!!!! WEB ONLY !!! Old Main

Sunlight hitting the University of Wyoming Biological Sciences building reflects onto the north side of Old Main on the UW campus.

The University of Wyoming announced Monday that all undergraduate and graduate courses will be delivered remotely when the semester resumes after spring break on March 30 amid concerns about the spreading novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19.

Students living in the residence halls were told not to return to campus after spring break, though acting UW president Neil Theobald said the residence halls will remain open for “select students who have no alternate housing option.” Students living in the residence halls during spring break were advised to make plans to leave as soon as possible. Dining facilities will remain open at reduced capacity to accommodate those who need to stay on campus, and Theobald ensured student support services would remain open and available.

“Our campus resources are mobilizing to continue providing support remotely,” Theobald said during a UW Board of Trustees meeting conducted by videoconference Monday morning.

Regardless of location for the remainder of the spring semester, Theobald said students will be expected to complete their coursework.

Students will not be funded for any of the semester's tuition, but UW is "reviewing the process for refunding housing and dining plan fees and will communicate details soon," according to the university website.

UW is immediately administering an online survey for students to assess personal limitations to accessing technology that will be required to complete coursework.

“UW will contact any student with an identified need for accessibility so student learning needs are met,” Theobald said.

According to UW's website, faculty are advised to allow grades of "incomplete" to be given to students who don't believe they will be able to successfully complete classes online.

"In the event that students do not have internet access, instructor need to work with them to develop alternative approaches for submitting course assignments," UW's website states. "This might include submitting work through the physical mail, taking mobile photos of work to be submitted through email, or other alternative methods.  Faculty may also work with severely restricted students on receiving an incomplete in the course and finishing work when they are back in a more connected environment."

With nine weeks until graduation, Theobald said the university is planning to hold ceremonies on campus.

Students living in Greek housing were told to contact their national organizations for guidance.

UW employees will continue to work, but the university is encouraging working remotely where appropriate. Employees were told to consult with direct supervisors and that final decisions would be made by division vice presidents. Those with chronic health conditions or living with someone with chronic health conditions, are pregnant, or immunocompromised were told to seriously consider working remotely.”

“I encourage supervisors and vice presidents to be flexible in creating and finding ways for employees to work remotely,” Theobald said. “In this situation, we are not closing campus; we are just changing the mode of delivery.”

Student health services will also remain open. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 -- fever, cough and shortness of breath -- were told to call student health services before going to the clinic on campus. That number is 307-766-2130. If a concern develops outside of the clinic's hours, students can call Ivinson Memorial Hospital at 307-742-2141 for further advice. Faculty and staff were told to contact their health care providers if experiencing symptoms. The UW Family Medicine Residency Center and Albany County Health Clinic will also remain open.

The university is immediately suspending all institutionally-sponsored travel through May 15, unless the division vice president “deems the trip to be mission-critical to the university and provides written approval,” Theobald said. The university is discouraging booking of travel between May 16 and June 30, though those who have travel planned for that time were not asked to cancel.

Individuals returning from a country currently at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warning Level 3 status should stay away from campus, and self-monitor and self-isolate for 14 days following their return.

One question on the minds of many is how research requiring in-person work would continue if classes were moved online. Theobald said the Office of Research and Economic Development is offering guidance and resources for the University of Wyoming research community to assist in the planning for potential impacts and ensuring research continuity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Effective immediately, all university events are suspended until further notice, including all athletic competitions and gatherings. Campus visits for prospective students are suspended until further notice, though it was noted on the university website that applications for fall 2020 are still being processed.

More communications regarding the university’s plans would be forthcoming as the situation develops, said David Jewell, associate vice president for financial affairs.

“This is a moving target, but we have the incident command center in place, it’s staffed 24 hours a day, and we’re being as responsive as we can,” he said.

UW’s announcement came the day after Gov. Mark Gordon and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow made a joint announcement, calling on districts across the state to close schools until April 3. Gordon said he would announce today the formation of five task forces, each one headed by one of the state’s top five elected officials, to address different areas of concern.

Wyoming saw its third confirmed case of COVID-19 over the weekend. The first was a woman in Sheridan County who had recently traveled domestically, the second an older man in Lander and the third was a man also in Sheridan County. The first and third cases are believed to be connected, while the case in Lander suggests the man caught the virus from someone else in the community.

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