Campus update: Virtual instruction, residence halls, spring commencement, remote work, and more
Dear members of the UI community,
Now that we have received word of community spread in Iowa and Johnson County in particular, the University of Iowa, in coordination with the Board of Regents and the state, is taking additional steps to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. The situation has and likely will continue to change quickly, and we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep the Hawkeye community safe and healthy.
Delaying and extending virtual instruction
In order to give everyone additional time to transition to online teaching, the university is delaying the start of virtual instruction by one week. Courses will now resume Monday, March 30, and will be conducted virtually through the rest of the spring semester.
Students in courses with a clinical component or fieldwork will receive further information from the academic leaders in their programs about how these will be addressed. Students can find more information about online learning from their instructors, through the Keep Learning at Iowa website, and the coronavirus.uiowa.edu website.
Faculty can continue to find resources on the Keep Teaching at Iowa website. University classrooms will be open and available for instructors to record their lectures during the virtual instruction period. To streamline classroom scheduling and other service areas, departmental administrators should provide the Office of the Registrar with a document that includes all course numbers and instructors who want to use their regular classroom days and times.
Closing most residence halls
To reduce the number of students spending time in close quarters, the UI will close most of its market places, residence halls, and on-campus housing starting Thursday, March 19.
Procedures for an orderly move-out and transition policies, including retrieving essential items, will be provided to housing residents via email by Thursday, March 19, and published on the University Housing & Dining website.
We ask that students do not return to the residence halls until their designated time to move out. If a student is currently on campus for spring break, they should begin preparations to move out. We realize that not all students have alternative housing and dining options, and we will continue to accommodate students who cannot immediately return to their permanent residence. Requests to remain in the residence halls will be submitted online.
Information about refunds to those with housing and dining contracts will be coming soon.
Canceling spring commencement ceremonies
We are extremely disappointed to announce that we must cancel spring commencement ceremonies. We know how much these ceremonies mean to our students and their families, but we feel it is the right decision to protect those most vulnerable to the threat of infection. We are in the process of planning an alternative celebration for graduating Hawkeyes and will share additional details soon.
All other UI events will likewise be canceled, postponed, or conducted virtually for the remainder of the spring semester.
We have asked all employees outside of UI Health Care to work remotely unless the critical function they provide must be completed on campus. Working from home will accommodate social distancing and reduce the threat of spread for everyone, including colleagues who are remaining on campus to perform essential services. Colleges and vice-presidential units are working with their respective senior human resources leaders to identify staff and student employees who are performing non-critical work and who could potentially be reassigned.
Employees who have communicated with their supervisor about volunteering for reassignment can now do so by following this link to UI Self Service.
We know many of you have questions and concerns about compensation during this period of disruption. We are reviewing state guidelines to ensure compliance, and we will make every effort to support our employees, including our student employees. We will share additional information soon.
Because so many employees will be working remotely, the UI Department of Public Safety has recommended and the Critical Incident Management Team has approved limiting building access, when possible, to authorized personnel only. In order to limit community spread of COVID-19 and protect university property, building entrances will be locked but will remain accessible by those who have access cards or keys. This excludes UI Health Care and Student Health, which have implemented their own building security measures.
Notable closures include:
- UI Libraries are closed. Library resources and help are available online, including e-books, e-articles, streaming video, and e-images. To support online classes, the Libraries will update the campus community about additional services they may be able to offer. Please visit www.lib.uiowa.edu/coronavirus for a full list of locations impacted and the latest information.
- The Iowa Memorial Union will close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, and will reopen at an undetermined date.
- Hancher Auditorium is closed, and all programming for the remainder of the spring semester has been canceled. Hancher is working to reschedule events where possible. The Hancher Box Office will be in touch with ticket holders with more information.
For questions about card access, or access to campus buildings during this time, please contact: DPS-AccessService@uiowa.edu.
UI Parking and Transportation is now focused on supporting the critical operations of UI Hospitals & Clinics and the university. Parking operations may change abruptly in response to COVID-19. The cooperation and flexibility of faculty, staff, and the campus community is appreciated. For the latest parking updates, please see the service alerts page on the UI Parking and Transportation website.
Because the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly, it is important that all students, faculty, and staff check their UI email daily. Emails from the university or your college or unit, along with the coronavirus.uiowa.edu website, will be the best ways to stay informed.
At the University of Iowa, it is in our nature to persevere. This institution is a strong one, and we will weather this crisis just as we have others that have come before. That said, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a true challenge, and we must make what may seem like sweeping efforts to keep campus safe. Many of the changes we implement will be difficult and may leave some disappointed, but our chief responsibility is to the health and safety of the UI and Johnson County communities.
Thank you for your patience, and for all of your efforts in this difficult time.
Bruce Harreld, president
Montse Fuentes, executive vice president and provost