Communications to All Campus

Email to All Students and Employees on May 1, 2020

Dear USU students and employees,

I recognize the tremendous burden many of you are feeling as the university has responded rapidly to the current public health crisis. Your efforts have kept COVID-19 cases to a minimum and have ensured that we did our part to protect our campus communities across the state. Your efforts have also allowed us to stay focused on our critical mission of educating the next generation of citizens and scholars.

Today, we have good news about our path forward. Governor Gary Herbert has announced that today, May 1, the state of Utah will transition from the red urgent phase of the state’s Utah Leads 2.0 plan into the orange stabilization phase. This signals a move from high to moderate COVID-19 risk for everyone except high-risk individuals. For most us, this move will not greatly change the way we work or learn at present, but it will provide a careful transition to expanding our activities in the future. The governor’s guidance includes the following:

  • Wear a cloth face mask in public or while interacting with people from other households. The state will provide two million cloth masks free of charge to residents as part of the Mask for Every Utahn I strongly encourage all students and employees to wear face masks at USU, particularly when it is difficult to social distance (stay 6 feet away) with others.
  • Follow strict hygiene standards. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, avoid touching your face, cover coughs and sneezes, and regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
  • Continue to social distance with those from other households. The orange phase provides for gatherings of up to 20 people, but only if social distancing is still possible.
  • Stay home if you are sick – even with mild symptoms. The Utah Department of Health is recommending that anyone with one of these symptoms get tested for COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and chills, or decreased sense of smell or taste.

Students will continue to learn online for the first 7-week and the 14-week session of summer semester. We hope to provide face-to-face learning opportunities during the second 7-week summer session. This is contingent on our state being able to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. For fall semester, we are planning a mixture of online, blended and face-to-face learning opportunities.
More information for students>

Employees will work remotely as much as possible. When you work on campus or meet with fellow employees or members of the public, follow the guidelines above to protect yourself and others. Campus departments and offices will begin making plans for how to carefully bring more employees back to campus when the state transitions to the yellow, or low-risk, phase.
More information for employees>

Though events and travel are still canceled until June 1, we will provide more information and guidance on future events, travel, and other university operations soon. You can also find more information about how USU is addressing the COVID-19 threat at usu.edu/covid-19

Sincerely,

Noelle E. Cockett
President

Email to All Students and Employees on March 28, 2020

COVID-19 Update from President Cockett 

Yesterday, March 27, Governor Gary Herbert released a "Stay Safe, Stay Home" directive for the state of Utah further emphasizing the urgency of social distancing and staying home. The health and safety of all our campus community members - students, faculty and staff - depend upon us making the right decisions and following the guidance of our public health experts.

I want to provide details for how our campus will continue to operate in response to these actions. As of today, USU is still operating in Level 2 of our Infectious Disease Response Plan. But we are preparing for the potential of county health officials taking actions in the future that would move us to Level 1 status, defined as "all functions performed remotely and off site except functions designated as on-site essential".

If a USU campus or center moves to Level 1: 

  • USU administrators will identify which employees will provide essential on-site functions (such as security, animal care, on-campus housing, etc.). Those employees designated as essential for on-site work will be contacted by their supervisors. Public health guidelines for social distancing and increased sanitation will continue to be implemented to protect all essential on-site employees.
  • All other employees who are able to work remotely will do so (using email, phone, or other online platforms). 
  • All employees (wage-hourly and benefitted) who cannot perform their work remotely or do not have an assignment that is designated as on-site essential will be paid through "COVID-19 administrative leave." Supervisors will provide more details on this in the near future. 

For students who live in on-campus housing:

  • Residence halls will remain open to students living on campus, and essential services will continue even under Level 1 status. 
  • Public health guidelines for social distancing and improved sanitation will continue to be implemented to protect students and staff.

For updated information about how USU is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to visit https://www.usu.edu/covid-19/.

I greatly appreciate our staff and faculty members' incredible efforts in these unprecedented times. I am continually impressed and amazed by how our campus members have pulled together to get things done and take care of each other. Times like these show that we are truly a statewide family of Aggies.

Most sincerely,

Noelle E. Cockett
President

Email to All Students and Employees on March 20, 2020

As Utah State University continues to monitor and actively respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, I want to provide you with answers to questions that are being asked.

Stay Home When Sick
Public health officials want everyone who is ill to stay home. Those who live on campus should contact their resident assistant (RAs) if they are ill and/or think they were exposed to COVID-19.

