COVID-19 Update: Spring Break Extended

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in the State of Idaho, our University is preparing to undertake a number of additional measures to help limit its spread. My goal in sharing regular emails with our campus community is to ensure full transparency of our efforts that are focused on keeping the Bengal community healthy. The health and well-being of our students, employees, and community members remains our top priority.

Idaho State is in continual and close communication with Governor Brad Little, our Board of Trustees, and the State Department of Health and Welfare. Our University’s incident response team meets daily and is keeping me and our leadership team fully informed. Please understand, as the COVID-19 situation evolves further, it may be necessary to take additional measures.

Our University remains open. We are here to support our students and campus community through the transition outlined below. It is important to remain calm and take direction and guidance from our local, regional, and national health authorities. 

Spring Break Extended: March 16 - March 27
Idaho State will extend this year’s spring break for students, not for faculty, by one week. Spring Break for students will begin on Monday, March 16. The early start to spring break for students will give faculty time and an opportunity to plan and develop options for remote delivery of courses, and, more importantly, do our part to flatten the curve of the virus spreading. Our residence halls and dining commons will remain open through the two-week spring break for those students who choose to remain on campus.

Transition to Distance-Learning Instruction
As announced yesterday, Idaho State is preparing to move all face-to-face courses to distance-learning based options for instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars, and other similar classroom settings. On Monday, March 30, following spring break, our University will move to a remote delivery of courses through the end of the spring semester. It is important to note that our campuses will not be closed. Instead, we are moving our academic instruction to distance-learning options, which may include Moodle, Zoom, teleconferencing, and other digital platforms. Students in clinical site placements or other rotations will continue with their assignment until they receive further information from their department. 

University Housing and Dining
If possible, students living in University Housing residence halls are encouraged to return to their permanent homes. However, if students decide to remain on campus, housing is prepared to accommodate individual student needs related to isolation and social distancing. Students will not be forced to move out of their housing. However, if a positive test result occurs for a student in a residential location, relocations may be required. Students who choose to end their housing contract early will be credited a prorated amount for the remaining semester’s room and board cost. Dining options will continue to be available. Residence hall custodial staff will continue to ensure facilities are cleaned using public health guidance.

Alternative Work Arrangements
All managers and supervisors are encouraged to think creatively about how to support their employees in caring for their health and reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. One effective strategy for minimizing the spread of the virus is greater “social distancing” through alternative work arrangements. In situations where work can temporarily be performed from home or an alternate location, we encourage managers and employees to work together to actively identify opportunities that will allow employees to work remotely through the end of the semester.

If alternative work arrangements are not a possibility, healthy employees should continue to come to work. Managers and supervisors, in coordination with their college and division leadership, should determine on-site, mission-critical tasks and appropriate staffing plans to meet those needs. Human Resources will provide additional guidance regarding telecommuting strategies in the coming days. 

Part-Time and Student Employees
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, there will be an impact to part-time and student employees at our University. Supervisors should be flexible and accommodating in considering alternative work-site arrangements and/or social distancing strategies so that students and temporary employees are in a safe working environment. Where those strategies are not feasible, or in the event the student or temporary employee is unavailable to work due to illness, departments are authorized to continue to pay the part-time or student employee based on their average weekly work schedule, at their standard rate of pay, through the end of the semester.

Travel Ban
All University-sponsored travel has been suspended until May 9, 2020. This includes international, out-of-state, and in-state business travel. Please note that in some cases essential business travel will be allowed. Essential business travel is meant to maintain academic programs and mission-critical operations of the University. Travel between ISU’s campus locations will continue. The most up-to-date travel guidelines are available online , including how to cancel upcoming travel and request refunds.

To mitigate the possibility of spreading COVID-19 in our campus community, personal travel to level-two and level-three impacted areas, as determined by the CDC, should be reported to the University’s Travel Office. Faculty, staff, and students returning from those areas will be required to observe a 14-day period of self-isolation and monitoring. During this period, you are not permitted to come to work or participate in any other campus or community activities. Students who reside in University housing or residence halls and are unable to return to a home should contact the Dean of Students for support. 

Campus Events and Gatherings
The University will strictly follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. Our leadership team is meeting daily to monitor and discuss events that may need to be postponed or canceled. Event organizers of postponed or canceled events should work with the Office of Marketing and Communications to notify guests and attendees. Patrons of ticketed events will receive a full refund. 

The University will postpone or cancel mass gatherings and public events in any of the following situations:
  • The event will draw audiences or participants from communities, states, or countries with confirmed community spread of COVID-19. 
  • The event will be held indoors and bring together more than 250 individuals where social distancing of 6 feet or more is unlikely or not possible.
  • The event’s primary audience includes or may expose high-risk populations, including adults over the age of 60 years and/or people with underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes, regardless of the number of attendees.

Following an announcement from the Big Sky Conference, Idaho State is immediately suspending all athletic competitions through the end of the semester. This move impacts all sports, competitions, recruiting events, camps, clinics, and practices. We are taking this action to protect the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and others who are essential to these activities.

Early Learning Center
The Early Learning Center will remain open. If the situation changes or the University receives updated guidelines from state public health officials, Idaho State will provide additional communications to parents and families who utilize the ELC. 
Our University Remains Open
Campus resources and student services will remain open and available through the end of the spring semester. We encourage all members of our campus community to reach out to have their questions answered and receive support.
Financial Aid and Scholarships 
Students and families may contact Financial Aid and Scholarships to discuss current and future aid packages.

Academic Advising
Academic Advising will be available through telephone and Zoom appointments. Students are encouraged to schedule an advising appointment and register for classes during their designated registration time.

Office of Equity and Inclusion
Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. If you need support, or feel you are facing discrimination, please reach out the Office for Equity and Inclusion at (208) 282-3964 for assistance.

International Programs Office
The International Program Office will remain open to support students. IPO will follow CDC and federal travel guidelines for all study abroad and other international programs. 
Disability Services
Disability Services will remain open and available to provide assistance, especially related to student concerns about online course instruction.

Campus Computer Labs
All campus computer labs will remain open and available for students to use following the transition to a distance-learning delivery of courses. Computer labs will follow CDC guidelines to maintain clean areas that allow for adequate social distancing.

Counseling and Testing
Mental health services will remain available to provide support. To preserve the safety of students and staff, students are asked to call for an initial phone screening to determine the most appropriate support for their unique situations. Please call one of our offices to initiate the process. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to visit Counseling and Testing Center’s website to learn more about managing anxiety and stress during this difficult time.
Our hope is that these measures will help to slow the progression of the virus in our region and onto our campus, enabling health care professionals to keep pace and gain an upper hand. We will continue to keep our campus community informed of developments that may affect us. I ask all Bengals to be supportive of their classmates and colleagues as we navigate this difficult time together. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the University’s coronavirus website .

–– Kevin

Kevin Satterlee
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