COVID-19 Information for Employees

Resources from Metropolitan State

Links for technical help, faculty resources, updates from human resources and more. Complete information about the university's COVID-19 response.

FAQs

What Employees Need to Know

Messages to Employees from Minnesota State and Metropolitan State University

Not all messages are archived here. Browse the full archives of communications from Metropolitan State administration and messages from the Minnesota State system office.

Dear faculty and staff,

Today, Governor Walz announced an official “stay at home” order for all Minnesota residents. This means that we are to stay home and limit movements outside of our homes to only essential needs.

However, as part of his order, the governor has declared educational activities and services as essential, which means the 37 colleges and universities of Minnesota State are exempt from this order. Campus-based essential services needed to support our students will be staffed by a limited number of employees on campus. Instruction and services will resume, as scheduled, on either March 30 or April 6 as previously announced. All the hard work you have been doing over the past two weeks will come to fruition. It was indeed a herculean task for all of you to get ready to resume instruction in alternative modes. Your passion, commitment, and energy has been both humbling and inspiring to me as you’ve positioned yourselves to take our students across the finish line. All classes will be delivered using alternative modes, and campuses will remain closed to the public but students can access the campus, if needed, for services not accessible from home.

It will be important at this time that we provide maximum flexibility for faculty and staff to do their work within a safe environment. If you need to be on campus please follow strictly all the social distancing protocols and other safety precautions. Our top two priorities remain protecting the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as helping our students to successfully finishing the semester.

I know each day brings serious news. The situation we are in is unprecedented for all of us. We will get through this together, as we are a resilient bunch! We will continue to share additional detailed information in the coming days. For now, the most important thing is to take care of yourself and your families.

As you know, we can all further protect ourselves and others by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your cough and sneeze; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practicing self-care by eating a healthy diet and taking time to rest
  • Frequently cleaning all commonly touched surfaces
  • Avoiding large gatherings
  • Staying home if you are sick

If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, The Minnesota Department of Health recommends:

  1. Stay at home for at least 7 days, and for 3 days with no fever and improvement of respiratory symptoms – whichever is longer. (Your fever should be gone for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicine).
  2. Use the CDC website on how to Care For Yourself at Home with COVID-19.
  3. If your household contacts were exposed to you while you had symptoms, they should try to stay home as much as possible for 14 days.

Thank you, stay safe, and stay strong.

Devinder Malhotra
Chancellor

Email from Deb Gehrke, Chief Human Resources Officer, Metropolitan State University (PDF). Includes information on:

Executive Order 20-07, Paid COVID-19 Leave

** PLEASE ENSURE ALL MINNESOTA STATE EMPLOYEES RECEIVE THIS MESSAGE **

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting an unprecedented challenge to Minnesota. We must continue our important work providing vital services to Minnesotans, but we must also take care of our health and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yesterday, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-07, providing paid leave for state employees who are not able to work for reasons related to COVID-19 and suspended the waiting period for insurance coverage for new employees. He also provided more flexibility for the Commissioner of Management and Budget to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

New paid COVID-19 leave policy

Under the new policy, effective March 18, 2020, employees can use paid COVID-19 leave if they must be absent from work for reasons related to COVID-19 and cannot or are not allowed to telework. Certain employees who are assigned to provide critical services may require additional authorization before taking this leave, and should work with their supervisors.

Covered reasons include:

School or Day Care Closures if you cannot reasonably perform telework while also providing care for children 12 and under, or children over 12 with an ADA-covered disability

Health Purposes if you contract COVID-19 and are too ill to work, or a health care provider determines that your presence in the workplace will jeopardize your health or the health of others, or you have been exposed to a person with a confirmed COVID-19 case and you are exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19

Family Caregiving if you must care for a family member with COVID-19

Isolation or Quarantine if you or someone you must care for is under legal isolation or legal quarantine or your employer directs you not to report to work for COVID-19 related reasons

Agency Closure if your workplace is closed for COVID-19-related health and safety reasons, and you are excused from your work duties and cannot be reassigned.

