President Mark A. Heckler: Campus Remains Open; Classes Moving Online Beginning March 16

To: Students, Faculty, and Staff
Posted: March 12, 2020 at 7 a.m.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As updates continue to emerge regarding COVID-19, we are monitoring the situation and meeting regularly to review local, state, and national health agency reports and assess preparedness plans. Out of an abundance of caution, we have modified the University’s operations in order to fulfill our educational mission as a student-focused residential campus, keep our campus community safe and healthy, and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to more vulnerable populations. 

This is a very fluid situation, and we will continue to meet regularly and provide updates. While there are currently no reported or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus at Valparaiso University, there are certain individual and institutional precautions we can take to safeguard the health of all members of the Valparaiso University community and our neighbors in the surrounding areas.

Following is information regarding modifications to University operations and travel restrictions that have been determined effective Monday, March 16.

UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS

  • Valparaiso University’s campus remains open. We will continue to work with public health and government agencies and communicate any updates. 
  • Residence halls will reopen as scheduled at noon on Sunday, March 15. 
  • Students who live in residence halls or other University housing may remain there.
  • For safety and security reasons, all residential students must complete this form to inform us of their decision to live in campus housing or to reside off campus. Please complete the form by noon on Sunday, March 15. This information ensures that we are aware of who is living on campus in the case of an emergency.  It also increases security as we will only allow access to the residence halls for those who are registered.
  • Campus dining services, the counseling center, the student health center, and other student services all currently remain open. Student employees who do not intend to return to campus should contact their supervisors to inform them of their plans.
  • Students, faculty, and staff who believe they may be ill should contact their health care provider and professor, department chair, or supervisor. 
  • University employees are essential to campus operations and, more importantly, valued members of our community. If you believe you may be ill, please contact your health care provider and take sick days as needed. Please work with your supervisor if you are out of sick days; the University does not want employees who are ill to come to work.
  • Employees who may be in the “at risk” category due to conditions including, but not limited to, diabetes, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses may have the option to work remotely. Please speak with your supervisor to request such arrangements. 
  • Our Building Services staff is working diligently to employ best practices, extra precautions, and enhanced disinfecting protocols.

CLASSES

  • Classes will be delivered online beginning Monday, March 16, with in-person classes scheduled to resume Monday, April 13.
  • The University is providing ongoing support to faculty members to help them convert instruction to a distance-based approach. Faculty are being encouraged to reach out to their students in order to ease the transition to online and distance formats.
  • Students should contact their professors about student teaching, internships, clinical placements, or similar required face-to-face learning activities.

TRAVEL

  • All University-sponsored international travel and non-essential University-sponsored domestic air travel has been suspended indefinitely. 
  • Essential travel constitutes trips that are absolutely necessary, must be completed face-to-face, and cannot be rescheduled. Contact your division vice president or academic dean if you wish to seek an exemption for University-sponsored domestic air travel.
  • All students studying abroad were recalled on March 10 and students are in the process of returning home. President Trump’s recently announced 30-day ban on travelers from the European Union’s Schengen Area does not apply to United States citizens and permanent legal residents and their families, though they may be required to go through enhanced screening.
  • We advise you to consult health resources prior to making future arrangements for  University or personal travel or attending conferences or large gatherings. 

UNIVERSITY EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

  • On-campus gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people until further notice. Any pre-scheduled gatherings of more than 100 people should be canceled or postponed. Please contact the person in charge of your event for more information.
  • Athletic activities on campus will continue as scheduled, but will be follow the same 100-person limit. Athletic activities that require travel by domestic air will be canceled.
  • As of this writing, Commencement activities and the April 24 Law School commemoration will occur as scheduled. We will continue to evaluate the situation and communicate any changes should they occur.

STAY INFORMED

  • Please contact covid19info@valpo.edu for any additional questions or accommodations relating to campus operations in light of COVID-19. 
  • We will continue to evaluate developments and provide further updates and guidance via campus email and posted online at valpo.edu/coronavirus.

The health, safety, and well-being of our campus community remain our highest priorities. I understand these circumstances present challenges for many who learn, teach, and work at Valparaiso University. Let us come together as a resilient and determined community to rise above these challenges as we engage in respectful dialogue across our differences and in the common pursuit of truth. I am grateful for your efforts to hold steadfast to our institutional mission and values and for the patience, understanding, and adaptability of our students, faculty, and staff during this time.

As this fluid situation evolves, we will continue to monitor updates from local, state, and federal agencies; adapt preparedness plans as necessary; and keep you updated and informed.