A Very Important Message to Students Regarding COVID-19

Chancellor Douglas A. Girod M.D.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020, 8:49 p.m.
All KU Lawrence and Edwards Students

Students –

KU leaders have been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. We know that some members of the Jayhawk community have been in areas with reported cases, and we don’t expect to be immune from this virus. We have a strong team that continues to assess conditions regionally and across the nation to make recommendations about what actions we should take, guided by the following principles:

  1. Keep KU open so it can provide services to the fullest extent possible given unprecedented circumstances.
  2. Maintain continuity of operations that support the academic and research missions of the university.
  3. Prevent the spread of the disease at KU and beyond.
  4. Protect members of the KU community through self-quarantine and social distancing, especially the three groups at greatest risk:
    1. those who may have been exposed,
    2. those who have chronic health challenges,
    3. those who are currently sick.
  5. Encourage all members of the KU community to be informed and practice healthy behaviors by following CDC recommendations.
  6. Protect equity for our most vulnerable employees and students, as much as possible, as we respond to the situation.
  7. Respond with agility to the fluid and changing nature of the situation.
  8. Provide clear communications to all members of the KU community.
  9. Provide exceptions for mission-critical activities on a case-by-case basis.

Delayed Resumption of In-person Classes Until March 23

To help protect the health of all members of our community, including those who may be at higher risk of the effects of coronavirus, the resumption of in-person classes will be delayed until March 23.

Next week, March 16-22, we have asked faculty to prepare to transition course content, including lectures, to online instructional platforms, such as Blackboard. Every KU course already has an existing Blackboard shell available for faculty to start the process. Beginning the week of March 23, courses will be taught remotely using online tools. We should anticipate needing to stay online for several weeks, however, our team will reassess the need to continue remote-only instruction each week, starting March 28. There will be no schedule change to courses already online.

To clarify: Online classes continue as scheduled. In-person classes will girate online and resume March 23, using an online format.

This approach limits in-person exposure after spring break to align with the estimated COVID-19 incubation period, and allows faculty members a modest amount of time to prepare and begin the transition to online instruction. It also keeps the university operating and helps you continue toward your educational goals.

In the days ahead, look for a message from your instructors about what you might expect for your courses. If online learning is new to you, please visit remote.ku.edu for a basic guide and resources to get you started. Instructors and advisors may also use tech tools, such as Skype or Zoom as an alternative for in-person meetings or office hours.

KU Student Housing buildings (residence halls, scholarship halls, apartments) and KU Dining venues will be open, although we strongly encourage you to delay returning to campus unless you are already here, unless you are prevented from returning home because of travel restrictions, or you do not have access to technology, such as reliable Internet service, needed to complete coursework remotely. KU Libraries will be open and operating as normal. Students with IT needs should check out the Libraries’ resources, which include reliable Internet access and both stationary computer work stations and laptops for short-term checkout.

Do not return to campus if:

  • You are sick.
  • You have a chronic health condition that puts you at greater risk of the effects of COVID-19.
  • You have traveled internationally or domestically to areas with outbreaks, or have potentially been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If this is the case, please self-isolate or quarantine yourself for 14 days and call your healthcare provider for guidance.

If any of these apply, be sure to inform your instructors of your situation.

Student employees, please contact your supervisors about work schedules and discuss whether you can work remotely.

We recognize that additional measures we are taking to staunch the spread of the outbreak have the unfortunate effect of limiting your enrichment activities. Effective immediately, university sponsored events will be limited to no more than 50 participants. In addition, with the exception of travel or programs already underway, university sponsored domestic and international travel and attendance at meetings and conferences is immediately suspended. University sponsored travel in Kansas and Missouri will be allowed for the time being. In such cases, exemptions, typically mission critical, will be considered in advance by the provost or her designee.

Stay Healthy

Please be sure to take care of yourself. Taking action to limit your exposure to the virus will help ensure our collective health and safety. Please continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control recommendations to prevent spread of COVID-19 shared earlier by Watkins Health Services.

We know you have other questions. Our goal is to keep you informed during this turbulent time. Our Public Health Planning Team continues to study and make recommendations on important issues, and we will be able to provide guidance on these matters in the days ahead. Our new coronavirus webpage will help keep you current.

We understand the hardship and confusion this outbreak causes, and we are so appreciative of your flexibility. This is a challenging time for our campus, our families and our community. It will take all of us working together to ensure we come through this situation as strong as ever, and, we hope, even stronger. It also will require us to, fundamentally, be empathetic to each other, understanding we are all working through this rapidly changing situation together. We’re confident we have the talent, the resources and the heart to rise to this challenge.


Doug and Barbara

Douglas A. Girod, M.D.

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor