Measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the university community

UPDATED: MARCH 16, 2020, 5:40 P.M.


Dear University Community,

As our country and state grapple with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), University of Utah leaders are determined to do our part to protect the health and safety of our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable to this disease. We do not make these decisions lightly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic. We are making the following changes in an effort to slow the disease’s spread and, hopefully, ensure smooth operations for our healthcare system.

As part of that initiative, we will:

  • Cancel classes March 16 and 17 (does not apply to Utah Asia Campus)
  • Beginning March 18, move to online instruction for the rest of the semester (does not apply to Utah Asia Campus)
  • Restrict all university-sponsored events to fewer than 100 people
  • Restrict international and domestic travel, as well as in-state travel to large gatherings

Each day, new knowledge about this infectious disease is being developed by healthcare researchers and clinicians, including our partners at U of U Health. Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest updates. We are adjusting our response daily based on the best recommendations of these scientists, after consultation with our peer institutions across the country and under the guidance of state and federal health officials.

Therefore, we are implementing the following changes to spring semester to limit and slow the spread of COVID-19:

Classes canceled on March 16 & 17
Online learning only through end of semester

The University of Utah will shift to all-online instruction beginning March 18 for the rest of spring semester. Classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, allowing faculty and staff time to prepare the transition to online coursework. In these extraordinary circumstances, faculty are encouraged to simplify coursework as much as possible, be available for online consultation with students, and develop digital or take-home exams. Faculty, for guidance on how to move your class online, visit the TLT website. Faculty members with questions not answered by the website can request support by emailing classhelp@utah.edu. The Faculty Center will remain open this weekend, March 14 and 15, to help instructors prepare online offerings. Check Canvas for more information.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, students will be able to access recorded lectures, homework assignments, and engage in video consultations with their instructors. Online-only instruction will continue through the end of the semester, including finals. Requests for exceptions to online instruction should be rare and should come from individual college deans to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for review, subject to accreditation requirements. University testing centers and ProctorU are currently reviewing ways to complete class finals. More information will be forthcoming.

Student Housing

University housing will remain open and food service will be available throughout the rest of the semester. However, we ask, where possible, for students who are traveling or visiting home for spring break to stay at those homes through the end of spring semester. All Housing and Residential Education (HRE) student residents will receive a subsequent email to their UMail account with additional information regarding canceling their contract and service information. All updates will also be posted to the housing website.

For the over 2,000 residents currently living in University Student Apartments (USA) as their primary residence, housing operations will remain open and unchanged, with the exception of scheduled large gatherings. USA is available to respond to questions. For more information please contact apartments@utah.edu or call (801) 581-8667.

We recognize this time of uncertainty can be particularly stressful for students who live in on-campus housing. Students who are struggling with anxiety or depression are encouraged to reach out to their HRE resident director for campus resources, or directly to the University Counseling Center for help.

Meetings, conferences and gatherings

All large university-sponsored meetings or gatherings should be postponed or canceled, starting immediately and continuing through Wednesday, April 29. In making these decisions, please consider whether your meeting is mission-critical. If not, please reschedule for later in the year, or consider ways to communicate through telephone or videoconferencing. The university remains open and operational as we do all we can to limit exposure to this highly contagious virus.

No decision has been made about 2020 Commencement, scheduled for April 30. The administration is reviewing options, including a remote video feed of speeches, conferral of the Honorary Degree and Distinguished Professor Awards. We will keep each member of the campus community informed every step of the way through email alerts and the university’s COVID-19 website.

Campus Transit Services

Beginning March 18, the campus shuttles will operate on the “Break” schedule. U SafeRide will operate normally. For details related to routes and hours, please refer to the Commuter Services website or call our information center at (801) 581-6415.

Academic Advising

Your advising needs are important to us. We have a number of options in place to ensure full access to academic advising, whether you can come to campus or not. If you need to meet with an advisor, please start at the academic advising appointments landing page. This can easily be accessed from the green conversation bubbles icon at the bottom right of the university’s home page. Select the college or unit that best fits your need, and view options for making phone or virtual appointments.

Once you’ve scheduled a phone or virtual appointment, be sure to set up a FERPA pin in CIS. Your advisor will need to verify your identity before being able to discuss your academic records by phone or video.

Our Student Success Advocate (SSA) team will also operate from a distance. SSAs can meet with you via Skype, email, or text, to support you in any way that they can. To contact an SSA, click here then select the SSA who best meets your needs. Then, call, text or email your SSA using the contact provided.

We want to ensure you are able to engage in your classes in the online format. Please let us know if you have any concerns about access to the technology you need to continue in your courses. If you do not have access to adequate Wi-Fi, please contact an SSA.

Second, please let your SSA know if you have any concerns about your learning style or capacity to perform to the best of your ability or keep up with your class in an online format. We will work with you to address these concerns.

Finally, please reach out to us if the move to an online format impacts your access to food or housing, puts you in a vulnerable position, or if you are feeling stress around your health and the ongoing coronavirus situation. Please know that everyone here at the University stands ready to support you during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Guidance for Mandatory On-Campus or Telecommuting Designations

Beginning immediately, departmental should leaders begin working with their teams to identify employees and positions (as well as functions) who must report in-person to work and those whose work can be completed remotely. Guidance has been produced by the U’s Human Resources team to assist supervisors and leaders in this process. While staffing plans should be implemented immediately, leaders should keep track of the designations and provide a report to their supervisory vice president or dean by Friday, March 20, at noon. Click here for more information.

Child Care Facilities

The university operates five on-campus child care centers. Parents and clients of these centers are being communicated with directly.

Museums

The Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) will be closing to the public, effective Friday, March 13 and continuing through March 27.  As that date approaches, we will reassess whether the closure should continue. NHMU and UMFA are both committed to doing all that is possible to support teaching and learning, including during this period of public closure. Faculty are encouraged to reach out to the museums’ staff to discuss possible accommodations for students virtually and/or possibly in person.

Finally, both museums maintain a database of objects that are viewable online, as well as rich online content, blogs, curricula, and other online resources that can be used for academic purposes.

Pioneer Theatre Company and Kingsbury Hall Performances

Performances at Pioneer Theatre Company and Kingsbury Hall are canceled through the remainder of spring semester. Contact the relevant ticket office to inquire about rescheduled performances.

Athletics Competitions

The Pac-12 has canceled the NCAA basketball tournament and other competitions until further notice. This means the gymnastics meet scheduled for Friday, March 13, with Utah State University, is canceled. Watch Utah athletics websites for additional information.

Student Life Center

In an effort to keep our students, staff and faculty safe, the Eccles Student Life Center will be closed until Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Please check back frequently as this date may change. Click here for information on how programs and memberships will be managed.

Thank you

Students, we recognize our responses to COVID-19 have significantly disrupted the sense of academic accomplishment and celebration that come with the end of a school year. We hope you understand these changes are meant to protect you, your extended family and members of our community.

Faculty members, we know these actions will make your teaching, research and service more challenging. We appreciate your patience and partnership.

And staff members, we know much of the implementation of these changes falls to you. Thank you for your quick and efficient work on behalf of the entire University of Utah community.

We are proud to live in a place that considers the greater good and cares for its neighbors. We will continue to keep these values in mind as we respond to daily changes in our understanding of this public health situation.

Sincerely,

Ruth Watkins
President

Daniel Reed
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Michael Good
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences