COVID-19: Updates on moving coursework online, university travel, events

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On March 12, 2020

Update 3/14/20: All classes will be taught remotely for the remainder of the spring semester. The university will remain open to ensure students who need access to dining and housing, library resources or broadband are accommodated.

The following COVID-19 update was emailed to Missouri S&T students, faculty and staff Thursday, March 12.


Dear Missouri S&T Community,

As the COVID-19 situation continues to affect many parts of the United States and the world, the Missouri S&T Incident Command Team (ICT) and other university officials are closely monitoring events. Just yesterday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic with cases in over 110 countries, and U.S. President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions to and from Europe. In light of these and other emerging developments, we are taking additional measures to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 to protect our campus community, which is our highest priority.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with Missouri S&T or the Rolla community.

This morning, members of the ICT met with Chancellor Mo Dehghani and other campus leaders to develop the following actions:

Online instruction begins March 18

Missouri S&T will move all instruction online as of next Wednesday, March 18. We anticipate resuming in-person, classroom instruction by mid-April, but given the uncertainties of the spread of COVID-19, the timeline is subject to change. Spring Break for our students will go on as usual (see below for more information about travel restrictions and recommendations). Campus will remain open, and all faculty and staff should plan to continue normal operations while keeping the safety and well-being of their colleagues in mind. Any staff or faculty who have concerns about their work schedules should talk with their supervisors.

We will continue to provide updates about coursework via email and on our coronavirus update website, coronavirus.mst.edu. For our faculty, the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence has developed several good tips on teaching and working remotely. See the link at the CAFE website, cafe.mst.edu. Additional information will be distributed to faculty to aid them in transitioning to online instruction.

Students living in our residence halls, fraternities and sororities, and other university-approved housing who are able to leave to return home to their permanent residence may do so upon the close of their classes Tuesday, March 17. We ask students to take essential belongings, academic materials, laptops and medications with them for Spring Break and not return to residence halls until in-person classroom instruction resumes. We hope that students will return to their permanent residence and complete their coursework remotely. A follow-up communication will be sent by Residential Life and Fraternity and Sorority Life to all affected residents soon.

We recognize that some students may be unable to return to their permanent residence for various reasons and will need to stay in their residence halls. We also realize that some students may be unable to access online classes in their home location, and that some may need to stay in Rolla for other reasons. We want students to reside during this time in the place where they will be safest. We ask students to use good judgment in deciding what is best for them, their families and their communities.

Residential Life will provide additional guidance to students about how to register if they need to stay in the residence halls during this time. Only students who register will retain access to the buildings. They also will continue to have access to food service through their dining plan, although hours and choices may be reduced, depending on occupancy.

Students who stay in residence halls should be prepared for a reduced campus experience with limited opportunities for interaction and reduced campus services.

We expect that most off-campus residents will remain in the Rolla area and continue their studies remotely.

University-related and personal travel

Effective immediately, all university-related international and domestic travel is suspended until further notice. This includes any international or domestic travel supported through university funds, external grants or other sources, such as endowments or gift funds. This suspension of travel pertains to all conference travel, student organization trips, university-sponsored Spring Break trips, club sport events, student design team events, or any other travel affiliated with Missouri S&T. We realize that this may create a hardship for students, faculty or staff who have already registered for a conference, but in light of the latest travel restrictions from the federal government, and anticipating further restrictions to come, we believe this is the most prudent approach to travel at this time.

Exemptions. Individuals or groups may request an exemption to travel restrictions by contacting the Travel, Risk Assessment and Safety Committee (TRAS), subject to approval by the chancellor or provost. Under normal circumstances, this group reviews requests related to student international travel only. Under the current situation, however, we are reconstituting the group’s membership and broadening their charge to address requests from any member of the S&T community regarding university-sponsored domestic or international travel.

Intercollegiate athletics. Travel for our intercollegiate athletics teams currently participating in spring sports events is allowed at this time, but must adhere to the recommendations of the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel. These recommendations limit attendance at NCAA events to only essential staff and immediate family members of the student-athletes. No other spectators are permitted. Knowing that the NCAA may choose to further restrict its recommendations as the situation changes, this current policy for Missouri S&T intercollegiate athletics also may change.

Personal travel. For the continued well-being and safety of the S&T community, we strongly discourage personal travel, internationally or domestically, particularly to or through a location under a travel restriction. This includes all international travel as well as travel to areas of the United States where a state of emergency has been declared (currently California, New York, Washington and Washington, D.C.). Any student, faculty member or staff member who travels to or through any of these areas should follow CDC guidelines and self-monitor for potential symptoms of respiratory disease for 14 days before returning to campus. If any symptoms exist, students should contact Student Health Services (573-341-4284 or mstshs@mst.edu) or their personal health care provider. Faculty and staff should contact their personal health care provider.

Event cancellation or postponement

For on-campus events scheduled to be held from Friday, March 13, through April 30, all university-hosted or university-sponsored events involving more than 50 people must be canceled, postponed or modified to fall below the threshold number of 50. Organizers or coordinators of these events should contact participants or liaisons for the groups to either cancel or postpone the events. The ICT is developing a process for requesting exemptions and will provide that information to campus as soon as possible.

We are all very proud of the resilience of our university community as we work together to manage this challenge. We will continue to stay in close communication in the coming days and weeks as new developments occur that may affect our campus. If you have questions, please reach out to us via provost@mst.edu or check the coronavirus.mst.edu website for updates and links to important resources.

Sincerely,

The Incident Command Team Leaders

Dr. Dennis Goodman, Director of Student Health

Ms. Cuba Plain, Interim Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations

Dr. Stephen Roberts, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs

Dr. Debra Robinson, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

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On March 12, 2020. Posted in Announcements, Coronavirus, Other