March 13, 2020 — I will start by saying thank you in advance for all of the effort you will be putting in over the coming weeks to ensure our students continue to learn and grow under your guidance. We are facing a monumental challenge – one that our nation’s universities are taking on in good spirits. Our community is committed to doing everything we can to support each other during this difficult time.
As you may know, yesterday President Smatresk announced that we canceled in-person classes for next week. This is to allow our faculty time to make the transition to online or alternative instructional delivery and for our staff to have time to prepare for alternative delivery of support services. Time is of the essence and we must come together quickly to ensure we are able to transition courses and student services, so that our students understand how they will continue their education at UNT.
Continuity of Education
I am asking you to work in partnership with your department chair to complete a plan for all of your courses by Noon, Monday, March 16th. Your chair has been sent a template that will assist you in developing this plan. All proposed plans will be reviewed and adjustments may be asked of you to make sure that we are providing the safest and best learning experience for our students.
Plans should shift to online delivery wherever possible. In-person delivery should be limited to only those circumstances where the educational experience is substantially harmed for students at a critical stage of their development, for which no alternative is practically available, and where appropriate social distancing practices can be addressed.
My previous message earlier this week, pointed to key considerations as you plan for transition of your courses. I encourage you to visit http://teachanywhere.unt.edu where you can access training and learn about resources to support your transition.
Each of you plays a critical role in supporting our mission. It is critical that we get consistency and alignment across the university for how we are handling the support of our students. I am asking you to work in partnership with your supervisor and the university coordinator for your service area. I have asked Mike McPherson, Vice Provost for Student Success, to coordinate our academic student service support areas such as advising, the Learning Center, etc. Our goal is to have as many of the services with plans in place by the end of the day Tuesday, March 17th.
Wherever possible, we need to provide virtual services to students and make it clear to them how they can access support services. We also need to plan for in-person delivery of services with appropriate social distancing practices, as we will continue to have students living on campus, accessing our library and using support services. Consider what updates we need to make to the website. Consider how we will shift student support events to a virtual format. There are many details that will continue to be worked through in the coming week. Please stay tuned for further direction from your supervisor.
Additionally, I want to make you aware of current travel restrictions that are in place.
- All international travel for the remainder of the semester is prohibited, and all domestic travel is highly discouraged. Domestic travel should be limited to essential business purposes, such as being called as an expert to support state and federal efforts on the Coronavirus. Typical travel, such as conferences, should be canceled.
- Anyone who has visited any high-risk country or other high-risk location in the last two weeks needs to report their travel to Meg Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org in Risk Management and should go into self-isolation and not come to campus. This includes Australia, China, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and all of Europe, which are at a Centers for Disease Control level 2 or 3.
- Keep in mind we have students who are returning from travel who are going into self-isolation. We ask for your maximum flexibility in supporting their continued education.
- Student travel for university purposes is to be discontinued. Students will not be permitted to travel to competitions or other events that are university sponsored for the remainder of the semester. I know that our students will be disappointed, particularly those who have worked hard to prepare for upcoming competitions.
- We are canceling study abroad programs to Europe and Australia/New Zealand for the Maymester. Summer programs may be canceled on a case by case basis. UNT International will be communicating with those leading study abroad programs.
I ask for your patience in the coming weeks as everyone on campus pulls together. Our faculty, staff and leadership are working tirelessly to support you and our students. Visit https://www.unt.edu/coronavirus for ongoing general updates.