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Dear Falcons,

Today we are preparing for a global health crisis by making contingency plans that can play a critical role to slow the spread of COVID-19, through strategies like ours, we can help to insure that the critically ill can get care. The University must do its part in this community wide effort.

Our top priority will be to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and to ensure that academic progress can continue uninterrupted. I am grateful to all of you in advance for your compassion for others and your patience as we navigate this complex situation.

The good news is that we have no knowledge of any cases of COVID-19 associated with either our University or in our community at this time. We also know that this could change quickly and we want to be ready.

We are in daily consultation with public health officials at local, state, and national levels and following their science-based advice. As a result, we are taking the following actions:

  1. We will extend spring break by one week for students and will cancel all on-campus face- to- face classes the week of March 16-20. The faculty and staff will use this time to train and prepare contingency plans in the event it becomes necessary to move classes online at some point in the future. We will not cancel current online classes that are in progress. We will not cancel practicum or clinical experiences that are in progress.
  2. The University and all University campus services will remain open including the dining hall, library, Student Activity Center, Student Success Center, and all administrative offices of the University.
  3. As of now, Students should plan to return to campus for classes the week of March 23rd and we will notify you if this changes.
  4. We may have to make a decision quickly about moving all instruction online and this extra week will allow our faculty and staff to be prepared. In the event we move instruction online, students will need access to Wi-Fi and a computer (tablets, phones and chrome books will not work). If you will have technology challenges related to this move, please let us know here so we can help you prepare if we go online in the future.
  5. Students are encouraged, when feasible, to stay at home with their families or at their permanent residences during this spring break extension (and in the future if we move classes online).  
  6. We realize that some UTPB students may need to continue to live in our residence halls and apartments and we will prioritize the needs of these students. UTPB housing will remain open for those who need to stay on campus next week. Students may also continue to live on campus even if we move classes online in the future. 
  7. Our STEM Academy will continue as usual without a spring break extension and will be coordinating future responses with ECISD and TEA. However, STEM academy may consider applying for a waiver at some point to prepare for an online instruction contingency, but a date has not yet been determined. 
  8. EVENTS---Our athletic programs will continue for now, but competitions and University events may be modified and will be handled on a case-by-case basis. We will be reviewing protocols for all University events and will be making announcements soon, including events at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center. We will likely cancel larger events soon. 
  9. We want to know if students have any additional challenges related to our plans--- please contact the Vice President for Student Affairs and Leadership, Dr. Becky Spurlock at Spurlock_b@utpb.edu. Dr. Spurlock and her team will be ready to help students with issues that come up. Additional emergency funds may be available to help students during this time. 
  10. University travel—all University international and domestic travel that has not yet commenced must receive express approval effective March 23 through May 1, 2020. We will re-evaluate and issue further guidance after this date. You must receive approval from the President’s office before traveling during this period. 

We will continue to provide updates and guidance as soon and as often as possible vie email, social media and on www.utpb.edu 

Thank you all in advance for your patience as we navigate changes and disruptions over the coming months. I am confident that our diligence and planning will ease the transition and insure a successful semester for everyone. 

Dr. Sandy Woodley, President

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