Update: COVID-19 alternate operations

Mar. 12, 2020

This message was sent by the University President, Marc Johnson, and Medical Director, Cheryl Hug-English, MD, MPH to students, faculty staff and other personnel at the University of Nevada, Reno.

To the University community:

Acting in an effort to promote the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the community we serve, the University of Nevada, Reno made the decision today to enact alternate operations in a number of key areas. Although we are not closing campus, we are making a concerted effort to greatly reduce the collection of people on our campus in order to diminish the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). As of today, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on our campus.

These decisions have been informed by the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the outbreak of coronavirus throughout the world and in the United States. They have been made in consultation with campus administration, the Nevada System of Higher Education, and our partners in the public health community, including the Washoe County Health District and State of Nevada Public Behavioral Health. We are striving to minimize large gatherings and face-to-face contact that can occur in instruction, office hours and workspace, limit exposure posed by international travel and to stress flexibility and understanding for those affected by our decisions in order to effectively meet the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Online Delivery of Classes:

The University will begin online delivery of all for-credit academic courses Monday, March 23, the week following Spring Break. Faculty who are prepared to begin online instruction on March 23, should do so. Faculty who are not prepared to begin online delivery on March 23 may cancel classes on March 23 and/or March 24 in order to prepare to begin online delivery no later than March 25. If a faculty member chooses to cancel classes to prepare for online delivery, they are encouraged to provide alternative assignments or readings for students and/or to adjust the syllabus accordingly.

As a reminder Teaching & Learning Technologies has compiled an extensive list of resources to assist in delivering courses online. Faculty and teaching assistants are expected to complete any and all necessary work associated with their instructional/teaching assistantship responsibilities and are allowed on campus as necessary to do so. All faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom Pro, an enterprise video conferencing platform with real-time messaging and content sharing. This will help facilitate online course delivery and remote meetings. If you have a Basic account already it will automatically be upgraded to a Pro account in the next day or two. Instructions for setting up a new Zoom account, using Zoom, and best practices for Zoom are found on the Teaching & Learning Technologies website.

Student Housing:

The University is directing all students to remain home, not return to campus, and continue their courses online following the completion of Spring Break on March 22. If students who are currently residing in residence halls do not have the option to remain home following the completion of Spring Break, they should contact University Residential Life and Housing immediately at 775 784-1113. Students who have employment on campus should work with their supervisors to determine flexible arrangements regarding their pay and expected duties.

All students are encouraged to regularly check the University website for updates regarding any changes for living and working on campus.


Administrative faculty, classified staff, student employees, postdoctoral scholars, temporary hourly and medical residents should report to work per their normal schedule. All employee types may discuss the possibility of working remotely with their supervisor. All schools, colleges, units, division and departments are encouraged to have discussions about how best to have employees accomplish their work, whether in-person or remotely. Some personnel policies have been expanded to provide additional options. Guidance for supervisors and employees on how to work remotely, as well as policy regarding sick and annual leave, can be found in the academics section University coronavirus resource page.

Research Faculty:

The University’s Research & Innovation division emailed information to its “ResearchNotes” listserv on March 7. This email, sent to faculty, students and staff directly engaged with research, included considerations for use in contingency planning, steps that can be taken now to ensure continuity of critical functions, additional safety considerations and more. Find more information about research continuity for laboratories and facilities and the full email sent to ResearchNotes.

Sponsored Projects continues to monitor the situation closely and suggests the Council for Government Relations and website as a source for aggregated information and updates from federal agencies.

Campus Events:

The University is directing the campus to cancel or postpone all public or major events with planned attendance of more than 150 people, effective March 13. This directive shall be in place until further notice. 


Due to the escalating severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of State’s issuance of a Global Travel 3 alert, the University is suspending all University-supported international travel and non-essential domestic travel by University employees and students. Domestic travel essential to University operations must be authorized by the traveler’s supervisor.

We are recalling all faculty, staff and students who are currently on University-sponsored or University-affiliated international travel. All University students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to consider the current health situation of areas of the country where they are traveling to, and where they are traveling through, in arranging their return


It is equally important to remember that even with these measures in place, the best action in remaining vigilant against the spread of coronavirus is to use the “best practices” associated with the CDC’s prevention guidelines.

We encourage you to monitor the University’s Novel Coronavirus Information Page, which is being updated regularly. The page contains the latest information from a variety of sources, as well as tips for faculty, students and staff regarding issues that could arise from coronavirus.

This is an unprecedented moment for our campus, for our country and for the world. As we move forward with the actions detailed in this message, we need to remember that staying informed about the spread of coronavirus is of utmost importance. It is of equal importance to remember that we need one another’s support.

If you are experiencing anxiety or stress, know that we have resources to help you navigate a challenging time. Self-care is an important consideration. Students in need of Counseling Services can call 775-784-4648. Employees in need of counseling can contact Human Resources, 775-784-6082.

For any and all questions regarding this shift in operations, the University has set up a 24-hour information line at 775-682-9900. We will continue to communicate with you regularly regarding the latest developments on this important topic. Thank you for all that you are doing.


Marc Johnson, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Reno
775 784-4805

Cheryl Hug-English MD, MPH
Medical Director
Student Health Center
775 784-6598