COVID-19 Response

March 11, 2020 — I am writing with information regarding UNT’s response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In recent days we have seen continued global spread of the coronavirus, with a presumptive case being reported in our region. With increased testing availability, we expect that confirmed cases of COVID-19 will grow in our region. 

We care about the health and safety of our UNT community and I am asking for your assistance in the event we need to activate operational changes, such as mode of instruction delivery. It is important that you create a plan for how you can adapt if you are called upon to do so. Below are key areas we need your help in planning for, please review to determine which are applicable to you.

Continuity of Communications 

  1. Review your contact information on the UNT Online Directory and ensure you are set to receive Eagle Alerts. Go to and select Personal Information and check all tabs; emergency alerts are located under Phone Numbers.  
  2. The preferred group meeting technology is Zoom. Ensure that you have a Zoom account setup and configured. Download the Zoom app to any devices on which you would expect to host or join meetings. Select SSO sign-in. UNT are the letters that should be entered when prompted for a web address. You can access a training video on using Zoom features. 
  3. Check your access to technology from your personal devices. For example, can you use a personal desktop, laptop and/or mobile device to access UNT systems remotely? Ensure you have access to the University’s Virtual Private Network in order to access on-campus files from off-campus locations. Your college technology team can help if there is a problem.

Continuity of Teaching 

  1. Develop a plan for alternative mode of delivery of your courses and communicate your plans to your chair/program coordinator. 
    1. To the extent feasible, online delivery of instruction is the preferred alternative method of delivery for courses that typically meet in person.  
      1. CLEAR has set up a shell in Canvas for every UNT course. Canvas would be a critical part of our efforts to communicate with and deliver instruction to students.
      2. To support your planning, visit This site will have ongoing updates in the coming days and weeks, as needed. On the site you will be able to:
        1. Learn about workshops CLEAR will be holding next week on making the transition to online for faculty.
        2. Learn how to use Zoom to offer synchronous delivery at the regularly scheduled time and how to pre-record content to post in Canvas.
        3. Learn how to get started with Canvas. In addition, within Canvas you have been enrolled in the Canvas Boot Camp Course, which you can find when you log in to Canvas.
    2. Assess alternative modes of delivery for courses in which fully online instruction is not feasible, such as labs, studios, performance and clinical experiences. 
      1. Consider which parts of these experiences you could take online. For example, video demonstrations of techniques or online simulations. There are a range of online resources that may help you in replicating some of these experiences, which will vary by discipline. Merlot is one example that provides a range of resources across many disciplines. Your discipline’s professional associate also may have examples of how best to meet students’ learning needs.
      2. Determine which experiences you would save until physical presence in classes could be restored.
    3. Plan for alternative modes of delivery for thesis and doctoral dissertation defenses, master’s comprehensive/qualifying exams.  
    4. In some cases, the nature of the course may not be suitable for online delivery. Other options should be developed allowing students the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their knowledge.  
  2. Consider flexibility in your syllabus.
    1. Some students may not be able to attend class due to self-isolation, as an example. How might you adapt your attendance expectations?
    2. Consider dating your syllabus so that if you need to make updates throughout the semester students will be clear on which syllabus is current. Also consider how you would reflect changes in the syllabus, such as changed text being italicized or bolded.
  3. Other items to consider as you prepare for a possible change in mode of delivery.
    1. Consider how you would handle office hours. How would students’ best be able to contact you to arrange a virtual meeting?
    2. Are there readings that you would need to make available online? University Libraries can assist faculty with access to course materials. Contact Mary Ann Venner at for assistance.
    3. Go over your assignments for the remainder of the semester. Are they accessible online so that students can find the instructions and materials they need? Would there need to be any changes in how students submit their work, such as in Canvas or via email? Would you need to change deadlines? And if so, how would you communicate deadline changes?
    4. Consider that students have different levels of access to technology and internet connectivity, and that the availability of computer labs and other public access points may be limited. Provide materials in mobile friendly formats. PDFs are easiest to access on a mobile device. Consider saving PowerPoints and other course materials in a PDF format. Alternative assignments or accommodations may be necessary on a case-by-case basis.
    5. Consider accessibility in the design and delivery of your modified courses. The site will be adding information about designing for accessibility and CLEAR is available for faculty consultations. Determine whether you already have students enrolled in your courses who have requested accessibility accommodations, should a move to alternative mode of delivery be needed be prepared to communicate your modified delivery plan to the Office of Disability Access so they can support you and your students.
  4. Advance preparation will help ensure as smooth a transition as possible in the event of the need to change mode of delivery.
    1. Save your course materials to a place you can access if you are away from campus.
    2. Select a day in the next week to dry run your alternative mode of delivery. This way you have the opportunity to learn what you can do to make sure the experience is positive for your students.