Contact your supervisor to discuss a telework plan or coordinate your use of COVID-19 leave. Approved use of this leave should be coded on timesheets to a new payroll earnings code: CVD.

Employee Redeployment Center

Employees may be redeployed to areas of greater need under this emergency. A project team is working quickly to build and test a process to redeploy employees as necessary to protect health and safety, perform or facilitate emergency response and recovery efforts, and minimize the impact of the peacetime emergency on government operations. The process will help:

• Identify the areas of greatest demand for staffing, particularly in our critical service areas

• Identify able and available employees who can help meet those needs

• Redeploy people to the needed service areas (and track those deployments over time)

FOR ACTION: Update your info in Self Service

Please update the following My Personal Information components in Self Service as soon as possible.

  1. Add or update your personal information summary so we can reach you during an emergency. This includes your address, phone numbers, and email. Indicate your preferred mode of contact.
  2. Complete or update the pandemic availability question to indicate if you are able or unable to work during a pandemic event based on specific criteria.
  3. Complete or update your skills profile with your license and certificate information. Identify any license or certificate information you have, even if not associated or required for your current position. We may use this information if needed to quickly find employees with the necessary skills to assist in maintaining critical services to Minnesotans.

For help, go to the My Personal Information section of Self Service and select Instructions. Pertinent help is on pages 15-17.

Questions?

Contact your supervisor or human resources office. Continue to check mn.gov/bereadymn and the Minnesota Department of Health Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website often for the latest information.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. As always, stay home if you are sick, cover your cough, and wash your hands regularly.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday afternoon Chancellor Malhotra asked all Minnesota State College & University presidents to create alternatives to our current service delivery. Campuses were asked to allow for alternative work schedules for employees, including remote work where it is feasible. Employees, for instance, who have underlying conditions will be accommodated, and we may staff that functionality in an alternative manner. The Chancellor has also asked all campuses to keep libraries and essential services operational. Plans are underway to provide all student support services in a remote manner for the rest of the semester.

This situation is changing daily, so please continue to read emails thoroughly. The Metro Pandemic Planning and Response Team met this morning and we would like to clarify the Chancellor’s memo and what this means for Metropolitan State University employees:

  • Metropolitan State University’s goal is to have as many employees work remotely as possible. There will need to be some individuals on campus. We will distribute the on-campus work so it will not fall to a small group of individuals.
  • We are working to solidify open building hours so faculty and staff can access offices. You will receive a message about building hours and services at our locations soon.
  • Work with your supervisor to schedule needed hours on campus.
  • If you have concerns about not having enough work to do at home for 40 hours a week, please contact your supervisor. Human Resources and the President’s Executive Cabinet is working on a list of projects from other departments that can be done remotely.
  • Employee work schedules and assigned duties will continue to change over the next few weeks.
  • Governor Waltz signed a new Executive Order (PDF) that suspends, for the duration of the peacetime emergency, provisions of public employees’ collective bargaining agreements regarding work schedules, work locations, assignments, and reassignments.

Remote working:

  • Yesterday, the Metro Pandemic Planning and Response Team, completed the review of all requests for laptops and software needs to enable employees to work remotely. We are able to fulfill all the requests we received. ITS is re-imaging the devices now and installing needed software. Individuals who have been approved for laptop distribution will be notified when a laptop is ready for them directly by ITS. Please do not call ITS with inquiries. We expect all laptops to be distributed by the end of the day on Friday, March 20.
  • In some cases, employees working from home will have to use their own equipment. This allows us to stretch our available resources further and support more remote working arrangements. Please do not take office desktops or monitors home.
  • Remote working or working from home, usually requires a telework agreement. Given the urgency of allowing as many people as possible to work from home, we are not requiring a written telework agreement. However, supervisors will be in contact with each employee who is working remotely over the next week, to review the requirements of work from home and will need an email acknowledgment from each employee that the supervisor has reviewed the requirements with them and that they understand their obligations. Please note that telework does not apply to instructional faculty (IFO).

Additional notes:

  • In-person meetings of fewer than ten individuals are permitted through March 31 unless otherwise noted. However, I encourage the use of Zoom for all meetings.
  • The Fitness Center will be closed starting March 19 until further notice.

Our priorities are the following:

  • To safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our faculty, staff and students
  • To enable students to complete the spring semester and progress toward their educational goals

Thank you for your continued dedication and commitment to our students and university. We are strong and we will succeed!

Please take care of yourself and your loved ones....

Ginny

Colleagues,

These unprecedented times require us to think differently about the work that we do and the services that we offer. Many aspects of this issue continue to evolve and create a fluid and challenging situation. Know that the feedback we are hearing from you, students, and the campus leadership are being taken into consideration as we identify the work ahead and make the necessary adjustments.

Regardless of the changing circumstances, our priorities will always remain the same:

  • To safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of our faculty, staff, and students
  • To enable students to complete the spring semester and progress toward their educational goals

To that end, it is critical that during this time of great uncertainty that we enhance all communication channels and work together on the above mentioned priorities. I also ask for your patience during this time. The information set is changing at a pace that we have not experienced before. Just this afternoon, CDC issued the recommendation that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

I wanted to share with you steps we are taking to adjust to this rapidly changing environment.

Academic Continuity of Operations
The portfolio of academic offerings our 37 colleges and universities provide is diverse not only in their focus but also in the instructional methodologies used. In light of the concerns that we have heard from campuses, we will extend the preparation time for faculty and staff by one additional week. Instruction will resume on March 30. For the five colleges currently on spring break this week, they will also receive additional time and will resume instruction for students on April 6.

Staffing Continuity of Operations
As we continue our work towards helping our students finish the semester, we must stay focused on their health and safety and that of our faculty and staff. It is important that maximum flexibility is required of both employees and supervisors. We must look at how we can do our work differently and provide services for students while also supporting our colleagues and partners. Be cognizant of the following parameters as you work with your teams to accomplish the needed work:

  • For the duration of this outbreak, all campuses are expected to be mindful of faculty and staff health and safety needs, and make accommodations for those individuals with underlying medical conditions that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as those who may live with and/or care for such individuals, or those with children home from school. Similarly, there will likely be some faculty and staff without these conditions who are for other reasons anxious about returning to the workplace and interacting with others, particularly those who may have recently traveled. Campuses are expected to make every effort to accommodate employees and allow them to work from home whenever feasible.
  • For employees whose job responsibilities do not lend themselves to telework, options include adjusting work schedules or staggering shifts, where appropriate, to increase social distancing.
  • Where possible, phone or video conferencing should be used to limit the size of meetings and to continue to engage those faculty or staff who may have alternative work options in place to remain engaged.
  • We can predict increased employee absences due to an individual illness, to care for family members, or respond to the temporary closure of K-12 schools. We need to plan ahead, cross-train to cover essential tasks and work through your continuity of operations plan.

The State provides confidential counseling resources to employees who are struggling with life matters that impact their personal well-being. Employees who are experiencing significant stress related to this matter may choose to utilize these resources. More information is available here: https://mn.gov/mmb/segip/health-and-wellbeing/eap/eap-work-life.jsp

Additional resources and guidance for state employees for travel and the necessary precautions after returning from travel out of the state or the country can be found on the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) BeReadyMN website here: https://mn.gov/mmb/be-ready-mn/infectious-diseases/covid-19.jsp

If you have questions regarding exposure as a result of travel, Minnesota Department of Health asks you to call 651-201-5414 or 877-676-5414 for guidance.

I deeply appreciate what you all do to support our students and colleges and universities each and every day. It is your creativity, passion, commitment, and energy which will enable us to overcome these challenges and provide the needed resiliency to successfully navigate our campuses through these difficult times.

Best,
Devinder

Devinder Malhotra
Chancellor

To our campus community—faculty, staff and students:

The COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to evolve rapidly. Over the last two days new information and actions by the State and Federal government have emerged. Thus, I am updating information previously provided regarding actions to be taken if you have traveled at all over Spring Break.

