Chancellor Douglas A. Girod M.D.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 12:23 p.m.
KU Lawrence All Staff Faculty and Affiliates,All KU Lawrence and Edwards Students

A message from Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer

Summary: Changes for the Lawrence and KU Edwards Campus include:

  • Instruction will be online for the remainder of the spring semester
  • Information regarding KU Student Housing
  • Reduced campus presence for students, staff and faculty

 

Students, staff, and faculty –

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, we’ve seen our Jayhawk community reveal its strength, understanding, wisdom, positivity and consideration for others. Thank you. We know our situation could be very different. Your response to this challenge leaves no doubt that together we will rise to this occasion, overcome these difficult times and emerge stronger than before.

Every day we continue to monitor the latest developments surrounding COVID-19 and its effects on our Lawrence and Edward Campuses, as well as for our colleagues and classmates on the KU Medical Center campuses. As a community we’ve had to swiftly make hard decisions based on rapidly evolving circumstances and changing guidance from federal and state officials. New recommendations that came out Sunday and Monday — the White House advisory to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to postpone events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks — have set the stage for a new environment that will shape how we learn, work, and live at KU for the rest of the spring semester.

Although we’ve encouraged employees to work remotely and asked students to avoid returning to campus, it’s become clear that we, as a community, must now be very bold and intentional in our actions to limit face-to-face interaction and help prevent the spread of this outbreak. This message contains important updates that will affect virtually all members of the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Lawrence and Edwards Campus Instruction Moving Fully Online for Remainder of Spring Semester

All previously in-person classes will be delivered online for the remainder of the spring semester. Faculty migrating their in-person courses to an online format should continue their efforts. Students unfamiliar with online courses can find guidance through remote.ku.edu. Instructors who need further assistance with their course migration should reach out to KU Information Technology’s Educational Technology Team. The Academic Change Management workgroup is working non-stop to find appropriate solutions for additional questions.

Limiting Size of On-Campus Housing Operations

KU Student Housing must limit the size of on-campus housing operations for the rest of the spring semester. This is a very hard decision, but one that is necessary to protect the health of students. Information for on-campus housing residents will be emailed directly to residents. Residents who need to maintain a physical presence on the Lawrence campus must complete an exemption process in order to be allowed to remain in campus housing. Students who have not returned yet to campus housing should remain where they are. KU Student Housing is developing plans for an orderly, managed move-out process that emphasizes and helps ensure social distancing. Residents in KU Student Housing should read their email for further information.

Reducing On-Campus Presence

All KU employees are encouraged to work remotely as much as possible. Where we can conduct business and minimize in-person interaction, we will to the fullest extent possible. Supervisors and campus leaders have autonomy to make work arrangements and assignments that:

  • allow as much work as possible to be completed off campus,
  • help ensure people are physically separated as much as possible, and that
  • meetings and appointments are held by phone, Skype or other technology as much as possible.

Supervisors and employees should work together to craft a shared plan for how to manage duties remotely.

We assure you that the Public Health Planning Team is working to develop plans that address our continuity of mission-essential academics and operations. A Futures Planning workgroup is outlining how we function and manage change with a reduced presence on campus and then how we come back stronger than before. Human Resource Management is working with campus leaders to identify our mission-essential employees who are critical to our on-site functions. To be clear, our situation is not like a snow day. Students are still learning and earning class credit. Research is still being conducted. Services are still being provided. Our students and faculty continue to provide clinical support that is impacting our region and beyond. Our university is and will continue to be very operational and productive. We will continue to pay employees, including student employees, and expect that all employees will continue to work and serve the university by completing assignments and/or professional development, without coming to campus, unless your supervisor has identified you as a mission-essential on-site employee.

KU Information Technology (KU IT) is crafting new guidelines specific for this moment that will help people make the transition to working and studying remotely. It also has helpful information about connecting remotely to KU’s secure systems. For security reasons, employees are discouraged from using their personal home systems. However, employees who do not typically have access to KU laptops may be able to use KU workstations in their homes. KU IT is working on procedures to put computers in the hands of employees and students who need them. Students and researchers will also find many KU Libraries services are still available remotely.

To Our International Scholars

International students, faculty and researchers — please know you are valued members of our Jayhawk community. In the days ahead, we encourage all international students to partner and work closely with International Support Services, iss@ku.edu, 785-864-3617, as you explore your future decisions. The staff’s expert knowledge can help protect immigration status and help you navigate issues related to on-campus and off-campus housing, completing the semester, how to depart campus in light of travel restrictions, and considerations for navigating access to online courses and maintaining contact with professors from abroad if you leave the United States. International students living on campus should seek ISS guidance on staying in the residence halls.

Moving to Only Mission-Essential Events of 10 or Fewer In-person Participants

New guidance on gathering size will impact our efforts to connect with each other regionally and statewide. Moving forward, events must be mission-essential and with in-person participation of 10 or fewer participants, at least through May 15. This is a perfect time to boost our creative thinking and explore the broad collection of tech tools and social media platforms that can help us be leaders in sharing and expanding learning opportunities.

Commencement — Stay Tuned

There is one event, unique to KU, that is on the minds of many — University Commencement. Its date, May 17, falls outside the CDC timeline, and that gives us all hope. The status of Commencement is still to be determined. Our ceremony is both beautiful and a rite unlike others. It’s worth waiting a bit longer and monitoring developments before we make a decision on this tradition.

Part of the Solution

Jayhawks, these next few weeks are critical to our community’s and our nation’s ability to control the spread of coronavirus. What each of us do individually and what we do collectively to protect our health is crucial.

We especially want to thank all of our student workers, faculty, staff, governance leaders, and deans for the tireless efforts over the past number of days to re-think and re-create every aspect of our operations. Even in the midst of this difficult situation, we can’t help but be impressed by and so very proud to be part of the Jayhawk community.

Let us be clear. KU is not “closing.” We instead are redefining how we deliver our services and maintain quality and integrity with a provisional, limited on-campus presence. And we are rising to this challenge. We are Jayhawks. As you continue to work and learn — including those of you in the field right now serving the community — please take care of yourself and others around you. Practice social distancing. Follow the guidelines on self-care. Stay connected, virtually, with your classmates, faculty and colleagues. And most of all, be well.

Respectfully,

Doug and Barb

Douglas A. Girod
Chancellor

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor