As a follow-up to today’s message from the Chancellor, I’d like to reiterate that the University’s Spring Break will be extended one week and all classes, including those which are already offered fully online or in a hybrid format, are suspended. This is to keep all academic activity on the same schedule. While classes are suspended, all university locations remain open.
WEEK OF MARCH 16:
Beginning Monday, March 16, our top priority will be to work with faculty and staff to find the best alternatives to face-to-face instruction. Administrators, faculty and staff are expected to report to work. During this week, we will focus on helping teaching faculty prepare to deliver their courses in alternative formats, including online and other means of delivery. The provost is working with the Center for Online Learning staff, deans and others on campus to determine how to organize and deliver these supportive activities. More information about this work will be forthcoming by Monday morning, at the latest.
In addition to the suspension of classes and extension of spring break for our students, the Chancellor has suspended all out-of-state travel, beginning on or after Monday, March 16. If you have university funded travel planned on Friday, March 13 or over the weekend, please carefully weigh the risks and benefits of such travel and make a prudent decision that maintains your safety. Please check the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html#reporting-cases to determine the incidence of COVID-19 cases in the locale to which you will be traveling. CFO Tracy Hatch is working on documenting a process to assist you with cancellation of your travel and for requesting exceptions to the no-travel rule. Provost Gort is developing a process so that PDG funds that are unused this spring can be carried forward to the next fiscal year for the awardees. Both will communicate the details of these processes early next week.
GATHERINGS AND EVENTS:
Minnesota State has cancelled all gatherings and events that are likely to have more than 100 attendees. We are currently developing a report of all events to estimate their size and determine if they must be cancelled. Currently we know the Open House scheduled for March 31 will be cancelled.
This spring’s commencement ceremonies are scheduled for April 26. We are asking the Chancellor’s office to consider allowing us to defer cancellation of this important event for our students, their families and the university until we have more information or are able to plan to move it beyond the May 1 date. More information will be provided next week.
This afternoon, college and university presidents are required to submit questions concerning their specific campuses, which will be answered during a conference call tomorrow morning with the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors. Our questions include the status of practicum, clinical and community engagement activities, graduation, and various HR related issues. I will report on those questions and answers in a message to faculty and staff tomorrow. I expect that over the next week or two there will likely be daily update messages.
We will continue to share information on our website, as well, at https://www.metrostate.edu/notices/covid-19. Be sure to encourage students to bookmark this page and to check it often for updates. We have developed a plan to communicate with students in multiple ways including emails, phone messaging, text messaging, the website, and D2L.
We are also asking System Office IT to set up a special email account for this situation so all can submit their questions to a single source that will be continually monitored. This will be shared as soon as possible.
I know this is a lot of information to take in and there is still much uncertainty. Please be assured that we are working diligently to respond in ways that protect our students and employees. We will be communicating frequently and the website https://www.metrostate.edu/notices/covid-19, will be continually updated.
Thank you and be well!