

Students, Faculty & Staff,

As an update for this week, I am sharing with everyone information related to the issuance of cash grants from the federal government to SWOSU students if they qualify.

THE CARES ACT

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress to provide economic relief from COVID-19 and became law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) fund to be used by universities for emergency financial aid grants to students who have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic.

Cash Grants to Students

SWOSU has been awaiting the rules for distribution from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).  With the DOE rules being finalized this past week, SWOSU applied for our share of these funds and will soon draw down those monies for distribution to qualified SWOSU students. We anticipate these cash grants will be disbursed starting the week of May 4.

Student Eligibility

Students who meet basic eligibility criteria for federal financial aid will receive a cash grant.  If a student has filed or is eligible to file a FAFSA, the student will be eligible to receive a payment.

Under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, these funds can be awarded to undergraduate, graduate and professional students pursuing degree programs and enrolled at SWOSU.

The U.S. Department of Education does not allow these funds to be used for:

  1. international students;
  2. undocumented students;
  3. concurrent students; or
  4. students taking classes completely online.

Use of CARES Act Relief Funds

These funds are meant to help students pay expenses for technology, health care, child care, course materials, rent, food, moving or other expenses incurred this quarter. If a student has yet to experience financial stress due to COVID-19, these funds can help with unanticipated expenses or income loss that may occur throughout the semester and into future semesters.

Distribution and Amount of CARES Act Relief Funds

SWOSU is scheduled to receive $1,721,756 for distribution to qualified students.  These funds will be disbursed according to the number of eligible credit hours a student is taking for this semester.  The estimated distribution to the student will be $38.34 per credit hour. Therefore, a student taking 15 hours may receive around $575.

The monies will be issued to students through direct deposit or check, according to the method of distribution that the student has chosen in the Touchnet payment portal system.  If students have questions about this, please contact the Bursar’s office at (580) 774-3019 or email bursar@swosu.edu.

If a Student Doesn’t Receive a Cash Grant

Under U.S. Department of Education rules for the program, students who are not eligible for federal financial aid programs are not eligible for federal CARES Act funds. If a student is eligible for federal aid, but did not receive the grant described above by the end of May, the student may notify SWOSU for a review of their situation at (580) 774-3019 or email bursar@swosu.edu.

I hope that everyone has a good week and good luck with finals!

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 4/23/2020

The end of the semester is fast approaching.  I hope all of you are doing well.

BOOKSTORE

Your new Alma Mater Merc campus bookstore/C-store is almost here!  The store is currently setting up a temporary location during the renovation of the current bookstore. The Alma Mata Merc will have the summer textbook list available by May 1. Graduation regalia is still available for in-person pickup at the University Market or for shipment.  Any questions can be directed to ashley.hancock@swosu.edu.

FEDERAL CASH GRANTS

SWOSU will make an announcement in the near future about grants that will be given to students related to the disruption of their education due to the coronavirus outbreak. The grants were authorized by the federal government’s CARES Act a few weeks ago, but guidelines about distribution are still coming out from the U.S. Department of Education.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

We have a great relationship with the City of Weatherford and surrounding communities. Their support is always greatly appreciated. In turn, we have donated a large number of protective masks to area hospitals for health care workers. Our Engineering Technology Department is using 3D printers to create face shields for healthcare workers across the state and assembling ventilators for the Weatherford Regional Hospital.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

As detailed in a previous announcement to faculty and staff, SWOSU is taking steps to prepare for negative effects of the pandemic on our budget. We have implemented a temporary hiring freeze and continue to monitor the situation in preparation for the next fiscal year budget (FY-21).

REOPENING CONSIDERATIONS

A common topic across the nation is when can institutions return to face-to-face teaching, research, on-campus activities, and other events such as athletics. Our principal consideration will be the safety of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities. This will involve skilled evaluation of state recommendations, public health officials’ guidance and other information. I have set up four committees that, among several things, will develop procedures on when and under what conditions SWOSU can resume normal or partial operations based on local, state and federal recommendations.  We will keep you informed of these developments.

