TLU Faculty, Staff, and Students,
Less than two weeks ago, we announced an extension of spring break and the transition to online classes from March 30 to April 8. We indicated at that time that prior to April 8, we would reassess the COVID-19 situation and determine if we would continue online classes or if faculty and students would be able to return to campus. Like all of you, my hope was that we would be able to return our campus and academic life to something closer to normal as soon as possible, and that we could take some time before finalizing further decisions about the remainder of the semester. However, given what we now understand about the Coronavirus pandemic, about the best ways to respond to it, and about the challenges that are presented when decisions are delayed, I am writing today to share some major changes to the remainder of our spring semester.
As you will see in today’s update, we are moving forward with several significant adjustments, made by the President’s Cabinet in consultation with the Safety and Emergency Management Committee and the Faculty Executive Committee. Most significantly, after careful consideration, we have determined that TLU will continue with online classes through the end of the spring semester to ensure the health and safety of our community.
This decision impacts other campus operations, such as residence halls and the TLU Bookstore, as well as university events such as Spring Commencement, Student Academic Symposium, and the Class Ring Ceremony. Here is information specific to each:
- The university is closing all campus housing for the health and safety of its residents. We are providing an opportunity for students to come to campus (through a staggered/scheduled plan) to get their belongings and move-out of their housing assignment. Please note that if you are in an area that is under a “shelter in place” directive, or you are unable or not comfortable to come to campus at this time, that is not a problem. You may contact Residence Life (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange access for a move-out date at a later time and your belongings will stay locked in your room or apartment until then.
- Emergency housing. While there are not adequate resources to assist and monitor students who may become infected, quarantined, or at risk in a residential setting, limited availability of emergency housing for only those students currently on campus during the spring break period will be considered when all other options have been exhausted. Residence Life will be contacting those students with application instructions and deadlines.
- Room and board adjustments. We know students and parents are concerned about room and board payments.We are working with a sense of urgency on a plan for the adjustment for room and board payments that will be shared next week.
- The Student Academic Symposium and Class Ring Ceremony set for April 17 have been canceled. The rings will be shipped to TLU, and we will honor the tradition of holding the rings in Chapel overnight. The TLU Alumni office will handle the shipping of students’ rings to the address provided on the order form. Prior to shipping the rings in mid-April, students will have an opportunity to respond to an email from TLU Alumni if they want to change their shipping address.
- Spring Commencement originally set for May 9 will be postponed to August. More details will be forthcoming and posted to MyTLU and www.tlu.edu/graduation.
- Academic calendar and deadlines. The academic calendar and specific deadlines, such as the last day to withdraw from class, are being reviewed by the Registrar and the faculty. Any changes to the calendar will be communicated as soon as possible.
- Academic Advising. As currently planned, academic advising will move forward beginning Monday, March 30.
- Bookstore. The TLU Bookstore is accepting online and phone orders only. Please contact email@example.com with questions.
- New staffing work plan for essential campus operations: As of yesterday, we are operating with limited on-campus staff but remain focused on serving our students and faculty as we move into our online learning environment. Along with a limited number of staff members in each major area of campus, the President and all members of the President’s Cabinet are on campus and available to answer questions as needed.
- President Cottrell’s Live stream Town Hall Meetings this week: Please plan to join President Cottrell in live stream town hall meetings this Thursday, March 26, at 11 am for faculty and staff and Friday, March 27, at 11 am for students. We will send out the links to the live stream meetings today and again tomorrow morning.
Helpful Resources and Links from Texas DSHS and CDC:
- The CDC has added a helpful and informative symptom self-checker online tool to its “What to do if you are sick,” page at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
- The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has a Texas map that shows the number of reported COVID-19 cases by county: https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83
Our priority is to share information on the developments around COVID-19 in a timely manner to ensure the health and safety of our community. As we continue to provide these daily updates, we hope you will find them helpful and informative. I realize we are all in different situations depending on where we live and the individual circumstances we are in, so I encourage you to submit any questions that have not been addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit tlu.edu/semc for the latest information as well as previous campus updates.
Please know that all of the decisions we are sharing have been made after careful consideration, recognizing the impact that they have on all members of the TLU community. We are deeply disappointed that we cannot resume campus life as hoped, but we believe a responsible and timely response to our current situation will help us return to the full range of campus teaching, residence life, extracurricular activities, special events and commemorations, and all of the other things that we love about being together at TLU. Until then, please be safe and stay well.