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University cancels classes, transitions to remote teaching
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln announced that, in response to COVID-19, classes will be canceled March 16-20. The decision allows for a transition to remote teaching on March 30.
The university, including residence halls, will remain open. All non-essential student and employee travel through the end of the spring semester, as well as all summer study abroad programs through June 30, are suspended.
“We are, and will be, working through unprecedented changes in how we meet our education, research and engagement missions,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said in a March 12 message to campus. “Now that we have reached this critical point, I am confident our university can rise to this challenge.
“We are a community where every person and every interaction matters, and we must continue to lead with empathy and compassion in our interactions with each other. The spread of this disease is a global phenomenon. Regardless of race, ethnicity or nationality, it will impact all of us in a variety of ways.”
During the cancellation and following week of spring break (which, combined are March 16-29), faculty and staff are asked to make preparations that allow for campus work to continue. For faculty, that includes making coursework available through a remote access option. Staff employees are asked to work with supervisors to develop workplace procedures.
The university’s human resources policies do include existing sick, crisis, vacation and a flexible alternative worksite option.
To offer additional protections to the campus community, the university’s custodial staff has realigned to emphasize cleaning in high-traffic areas, sanitizing key touch points, and making sure soap and paper towels are available at all times within restrooms.
Faculty, staff and students should also follow CDC guidelines for personal preventative measures. Those include regular hygiene procedures (primarily hand washing) and instruction on cleaning surfaces.
Starting March 30, all classes will be taught utilizing remote access. There will be no in-person class sessions for the remainder of the spring semester.
Other key parts of the chancellor’s announcement include:
Students living in student housing (residence halls and Greek houses) are encouraged to return to a place of permanent residence, which increases advantages of social distancing.
Students unable to return home, plan to work or who have other commitments in Lincoln, can remain living in residence halls and access dining facilities.
The University Libraries are expected to remain open, however some services and hours may be limited.
The university will work to ensure that research and creative activity continues and that faculty, staff and students engaged in the work will be able to continue safely.
Resources for faculty and staff preparing for remote learning are available here. More details and resources will be added throughout the semester.
Student advising will continue, but may be done remotely. More information on accessing advising and other student services will be announced.
Changes in campus events will be announced via the university’s events calendar. Campus units are free to make determinations on if an event is to be canceled.
“We will work tirelessly to ensure that this switch to remote learning does not disadvantage any student,” Green said. “Specific information about help with internet access, computer resources and other questions will be provided in the next few days.”
Based on consultation with medical officials, and consistent with guidance from the CDC, any actions that the university takes will be enacted from the perspective of helping to protect campus and the greater Lincoln community.
Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, university leaders and the COVID-19 Task Force are continuously evaluating details related to the virus. Updates are being provided primarily through the COVID-19 website, which is a one-stop resource for university-related news regarding the virus. For additional information, send email to email@example.com.
“Thank you for your continued patience as we lead through the tremendous amount of change occurring as a result of this global pandemic,” Green said. “I am very appreciative of the leadership of our executive team and the unanimous support from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and ASUN Executive Committee in the steps we’re announcing.
“With our incredible faculty, staff and students, I know we can shine through this.”