Dear Wolf Pack Family,
COVID-19 remains a significant challenge, not only for our institution, but for our community, the state of Nevada and our country. I write today to share our plan forward, which is essential in order to safeguard the health of everyone associated with our University. We are fortunate to have a group of extremely dedicated people who have been working around the clock to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Our Issues Management Team continues to consider contingencies on your behalf. Although we must remain optimistic that we will eventually win this fight, the hard truth we face is that COVID-19 still remains a part of all of our lives.
We now have a looming cold and flu season and holiday travel in which many of our students could be potentially traveling back and forth between campus and their family’s homes. These are all variables that have the potential to cause further spread of the virus. We must continue to find ways to mitigate these risks so that you, our students, faculty and staff, can remain healthy.
We are carefully and regularly monitoring health conditions at the University, in Nevada, and across the country. After consultation with the Washoe County Health District and with their full support, we must continue to adapt to changing conditions. In the past few weeks, 1 in 9 active positive cases in Washoe County were associated with our University community, and the 18-24 age range continues to be the highest range of new cases. It should also be noted that Washoe County is one of only two counties flagged for elevated disease transmission in Nevada. As of Oct. 5, the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 over the last 30 days in Washoe County is highest in the state. Clearly, we must continue to find ways to lessen these rates in the best interests of our University family and the broader community. Therefore we are announcing the following measures:
- Effective following Fall Break (traditionally called Thanksgiving weekend), on Monday, Nov. 30, all University courses will be delivered remotely for the remainder of the semester. The Provost’s Office will provide additional information early next week to faculty regarding this change. Tutoring, advising and other academic and support services will still be available to all students. More information on these services will be forthcoming through the Provost’s Office.
- For students living in residence halls, we are asking that they do not return to campus following the completion of the Fall Break (traditionally called Thanksgiving weekend), unless they have a hardship or extenuating circumstances and must remain in the residence halls. Residential Life will be communicating directly with students living in residence halls with specific details, including information on prorated refunds on room and board. Parking Services will provide prorated parking refunds to students impacted by these closures.
- Knowing there could be more virus transmission following periods of travel or recreational gatherings, we are adjusting our Spring schedule to begin one week later and eliminate the spring break week. Spring semester 2021 instruction is now scheduled to begin on Monday, Jan. 25. This measure should allow us to have a continuous Spring semester with students living in our residential communities. The Provost’s Office will provide a list of the important dates associated with this revised spring academic calendar.
- Just as we have balanced ways to reduce transmission risk for our teaching faculty and students, we also are evaluating ways to accomplish the same goal for our professional/administrative faculty and classified staff while also maintaining our critical research activities and other essential functions. Deans and unit directors will assist us in tailoring on-campus operations during the December/January timeframe and more information will be distributed as that input is gathered.
I realize that these measures require a level of sacrifice for all of us. They are designed to reduce our community’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 by limiting holiday travel and further reducing our campus’ density over the final days of this semester. Losing spring break will be a disappointment to many. But an uninterrupted spring semester, coming on the heels of our adjusted end to the fall semester, gives us our best chance to “Protect the Pack.”
In a letter to students Sept. 14, 2020, the University's Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Carman stated that the University will continue to offer courses through the modalities that the University is currently using for the fall 2020 semester through the end of spring 2021 semester. Specifically, courses with enrollment capacities of 35 or greater will be taught online, while courses with enrollments capacities of 34 or less will predominantly be taught using the alternative-HyFlex modality.