Coronavirus Update: Virtual Courses Extended, Housing Restricted (student, faculty and staff email) — March 19, 2020

Dear TU community,

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increases across our state and nation, The University of Tulsa must do its part to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health and lives of everyone in our community.

To that end, we have made the difficult decision to offer only virtual classes for the remainder of the semester. Students who are away on spring break should not return to campus. Effective Friday, March 20, at 5 p.m., students will have only restricted access to dormitories and student apartments; Campus Services will send detailed instructions for those who need to retrieve belongings and those who require a waiver to remain in campus housing. All staff will work remotely, with the exception of those few who are needed to support minimal campus operations.

I want you to know that our leadership team reached this decision only after extensive deliberation with our Crisis Management Team and the Board of Trustees and that we take these measures with profound regret for the impact they will have on so many of you and your families.

It is clear, however, that steps like these are the most powerful tools we can employ to check the spread of this pandemic, prevent the overburdening of our health care system and allow us to resume our normal activities as quickly as possible. On a residential campus where students live and study in close quarters, social distancing is simply not possible. Our decision is supported by guidance from public health officials and agencies and consistent with actions taken by other colleges and universities across the country.

The measures we are taking raise many practical issues, from the logistics of taking classes online to how we will get your belongings to you. We are working rapidly to get answers to these questions, and some preliminary determinations include:

  • We will have detailed information available about room and board refunds by April 6.
  • We will make a decision about when and in what format commencement will be held by April 1.
  • Until April 3, while we transition to a remote campus, any employee who is unable to work remotely and is not needed to support minimal campus operations will be paid and will not need to use vacation or sick leave. On April 3, we will introduce new leave and remote work policies.

Melissa France, the associate vice president of Campus Services, will send detailed information today to address campus housing questions. Other announcements will be posted on our COVID-19 webpage. Please visit that page frequently for updates. You also may email any additional questions to covid19@utulsa.edu or call 918-631-2000. TU’s core values, in addition to excellence in scholarship and dedication to free inquiry, include integrity of character and commitment to humanity. The moment in which we now find ourselves challenges us to live these values to an extent that is unprecedented for many of us.

I have no doubt that each of us possesses the courage, strength and compassion we will need to make sacrifices for one another and for those in our state, nation and world – especially those who are less fortunate than we are. We not only will rise to this challenge, but – as befits members of a distinguished university – we will learn from it. I also urge you to embrace the challenge of online learning and to help us advance it by letting us know what works and where we need to improvise and improve.

We may not be together on the same campus in the weeks ahead, but we have more opportunities to remain in touch virtually than ever before. I encourage you to stay connected through our website as well as on Facebook and Twitter. In the weeks ahead, we will be experimenting with ways to use technology to keep our community informed and connected.

Most importantly, stay healthy and protect the health of others.

With warmest regards,

Janet K. Levit
Interim President