Self-Isolation
If you are told to self-isolate, or told by the local health department to quarantine, report this to Risk Management by completing the self-isolation questionnaire. Because a positive result in a COVID-19 test is protected health information, we will only know of confirmed cases in our community if employees or students tell us.

Those who are ill should stay home and recover. If you have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay home and self-isolate. Employees who are ill are not expected to work remotely. For more information on employee leave, see the employee FAQs.

Working Remotely
Supervisors have received an email with direction to facilitate remote work for those can work from home. For those who can accomplish their work remotely, they should be encouraged to do so. For staff who cannot accomplish their work remotely, supervisors have been given direction to create opportunities for social distancing and work with employees to come up with creative solutions.

The university is working to make sure individuals can continue to work and receive pay while navigating through this crisis.

Meetings
Whenever possible, hold meetings remotely to protect those involved. Face-to-face meetings should only be held in a way that promotes social distancing.

Merrill-Cazier Library
The Merrill-Cazier Library on the Logan campus remains open to USU students and employees but is closed to the general public. New procedures have been implemented in the Library over the last few days to promote social distancing. Learn about these changes on the Merrill-Cazier Library’s website.

Updates
See the latest updates at www.usu.edu/covid-19

Thank you for your cooperation as we get through the COVID-19 crisis. We appreciate all you are doing to protect our Aggie family.

Best regards,

Noelle E. Cockett
President


Email to All Students and Employees on March 14, 2020

As you know, we are in unprecedented times that require unprecedented actions. Our priority at this time is to keep Utah State University students, staff, and faculty, as well as all of our families and communities, safe and healthy. We have had to make many decisions in a very short time period. Decisions have been altered or adapted as the situation has evolved and more changes are likely. Please frequently check for updates at www.usu.edu/COVID-19.

I regret that these rapid changes have caused anxiety. I greatly appreciate all of you for being flexible and understanding. Here are some important updates:  

All University campuses and centers are currently open.  
The status of specific offices and centers may change over time, and if there are reduced hours or closures (such as the Swaner EcoCenter in Summit County), we will provide that information at www.usu.edu/COVID-19.    

Several options have been developed for employees who need to remain home. 
Employee FAQs were sent out to all department heads and directors at noon today. These FAQs will be updated often.  

Students will be able to complete Spring 2020 Semester coursework remotely. 
The ability to complete courses remotely will include a variety of options, such as Canvas and other remote learning options, alternative assignments, or competency-based evaluation. Faculty will communicate directly with students on the delivery of their courses. Students should log in to Canvas to update their communication settings (email and text). Technical and clinical programs, practicums, and internships will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

A decision about USU’s commencement ceremonies will be made by April 1.
If any of USU’s commencement ceremonies are cancelled, we will make alternate plans in order to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates.

USU will prorate refunds for USU housing and meal plans. 
Students living in on-campus housing may stay. Those who wish to move out of on-campus housing will receive a prorated refund based on the date they move out. Find more information, including USU Housing contacts in the student FAQs.   

USU has cancelled nonessential university-related travel.
All essential travel must be approved by vice presidents or deans in consultation with Risk Management. If you have traveled out of state in the last 14 days, for either professional or personal reasons, or if you plan to travel out of state, please complete the travel registration survey.

If you have been asked to self-isolate, please register.
Those in self-isolation need to complete the self-isolation questionnaire.  

USU faculty and staff are working around the clock to address issues as they come up, and we appreciate your patience. I am absolutely confident that our Aggie family will navigate through this unprecedented time. 


Email to All Students and Employees on March 12, 2020

Utah State University Begins Transition to Online Course Delivery

Utah State University will move academic courses online on Wednesday, March 18. Classes on Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17, will be canceled to allow faculty members time to move their classes into the online learning environment. This transition to online course delivery is part of USU’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the campus community. The university will communicate directly with students as early as possible about when their classes will go online. 

“Our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of students and employees while maintaining the highest level of academic instruction possible,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. “USU has a long history of online learning, and this will benefit students and faculty as we transition to providing digital education to our students.”

The Office of the Provost and Academic Instructional Services are working with faculty to help them move their classes online. USU Online’s robust infrastructure will help ease this transition. 

“Our core mission is teaching and learning, and we are doing everything possible to protect our students’ education as we address this public health threat,” said President Cockett.

