Dear IUSO Students, Staff, and Faculty,
I wanted to keep in touch with everyone about what has happened, what is being planned, what is likely, and what is unknown going forward during the pandemic. Some of you may remember the famous wisdom from former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that “There are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.” In our context we know that the campus is currently only open for “essential” activity (Known Known). We know that Monroe and Marion Counties have extended the “stay-at-home” order, but we don’t know if the open date (May 18) will change (Known Unknown). However, we don’t know what the fall semester will look like, which could change if the public health situation changes (Unknown Unknown).
Other Known and Unknown Issues
Online spring courses and 4th-year clinical case analyses are completed. Kudos to all spring faculty for being able to pivot quickly to provide online delivery. This could not have been done without the excellent coordination and help of Associate Dean Rowan Candy and Extern Director Elli Kollbaum!
Fourth-year students are graduated and we had a zoom commencement on Friday! Congratulations.
Now, we are entering the summer sessions. Some online courses will start soon and others later in the summer. AECC and IECC faculty and staff are preparing for 4th-year intern patient care, currently planned for May 18 and 3rd-year interns in June. Activities will ramp up slowly so that everyone can get use to the new protocols being put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Also, starting in July, lab courses will take place on the 1st floor of the school. Drs. Rowan Candy, Jeffrey Perotti, and other lab instructors have been working steadily in planning these labs. Our goal is to provide an educational and training experience equivalent to normal times, while keeping all as safe as possible. Dr. Perotti has taken the lead in the development of schedules, student flow and practice times, and safety protocols and as we get closer to July he will provide detailed instructions to all students involved. If anyone has a question about the summer lab courses, please contact Dr. Perotti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Access to the Building
Between now and the start of the labs, optometry students should not be coming to the school. If a student feels that they have a compelling reason, contact Associate Dean for Students Dr. Kim Kohne at email@example.com to get permission. Fourth-year interns should remove any needed equipment from their school lockers and not be coming back and forth from clinic to school through the summer. Let Dr. Kohne know if you will come to your locker to get equipment. In addition, for the time being and probably through the summer, rooms 108, 110, the 2nd floor student lounge, and the study area associated with the library will be closed to minimize areas where people can congregate. Signs will be placed on the doors reminding you that these areas are closed. As the university currently advises that only essential activities should take place on campus, this phase should have minimal impact on our community. These spaces will likely open up with social distancing by fall semester.
Moving forward, there may be times and situations when students, faculty, and staff need access to the building or restricted rooms. In that case, please contact IUSO Fiscal Officer Kevin Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Perotti in advance so that we can arrange appropriate accommodations. If you have general building questions, you can contact the building manager, Angie Marshall at email@example.com.
In this regard, the elevator modernization project has commenced. The contractors are now able to bring heavy items up or down. If you need this, contact Angie Marshall. IU Architect’s Office is displaying their usual “diligence” in keeping this project on track. The finish date is expected to be around June 22.
Other phases of re-opening will be announced in the upcoming weeks along with associated safety precautions. For example, current non-essential Research will likely be the first activity allowed to return to the campus. Associate Dean for Research Pete Kollbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be providing instructions and protocols for all PIs, research staff, and graduate students. Please be on the lookout for these communications and read them carefully. Note that these precautions may change with changing guidance from the University, the city, the state, and the federal government. And while we recognize that these precautions are generally not part of our normal routine, we thank each member of our community for working together to ensure that the entire IUSO community remains healthy.
Remember, frequent hand washing, following social distancing guidelines, using a mask or respirator in public areas, and minimizing what you touch is encouraged, as these have been shown to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Additionally, if you are sick or experiencing coronavirus symptoms (click here for a list of symptoms) contact your health care provider or IU Student Health and follow their advice (stay at home, come in for testing, etc.).
Going forward, I will serve as the COVID coordinator for the school building and Dr. Neil Pence for the clinics. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
Thanks for your patience, diligence, and cooperation as we move through this public health emergency.
Joesph A. Bonanno, OD, PhD
Dean and Professor, IU School of Optometry