President Khator

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we continue to see more and more news about the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I know that you and your families must be anxious, because we all are. As I assured you last Wednesday, we continue to follow closely the global spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on our university communities.  There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on our campuses; however, there have been some cases identified in and around Houston. According to reports, all of these cases involve foreign travel. With this in mind and after extensive consultation, I am asking that you please adhere to the following.

Travel restrictions through March

  1. Refrain from all international travel. The University of Houston is restricting all international travel that requires university funds or approval at least until the end of March.
  2. Limit domestic business-related travel at least until the end of March.  Please  evaluate your options carefully. 
  3. Consider your risks and options when making decisions about personal travel.
  4. Self-quarantine for 14 days if you have traveled abroad to a country for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 travel warning for COVID-19. It applies to all travel, personal or professional, since February 25th.
  5. Register yourself on university’s COVID-19 website if you have taken or will take any international travel – professional or personal—since January 31st.

Continuity of Classes

  1. In adherence to university policies, each college/department has a “Continuity of Operations Plan” on file.  Provost Short has asked deans and department chairs to ensure that everyone is familiar with their plan and that classes could continue if we have to limit access to campuses.
  2. In certain circumstances and if instructed by local, state or federal authorities, all in-person classes may migrate to the digital platform.  In cases where pedagogy is not suitable for online instruction, individual faculty should make alternative arrangements so the semester is not disrupted. Every course already has a shell on Blackboard; however if you need any help, workshops are offered by the Office of the Provost.
  3. We will keep small computer equipped areas on campus open for those students who do not have access to a laptop.

Continuity of Research

  1. Please evaluate your needs in relation to your research. Since every researcher has different needs, please make sure that your dean and department chair are aware of your situation so that appropriate accommodations can be made. 
  2. You may also contact the Division of Research for any questions and/or concerns.
  3. Additional information for researchers will be forthcoming from the Provost and Vice President for Research.

Continuity of Other Campus Operations

  1. Each support unit will evaluate its “Continuity of Operations Plan.” We are asking all unit heads to familiarize their teams with their unit’s plan.
  2. We do not expect to cancel classes or close the University. Please note that essential support functions will continue and staff may be directed to work from home.

Communication and Update

We expect the situation to change on a daily basis.  While we are prepared to send emails and alerts as and when necessary, please see the University of Houston COVID-19 webpage for the latest updates and actions. You may access this page from the home page. You may direct your questions to your supervisor and, if necessary, you may also direct them to coronavirus@uh.edu.  A list of useful questions and answers will be posted on the page as well.

Community responsibility

Finally, Dr. Vanessa Tilney, the university’s executive director of the Student Health Center, has been designated as the university’s health liaison.  Dr. Tilney and the team continue to be constantly in touch with local, state and federal experts.  We are working with cities and counties wherever our campuses are located, with the Texas Medical Center, state authorities, and the CDC.

You should act responsibly as a community member if you are sick.  If you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms of contagious illness, you should seek medical attention to ensure it is safe for you to be on campus.

With warm regards,

Renu Khator
President, University of Houston

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