COVID-19, Higher Ed, News

Duke University tells students to vacate campus housing as soon as possible

Image: Duke.edu/Julie Schoonmaker

In the latest sign of how seriously officials are taking the spread of COVID-19, Duke University announced on Friday that effective immediately it was suspending residential activities for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

University leaders say it is urgent that as many students as possible not be on campus.

Here’s more from the university’s website:

In our previous communications, we offered the possibility of students coming to retrieve belongings before March 22. Given rapid change of circumstances and the advisement of health officials, we are revoking this option for the sake of individual and broader campus safety. We are working to develop a plan to ship students their essential belongings required for continued learning and safety, likely to include: current academic materials required for remote learning, laptops, medical supplies and certain items required for self-care.

We will advise all students with campus housing on next steps, including retrieval of belongings, early next week.With thanks for your continued patience, goodwill, and support for one another.

The online letter is signed by Duke’s Provost, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.

Duke University says that faculty will teach their courses remotely through the end of the semester.

Higher Ed, News

UNC System Interim President addresses COVID-19 response

Interim UNC System President Dr. Bill Roper released a video Thursday afternoon directly addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus, and the UNC System response to it.

From Roper’s address:


“As a physician, educator, parent, and former director of the CDC, I understand why the University community is anxious at this time.

Concern is warranted, panic is not.

Everyone should be vigilant and adopt tried and true practices for maintaining good health. Doing so will help minimize the impact of this virus.

Avoiding overreaction is also critical to our shared effort. The UNC System is consulting with public health officials to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and prepare for the likelihood that the virus will impact our institutions.

I have been working closely with a small coordinating group of university administrators and public health experts to help craft an informed approach.

Those who are most at risk of suffering serious health consequences from the virus are older adults and those with serious pre-existing respiratory problems.

Our universities remains open and will continue to deliver high-quality instruction for our students. At the same time, we are working to maximize our flexibility in how we deliver education and limit the potential impact of coronavirus at our institutions. At each UNC System institution, we are transitioning whenever possible from in-person teaching to alternative, online instruction.

UNC System institutions are thriving and supportive communities, ready to adapt quickly as circumstances evolve.

We remain focused on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and the delivery of our core academic mission.”

 

On Wednesday the UNC System announced all its schools will transition from in-person instruction to “a system of alternative course delivery.”

Alternative course delivery will begin March 23.

COVID-19, Higher Ed, News

Breaking: UNC system transitioning away from in-person instruction “indefinitely” amid COVID-19 pandemic

All UNC System schools will transition from in-person instruction to “a system of alternative course delivery” amid concerns about the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement from the UNC system office late Wednesday.

Alternative course delivery will begin March 23, according to a statement from the system.

From the statement:

All UNC System institutions will remain open and continue to deliver high-quality instruction for our students At the same time, we are working to maximize flexibility in how we deliver education in order to limit the potential impact of the coronavirus at our institutions. Guidance has just been issued to all UNC System institutions.

  • All UNC System institutions will transition from in-person instruction to a system of alternative course delivery, where possible and practical, no later than March 20. Alternative course delivery will begin on March 23 and last indefinitely. Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as soon as reasonably possible. Each institution will communicate the specific details to its students and faculty.
  • University leadership will determine which classes, such as those with labs, will continue to require in-person instruction and attendance.
  • Outside events and gatherings of 100 or more people will be cancelled or postponed unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost.
  • University-sponsored in-state travel to gatherings of 100 or more people is suspended, and all travel outside the state is suspended, unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost.

UNC System institutions are thriving and supportive communities, ready to adapt quickly as circumstances evolve.  We remain focused on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and the delivery of our core academic mission.

The announcement follows similar moves by Duke University and Elon University this week.

COVID-19, Higher Ed, News

Duke, Elon University move classes online as UNC system develops options

Responding to the  COVID-19 pandemic, Elon University announced Wednesday it will move instruction online for two weeks when students return from Spring Break on March 23.

The move follows Duke University’s Tuesday announcement that all on-campus classes would be suspended until further notice, with Spring Break extended to March 22 and instruction resuming remotely on March 23.

“Although the decision to alter classes was difficult as it will impact Elon’s residential learning environment for a few weeks, we are confident these measures will help to protect all members of our community,” said Elon University President Connie Book in a message to the Elon community Wednesday. “We are announcing this decision now to give faculty and students time to plan for the transition and achieve their academic goals. This decision will bring many questions and we will be working to answer those in the days ahead. We know this will be a stressful shift for our community and will be in touch frequently as further information is developed.”

The UNC System, as of Wednesday afternoon, had not made any announcement about the suspension of classes.

In a statement this week, UNC-Chapel Hill said the campus is developing its ability to deliver courses remotely.

“As it relates to instruction, we are developing the capacity to continue course delivery remotely, should that be necessary,” the statement said. “Several campus units and academic leaders, together with members of the campus information technology community, have put together a collection of resources that should help faculty and instructors prepare. We have an interdisciplinary team working on this and they will continue to develop our remote instruction strategy and update the site as new information and capabilities become available.”

The university has restricted travel and is requiring students to self-report travel over Spring Break, which ends March 16.

Students and faculty returning from Level 2 and Level 3 countries — as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are expected to self-report and self-quarantine. Students who fail to do so will not be given excused absences and could be subject to action from the Office of Student Conduct, Guskiewicz said in an update e-mail last week.

Though there are as yet no confirmed cases in the UNC system, the system office is working with individual campuses as they formulate their responses.

 

Higher Ed, News, public health

UNC increases COVID-19 precautions, travel restrictions during Spring Break

As students remain on Spring Break this week, UNC-Chapel Hill announced new precautions related to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus.

In addition to Level 3 countries, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the school is now prohibiting University-affiliated travel to Level 2 countries. Anyone returning from Level 2 or 3 countries is expected to self-quarantine off campus for 14 days, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an update to the campus community Monday.

Level 3 countries — to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises no non-essential travel — include China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Venezuela.

Level 2 countries — in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises travelers to “practice enhanced precautions — also include Japan.

The university is also restricting university-related travel to cities and states that have declared a coronavirus state of emergency. That list now includes Austin and San Antonio in Texas, as well as the states of California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

Students and faculty returning from those countries after Spring Break, which lasts until March 16, are expected to self-report and self-quarantine. Students who fail to do so will not be given excused absences and could be subject to action from the Office of Student Conduct, Guskiewicz said in an update e-mail last week.

Though there are as yet no confirmed cases in the UNC system, the system office is working with individual campuses as they formulate their responses.

Five new cases of the virus were confirmed in North Carolina Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to seven. The five who most recently tested positive for COVID-19 all attended the same Biogen corporate management conference in Boston last month, Wake County officials said Monday. More than 30 infections have now been tied to the conference, which hosted about 175 managers from around the world.

“It’s important to note that, even if the risks associated with COVID-19 are low for many individuals in our community, it is critical we all do our part to limit transmission and ensure the safety of everyone on our campus and in our communities,” Monday’s update read. “Limiting travel is one way the University is actively trying to do that, which is why we are issuing the following updated travel restrictions for students, faculty and staff.”

The university system is monitoring the national and international situation surrounding the virus and issuing updates as necessary.

“We are also developing a series of contingency plans that may apply to several different scenarios if the need arises to protect your safety and that of others on campus, and to ensure essential operations continue, even if work arrangements or staffing levels change,” Guskiewicz wrote Monday.

Those preparations may eventually include working and teaching remotely, Guskiewicz wrote.