Staff will continue business as usual as much as possible, with an emphasis on social distancing and avoiding meetings over 20 people. Staff who are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 may work with their supervisors to make accommodations. All employees who are ill should stay at home, rest, recover, and prevent the spread of germs. 

On Wednesday, March 11, USU canceled all events and travel through April 8 as a preventative measure in order to protect the health and safety of campus while continuing to meet its core educational mission. These actions, combined with moving classes online, will support the efforts of public health officials to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, slowing the spread of the disease and ensuring health care providers in the state have the capacity to address an outbreak. 

The university is also making plans for students who live on campus. There are 4,132 individuals who live in USU housing, and the university said the wellbeing of residents is top of mind. Housing will remain open, and essential services will remain available through the end of the semester. Events in Residence Life have been canceled. 

The university will continue to sort through many questions from campus community members, and officials said they will have more answers in the coming days to address this unprecedented public health situation. The public can continue to receive updates at http://usu.edu/covid-19, where all university communication regarding virus prevention and mitigation is posted. Questions about travel cancellations can be sent to risk@usu.edu

The university wants to remind the community that state officials have set up the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707. Individuals should call this line if they have symptoms and are worried they have this virus. If an individual is very ill with symptoms of COVID-19, they should call ahead before visiting their health care provider or the emergency room.

A message about preventing COVID-19 was sent out through the campus alert system on March 6. This email was updated on March 7 with new information.


Message to All Students and Employees on March 7, 2020

Since sending a safety alert to you yesterday afternoon, March 6, Utah health officials announced the state's first diagnosed case of COVID-19 (yesterday evening). This is currently the only case in Utah. Please note, only cases diagnosed in Utah will be counted by health officials as Utah cases. The Utah Department of Health said last night that Utah's disease surveillance system is working as designed, as public health officials and health care providers are coordinating to identify and investigate potential cases. Learn more at: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/coronavirus-latest-information/. Late on Friday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert also issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to the evolving outbreak of the novel coronavirus. This will provide additional funding and resources that will be instrumental in helping Utah prepare to slow the spread of the disease.

In addition, the email sent on March 6 contained an incorrect phone number for the statewide coronavirus information line. The number has been corrected below.


Email to All Students and Employees on Friday, March 6, 2020

Safety Alert: Your action needed to prevent COVID-19 at USU

As students and employees return to Utah State University campuses from spring break, we want to update you about how USU is responding to the threat of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus that was discovered in late 2019). There are still no cases that have been diagnosed in the state of Utah. According to the CDC, the risk from the disease to the general U.S. population remains low. However, USU is taking steps now to prevent the appearance of COVID-19 in our USU campus communities and to ensure we respond appropriately in case it does.

USU President Noelle Cockett has formed a COVID-19 Task Force to address risks from the new coronavirus. USU is also following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Utah Department of Health.

You can learn more at: www.usu.edu/COVID-19.

Students and employees can help us prevent the appearance of COVID-19 in our communities by doing the following:

IF YOU RECENTLY TRAVELED, whether internationally or domestically, please fill out a travel survey: https://usu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5b6Njw51pRiPpIN.

  • If you are returning from a CDC Level Three country, follow the guidance to self-isolate at home for 14 days. You can learn more about self-isolation at https://dps.usu.edu/emergency/covid-19/self-isolation. At this time, countries with a level three travel warning include China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. USU will work with you to help minimize disruptions to both your studies or work schedule. Take the travel survey linked above to access this help.
  • If you are returning from a CDC Level Two country (currently only Japan), follow the CDC's guidance to monitor your health and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, you should contact the Utah Statewide Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.
  • If you develop symptoms of a fever, cough, and shortness of breath and you have either been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed cased of COVID-19, or you have recently traveled to an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19:
    • SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION, BUT CALL AHEAD.
    • Do not show up at a clinic, urgent care, or an emergency room without calling first. Your health provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.

During this time of heightened awareness, we want to minimize the spread of all germs within our community. Please stay home if you are sick so you can rest, get better, and stop the spread of disease.

It is important for all of us to look out for our Utah State family. There are recent reports across the nation of stigma and threats to those who have finished either self-isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19. USU is an inclusive campus and everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. If you hear about someone being harassed on any of USU's campuses, please contact Public Safety at 435-797-1939.

Thank you for your working with us to ensure the health and safety of our campus communities.

Ellis Bruch
Director of Emergency Management