IMPORTANT UPDATE: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 12, 2020

Dear UNL Community –

As the spread of COVID-19 continues rapidly, we are taking several additional steps to help protect the UNL community and our broader community. As detailed below, the university has canceled classes from March 16-20. After spring break, beginning March 30, all spring semester classes will be taught remotely and will not be taught in-person.

The university, including our university housing units, will remain open. We encourage our students to return home if possible. For those students who are unable to go home, we will continue to support you in the residence halls.

We are also suspending all non-essential university-sponsored domestic and international travel through the end of the semester. All summer study-abroad programs through June 30 are canceled. Additional information on these and other policies is detailed below.

I appreciate that dealing with the impact of this pandemic has been challenging in many ways. We are, and will be, working through unprecedented changes in how we meet our education, research and engagement missions. A multitude of faculty, staff and students have worked tirelessly for the last few weeks to address these challenges and our entire campus has been working to prepare for this possibility. Now that we have reached this critical point, I am confident our university can rise to this challenge.

We are a community where every person and every interaction matters, and we must continue to lead with empathy and compassion in our interactions with each other. The spread of this disease is a global phenomenon. The risk of getting COVID-19 is not connected to race, ethnicity or nationality – it will impact all of us in a variety of ways.

Cancellation of Classes Next Week/Moving
to Remote Access Classes on March 30

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will cancel all classes the week of March 16-20. We ask all faculty and instructors to use that week and spring break (March 23-27) to take the necessary steps to teach their courses remotely. We understand that this is a significant change for both faculty and students, and we believe this extra time will help everyone prepare thoughtfully and thoroughly so that we can continue to provide an excellent learning experience for our students.

Starting Monday, March 30 – all courses will be delivered utilizing remote access and will not meet in-person for the remainder of the semester.

  • We encourage students residing on campus to return to their place of permanent residence because there are advantages for social distancing.
  • For those students living on campus who are not able to go home or who have work or other commitments in Lincoln, we will continue to support our students in residence halls and dining facilities where appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures will be actively encouraged.
  • Libraries will remain open; however, some services and hours may be limited.
  • We will make every effort to ensure that our important research and creative activity mission continues and that faculty, staff and students engaged in this mission will be able to continue their important work safely. More information will be available through our Office of Research and Economic Development.
  • Earlier this week we shared resources for faculty and staff to prepare for remote learning, which can be found here. More information and resources will continue to be added.
  • Advising for students will continue but may be done remotely. More information on accessing student advising and other student services will be forthcoming.

Please know that we will work tirelessly to ensure that this switch to remote learning does not disadvantage any student. Specific information about help with internet access, computer resources and other questions will be provided in the next few days.

Flexible Leave Policies

The university already has existing sick, crisis and vacation policies as well as a flexible policy to allow employees to work at alternative sites, including at home, with supervisor approval. This policy is open to all university employees.

Additional information on leave policies, including crisis and sick leave, will be announced in the coming days.

Study Abroad

All university-sponsored summer study abroad programs scheduled for departure on or before June 30 are canceled.

  • Those with scheduled departure dates on July 1 or later will be evaluated at a later date, and a decision about whether to proceed will be made as soon as possible.
  • Based on the updated CDC travel guidance placing all of Europe into Level 3 and the State Department’s new worldwide Global Health Advisory at Level 3, all UNL students studying abroad are required to return to the U.S. and we are working with them to do so.

Travel

Effective today, all non-essential university-sponsored international and domestic travel for students, faculty and staff is suspended until the end of the semester.

  • This includes new travel as well as any currently booked trips.
  • If you are currently on travel, we encourage you to return as soon as possible.
  • This does not include travel within the state of Nebraska.
  • Limited exceptions can be provided by an academic dean or vice chancellor. A process and guidelines for requesting these exceptions will be forthcoming.
  • These restrictions are in place regardless of funding source.
  • The NU system has outlined procedures for employee travel arrangement cancellations. Learn more here.
  • We strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to consider whether personal travel is essential, including travel over spring break. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly both internationally and domestically; limitations and bans can be put into effect with little or no warning. If you become ill, you run the risk of not being able to return or infecting others upon your return.
  • Upon completion of any travel – faculty, staff and students must follow the recommendations from the CDC and the appropriate local public health authority, which may include a requirement to self-quarantine for a period of up to 14 days.

Events

Based on guidance from the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, Husker Athletics announced earlier today that home sports competitions will be closed to the public effective immediately. Games will take place as scheduled but will be limited to student athletes, coaches, essential personnel, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams.

For other university events, we are coordinating closely with local public health officials. Any cancellations will be noted on the events calendar and, where applicable, ticket holders will be notified. Campus units should feel free to make decisions on whether to cancel events based on their best judgment.

Going Forward

Further details on all of these actions are available on our UNL website, covid19.unl.edu. This will be continually updated with new information. If students, faculty or staff have questions, please email them to covid19@unl.edu.

We will continue to keep our UNL community apprised of any new decisions or developments.

Thank you for your continued patience as we lead through the tremendous amount of change occurring as a result of this global pandemic. I am very appreciative of the leadership of our executive team and the unanimous support from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and ASUN Executive Committee in the steps we’re announcing. With our incredible faculty, staff and students – I know we can shine through this.

Ronnie D. Green, Ph.D.
Chancellor