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Some Colorado university campuses, colleges plan to move to online classes in coronavirus response

Univ. of Colorado campuses, MSU Denver, Colorado College among those with plans
Posted: 11:34 AM, Mar 11, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-13 01:35:29-04
University of Colorado Boulder

BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Colorado Boulder announced Wednesday that starting next Monday, the campus will move to online classes for the rest of the semester and employees will be encouraged to work remotely when possible in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano sent notice of the transition to remote work in a letter to students, faculty and staff Wednesday morning.

“The University of Colorado Boulder has faced many challenges in its nearly 150-year history. Generations of CU Boulder students, faculty and staff have worked together and supported each other,” DiStefano wrote. “I thank you in advance for all that you have done and will do, and I ask that we show care and compassion for each other as we confront the challenges that COVID-19 poses in our community. We will get through this together.”

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He said that the campus in Boulder will remain open to allow research and study to continue and that campus facilities, residence halls, dining halls, libraries, rec centers, the Center for Community, Wardenburg Health Center and University Memorial Center would continue operations.

But in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, DiStefano said CU Boulder will move to remote learning for the rest of the semester – using Canvas, Zoom and other programs – so students can complete their classes for the semester.

Employees are encouraged to work remotely, and supervisors have been asked to identify which researchers, staff and student workers can work remotely by Monday.

“As soon as a supervisor provides authorization, an employee can work remotely, recognizing that supervisors may need to evaluate campus needs and an employee’s work requirements on an ongoing basis,” DiStefano wrote.

Another facet of the mitigation efforts announced Wednesday is the suspension of all university-funded travel – both domestic and foreign. People can apply for exceptions by filling out a domestic and international travel exceptions form.

The study abroad program in the Czech Republic, France, Japan and Spain are being suspended for the rest of the semester – in addition to the programs in China, South Korea and Italy being suspended through this summer, which was previously announced.

The university has also suspended any multi-day, university-sponsored gatherings or those with more than 150 attendees until further notice. Exemptions can be requested with a campus events exception form.

DiStefano said further guidance would be released in coming days. The university has a website set up for COVID-19 campus updates.

“The safety of our community is our top priority. We realize that our COVID-19 policy guidelines will cause disruption—and that you will have additional questions based on the above information—but the risk of not acting outweighs the inconvenience of these temporary measures,” DiStefano wrote. “I appreciate your patience and cooperation. We are grateful to staff for their tremendous efforts on our behalf during these challenging times, especially our front-line staff who serve in health care, custodial, food service, transportation and other areas on campus. Your work is critically important at this time, and we greatly value you and your contributions.

Other University of Colorado campuses are also moving to remote learning after CU Boulder announced it will move to online classes starting next Monday through the rest of the semester.

The University of Colorado Denver says it plans to have “full implementation” of remote teaching and learning in place by Monday, March 30. For the remainder of the next two weeks and for the March 23-27 spring break, the campus will be testing and preparing for the transition. The campus said it expects remote learning to continue for the rest of the semester once the change is made unless circumstances change.

Employees are being asked to talk with their supervisors to see if they are able to work remotely. Further information about the CU Denver campus and its plan can be found here.

“We acknowledge that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects all of us. Thank you for all that you have done and will do to show care and compassion as we confront the challenges that COVID-19 poses in our community. I appreciate your patience and cooperation. We will get through this together,” Chancellor Dorothy Horrell said.

Similarly, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs announced Wednesday it will start using remote learning from March 30 through April 13 for classes where that is possible. In-person classes would resume April 14 unless the campus decides otherwise. For classes that cannot be attended remotely, instructions will be sent out by Thursday, March 19.

The latest information from UCCS can be found on its coronavirus information page.

Colorado State University has joined other educational institutions in the state and will be moving classes online after extending spring break through March 24. Classes will resume March 25 and delivered online until at least through April 10, when school officials will re-evaluate and issue further guidelines.

Metropolitan State University of Denver says it hopes to have full implementation of remote teaching and learning in place by March 30 and that classes won’t be held on campus after that date – likely for the rest of the semester. Campus will be open. A town hall is set for 3 p.m., which can be live streamed here. More information is available here.

Fort Lewis College in Durango announced Wednesday afternoon they would also be moving classes online starting March 30 and ending on April 6.

The Colorado School of Mines is also moving courses online effective March 30. Though no classes will be taught in-person for the remainder of the semester, the campus will remain open, school officials said. Spring Break will remain as scheduled, from March 23-27.

The University of Denver also on Wednesday announced it is moving to online classes in response to the spread of COVID-19 in the state. In a letter on their website, DU said it is canceling in-person final exams, which begin on Tuesday, March 17, and will instead move to remote or on-line exams. Classes will be moved online until at least April 10, officials said. University officials also said all non-essential international travel for university business was no prohibited, and asked anyone traveling for personal reasons from areas where there is sustained outbreak of COVID-19, to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival before returning to campus. The protocol applied to students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

The University of Northern Colorado also joined other Colorado universities in announcing they will be holding classes remotely starting March 23 through April 5. Staff is currently investigating how to accommodate classroom activities that typically include laboratories, performances, or other in-person interactions, and specific guidance will follow, they said.

Regis University in Denver said they will move all of its on-campus classrooms to remote, online learning starting Monday, March 19 through Monday, April 13 in response to the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus in Colorado. Read more here.

University officials also said university-sponsored or affiliated international travel is suspended through June 30, 2020 and all personal travel international travel is strongly discouraged by the university. Anyone who decides to travel outside of the country will be subjected to a 14-day self-quarantine off campus upon return, per CDC guidelines.

And other universities and colleges in Colorado have been preparing for the possibility that they might need to implement similar measures.

Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Tuesday told students to stay off-campus through at least April 15, “and possibly the rest of the academic year,” and canceled most large campus events over the next month.

All Block 7 classes, which are now beginning on March 30 (as Spring Break has been extended by a week), will be distance-learning only to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Read the full statement from Colorado College here.

Local school districts have been developing plans in the event students need to work from home as well. Cory Elementary School in Denver was closed Wednesday because a student’s parent tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and called for exponentially more test kits, and said people should limit their exposure to large gatherings – especially if they are older than age 60 or have weakened immune systems.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday officially declared the novel coronavirus to be a pandemic. By definition, a pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.

For the latest COVID-19 updates from Colorado, click here.