COVID-19 Extends Spring Break, Prepare for Online Instruction

March 11, 2020
COVID-19

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we all monitor the headlines regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the actions of other institutions of higher education across the country, please be assured that Baylor University takes this rapidly evolving situation very seriously. We place a high priority on the safety and wellbeing of not only our students, but Baylor’s entire campus community.

Baylor’s university-wide COVID-19 Task Force was formed in late January and continues to work diligently on this unprecedented situation by closely monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically related to higher education, state and local public health authorities, and our own health care experts, as well as responses from other universities nationwide. The task force makes recommendations to University leadership to assist us in making well-informed decisions to ensure the continued health and safety of our community.

Please note there are currently no reported cases of the coronavirus on the Baylor campus, in the city of Waco, within McLennan County or the surrounding area. However, as reports of COVID-19 continue to spread across the state and country, our University leadership has made the following immediate decisions:

Classes

  • Spring Break for students has been extended through next week. The spring semester will resume on Monday, March 23; however, classes will be provided strictly in an online environment for a two-week period from March 23 through April 3.
  • We will continue to monitor the conditions around COVID-19 during this time period, and a future decision will be made as to when face-to-face instruction can resume.
  • Faculty should use next week (March 16-20) to prepare for online course delivery beginning Monday, March 23. The University has launched baylor.edu/keepteaching to provide faculty with the resources necessary to transition courses to online delivery. Additionally, the Baylor Libraries are providing a series of in-person and online Canvas 101 training sessions. Faculty can register for these sessions at libcal.baylor.edu. Provost Brickhouse will send a separate communication to faculty shortly.
  • All Baylor University-related campuses and locations are included.
  • Given that the Law School operates on a different academic calendar, the Dean’s Office will provide specific instructions related to how these decisions impact that specific unit.

On-Campus Housing, Dining and Activities

  • Residence halls and designated dining facilities, based on demand, will be open during the next three weeks; however, we ask students to determine whether their campus or permanent residence is safest.
  • All student meetings and activities have been suspended for the next three weeks.
  • The University Libraries, McLane Student Life Center – including Baylor Health Services and Baylor Counseling Services – and the Bill Daniel Student Center will remain open.
  • Campus Tours for prospective students and families will continue as scheduled.
  • Baylor’s housekeeping services have increased the frequency and depth of cleaning and disinfection in residence halls, dining halls, the University Libraries, McLane Student Life Center, Bill Daniel Student Center, common spaces and common contact points, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches and bathrooms. In addition, the University is working to add more hand-sanitizing stations in high-traffic buildings and dining halls.
  • Students who return to campus should exercise social distancing and cough etiquette. As recommended by the CDC – wash your hands thoroughly and often; cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve/elbow; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces; and stay at away from campus if you are sick.

Faculty and Staff

  • Outside of course instruction, all University operations will continue as normal, and faculty and staff are expected to resume their normal work schedules and activities.
  • If you or a member of your household falls into one of the high-risk groups as identified by the CDC, such that you may be advised by a health authority not to come to work, please let Human Resources know.
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to practice social distancing and cough etiquette, as well as follow CDC recommendations for handwashing and the use of disinfectant on frequently touched surfaces.
  • Human Resources will communicate with all employees (faculty, staff and student employees) by the end of today regarding needs for temporary alternative work arrangements and additional employment resources.
  • Baylor also provides full-time faculty and staff with helpful benefits, such as access through Blue Cross Blue Shield to be seen by an MDLIVE Doctor for non-emergency medical care, and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides access to other resources.

Travel

  • If you traveled over spring break either domestically or internationally to areas with widespread, ongoing community spread of COVID-19, you should follow CDC guidance to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, please consult with your supervisor, stay away from campus and call your doctor or health care provider.
  • All international travel for students, faculty and staff has been suspended through March 31. We are in process of returning groups studying abroad or on extended mission trips to the United States and their permanent residences.
  • All domestic travel has been restricted to essential business purposes only through March 31. This restriction includes academic conferences. Any mission-critical exceptions must be approved in advance by the appropriate senior administrator.

Events and Athletics Competition

  • Events, conferences and other large gatherings scheduled through the end of the spring semester are currently under review by the COVID-19 Task Force. We will have a follow-up communication regarding these activities in the near future.
  • Home athletics competitions will continue pending the receipt of additional guidance from the NCAA and Big 12 Conference. Enhanced cleaning and communication procedures for these events have been implemented.

We encourage you to visit Baylor’s COVID-19 website at www.baylor.edu/coronavirus periodically for additional information and updates for the campus community. If you have specific questions or concerns, please email coronavirus@baylor.edu.

This is a challenging time, but the health and safety of our campus community remains our central focus at Baylor University. As members of the Baylor Family, we ask that you continue to pray for all those across the globe whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19 and for the public health officials, doctors and scientists who are working around the clock to end the outbreak. May they be the hands and feet of Jesus, our great physician.

Sincerely,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President

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