Important Message about COVID-19 from President Chillo (3.12.2020)
Dear Members of the University community,
Since the news of the coronavirus outbreak, University administration has been meeting regularly to develop responses to a rapidly changing situation. As we address how best to handle this situation, our main priority is to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and the community. Thomas More University is committed to completing the spring semester and providing our students the academic instruction necessary to fulfill their degree requirements.
The University is implementing its emergency preparedness plan following the declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Beshear and in consultation with local, regional, and national health officials. Though there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Thomas More’s campus, the University is taking immediate action to protect the health and safety of our community. The University will be extending spring break for most students (though not if you are currently enrolled through TAP) through Sunday, March 22. We will be shifting to remote learning using Canvas for all classes beginning Monday, March 23. Classes that are already online and graduate and undergraduate 8-week courses that begin on Monday, March 16, will continue as scheduled, but those courses will be exclusively online (even if initially designed to be a hybrid course) – faculty members will be in touch with additional details.
Students, to help the University determine how best to meet your needs, please complete this short survey so that we are better informed.
The extension of spring break will allow for the University and the faculty to make the necessary transitions. Courses will remain in a remote learning format until further notice, though we expect to resume in-person classes by early- to mid-April.
On an interim basis, to ensure the safety of our students and the entire University community:
1. Thomas More University will remain open as usual during this timeframe though classes will be transitioned to a remote learning format utilizing Canvas. Faculty and staff are expected to report to work as usual. We will be working with faculty to address challenges that may arise within academic coursework due to this extension. Information regarding changes in specialized instruction such as clinicals, practicums, laboratories, art, or music instruction will be provided by faculty assigned to those courses before March 23.
2. All offices and on-campus resources will be available to students during this time, but the University may limit the number of students in any designated area.
3. Following the extension of spring break, the residence halls will be temporarily closed until further notice, and we encourage students to gather their personal belongings to take home on Sunday, March 15, Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Current resident students will receive an email to their TMU email address tomorrow with further instructions and details from the dean of students.
4. All University sponsored events are canceled immediately through April 13. Events after this date will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks. No off-campus groups will be permitted on campus until further notice. University admissions and alumni events with fewer than 100 outside guests will be reviewed and approved by the appropriate vice president. Events of this size must be held in Steigerwald Hall. Mass will continue as scheduled but will be limited to no more than 75 guests.
5. The University will continue to follow the guidance of the Mid-South Athletic Conference and the NAIA. As such, all in-season spring sports have been suspended until March 31 by the Conference. We will continue to monitor the suspension and next steps will be communicated through your coach. All non-season athletics team practices are suspended immediately. The director of athletics will inform coaches as to when practice may resume for non-season athletic teams. Student-athletes are encouraged to contact their coaches for any clarifications.
6. If students, faculty, and staff plan on traveling internationally and returning to campus, they must self-quarantine for 14 days off-campus and report all travel to the dean of students (students only) and to the director of human resources (faculty and staff only). If someone has traveled internationally over the last 14 days, they must report this travel to the appropriate person listed above, and they must self-quarantine for 14 days off-campus.
7. All University sponsored commercial travel for faculty and staff is restricted to essential University travel only for the remainder of the spring semester. All travel must be approved by the area vice president.
8. Fall 2020 registration will take place as scheduled beginning March 23. Advisor clearance will automatically be granted, but students are encouraged to communicate with advisors via telephone or email if needed and advisors will review schedules post-registration. Students should refer to their degree audits in MyTMU and the sample course patterns for guidance. If you have any questions regarding the registration process for the fall semester, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. We are hopeful that these precautions will allow the University to conduct its Commencement exercises on May 18. However, the University will need to assess the potential risk and safety requirements before any final determination is made.
10. The health and safety of our employees will be balanced with the need to provide essential services to the University. Employees should work with their supervisors if adjusted work hours are required. We understand that some of our employees may fall into populations that are considered high risk for the illness and encourage anyone experiencing symptoms or potential exposure to COVID-19 to remain at home. The University will remain flexible with planning and options for employees who may be exposed or affected by the virus.
The University will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor and evaluate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We will continue to keep the community informed of any additional interim measures as decisions are made. Students are encouraged to regularly check their Thomas More email, as well as their Canvas courses, for updates and additional announcements.
I fully understand that this is a very different way for the University to operate over the next several weeks. I truly appreciate your understanding and willingness to ensure that our students continue to receive their education. I expect that there will be many additional questions regarding teaching and learning, future events including Senior Week and Commencement (about which no decisions have yet been made), and the ability to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. The University will continue to keep its community informed through periodic emails and information available on our website.
I want to thank our faculty and staff who have been working tirelessly over the past two months to protect the safety and health of our community. The commitment to our students has always been at the forefront of their work. While the next couple of weeks will remain full of uncertainty, I know that our community will continue to work together to support and care for one another. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work through this together.
Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D.
We understand that there may be additional questions from members of the community. As we work to provide additional information for our various constituency groups, below is a list of offices and resources that are prepared to respond to questions on the University’s response and interim measures regarding COVID-19.
In case of emergency – Call 911.
Campus Safety 24/7 line – (859) 341-4867
ALL OTHER INQUIRIES
Please call (859) 341-5800