Nicholls sets plan for allowing employees to return to campus


Nicholls State University President Jay Clune sent an email that said May 4 would be the deadline for having the protective measures needed for when employees can return to work after the stay-at-home order is released. 

Clune said that employees who cannot work from home would be assigned PPE, be required to wear a mask indoors, have their temperature checked before entering and use sanitizing wipes when needed. He said if employees could continue to work from home, they will, so that on-campus staff would be kept at a small number.

“We knew that the governor could potentially release us from this stay-at-home phase at some point soon, so May 4 was our self-imposed date to have safety measures in place for when people can start returning,” Jerad David, director of communications, said.

David said when employees can return to work, it would be done in phases.

“Once he releases the stay-at-home order, we won’t necessarily flood back to campus. We’re not just going to open campus back up. We’re going to have to do it in phases, much like the state is opening up and the federal government is opening things up,” David said. 

Clune detailed the four phases that are set in place for a return to campus in an email sent May 1. Phase one will begin on May 4 with the return of maintenance and grounds staff. Phase two beginning May 18 will have housekeeping staff returning to prepare the buildings for people to return. Phase three will have hybrid work environments and will begin on May 26. Staffing levels for on-campus work will be discussed and some employees may continue to work online. Faculty can return to campus to prepare for the summer semester and/or resume their research. Phase four is the summer semester beginning June 4.  

Clune also stated in the email that virtual commencement ceremonies will be held on May 16 with a full ceremony being done when it is safe. The College of Business Administration will have its ceremony at 9 a.m. followed by the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at 10 a.m. The College of Liberal Arts will have its ceremony at 11 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., the College of Nursing will have its ceremony. The College of Sciences and Technology will have its ceremony at 2:30 p.m. At 3:30, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will have its ceremony. 

David said some people are currently still working on campus. He said the maintenance crew is on a rotating schedule and follows social distancing guidelines. David said once the governor lifts the stay-at-home order, it will most likely be an increase of those people on campus, so it can be made sure the campus is safe and clean. Those working would still be on a rotating schedule until we are in a statewide phase to open campus to the new normal. 

“I think our new normal will sort of be different than what we’ve become accustomed to. Going back, it’s going to be a little bit different. I would imagine that for a while, people will have to wear masks. Some of the situations in residence halls are going to be different,” David said.

Alex Coad, the director of the office of residential living, said with regulations always changing, they are working on planning and being prepared for many different situations. He said they will be working on making sure the areas that students are living in will be clean and sanitized to reduce the spread of germs.

Coad said it has already been put in place for additional cleaning for the most-touched surfaces in the lobbies of the residence halls. He said there will also be sanitary wipes available for when students are using the moving carts at residence halls, and visitation and guest restrictions are also in place. Coad also said student workers will also be wearing face masks at the front desks.

Denise Collins, the coordinator of the Tutorial and Academic Enhancement Center, said the tutoring and writing centers will be following the rules and regulations that will be in effect at the time when campus reopens. Collins said, for now, online tutoring will be continued during the summer if students are not allowed on campus.

“If students are allowed on campus, whatever the state, parish, university protocols are at that time, if it’s still six feet away, we will adjust our physical spaces to where students will sit six feet away from their tutor. If we have to use PPE, we will do that as well,” Collins said.

Collins also said online tutoring will continue to be offered, as well, for those students who may not be taking all on-campus classes, depending on course offerings. She said after each tutoring session, hand sanitizer will be used and the area will be disinfected.

David said at the beginning of the pandemic, Clune put together a crisis committee that is now transitioning into a return-to-campus committee. He said this week, they will be discussing how they will make sure the safety measures are in place before people are allowed back on campus.

“We’ve said it from the beginning and we’ll continue to say it, that the safety and security and well being of our Nicholls family is the most important thing to us,” David said.