Dear Students and Colleagues:
I write to provide you with information about additional steps that our University is taking to mitigate the spread and the threat of COVID-19. I have decided to implement these measures to align our response with a directive issued by Governor Holcomb today, as well as the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”).
I have decided that, effective Sunday, March 29, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., our residence halls will be closed. Students who presently reside in our residence halls are encouraged to begin making preparations now to meet this deadline, and they are free to leave as soon as practicable.
I have authorized our staff to make very limited exceptions to this directive in extraordinary cases, including where students may not have safe and suitable alternative living arrangements, or where they have prohibitive travel restrictions or exceptional ongoing academic commitments.
In light of this public health crisis, our University will not enforce the standard provisions in our housing contract. Students will receive a credit to their bursar accounts in the appropriate pro-rata amount, subject to applicable federal financial aid regulations, to be applied to future expenses. I have authorized our staff, in exceptional circumstances, to consider whether providing a pro-rata refund to a student, instead of a credit, is necessary to relieve unusual financial hardship.
Based on updated interim guidelines from the CDC, all university-sponsored or university-hosted events of 50 or more people are postponed or canceled.
I will make a decision regarding our May commencement exercises within the next week. If we are compelled to cancel this special event, I will ask our graduates to share their suggestions about when and how we should celebrate their achievements.
Campus services, including dining, the library, and recreational facilities remain open for the time being. As a reminder, all campus dining facilities are able to provide a “to go” container for any food option.
Faculty and Staff
Consistent with Governor Holcomb’s directive regarding state employees, I am encouraging administrators and supervisors to authorize their faculty and staff to work remotely, while fulfilling our current commitment to maintain operations. Within 48 hours, we will provide more specific guidance to all faculty and staff.
In the meantime, non-essential in-person meetings should be limited to 10 persons or less, and individuals who are at greater risk should not attend in-person meetings. Whenever possible, meetings should be conducted virtually.
As we continue to respond to this unprecedented challenge, we are regularly updating our website: bsu.edu/coronavirus. Please stay informed.
And please bear with us. We will likely have to take additional aggressive steps, because the decisions that we make today may very well be modified as additional information and guidance is provided to us.
Thank you for your patience. And thank you for your exceptional service in these extraordinary times.
Geoffrey S. Mearns