The University of Kansas has reached a turning point in the pandemic as activities like orientation and other school events return to in-person, Chancellor Douglas Girod said Wednesday in his weekly COVID-19 update. Students are urged to get vaccinated.
Incoming KU students are given the option to attend orientation online if COVID-19 or other reasons prevent them from attending in-person, Girod said. Wednesdays and Fridays will serve as mostly in-person orientations and Tuesdays and Thursdays are days for online orientations.
“We really know that orientation and time on campus is really one of the most important things for ensuring our future Jayhawks actually come and enroll with us, but also to help them get a solid start to their educational career here at KU,” Girod said.
Earlier this month, Girod and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer announced that masks are no longer required on KU’s Lawrence and Edwards campuses, following the lead of new CDC issued recommendations. KU has also adjusted its campus event approval policy and moved from a level three, low density, to level two, moderate density on campus, Girod said.
Events no longer need central approval to occur on campus, but they still need to be registered and go through KU’s event management protocol available online. Many more activities will be happening on campus come fall, but students still need to use good judgment when attending events, Girod said.
“We have really reached a critical and frankly exciting point in the pandemic where there is a shift of responsibility,” Girod said. “We have the ability to get vaccinated and protect ourselves and we should most definitely take advantage of that opportunity.”
Girod encouraged those who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to reach out to Watkins Health Services, Lawrence Memorial Health or Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department to arrange an appointment.
With the state legislature session wrapping up about a week ago, Girod noted higher education funding received budget cuts of 2.5% for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This will be implemented on July 1, he said.
Girod also mentioned one time funds from the legislature to KU. At the end of the legislative session, the legislature appropriated $53 million for higher education institutions to hopefully remain eligible for federal coronavirus relief funds.
“These were one-time-moneys for specific initiatives to be invested in higher education,” Girod said. “We are still waiting to learn and working with the region to understand what those restrictions are and what those investments can be.”
KU is not able to maintain full state funding and the state has not helped with budget challenges, Girod said. The budget cuts will move forward as planned. KU will continue to monitor federal level packages that are being discussed and will track those over the summer months as they evolve.