Please stay safe!

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 4/17/2020

Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy during these demanding times. 

These emails are intended to keep you updated on actions the university is taking during the pandemic and also let you know that we care about your progress as a student and your health and safety as an employee.

As you know, we have announced that all summer classes at SWOSU will be online.  However, at this time, a decision regarding the possible cancellation of academic and athletic camps on campus has not been determined.  We will continue to monitor and follow the advice of state and federal professionals in public health as we make our decisions.

To our SWOSU Students:

Please stay vigilant with your studies! 

Even though these are challenging times, your academic progress is of the utmost importance.  Continuing your studies and matriculating through the educational process—these are the best steps you can take to properly prepare for your future.

SWOSU is making it easier for students to enroll for the upcoming 2020 summer and fall semesters by providing information on the home page of the university’s website—www.swosu.edu. Students can click on the “How to Enroll for Summer and Fall 2020” link near the top of the home page and find several helpful links. 

To the SWOSU Family:

As detailed in a previous announcement to faculty and staff, SWOSU is taking steps to prepare for negative effects of the pandemic on our budget. We have implemented a temporary hiring freeze and continue to monitor the situation to determine if we need to adjust the next fiscal year budget.

I realize that there are several events and special occasions on campus that we have had to cancel or postpone due to the pandemic.  It may not seem fair or reasonable that such things have happened.  But, we must deal rationally and wisely with the situation that we have before us.  As the late Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court William Brennan said, “We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”  I know that each of you will meet this challenge.

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 4/7/2020

Students, Faculty and Staff,

I continue to be proud of how students, faculty and staff are responding to this time of uncertainty. A recent executive order from our governor and our concern for the safety of our SWOSU community have led to the extension of campus safety measures through April 30 and the move of all summer courses to virtual format (SWOSU may authorize some in-person clinical experiences and internships; that decision will be made by May 15). The changes are detailed below.

On April 2, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order with further directions regarding COVID-19 in the State of Oklahoma.  Here are a few of the added measures:

  1. A moratorium has been placed on out-of-state travel for all state employees and officers that is paid for, in part or whole, by the State of Oklahoma.
  2. People over the age of 65 and persons of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions shall stay at home except if working in a critical infrastructure sector and in the conduct of essential errands.  (More SWOSU information), 
  3. Social gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
  4. The closing of non-essential businesses shall extend to April 30, 2020 (had previously been April 15, 2020).
  5. All persons who enter Oklahoma from an area with substantial community spread of the virus shall quarantine for a period of 14 days. This does not apply to persons employed by the airlines or those performing military, emergency or health responses. 

If you wish to read the executive order, please find it at this link: https://www.sos.ok.gov/documents/executive/1928.pdf.

All executive orders can be found here: https://www.sos.ok.gov/gov/execorders.aspx.

It is our duty and obligation to care for our family, friends, neighbors and fellow Oklahomans by practicing social distancing and other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Therefore, out of an abundance of caution to further protect the health and well-being of our SWOSU community, the following measures will be implemented:

  1. SWOSU will continue to restrict access to as many buildings as possible through April 30 to eliminate the need for regular custodial services.
  2. Computer labs are available for students in the following locations. Gloves will be available in each lab and extensive disinfecting practices have been implemented.
    1. SWOSU Weatherford – Stafford 128 will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For students who need lab time between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., please call Karen Klein at 580-330-0008 and arrangements will be made to open the lab.
    2. SWOSU Sayre – two computer labs open for student use only.  The labs will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The labs are Alexander 119 and Mackey Hall 111. 
  3. All Summer courses will move to a virtual learning environment. Students who have already registered for summer courses will be contacted in the event that their enrollment needs to be modified. Faculty members can visit the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for guidance on moving courses online.
  4. Bursar enrollment holds have been temporarily removed. SWOSU has temporarily removed these holds so that students with a remaining balance may enroll for summer and fall courses. It is our hope that this will assist students’ progress towards degree completion.
  5. Students wishing to enroll for the summer and fall semesters may do so by visiting the Self-Service site through Single Sign On or contacting their advisor.
  6. Since May graduation was postponed, the university has made the decision to hold live ceremonies on Saturday, December 12, at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center in Weatherford. More details will be announced later.