Yesterday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Information to designate most countries in Europe, along with China, Iran, and South Korea at Level 3 (Warning, Avoid Nonessential Travel). Given that President Trump has now also issued an order restricting travel from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, beginning at 11:59 pm on Monday, March 16, we expect that the UK and Ireland will be added to the Level 3 list by Tuesday.

Every other part of the world, including the United States, has now been designated at Level 2 (Practice Enhanced Precautions) as a Global Outbreak Notice.

These designations have implications for actions to be taken to maintain health and safety for you and others during this pandemic.

Travel Guidance Effective immediately
Faculty, Staff, and Students Returning from a Level 3 Country – Self Quarantine

All travelers who are returning from a Level 3 country must stay home in a self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. The full guidance from the CDC is located athttps://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/coronavirus-europe

FACULTY AND STAFF
If you are faculty or a staff member who needs to self-quarantine or stay home to monitor your health after traveling to a Level 3 country, please notify your dean or supervisor. Your supervisor will ask you to fill out the reporting form developed by the University, which can be found at: https://www.metrostate.edu/COVID.

With your supervisor, establish the date you will be able to report to work if you do not become symptomatic after travel. If you do become symptomatic during the 14 day self-quarantine, please let your supervisor know. You will not be able to return to work until symptoms subside.

If you are not symptomatic and are able to work during your period of self-quarantine, work with your supervisor to develop work tasks that you can complete from home and a working schedule. Let your supervisor know if you will need your laptop to complete your work and arrangements will be made to get it to you. Please note that Comcast, Spectrum and other internet service providers have opened their networks so that all may have access to the internet.

Faculty members who must self-quarantine, should be working with their deans and department chairs to participate remotely in meetings and trainings focusing on preparing for delivery of instruction of your courses in an alternate delivery. (On the website, under messages, March 13, 2020 Email to Faculty from Provost Gort).

STUDENTS
Students who will be in self-quarantine based on their travel in or through a Level 3 country are expected to report their status by filling out the web form report located at: https://www.metrostate.edu/COVID.

Faculty, Staff, and Students who Traveled to Other Locations—Monitor Health

Travelers returning from other countries or from domestic travel need to monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel. You may come to work or be out in the community, but should practice good hygiene and maintain social distancing. The full guidance from the CDC is located at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/coronavirus-global

If you have questions regarding exposure as a result of travel, Minnesota Department of Health asks you to call 651-201-5414 or 877-676-5414 for guidance.

Faculty and Staff who have been Exposed to or Diagnosed with COVID-19, or are Ill:

Faculty and Staff who have been exposed to COVID-19, diagnosed with COVID-19, and/or are ill, notify your dean or supervisor. We are also asking employees to report their exposure, diagnosis, or illness using the web form (https://www.metrostate.edu/COVID). Your supervisor will ask you to fill out the form if you have not already done so.

Students who have been Exposed to or Diagnosed with COVID-19, or are Ill:

Students who have been exposed to COVID-19, diagnosed with COVID-19, and/or are ill should report their exposure, diagnosis, or illness using the web form (https://www.metrostate.edu/COVID).Using the form will result in the notification of your academic advisor and the faculty instructors for the courses in which you are currently enrolled.

Suspended Instruction and Resumption of Classes:

You will receive updated information from your faculty members regarding how to resume instruction in an online or other alternative format by the end of the day on Friday March 20. Please continue to monitor your email and the website: https://www.metrostate.edu/notices/covid-19.

Taking care of yourself:

EMPLOYEES:

Events like a pandemic are stressful and create anxiety, to some degree, for everyone. If these anxieties are interfering with your ability to work and carry out other life activities, please remember that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential counseling service available to you. Please see more details of EAP at: https://mn.gov/mmb/segip/health-and-wellbeing/eap/eap-work-life.jsp

STUDENTS:

Please remember that this virus does not discriminate on the basis of identity and neither should we. Any actions or language against anyone based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in connection with the origins of COVID-19 are unacceptable. Such actions will be addressed within appropriate university procedures.

