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IU suspends classroom teaching amid coronavirus concerns

Indiana University will be temporarily suspending classroom teaching for two weeks after their spring break because of the coronavirus.

IU will be teaching students remotely during those two weeks beginning March 23 to April 6.

Students are encouraged to return home and work on their coursework online. IU said the classes that include laboratories or similar settings are being further considered. They are also asking department leaders to determine if staff are able to work from home.

University-affiliated out of state travel and international travel is being suspended through April 5. IU is also not scheduling any large events, and organizers that had an event planned are being asked to consider canceling or rescheduling.

IU said the decision was made with the safety of the students and faculty in mind.

Below is the full letter announcing the COVID-19 response from IU President Michael McRobbie.

To all members of the IU community:

Indiana University has been actively monitoring the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and providing regular updates to the IU community as the situation changes. The health and safety of our IU community is our primary concern in this fluid situation, and we are taking decisions as warranted following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with state and county health departments. These decisions are being taken to help mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help protect the IU community.

To date, no known cases of COVID-19 have been identified on any IU campus. Two IU students have self-reported presumptively positive tests for COVID-19 after being in a CDC-designated Level 3 country while studying abroad. They are receiving care at their home cities, and neither has returned to an IU campus. Multiple cases have been reported in the state of Indiana.

Alongside our extensive prevention efforts that are already being carried out, it is now necessary to take further urgent, proactive steps to help keep the IU community safe. These measures will undoubtedly cause inconvenience and disruption, yet the risks of not acting now far outweigh the foreseeable inconvenience and challenges of these actions. The steps that we are taking are necessary to help ensure the continuing good health of our community. On behalf of Indiana University, I am grateful to all of you in advance for your patience, support and dedication as we work together to energetically address the problems associated with COVID-19.

Given that one of the best ways to prevent the spread of viral illness is to limit contact and the associated risk of disease transmission, the following policies are effective immediately (or by specific dates as noted):

Face-to-face classroom teaching temporarily suspended
Following our scheduled spring break (March 15 to 22), students on all IU campuses will be taught remotely (not in person) for two weeks (March 23 to April 5). We are planning to resume face-to-face teaching on Monday, April 6. However, that could change with the evolving situation.

Students are encouraged to travel home, if possible, during this time period. For this two weeks, course work will continue via virtual online teaching. We are investigating how to accommodate classroom activities that typically include laboratories or other in-person interactions, and specific guidance will follow. IU campuses will not close, and residential halls and dining will remain open.

While completing classes virtually, students are strongly encouraged to stay in their permanent homes away from campus, unless they are prevented from returning home because of travel restrictions or they do not have access to the technology at home, such as reliable internet access, to complete their classes remotely.

Telecommuting option for faculty and staff
In addition to virtual instruction and consistent with the public health goal to minimize unnecessary contact, effective immediately and until April 6, unit heads should determine if any staff and faculty members are able to meet their work obligations from home by telecommuting and are in a position to do so. In making these decisions, unit heads should be as flexible as possible, considering the nature of the work and whether the necessary tools and technology are available to allow employees to fully perform their job duties away from campus. Human Resources is providing timely information to employees via, where unit heads can find related information regarding other workplace issues associated with COVID-19.

International travel
University-sponsored or affiliated international travel is suspended through April 5. Personal international travel is strongly discouraged given the associated risks of possibly being unable to return for some period if the situation changes. Travelers returning from countries designated Level 2 or 3 by the CDC are subject to 14-day self-quarantine off campus upon return.

Domestic travel
University-affiliated domestic travel outside Indiana is suspended through April 5. We encourage all members of the IU community to consider using video conferencing, phones or other means rather than traveling campus-to-campus or elsewhere to meet in person.

Other than for students returning home, personal travel outside Indiana is also discouraged.

Until April 5, visitors to all IU campuses are strongly discouraged. Previously scheduled visits should be postponed, and it is important to keep in mind that travelers from international destinations in CDC-designated Level 2 or 3 countries are subject to the 14-day, off-campus self-quarantine on arrival. The CDC designation for any country could change at any time.

We look forward to again welcoming prospective visits beginning April 6.

Large events (generally, 100 people or more)
No new non-essential, large events should be scheduled through April 6. For events already scheduled through April 6, organizers are strongly encouraged to immediately consider canceling or rescheduling these. Any large events that it is proposed should continue must seek the approval of the Executive Vice President for the relevant campus or unit. Athletic events will follow the guidance of their Conference Governance and public health officials.

While IU campuses will not be officially closed as part of this two-week time period, we ask for your patience as some services may be limited due to adjusted staffing levels.

As I mentioned, this is a situation where the information and guidance is evolving daily, often unpredictably. We will continue to adapt IU’s policies as the situation warrants to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Finally, I want to affirm again IU’s values as an inclusive community of students and scholars from all over the world. We thrive when we respect one another and stay committed to each other’s well-being, including our many students whose home countries or states are already facing challenges with COVID-19. IU will not tolerate discrimination. Your continuing compassion and adherence to IU’s values of inclusiveness are essential as we face the challenges ahead.

Thank you again for your support of the university’s mission and our ongoing commitment to the well-being of the IU community and the many communities on all of our campuses. At this time of serious public health concerns, we truly are all in this together as we navigate our way forward.

Michael A. McRobbie


Indiana University

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