Please remember that we are updating the information on our website constantly.  

I am encouraged by the commitment to learning demonstrated by our students and the adaptability of our faculty and staff.

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Update 3/31/2020

Students, Faculty & Staff,

I want to start by thanking you again for your continued dedication to SWOSU and for your support for the wide-ranging changes we have had to make in response to the immediate challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please do your best to keep yourselves and those around you safe and healthy as this continues to impact every facet of our lives and our local communities.

STUDENTS: I know online classes take much discipline and patience.  Please do not get behind in your work and seek help if you need it.  (See important student resources

HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING UPDATE:

With this email, I am providing you with some preliminary information regarding federal and state efforts toward higher education during this crisis.  As many of you may know, the federal stimulus bill (CARES Act) was recently passed and enacted into law.

This $2 trillion package would provide about $14 billion to higher education. It sounds like a lot of money, but many feel that the need of public colleges will be much more than that due to this crisis. There is certainly the possibility that further stimulus-type bills could be introduced and considered in the near future. 

The CARES Act provides that of these emergency funds, 90% of the $14 billion would be distributed to institutions via a formula (75% based on the amount of Pell FTE of the institution and 25% on non-Pell FTE). 

The bill is lengthy, but if you would like to read it, here it is: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6819206-CARES-ACT-FINAL-TEXT.html.

On the state level, the Oklahoma Legislature has not met for several days due to the pandemic.  It is my understanding that they are currently working on finishing the FY-21 budget (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). It is believed the legislators will return sometime in April and pass the state budget. Even though state revenues are down considerably, it is thought that with use of reserve funds (Rainy Day Fund), the state will attempt to keep every agency at the same funding level as it was the year before.

There is one other upcoming funding issue to consider.  It is estimated that in our current fiscal year (FY-20), revenue collections will not keep up with spending.  Therefore, the state could very well face a funding shortfall. If this does occur, it is believed the Oklahoma Legislature may come back into special session this summer in order to address this shortfall by accessing monies from the Rainy Day Fund.

Link: https://okpolicy.org/this-is-the-emergency-weve-been-saving-for/

Finally, please remember that we are updating the information on our website constantly.  

Thanks,

Randy Beutler, President
SWOSU

Update 3/25/20

Regarding Governor Kevin Stitt’s recent executive order, SWOSU is considered an essential business operation and will continue to operate on a restricted basis to serve students and provide essential operations.

To further ensure the safety of the SWOSU community, all buildings at Weatherford and Sayre campuses are closed to the public until further notice. Only SWOSU faculty, staff, students and approved visitors should enter any university building. Several offices are providing services via email and phone.

As a reminder, students continue to have access to the designated computer labs on both campuses.

The university has taken additional steps to prevent and slow the spread of the virus through several actions, including the transitioning of classes to alternative instructional delivery methods for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

As stated in earlier announcements, students are strongly encouraged to leave campus if possible. Supervisors are encouraged to communicate with staff about the methods in which essential functions of the university will continue to be completed.

Our highest priority is the safety of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community. We continue to monitor developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations of state and federal health officials.

Randy Beutler

President

Update 3/23/20

HOUSING AND FOOD SERVICE REFUNDS

Students who officially move out of their on-campus residence hall assignment will receive a prorated refund for housing and meal plans, including flex funds, for the April 1 - May 9 time period. 

Student refunds will be processed after the dorm check-out process is complete with SWOSU Residence Life.  The refund will be credited to the student bursar account; please allow up to four weeks for processing. 

Students who remain in on-campus housing will not be eligible for a refund.  Students who have received university funded housing and/or food scholarships, waivers or other type of non-cash aid will not be eligible for a refund. 

