By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is suspending face-to-face classes beginning March 30 due to immediate concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus, Chancellor Doug Kristensen announced Thursday.
Courses at UNK are moving to virtual, online or alternative instruction beginning the first day of classes following spring break. Remote instruction will continue through the end of the spring semester, May 8. Classes will be held on campus next week (March 16-20) as scheduled.
UNK will evaluate the decision on an ongoing basis, monitor the situation and make proper adjustments and modifications to teaching moving forward. All faculty, staff and UNK employees should continue reporting to work unless they are unable.
“The health and well-being of our community is our primary concern, and each decision we make will take that and our students’ needs into account,” Kristensen said. “It’s important that we limit risk and mitigate the spread of this virus.”
UNK is not closing campus buildings. Dining services, health and counseling, academic advising and other student support services will continue. The LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center remains open.
Students will be allowed to stay home or remain living in residence halls, off-campus housing or other locations.
There are no known cases of the novel coronavirus at UNK, in Kearney or within Buffalo County. However, UNK continues to encourage students to practice appropriate social distancing, limit contact and practice good health, regardless of where they are living.
“This is a challenge that we can meet by working together, and by fulfilling our commitment to student learning and experiences, while providing leadership in our community and more broadly in our state and region,” Kristensen said.
Earlier this week Charlie Bicak, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, asked all faculty to develop plans to allow completion of spring semester courses using alternative delivery methods.
“We recognize there will be challenges with certain modes of learning,” Bicak said. “We trust that faculty will select the strategies and tools that work best to accommodate student learning and their teaching styles.”
Those who need assistance with information technology services should contact the IT Services Help Desk at 308.865.8363.
Students, faculty and staff should contact UNK Student Health and Counseling at 308.865.8218 or firstname.lastname@example.org if they have concerning symptoms or questions about their health.
UNK leadership teams are continuing to discuss major events, including spring commencement ceremonies and athletic events, and will share any decisions as they are made.
Ongoing information and updates will be shared at a specific UNK webpage: unk.edu/coronavirus.
Statement by Ted Carter, University of Nebraska President
“The chancellors and I, along with the Board of Regents and Governor Ricketts, have been in constant communication about how best to protect those we serve – starting with our 51,000 students – while also continuing the critical work of the University. The steps we are taking today will require all of us to make some adjustments. But we believe this is the right thing to do for our community. I know our faculty, staff and students will rise to the challenge.”