Update on business operations, town hall for faculty and staff

May. 4, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As final exams near and we wrap up this most unusual of spring semesters, I wanted to share our plans to resume on-campus business operations and how we will approach delivery of instruction for the next academic year. The safety and health of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors will remain at the forefront of our decisions and our actions.

Over the last month or so, a multidisciplinary team of faculty and staff (Incident Management Team) has been intensely focused on how and when we bring employees back to campus to perform their work, and what the fall semester may look like for faculty and students. The team is considering all aspects of university operations and various scenarios we may consider as this situation evolves. This includes addressing population density and social distancing in classrooms, as well as student service areas, offices, residence halls, dining spaces, labs, and other facilities across our campuses. Large group events will also be assessed for their advisability. These adjustments and precautions will be in place when staff return to campus after this period of working remotely.

Simultaneously, we have been engaged with the Nevada System of Higher Education and our sister institutions to jointly plan for the delivery of instruction in the final summer session and the fall semester. All decisions on staff, faculty, and student re-entry are guided by the recommendations of public health experts and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s Nevada United: Road to Recovery plan.

By June, we anticipate the start of a phased approach to shift remote work back to on-site on our campuses. This will be carried out slowly and thoughtfully, incorporating adjustments for social distancing and exercising flexibility for those who are at higher risk. Staff will be brought back in phases based on job function and an employee’s personal situation – this includes if they are a person at high risk, care for someone who is at high risk, or there are other unique circumstances. Additionally, Facilities Management will follow intensive cleaning protocols on our campuses prior to staff returning.

We anticipate classes for the 2020 Fall Semester to be a combination of in-person instruction and select remote coursework. Our first classes to resume in person will be a limited offering for Summer Session III, which begins July 13. Most Summer Session III courses will be offered remotely. Regardless of the mode of educational delivery, I fully expect we will provide the high-quality education that is the hallmark of every Carnegie R1 university.

I know the abrupt change in the spring semester has been disorienting and difficult, and I am deeply grateful and massively impressed by your efforts and effectiveness in adjusting to this unprecedented pandemic and its consequences. As you prepare your courses for the fall, please plan to be nimble in the event we must again shift to all remote delivery based on public health guidance and the governor’s directives. We all yearn for certainty looking forward, but the reality is that our plans will remain contingent on conditions at the time. Your safety remains our number one priority as we try to fulfill the mission of this university.

Next week, Provost Chris Heavey and I will host a virtual town hall to provide a status update and overview of our plan to transition back to campus, and, most importantly, to address any questions you might have. The 90-minute virtual town hall will be at 10:15 a.m. Monday, May 11. More information is forthcoming.

Thank you for your grit, determination, commitment, and optimism. I look forward to speaking with you next week as we continue our collective journey through this uncharted territory.

I am grateful for the company of such great colleagues as we venture forward together.

Warm regards,

Marta Meana, Ph.D.
UNLV President