MAILROOM

When moving from the dorms to a new address off Campus, you will need to inform any person or entity that you do business with or receive mail or packages from of your new address.  DO NOT put in a “CHANGE OF ADDRESS” at the Post Office when moving from the dorms.  This will not help you since the Post Office does not deliver mail directly to you.

VIRTUAL COURSE HELP

Students who have questions about learning in a virtual environment or about courses are encouraged to 1) check the course Canvas pages; 2) stay in contact with your professor through Canvas messaging or email; and 3) visit the student learning support and frequently-asked question links.

FOOD SERVICES

Food service will be available at the Grill in the Memorial Student Center, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  These will be “grab-and-go” style meals.  The phone number for call ahead orders is (580) 774-3784. The convenience store in Mann Hall will be open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

RESIDENCE LIFE AND HOUSING

Residence Life and Housing has emailed all residents a housing update with new check-out procedures, important dates and times, as well as reimbursement information. We encourage all residents to read the email before returning to campus.

LIBRARY SERVICES

The Al Harris Library on the Weatherford campus and McMahan Library on the Sayre campus are closed until further notice. Updates to our services are located on the Library’s website and social media accounts - https://libguides.swosu.edu/libcv19. As of March 14, all overdue fines are waived until further notice. If you need research assistance or help on class assignments, please use the Ask-a-Librarian service to contact SWOSU Librarians by email, chat, or SMS text.

ENROLLMENT FOR SUMMER AND FALL

Please contact your advisor through phone or email to discuss enrollment for the summer and fall semesters. To find your advisor’s contact information, go to the People Search link on SWOSU’s web page and type in the last name of your advisor. If you need to find the name of your advisor, log in to Self Service and the advisor’s name will be listed.

COMPUTER LABS

SWOSU Weatherford will have one computer lab open for student use only.  The lab is located in Stafford 128 and will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For students who need lab time between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., please call Karen Klein at 580-330-0008 and arrangements will be made to open the lab.

SWOSU Sayre will have two computer labs open for student use only.  The labs will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The labs are Alexander 119 and Mackey Hall 111.  Gloves will be available in each lab and extensive disinfecting practices have been implemented.

ACTIVITY/EVENT REMINDER

All in-person activities and events are cancelled on campus through May 10. We are working on ideas on how campus organizations can meet virtually…more information later.

Update 3/21/20

As we monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation, we continue to review general guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as we consider appropriate measures to minimize the risks to our students and employees while maintaining our core services.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University is moving to FULLY VIRTUAL COURSE DELIVERY FOR THE REMAINDER OF SPRING SEMESTER 2020This decision was made to further our efforts to reduce the number of individuals on campus.  Please remember that:

  1. Current online courses will resume on March 23 as originally scheduled;
  2. Courses previously offered using face-to-face and hybrid delivery will be transitioned to a virtual learning format; and
  3. Students who have questions about learning in a virtual environment or about courses are encouraged to 1) check the course Canvas pages; 2) stay in contact with your professor through Canvas messaging or email; and 3) visit the student learning support and frequently-asked question links.

    Due to the rapidly-changing public health challenges posed by COVID-19 and the guidelines/directives provided by health and government officials, SWOSU will implement the following changes to operations to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by restricting the number of people on campus.  Please check your University email on a regular basis for updates on these changes.

    RESTRICTED ACCESS TO CAMPUS BUILDINGS

    There will be limited access to most buildings on campus.  Please call the appropriate office that you need to get in contact with instead of a personal visit.  While some personnel will be on campus and in their offices, in many instances they may restrict physical entrance to that office.  All offices will have signs posted on their doors with contact information.

    RESIDENTIAL HOUSING

    We encourage all students who live in residential housing to vacate campus at this time.  We believe that this is necessary to protect the health of our campus community. We understand some students have no housing alternative and we are committed to assisting them. Please contact your Housing Coordinator for more information and to schedule a moving time if needed.  

    FOOD SERVICES

    Food service will be available at the Grill in the Student Union, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  These will be “grab-and-go” style meals.  The convenience store in Mann Hall will be open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

    TEMPORARY TELEWORK PLAN

    SWOSU will implement a Temporary Telework Plan. This plan will be in effect only as long as necessary to respond to the challenges caused by COVID-19.  The University will continue to monitor the situation, and by no later than April 3, make a determination about the continuation of teleworking.

    Teleworking cannot be applied to certain necessary operations of the University, nor is it ideal for many other job functions.  However, directors, in consultation with their respective Vice President or other member of the Executive Council, will make arrangements so that those employees who can perform their work at home can do so as long as such action does not compromise the operations of the institution.

    For those employees who have job functions that cannot be performed at home, supervisors will develop individualized plans that adhere to the following guidelines:
      1. Create flexible and rotating work schedules designed to minimize direct inter-employee contact;
      2. Practice social distancing in the workspace by maintaining a 6-foot inter-workstation spacing where possible; and
      3. Minimize multi-person meetings and transition all possible meetings to phone or virtual formats.

Supervisors should contact you by March 25 to develop your individual work plan, assess your needs, and arrange for the additional training and equipment as needed. Student workers should contact their supervisor.

Please note that in general, individuals are expected to work normal hours, regardless of location.

Faculty members are encouraged to discuss with their department chairs and deans the best methods of teaching, advising, researching, and performing other duties, whether on campus or remotely. CETL has several resources for virtual learning practices.

PUBLIC ACCESS TO CAMPUS

Effective immediately, SWOSU is temporarily restricting access of the general public to buildings on the main campus in Weatherford and the Sayre campus.  Please note that other services typically provided to the public will still be available through electronic communication. All events on campus, either University-related or held by external groups, are suspended.  

SWOSU COMMENCEMENT 2020

Graduation ceremonies that were scheduled to take place in May will be postponed. This decision was based on the recommendations of the CDC to cancel/postpone large group events. We are discussing possible modifications and options that will allow us to honor our graduates and celebrate their achievements at a late date.

 UNIVERSITY-RELATED TRAVEL

Travel for all University-related business or academic purposes is suspended unless such travel is deemed absolutely critical to the University and pre-approved by the pertinent Vice President or other Executive Officer and the President.

While I realize that the actions listed above will cause some inconvenience, they are needed to help protect the safety and wellness of our campus community and are consistent with the guidelines/directives of state and federal officials.  I strongly encourage all of you to do your part in reducing the spread of COVID-19.  If you are sick, do not report to work but contact your supervisor as soon as possible.

Randy Beutler

President

Update 3/20/20

Thank you for your patience as we work through these very difficult and changing times.  At SWOSU, we will continue to strive to ensure your safety and educational attainment. 

As you know, we will be initiating a two-week period of online learning from SWOSU.  As mentioned in my previous email, this experience will vary from class to class and from instructor to instructor. 

To our great students: These will be educationally challenging times, especially if you have not experienced an online course before.  Please do not get behind or procrastinate just because you are not in a face-to-face class.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance that you adhere to deadlines and stay in constant contact!  It is vitally important that you stay in email and Canvas contact with your instructors and advisors.  Although, we are still an “open” campus, please practice the guidelines set by the CDC with interactions and gatherings. We will have limited services available for student support. We also have links for student guidance and frequently asked questions.

To our excellent faculty: These are new experiences that have changed without much time allowed for preparation.  I know your character and professionalism.  We can succeed in making this a positive occurrence for our students.  Please stay in contact with your chairs and deans as to any questions, issues or needs that you may have. Faculty may work from home or from campus.  We need faculty to hold office hours (which can be virtual) and teach their classes.  CETL has put together several resources to help you in this time of transition.

To our dedicated staff: If you have medical issues or other matters that might have an effect on your physical return to work, please let your direct supervisor know and we will review these on a case-by-case basis. We will follow best practices and CDC recommendations in accommodating staff who need to work remotely. We are dedicated to ensuring employee safety while also providing important and vital services to the university community.

