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UNR campus closes to mitigate spread of COVID-19

By ThisIsReno
Published: Last Updated on

The University of Nevada, Reno campus will close to all non-essential employees, students and the general public as of 5 p.m. March 18 President Marc Johnson announced today. The order is in response to direction from both Governor Sisolak and Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Thom Reilly to reduce potential exposure to and spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

The announcement included a number of key directives impacting students, faculty, staff, vendors and contractors of the University. They are designed to reduce the number of people on campus, mitigate exposure to COVID-19 and promote social distancing. Among them:

  • Faculty will begin delivering coursework through online channels starting March 23.
  • Students living in residence halls are asked to return to their homes if at all possible. For those who are unable, Residential Life and Student Services will work with them to meet their needs.
  • Employees designated as essential, who need to have a physical presence on campus to perform critical functions such as to maintain systems and security, will continue to report to work using their own building keys or cards.
  • Non-essential employees that can work remotely are advised to do so.

Read the full letter below.

This Is Reno’s COVID-19 news coverage

President Marc Johnson’s letter:

To our University Community:

UNR President Marc Johnson. Image: UNR.
UNR President Marc Johnson. Image: UNR.

In response to direction from Gov. Sisolak and Chancellor Reilly over the past 24 hours, the University is implementing immediate procedures so that all non-essential employees and operations at the University will cease no later than 5 p.m., March 18, for at least 30 days. There will be no access by the general public. Access to campus will be available to faculty, staff and students attending to critical functions of the University who have their own building keys or cards.

This closure includes any operations that may currently be open on campus, such as the fitness center, athletic facilities, vendors, and other locations where any group may socialize. These actions are being made to further reduce the number of employees who are on campus to essential employees who must have a physical presence on campus. Other than those employees who are designated as essential, our employees are directed by Gov. Sisolak and Chancellor Reilly to stay at home, work remotely, and to practice social distancing.

Although many of you have already begun making these preparations, it is imperative that today each academic and administrative operating units establish systems for staffing and monitoring business continuity needs and student/customer service.  Supervisors, managers, and department chairs in consultation with Directors, Associate Vice Presidents or Deans are to develop schedules for on-campus employees which mitigate exposure, diminishes personal contact and to the extent possible, maintains social distance.

Human Resources has prepared guidelines for all academic and administrative operating units for the decision-making process of designating employees as: “Employees on Campus,” “Employees Working Remotely” and “Administrative Leave.” It is imperative today that all supervisors, chairs or managers inform employees, including student employees, of their designation. Depending on job responsibilities and business operational needs, an employee’s status may change at any time from one designation to another. 

In general, in making these decisions, the University is stressing:

  1. Employees working on campus should take precautions to avoid exposure and be vigilant of CDC protocols.
  2. Employees who can work remotely, other than those providing minimal coverage on campus, should do so effective today.  The University has provided Guidelines for Working Remotely and Working Remotely Resources from the Office of Information Technology.
  3. Employees who need not report to campus and cannot work remotely should be placed on Administrative Leave Time Off with Pay. Employees on administrative leave should enter Administrative Leave Time Off with Pay in Workday.

Student employees who are designated as Employees on Campus or Employees Working Remotely will continue to log normally scheduled hours and be paid. Student employees who cannot work on campus or remotely will continue to be paid. Please consider all options to reassign these student employees to areas or tasks that can be completed during this period of alternative campus operations.  Human Resources will provide guidance within the next few days as to how pay should be calculated.

For students living in residence halls, we are asking that they immediately return to their homes, unless they have extenuating circumstances and must remain in the residence halls. Residential Life is reaching out to these students to determine circumstances and needs. Student Services is working on limited food options for students who remain.

Faculty should continue to prepare for online delivery of all for-credit courses by March 23, and should be prepared for official online engagement with their classes no later than March 25.

As of today not later than 5 p.m. all buildings on campus will be closed. There will be no access by the general public. Access to campus will be available to faculty, staff and students attending to critical functions of the University who have their own building keys or cards. Contractors who are attending to critical infrastructure needs will also be allowed. The following major buildings will have alternative operations:

  • Joe Crowley Student Union (student computer area access only allowed in a social distance monitored area; vendors to close and no other common area access)
  • Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (student computer access allowed in a social distance monitored area, plus reduced physical presence for Teaching and Learning Technologies and Information Technology – these services will also be available remotely)
  • Pennington Student Achievement Center and Fitzgerald Student Services (staff already on reduced physical presence, many services available remotely already)
  • For research faculty, the University’s Research and Innovation division emailed information to its “ResearchNotes” listserv on March 7. This email, sent to faculty, students and staff directly engaged with research, included considerations for use in contingency planning, steps that can be taken now to ensure continuity of critical functions, additional safety considerations and more. The full email message is available on the University’s Novel Coronavirus Messages page.
  • Research faculty with laboratories that require in-person staffing are to use their own discretion and are asked to use CDC guidelines for social distancing, as well as cleaning and disinfecting. Environmental Health and Safety is available remotely.

While we are asking all of our campus to react nimbly today, we are also advising that all decisions are made with good deliberation and with the best interests of the health and safety of all of the people who work, study and live on our campus and other University locations in mind.

We ask for your patience as we get further information and details out to the University community. Please continue to look to Novel Coronavirus Information Page for the latest information about coronavirus and University operations.

Thank you all for your continued dedication to these guiding principles.

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