BREAKING: UNO to extend spring break and move to remote learning in wake of COVID-19

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Kamrin Baker
EDITOR IN CHIEF

The COVID-19 virus is now a global pandemic. Photo courtesy of the CDC

Following the trend of most universities around the United States, UNO has just announced its contingency plan for student safety and campus operations in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In an email alert to students, Chancellor Jeffrey Gold announced, “UNO will continue classes through Friday, March 13th, as usual, and thereafter go into ‘remote teaching and learning mode.’”

With an extended spring break, classes will be cancelled March 14-29 and will resume through digital learning platforms on March 30.

During the extended break, Gold said, “faculty and staff will report to campus as usual Monday, March 16th, through Friday, March 20th, to conduct planning and work on transitioning the curriculum to remote learning. Please know that our faculty and college leadership has been strengthening and testing our remote learning technology over the past weeks with every attempt to minimize any confusion during this transition phase.”

For students who have limited access to internet service or computers, Gold said they “may use the wireless internet on campus and may apply for a limited number of UNO laptops from the Office of Digital Learning. Additionally, campus computer clusters will be available, though with limitations on the occupancy of each room determined by capacity and overall safety.”

In the meantime, campus will remain open for students who rely on the services provided at the university, such as health and counseling services, dining services, residence halls, and available campus study spaces. However, Gold said, students are encouraged to return to their permanent residences, as “there are advantages to social distancing.”

Gold said that for students who are unable to leave their campus housing units, UNO 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. The availability of campus facilities and services are subject to change as circumstances dictate.”

In addition, each department, college, and unit will continue to undergo an assessment of essential on and off-campus personnel. “Faculty and staff should consult with their supervisors to establish appropriate telecommuting protocols for their work in event this becomes necessary in the future,” Gold said. The email did not note the status of student workers.

Campus visitors are also strongly discouraged and “large group gatherings and events outside of classroom instruction are immediately suspended until further notice,” according to the alert.

Gatherings or meetings of more than 20 individuals will not be permitted at this time. “While there may be some exceptions in the future, they will be individually considered based upon viral disease tracking and other considerations,” Gold said. Lastly, “all athletic competition, home and away, is suspended for Omaha teams until further notice.”

This series of announcements comes after Gold’s suspension of all UNO-related travel earlier today.

As more information and guidance comes from university and administration, Gold said UNO’s policies and procedures will be adapted accordingly to “help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to support the health and wellness of our community.”

For additional information, UNO’s Coronavirus Updates website is updated daily.

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