To all students, faculty, and staff: Please make sure that when you are on campus, be it in the residence halls, food service areas, library, offices or computer lab areas, take note to practice “social distancing.”  As a reminder, see the CDC guidelines regarding these recommendations.

In addition, all university events are cancelled through at least April 12. Regular season athletic events, all on-and-off-campus recruiting activities, and practices for all out-of-season sports are suspended indefinitely.  The Wellness Center is closed indefinitely.  If you have questions, please call 580-772-6611 (starting on Monday, March 23).

In regard to the health of our campus community, if you feel ill, believe that you have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, or have traveled to an area outside of Oklahoma with a high infection rate, please contact your health provider via phone or call Health Services at 580-774-3776 (starting on Monday, March 23).

We do not know at this time what the remainder of the semester may look like.  But, we will announce a decision regarding the remainder of the academic year on or before Friday, March 27.

Always keep in mind that we are constantly updating the information on our website.  

I greatly appreciate your dedication and commitment to the health and welfare of everyone on our campus and in the community.  Please take care of yourself.

Randy Beutler

President

Update 3/16/20

Gov. Stitt just provided university and college presidents in Oklahoma with an update.  Here is a summary of that information:

  1. Federal government funding for virus testing is ramping up and more tests will soon be available.
  2. Gov. Stitt has approved 3 private companies to provide virus testing in the state.
  3. There have been 10 positive COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.  Some of those have already recovered from their symptoms.
  4. There should not be any disruption in the food and supply chain in the country.  There is no need to hoard or stockpile supplies or food.
  5. There will soon be 68 different sites in the state where virus testing can take place. (More info will be released later by the state)
  6. There has been established a 24-hour call center if you believe that you may have symptoms of the virus.  That number is 877-215-8336.
  7. The federal government asked Oklahoma to start mitigation efforts.  That led to the closure of public K-12 schools in Oklahoma until April 6th.  At that time, a re-evaluation will take place to see if K-12 schools will reopen.
  8. Gov. Stitt stressed that citizens need to remain calm and to use recommended sanitary practices.

As a reminder, SWOSU will restart classes with an online format on Monday, March 23.  The format and class structure of your classes will vary depending on the type of class you are enrolled in and how your instructor will want to handle the class.

University housing will be open for those currently living on campus.  Computer labs on campus will be available to students starting Monday.  Finally, the Student Union cafeteria will also be serving lunch and dinner starting next week.

Please stay safe and we look forward to your eventual return to campus.

Randy Beutler

SWOSU President

Update 3/12/20

As you know from previous communications, university leadership has been closely following events and public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

As a precautionary and protective measure, SWOSU is transitioning all in-person classes to an online learning environment for the two-week period following Spring Break, beginning Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3.

Though our campus classes will not meet in person, the university will remain open. SWOSU employees will report to work as usual. University housing, computer labs, food service, health clinics, counseling services, research labs and all other aspects of the university will remain open during the two-week period from March 23-April 3.

As students leave campus for Spring Break, they should take all instructional materials, including textbooks and devices, to prepare for online learning. 

Additional information further defining the transition is included in the links below. These links will be updated as necessary.

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the SWOSU campuses at this time, we are implementing this plan to prevent large gatherings on campus. As a result, all events/activities/meetings are suspended from March 23 through April 3.

SWOSU is closely monitoring the current safety levels with the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue to monitor the SWOSU website at www.swosu.edu and the coronavirus info quick link.

This is a difficult and extraordinary time in our lives and the history of this institution.  There is no perfect plan to deal with this current situation.  However, we have outlined a plan that we believe is operable for the time being.  We will work through this the best way we know how. 

There will be issues that arise that were not foreseen.  There will be issues that were not contemplated.  However, we have good, dedicated people and students on our campus who will make this work. 