Finally, please remember to check your email and the university website frequently, as information is constantly being updated. Please also share questions and concerns through the covid-19@metrostate.edu address at any time. This email is continuously monitored throughout working hours. If your situation is an emergency, then please call 9-1-1.

The health and safety students and employees continue to be of the highest priority to the University. We are doing all we can to make sure you are well-informed about the COVID-19 situation and that students can continue their coursework and that employees’ needs are being met.

Thank you for your attention.

Ginny

Dear Resident Faculty Colleagues,

I’ve received a number of questions about my message indicating that faculty to should report to their primary campus location on Monday, March 16. Please allow me to provide some additional context and clarify the expectation.

In the context of making concrete plans for moving all our courses to some sort of remote instruction (with the exceptions outlined in my email "Pandemic Planning for Faculty" sent on Friday, 3/13/20 at 3:05 p.m.), it is imperative that we work together, as departments, to make shared decisions about the curriculum and methods of remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. Resident faculty engagement will be critical the success of those plans and for engaging community faculty. I also know that many faculty members have ideas and expertise that will support their whole department in this important work ensuring that our students have a quality learning experience when all instruction is delivered remotely. The involvement of all faculty members is important and expected.

Meeting and making shared decisions on Monday 3/16/20 allows for coherent movement forward. Of course, "reporting to work" can be done remotely! Several people contacted me individually about reporting to work remotely based on underlying health concerns and/or belonging to a particularly high-risk group. Faculty with these concerns should follow up with their dean and department chair. Faculty members who are not feeling well should not come to campus and find a way to participate remotely. Finally, I ask that anyone who has recently travel to a high-risk area of the country or to any international location self-quarantine for two weeks and not come to campus during that time frame.

For those who are able to meet in person, we are encouraging everyone across campuses to increase social distancing at work. Any meetings that take place in person should occur in a room large enough to allow significant spacing. Let me reassure you that our campus cleaning personnel, at all locations, are diligently cleaning surfaces frequently and our administrative staff is working hard to help all of us in working out a feasible plan for our students to complete this semester. You should also find sanitizing wipes in the classrooms.

The university is following guidelines from the system and the MN Department of Health, which do not suggest that we close our campuses. Until we are told otherwise, faculty, staff, administrator, and some students will be onsite at our campus locations. We are looking for ways to support students who have computer and internet needs at each location.

Though we are still on spring break today (Saturday, 3/14/20), I understand that some deans and department chairs have already reached out with plans for meetings times and remote (Zoom) participation for those who choose that venue. Please watch for more information from your dean and/or your department chairs.

Best regards,
Amy

The COVID-19 pandemic is having widespread impacts. MN State Colleges and Universities leadership has been in close communication with the MN Department of Health and state leaders in responding to the evolving situation. The Chancellor has made a number of decisions at the system level that are designed to minimize or slow the spread of the virus with the goal of supporting the health and well-being of our faculty, staff, and students. Of course, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how the illness will unfold in our community and it is very stressful time for all of us. Please know that the Pandemic Planning Team is carefully monitoring the recommendations of health professionals, and the decisions made by the system. We will be providing regular updates by email and on the website.

It is critically important that you take care of your health and do not come to campus if you are ill. We are monitoring the health of our community and would appreciate it if you would report any COVID-19 exposure, symptoms, or diagnosis using this web form (https://www.metrostate.edu/COVID). Reporting via the form is voluntary. However, if you are ill please notify your dean.

This is going to be a long email with a number of details that are important for you. I’ve organized the information under headings to make it easier to navigate. Please read to the end to ensure that you have full information.

Suspension of Course Instruction through Saturday, March 21 and Resumption of Instruction

Chancellor Malhotra has suspended all classes at Metropolitan State University through Saturday, March 21. This suspension includes all face-to-face, hybrid, online, and independent study courses offerings. During this time, you cannot meet with or provide remote instruction to students. This does mean that our spring semester will have one less week of instruction, and it is important that all students have the same experience.

