CSU President Joyce McConnell Issues Statement about Mitigating Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 during Fall Semester

Aug 7, 2020 | Member News

Dear Friends in the Fort Collins Community,

As the President of Colorado State University, I take seriously my responsibility to CSU faculty, staff, students and their families, and the Fort Collins community. That’s why I am sharing the University’s plans for fall semester with you.

Each year, I look forward to August and the start of the fall semester, but this year the annual return of students to Fort Collins and Colorado State University will look much different and will reflect our “new normal” in the face of COVID-19. Since March, we have worked with the CSU Pandemic Preparedness Team, a team of disease, public health and logistics experts, and with our public health office to implement protocols to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We have done this in almost daily consultation with other public health offices including Larimer County and the state. Our CSU protocols exceed CDC, state and county guidelines because we want to do the best we can to restart in-person operations and mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission on our campuses and in the community.

I know many of you are concerned about students returning to campus and our community. I acknowledge that this week’s Coloradoan story, suggesting that some of our student athletes do not believe protocols are being followed by CSU Athletics, may have increased your concerns.

Let me clarify several things: Before we had any knowledge of these concerns, the Pandemic Preparedness Team had already mandated a 14-day suspension of football activities to limit transmission. And when we learned of the allegations, we acted immediately to engage the law firm of Husch and Blackwell to perform a completely independent investigation of the allegations. I assure you that if we find a breach of health protocols, we will take immediate action. My hope in this letter is to address your concerns by providing a brief overview of Colorado State University’s concerted and intensive efforts to reduce the risk to our campuses and our town.

CSU is committed to creating a physical environment on our campuses that reduces the risk of spread of COVID-19 yet allows us to safely continue the University’s mission of teaching, research and outreach.  We have done all of our planning with the broader community in mind, and that includes all of you. Here is a brief outline of our health precautions. For greater detail please link to the following:  https://covidrecovery.colostate.edu/public-health-precautions-during-the-semester/


Public Health on Campuses

  • Students, faculty, staff, and guests are required follow all public health orders while on University grounds, including wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.
  • Disinfectant supplies will be available to students and employees across campuses and in buildings. More than 600 stations of hand sanitizer or wipes are being deployed across campuses.
  • All employees and students are required to monitor for symptoms whenever they are going to be on campus. They are required to report on an app that is monitored by a public health team. If they have symptoms they do not report to campus, are contacted by a member of CSU’s public health team and evaluated for testing.
  • If an employee or student tests positive, we share information and software with Larimer County that tracks positive COVID-19 cases in the county. Our CSU Pandemic Preparedness Team immediately engages in contact tracing when students, faculty and staff have COVID-19, as well as directing those who are sick or may be exposed to self-isolate or quarantine.

Move-In/Residence Hall Life

Classroom Protocols

  • Courses will be delivered through three types of classes: in-person, hybrid of in-person and online, and completely online.
  • All classrooms, laboratories and other learning spaces comply with county density guidelines and have been reconfigured for required physical distancing.
  • Our custodial crews have increased the frequency of their cleaning and disinfecting practices across our campuses. In addition, upon entering a classroom, students will be required to disinfect their desk and chair, while instructors will be required to disinfect their podium.
  • More information is available at https://covidrecovery.colostate.edu/learning-and-academic-interactions/

While the University has strict protocols in place for on-campus activities, we understand that much of student life takes place off campus. For an example of the kind of clear messaging we are doing to our students regarding our expectations of them as members of the Fort Collins community, you can read the message I shared last Friday with all students returning to off-campus housing

We have a robust social-norming campaign to educate students about their responsibility to adhere to protocols. All CSU students are bound by the University’s Code of Conduct. As outlined in the code, CSU students are expected to conduct themselves in a responsible manner at all times, whether on or off campus. Students can and will be held responsible for behavior they engage in that “adversely affects the University community’s health, safety or welfare, poses a threat to persons or property, or may damage the institution’s reputation or relationship with the greater community.”

The health and well-being of our community, and of our students, faculty and staff, many of whom are your neighbors and friends, is our primary concern.  For 150 years and as Fort Collins’ largest employer, CSU has been an excellent economic partner and collaborator with the city in a mutually beneficial and model town-gown relationship that has allowed both to flourish. We rely on each other for wonderful experiences and opportunities. We have grown together and benefited from each other. Now, we face a global pandemic together and we will get through it. Together



Joyce McConnell, JD, LLM


Colorado State University