Maui Business

UH President Details Actions to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

March 12, 2020, 1:46 PM HST
* Updated March 13, 12:49 AM
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University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner provided details about the planned transition to online classes and other changes at the university amid response to COVID-19 concerns.

“Thank you for your perseverance and patience through this increasingly difficult time with the rapidly evolving COVID-19 health crisis. Fortunately, at this time, there have been no confirmed cases on any UH campus or significant links to UH,” said Lassner.

“The decisions outlined below are not made lightly; they are intended to protect the health and safety of our community to the extent possible, while continuing to provide all our students with the outstanding education that characterizes the University of Hawaiʻi. The measures being put into place will also help protect our employees,” said Lassner.

The 10-campus UH system will move to online delivery of courses beginning Monday, March 23, the first day of instruction after spring break. If a class needs to continue to be taught face-to-face to meet learning objectives, students will be informed after approval by the campus.

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At this time, in-person courses are scheduled to resume Monday, April 13.

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“In the hope that we can return to normal classroom practices, the in-person start date will continue to be reevaluated, and updates will be provided as needed. Regardless of modality, UH is committed to completing the academic semester and enabling students to graduate on schedule,” said Lassner.

While instruction will move online, campuses will remain open, and most services will continue to be provided. Lassner said university employees will continue to perform their duties, libraries will maintain regular hours and student housing will remain open for current residents who have nowhere else to go. Lassner said all student employees and graduate assistants “will continue their duties as normal and will be paid accordingly.”

“We are also announcing restrictions on university travel and events. We know that this message will not answer everyone’s questions, and there will be additional clarification provided in the days to come. Given the extreme fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, all guidance provided is subject to change as the situation evolves,” said Lassner.

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Preparing to teach and learn online

Most, if not all, of UH faculty have begun preparing to deliver courses online. Students will be receiving directions on accessing online instruction from their respective campus in the coming week.

The UH Online Innovation Center (UHOIC) has created the Teaching During an Emergency website to assist during this transition. This website includes a Teaching During an Emergency Checklist for Faculty. Individual campuses will alert students to additional resources and training opportunities, and you may request more assistance by completing the UHOIC request assistance form. Students are advised to check the site daily for updated and additional resources and tools, and for opportunities to receive training via videos and workshops.

Students who do not have access to their own computers may use those available in campus libraries and computer labs. UHOIC and UH Information Technology Services will work with campus offices and others to ensure support for students and faculty with particular needs.

Events

All UH Mānoa and UH Hilo sporting events have been suspended indefinitely by agreement of the presidents and chancellors of the institutions in the school’s athletic conferences.

Large public events with more than 100 individuals in a confined space that are sponsored by UH are being postponed or canceled as of Monday, March 16. Similarly, the university will not be scheduling new public events of this kind until further notice. All attendees planning to attend an event already scheduled should contact the event organizer or venue to check if the event has been canceled, postponed or rescheduled.

We understand the concern many have surrounding spring commencement ceremonies in May. The university will continue to evaluate the situation so we can make a decision and communicate it as soon as possible.

Travel

No new non-essential university-sponsored out-of-state travel may be planned, and most already scheduled travel should be canceled. If you have previously scheduled UH-sponsored travel, contact your supervisor and/or fiscal administrator for guidance on canceling or postponing travel.

Campuses will remain open and the semester will be completed

UH’s 10 campuses will remain open and continue to operate as normal, with the exception of in-person classes moving online. All employees, including students and graduate assistants, are expected to continue to come to work. Student housing, libraries, dining and the student recreation centers at UH Mānoa and UH Hilo will remain open to help support the wellness of students and employees. Research activities on campus will continue as normal.

Student residents are asked to notify student housing officials of their plans to remain in their residences or of their expected return dates. For those students who decide to travel during spring break (or longer), their rooms will be left untouched and ready for their return.

Applicability of guidelines

Given the extreme fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, this guidance is subject to change as the situation evolves. Exceptions to these guidelines may be granted only by an Officer of the University of Hawaiʻi: UH Mānoa Provost, UH Hilo Chancellor, UH West O‘ahu Chancellor, Vice President for Community Colleges, other Vice Presidents and the President.

Next steps

“We know that there are more questions and we will work to answer them as quickly as possible. For example, we will be issuing additional instructions for individuals who must engage in self-quarantine,” said Lassner.

“The best way to navigate this unprecedented crisis is for all of us to work together. We have one of the greatest university systems in the world, and it is because of all of you—our students, faculty and staff who collaborate with diligence, dignity and respect. Please continue to exercise compassion and aloha for each other, even as we face the difficult stresses ahead. Our goal is to complete the semester with and for our students. We will not only get through this, but we can emerge stronger, wiser and closer,” said Lassner.

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