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Notes From The Garrison 9: Table-Top "What-If" Planning

In Notes From The Garrison 3 we described scenario planning and in 4, 5 and 6 provided planning resources to develop a strategy for a Fall 2020 opening.


Whatever set of scenarios you decided on, now is the time to begin table-top “What-If” planning. This type of planning involves gathering your team and others who need to be a part of your work this fall, for a meeting or series of meetings. During these meetings you are going to determine what you will do in specific situations when students return in the fall.


For example, in one scenario you bring a population of students back to campus—maybe that is athletes or first year students or whomever. During the meetings walk through: campus preparation, student arrival and student continuation through the term. Then go through every contingency you can think of. For example, a student athlete or a faculty member or a staff member gets sick with the virus. Or your state/city government institutes

a shelter-in-place order or maybe for some unknown reason the threat from the virus subsides. Next plan your response to each contingency in exceptional detail. Make sure each person in the room knows exactly what their role and tasks will be when you are confronted with any of these issues. That way you can put the pieces of the response puzzle together quickly and successfully.


Your responsibility and commitment to your students, faculty, and staff is to be prepared for this new, uncertain future as best as humanly possible. Higher education institutions can be beacons of hope for both our internal and external communities in leading the way for our society.


Your purpose in the long term is to help students decide what they are going to do with their lives, and you can model that purpose in how we prepare for this fall. Thanks to MaryAnn for this quote from Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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