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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for Spring Semester


The following information was sent by President Ruth Watkins and others.

Dear University Community, 

As our country and state grapple with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), University of Utah leaders are determined to do our part to protect the health and safety of our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable to this disease. We do not make these decisions lightly. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a worldwide pandemic. We are making the following changes in an effort to slow the disease’s spread and, hopefully, ensure smooth operations for our healthcare system.

As part of that initiative, we will:

  • Cancel classes March 16 and 17 (does not apply to Utah Asia Campus)
  • Beginning March 18, move to online instruction for the rest of the semester (does not apply to Utah Asia Campus)
  • Restrict all large university-sponsored events to fewer than 100 people
  • Restrict international and domestic travel, as well as in-state travel to large gatherings

Each day, new knowledge about this infectious disease is being developed by healthcare researchers and clinicians, including our partners at U of U Health. Please check the university’s COVID-19 website for the latest updates. We are adjusting our response daily based on the best recommendations of these scientists, after consultation with our peer institutions across the country and under the guidance of state and federal health officials.

Therefore, we are implementing the following changes to spring semester to limit and slow the spread of COVID-19:

Classes cancelled on March 6 & 17
Online learning through end of semester

The University of Utah will shift to all-online instruction beginning March 18 for the rest of spring semester. Classes are cancelled Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, allowing faculty and staff time to prepare the transition to online coursework. In these extraordinary circumstances, faculty are encouraged to simplify coursework as much as possible, be available for online consultation with students, and develop digital or take-home exams. Faculty, for guidance on how to move your class online, visit the TLT website. Faculty members with questions not answered by the website can request support by emailing The Faculty Center will remain open this weekend, March 14 and 15, to help instructors prepare online offerings. Check Canvas for more information.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, students will be able to access recorded lectures, homework assignments, and engage in video consultations with their instructors. Online-only instruction will continue through the end of the semester, including finals. Requests for exceptions to online instruction should be rare and should come from individual college deans to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for review, subject to accreditation requirements. University testing centers and ProctorU are currently reviewing ways to complete class finals. More information will be forthcoming.

Student Housing

University housing will remain open and food service will be available throughout the rest of the semester. However, we ask, where possible, for students who are traveling or visiting home for spring break to stay at those homes through the end of spring semester. All Housing and Residential Education (HRE) student residents will receive a subsequent email to their Umail account with additional information regarding canceling their contract and service information. All updates will also be posted to the housing website.

For the over 2,000 residents currently living in University Student Apartments (USA) as their primary residence, housing operations will remain open and unchanged, with the exception of scheduled large gatherings. USA is available to respond to questions. For more information please contact or call (801) 581-8667.

We recognize this time of uncertainty can be particularly stressful for students who live in on-campus housing. Students who are struggling with anxiety or depression are encouraged to reach out to their HRE resident director for campus resources, or directly to the University Counseling Center for help.

Meetings, conferences, and gatherings

All large university-sponsored meetings or gatherings should be postponed or cancelled, starting immediately and continuing through Wednesday, April 29. In making these decisions, please consider whether your meeting is mission critical. If not, please reschedule for later in the year, or consider ways to communicate through telephone or videoconferencing. The university remains open and operational as we do all we can to limit exposure to this highly contagious virus.

No decision has been made about 2020 Commencement, scheduled for April 30. The administration is reviewing options, including a remote video feed of speeches, conferral of the Honorary Degree and Distinguished Professor Awards. We will keep each member of the campus community informed every step of the way through email alerts and the university’s COVID-19 website.

Campus Transit Services

Beginning March 18, the campus shuttles will operate on the “Break” schedule. U SafeRide will operate normally. For details related to routes and hours, please refer to the Commuter Services website or call our information center at (801) 581-6415.


Although we are making academic and residential changes, the university remains open and operational with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community. We appreciate the efforts of staff to support our mission of teaching and scholarship. Staff who are well are expected to work as usual—either through telecommuting or on campus—in consultation with your supervisor. 

The university is working to develop additional guidance for staff. More information will be provided through your dean, department head or supervisor. We encourage all members of the campus community to remain flexible and we appreciate your willingness to assist in any capacity to support our efforts during this extraordinary time. For the latest information, please visit the Human Resources COVID-19 Special Protocol page.

We understand these major changes and uncertainty can create difficult decisions for you. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Remember the Employee Assistance Program is available to help you manage personal concerns.

Child Care Facilities 

The university operates five on-campus childcare centers, providing care to dozens of children of staff, faculty and students, including employees of University of Utah Health. They remain open at this time.

Pioneer Theatre Company and Kingsbury Hall Performances

Performances at Pioneer Theatre Company and Kingsbury Hall are cancelled through the remainder of spring semester. Contact the relevant ticket office to inquire about rescheduled performances.

Athletics Competitions

The Pac-12 has cancelled the NCAA basketball tournament and other competitions until further notice. This means the gymnastics meet scheduled for Friday, March 13 with Utah State University is cancelled. Watch Utah athletics websites for additional information.

Thank you

Students, we recognize our responses to COVID-19 have significantly disrupted the sense of academic accomplishment and celebration that come with the end of a school year. We hope you understand these changes are meant to protect you, your extended family and members of our community.

Faculty members, we know these actions will make your teaching, research and service more challenging. We appreciate your patience and partnership.

And staff members, we know much of the implementation of these changes falls to you. Thank you for your quick and efficient work on behalf of the entire University of Utah community.

We are proud to live in a place that considers the greater good and cares for its neighbors. We will continue to keep these values in mind as we respond to daily changes in our understanding of this public health situation.


Ruth Watkins

Daniel Reed
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Michael Good
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences 

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Last Updated: 3/19/20