Working Toward the Start of a New Academic Year

To our University Community:

In preparing for the fall semester, the University has been guided by two goals that can be stated as one: Keeping the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff at the forefront of what we do, while we fulfill our institutional missions. Classes for the fall semester begin in a little less than three weeks. As we work toward the start of a new academic year, here are some updates:

No longer following previous pandemic terminology

On July 27, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the State of Nevada will be following a long-term strategy designed to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. By no longer following the previous pandemic terminology of “phases” for Nevada’s recovery, Gov. Sisolak said the new response allows the State of Nevada and its counties to utilize flexible, data-based public health measures. This will mean a change in terminology for the University as well. Starting on Aug. 15, the University will be following its “Reopening Plan – Fall 2020,” and will no longer use formal numerical “Phases.” The fall plan provides for return to our learning and working environment while being responsive to any change in behavior of the pandemic, based on prescribed public health-based procedures and policies.

Guidance for suspected or positive COVID-19 Case

The University has also released on the website guidance for employees and students when there has been or is a suspected case of COVID-19 on our campus. This includes a list of actions that need to be followed by students and employees in the event of COVID-19 symptoms, exposure or a positive test. It also includes information for decision-makers to provide clarity for faculty or supervisors about how to handle situations where a student or employee is suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19.

Mandatory face coverings

Facial coverings are required for all employees, students, vendors and visitors in all indoor and outdoor University public spaces, including classrooms, except by employees alone in a private office, removed in order to eat and drink, and unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations. A “face covering” is defined as a “covering that fully covers a person’s nose and mouth, including without limitation, cloth face mask, surgical mask, towels, scarves, and bandanas” (State of Nevada Emergency Directive 024).

Size of group gatherings

An important clarification regarding sizes of gatherings on campus. Per recent directions from Gov. Sisolak, there is a limit of gatherings to no more than 25 people (down from the previous number of 50). This directive will be observed in rooms, work spaces and gathering areas throughout campus, including in our classrooms, where distancing protocols of six feet social distance are already in effect.

In closing, as we move toward a new academic year, please know that the University continues to use all of its communications channels in getting the most recent and up-to-date information to you. Please consult the University’s Return of the Pack: Preparing for a COVID-19-ready semester web page regularly for the latest updates. If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your supervisor, director, department chair, dean, division vice president, or Human Resources.


Marc A. Johnson