The suspension does not cover internships, practica, student teaching, or clinicals at external sites. Students can report to those sites next week as long as the external site allows them to do so.

When instruction resumes on Monday, March 23 we will be providing all instruction in a modified way that emphasizes remote instruction. All instruction will continue in this modified, remote mode for the rest of the spring semester. We understand that remote instruction may not be the best pedagogy for your courses and may not be your preferred way to engage students. However, this is an extraordinary situation that calls for us to do our best while supporting the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.

Modified and Remote Instruction

Starting Monday, March 23 all courses will be offered using instruction methods that will allow course completion remotely or, in very limited situations, with modified class sessions that allow social distancing. The following are options for providing remote instruction:

  • Correspondence education via email;
  • Synchronous Zoom class meetings;
  • Lecture recordings using VoiceThread;
  • Online learning via Brightspace D2L; or
  • Some combination of the three.

In very limited situations, like for labs and studio learning experiences that depend on particular equipment for learning, I will consider approving modified course sessions that will support social distancing in those specialized spaces. In those cases, faculty can request approval to convene groups of 10 students or less at one time.

Faculty teaching face-to-face or hybrid courses that have 10 or fewer students enrolled, but do not required specialized space and/or equipment, are expected to use remote instruction methods for the rest of the semester.

Campus locations will remain open, for now, even though we are moving to remote instruction.

Faculty Planning and Preparations for Remote Instruction

All Resident Faculty are to report to their primary campus location starting Monday, March 16. Faculty will be engaged in course planning in their department and training activities related to remote instruction.

Departments are expected to meet to plan remote instruction for their courses, engaging both Resident and Community Faculty members in that planning. Department should plan at least one Zoom meeting that will allow Community Faculty members to participate in the planning. By the end of Wednesday, each department will send a plan for remote instruction to their dean. I understand that planning for remote instruction will be an on-going effort that will likely evolve over the remainder of the semester. Deans will work with faculty to support planning over the course of the next week. However, we do need to understand the plans by the end of Friday, March 20 to facilitate communication with students.

Departments are also asked to discuss approaches to increase flexibility for students who report being ill so there is a shared understanding of the approaches faculty members will take. It will be important to support students who become ill by being as flexible as possible with deadlines without negatively impacting the learning outcomes of the course.

Modifying Course Content and Activities

This spring term will have 14 weeks of instruction, compared to the normal 15 weeks. Faculty are asked to review the learning outcomes for the course and make modifications to the course content to accommodate this change. Faculty may also need to modify planned activities to adapt to remote instruction. We will not extend the spring semester beyond Monday, May 4.

Training Support for Faculty Members

I will send a separate Email with the training opportunities for faculty members that will support remote instruction. The Center for Online Learning, Center for Faculty Development, IT Services, and the MN State System all have developed training materials that will be very helpful.

External Learning Sites

Students will be allowed to continue their internships, practica, student teaching, clinical hours, and other experiential learning at external sites as long as the external sites allow them to attend. We know that many programs have minimum hours and/or competency- based assessments for these experiences. MN State and Metropolitan State University administrators are working to gather information from licensing boards and accreditation organizations to understand the impacts on students. If the external site does not allow internship students to attend, I ask that the faculty work with students to develop alternative, applied learning experiences that could take the place of the missing hours.

Supporting Students

Student support services will be offered either in-person or via remote formats. We are developing plans for the library and computer labs at Midway, MEC, and LECJEC to remain open to support students who may have limited computer and/or internet access. More details will be available next week.

Communication

Metropolitan State University is coordinating all communication through the Pandemic Planning Team to ensure that information that is communicated is accurate and consistent. This does mean that all communication is reviewed by a group of people which slows the process. Please monitor your email and the website for updated information.

We will send a message to students today clarifying that we will be using remote instruction starting Monday, March 23 and they will hear from their faculty members about their plans for remote instruction by the end of Friday, March 20.

Please feel free to email me with questions. I may not answer each individual email but will update all faculty with answers to the questions so you are all well-informed.

Best regards,
Amy

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.

TRAVEL:

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.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:

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!