Our goal is the safety of our students, faculty and staff and to create a safe learning environment for the time being.  These are times that we hope we will not see again. In order to make this work, in many instances, we will have to improvise, think outside the box, and hope that this will be a one-time, temporary endeavor into the educational unknown. 

The spread of COVID-19 may necessitate changes in the way we interact, but it does not change what we do. SWOSU will continue to operate and will continue to deliver the highest-quality education possible to the students we serve, and SWOSU employees will continue to perform their duties.

Randy Beutler

SWOSU President  

Update 3/11/20

SWOSU continues to closely monitor the emergence of the virus, consulting with experts at the Oklahoma Department of Health, the CDC, as well as other partners. The top priority is the safety of the members of the campus community.  SWOSU will make decisions regarding this issue based on public health guidance from authoritative sources.

SWOSU’s goal is to protect the health and safety of everyone on our campuses and in our communities.  Updated information will be provided as it becomes available.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at SWOSU or in our area.  Our immediate risk on our campuses currently remains low, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly.

In times like these, rumors have a tendency to spread.  There are no immediate threats or cause for alarm.   If you have questions, please ask.  Just because the SWOSU administration may have discussions and prepare for certain contingencies does not mean that they will be or are to be implemented.

We have assembled the SWOSU Emergency Management Working Group that is meeting on a regular basis to evaluate the spread of the novel coronavirus around the country and region.  The team, working in conjunction with guidelines established by federal, state and local health agencies, is charged with ensuring the university’s emergency preparedness plans are up-to-date should the virus reach our area.

Know the facts

As we approach Spring Break, please be safe and take common-sense precautions to avoid risk.  At this time, we intend to resume classes as scheduled on Monday, March 23, when the university reopens.  However, circumstances may change quickly.  If we were to significantly alter our operational status, you would be notified through our emergency alert system.  For less significant changes, you will be informed through campus email and Canvas.

Randy Beutler
SWOSU President

Coronavirus Update and Travel Restrictions

The latest situation summary from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Coronavirus and COVID-19 may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html.

SWOSU is relying on CDC, U.S. Department of State, and other global health organizations for guidance about university-related travel, including study abroad programs. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the virus outbreaks, we are fully aware that new areas can be identified very quickly that might lead to further restrictions at any time.

SWOSU will not authorize university travel to any region with a State Department Level 3 travel advisory or a CDC Level 3 advisory (current information about areas with Level 3 advisory). We remain confident that these organizations are best suited to provide guidance, although we may, when merited, restrict access to other areas that we believe might present some risk to students and faculty.

Impact on Study Abroad programs

In addition to the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, there are other risks associated with travel, including the risk of involuntary quarantine for those who travel through affected areas.  All faculty coordinating study abroad trips, regardless of destination, are required to communicate contingency plans in the event the virus is found in their host country. In addition, we have instructed faculty to consider means of transportation that minimize any possible transmission.

Impact on Semester and Yearlong Programs

SWOSU students who are currently abroad with approved academic or other partners may stay in place, at their discretion, while we continue to monitor the situation. We will stay in touch with the partners and the students to make sure that they are aware of our deep concern for their well-being.

If a student feels the need to return to the U.S., we are directing their home departments to work with the students to find alternative ways to meet their course credits.

SWOSU will wait to evaluate summer trips abroad, and we are asking departments to extend deadlines for withdrawal if at all possible. The university will not approve any travel to areas that have been identified by authoritative governmental organizations as having Level 3 outbreaks of the virus.

What You Can Do

The CDC states that Coronavirus is spread by close contact with someone who has the illness who coughs or sneezes. Precautions limiting your exposure to the virus are the same as those against the spread of the flu. Please refer to the CDC’s Travelers Health Notices for guidance if you are traveling.

If you have health concerns related to flu-like symptoms, contact University Health Services at 580-774-3776 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Additional information is also available through these Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Information: LibGuide

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Adler | VP for Public Relations and Marketing | brian.adler@swosu.edu | 580.774.3063