Continuity of Research 

  1. Develop a plan for continuation of your research in the event limited or restricted access to campus occurs.
    1. Identify critical personnel that are needed to maintain the lab or research area.  Examples of critical personal include support and maintenance of research animals, specimens and equipment. Ensure that they know what to do in the event of limited or restricted access to UNT.
    2. Identify critical pieces of equipment (e.g. -80C freezers) and personnel contacts to monitor or implement instructions to maintain or shut down/turn on equipment. Assess if equipment is on electrical generator backup or if specific instructions/processes need to be implemented in the case of a power outage.
    3. If your research requires consistent upkeep (e.g. maintenance of live organisms), identify the personnel, timeline and necessary tasks to maintain and/or carry out the work. Consider prioritization and feasibility of storage and/or saving of research samples when developing this plan.
    4. Determine what remote work arrangements may be feasible for people in your research team.
  2. Develop a communication plan for your research group.
    1. Emergency contacts should be designated on the research laboratory/facility door.
    2. Designate points of contact, remote access to files and data, and plan to disseminate information or conduct meetings in case of limited or restricted access.
    3. Discuss your plan with your research team and how the group will communicate in the event they are not able to come to campus.
    4. Share the names and contact information for critical personnel with your department chair.
  3. Your department will communicate with you about any plans related to delivery and pickup of supplies. Your department also will communicate with you regarding liquid nitrogen, as applicable.
  4. The Division of Research and Innovation will be responsible for maintaining equipment and communications for core research facilities in the event of a change in operations (such as the Materials Research Facility, High-Performance Computing and the BioDiscovery Institute).

Continuity of Clinical Operations 

  1. For those with clinical operations, work with your department chair/college leadership to assess whether alternative mode of delivery of clinical services is feasible. For example, telemedicine.  
  2. If you are a clinic director, develop a plan for contacting patients regarding any change of operations including referral of patients in need of continuation of care.  


  1. Create a list of all events for which you are responsible for and determine if alternative modes of delivery possible. For example, moving a day-long workshop to a Zoom format.
  2. Consider postponing the planning of new events such as conferences, workshops and other large events for events that could occur over the remainder of the spring semester, unless an alternative mode of delivery is possible.
  3. If there are events planned for which there are deposits, such as facility rentals, check the terms of the contracts to determine any restrictions on cancellations.
  4. Communicate with your department chair about your plans for upcoming events.


  1. Postpone issuing new invitations to external visitors for visits that would occur through the remainder of the spring semester.
  2. Students who may have traveled to an affected area (international or domestic) may be asked to or may choose to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return. Please be as flexible as possible in working with these students so that they may continue to receive instruction and student support services virtually. Where such flexibility is impossible, please work with your chair to determine the best course of action.   

I know that there are many topics that you are curious to learn more about. For the moment, I am asking you to focus on the specific actions you can take to prepare for continuity in our operations. We will continue to regularly update our university community.

I want to thank each of you for everything you are doing to support the safety of our campus and the continuity of operations. Many in our community are understandably anxious about COVID-19 and the unknowns it poses for our campus. Our community is demonstrating its caring nature by rising to this challenge. As an example, I have been impressed by the responsiveness of our faculty and staff to our students participating in study abroad programs. I encourage you to say thank you to our custodial staff who are performing more frequent cleanings.  

Visit for ongoing general updates.