UNI moves remainder of spring semester online

TNS/SIERRA STEEN

ELIZABETH KELSEY, News Editor

As the number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa reached 29 on Wednesday, March 18, the three Regents institutions took steps to stop the disease from spreading on the campuses of Iowa’s public universities.

UNI, along with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University (ISU), made the decision Wednesday to move all classes online for the remainder of the semester. All three institutions also cancelled spring 2020 commencement exercises and will be asking students to move out of campus residence halls in the next week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents a true challenge, and we must make what may seem like sweeping efforts to keep campus safe,” wrote University of Iowa president Bruce Herrald in a statement.

“We continue to appreciate the way in which the entire campus community has come together in order to address the disruption that we face, and especially to make certain that we protect our most vulnerable populations,” UNI administration wrote on the campus COVID-19 website, prepare.uni.edu.

The decision came one day after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds declared a Public Health Disaster Emergency for the state of Iowa. In addition to activating the state’s emergency plan and mobilizing health and economic resources, the governor’s declaration prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people and mandated that all restaurants, bars, theaters, fitness centers, church services, conventions, fundraisers and other large social functions close until at least April 16.

“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster. I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Reynolds. “The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

UNI had already closed communal buildings such as Rod Library, Maucker Union and the Wellness and Recreation Center on March 16, and Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) had closed on March 17. After Reynolds’ declaration, UNI issued a statement asking all staff to work from home, followed by the March 18 decision to move the remainder of the semester online.

At UNI, classes will also be conducted online for the summer 2020 session.  The University of Iowa and ISU have not released information regarding summer 2020 classes at this time.

The University of Iowa has extended its spring break by one week, meaning that online classes will commence on March 30. ISU and UNI will begin online classes as previously scheduled on March 23.

As UNI transitions to online-only classes, resources such as the Learning Center, Counseling Center and Student Health Center will be available in online and telehealth formats. Students and faculty are encouraged to take advantage of the online resources available through Rod Library, as well as the UNI Bookstore, which recently made more than 50,000 e-book titles available for free through May 25.

Students living in on-campus residence halls must move out by Tuesday, March 24, although students with extenuating circumstances may request to remain in a centralized location on campus. Students are asked to move out during designated times, communicated in an email to on-campus students, to follow social distancing recommendations.

“We can no longer maintain our residential communities in the same manner that we have during the academic year. As the largest generation of citizens in the US, your activism in keeping yourself and others safe during this time is critical to limiting the spread of this pandemic,” wrote UNI Department of Residence in their email to students. “We are deeply saddened that our semester has come to an abrupt end. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to navigate this unprecedented crisis.”

Students will receive a credit prorated for the remainder of the semester for housing and dining costs.

The Northern Iowan will continue to provide updates on the COVID-19 crisis on UNI’s campus and how the transition to online learning is impacting students, faculty and staff. Please visit our website and social media, as well as prepare.uni.edu, for the latest information.