March 19, 2020
I know you are all in shock about the rapid movement to a state of national emergency and a declared global pandemic in the short period since you left campus. Your lives have changed so dramatically so quickly, and your country is facing the largest crisis in your, or even my, lifetime. You are watching the global economy react to this news at the same time as you are watching your siblings’ schools close across the country. Some of you are experiencing severe displacement from your homes overseas, or have had difficulty returning to this country from planned travel abroad or study abroad programs. Some of you lived in residential housing on the campus, and have had to abruptly leave your rooms. Some of you work in libraries, dining halls, and rec centers, and are concerned about what it means for you financially when the places you work are physically closed. Some of you are graduate students who have instructional and research responsibilities. No matter who you are, you are grieving for the college experience you only just left, and wondering when everything will return to normal.
All of us are in this together, and we will work together to get through it. My overarching message to you is to protect your health and the health of your family members. I am haunted by a young person in Italy, who wrote that she and her friends did not change their activities until their parents and grandparents began to die. The deaths in Italy today surpassed those in China. First and foremost, protect yourselves and your families by following the public health advice that is widely available at places like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on IU’s coronavirus website. The White House has discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people. The CDC has issued guidelines that strongly encourage social distancing of at least six feet between us, handwashing, and avoiding others even in your own home if you are ill. Take good care of yourselves and help our country flatten the curve of infection.
The scale of this public health crisis is massive, and there will be many issues that IU cannot solve as a single institution. The federal, state and local governments are working to provide relief for people harmed by what is happening. I encourage you to stay up to date on the fast-changing announcements that affect us all. Health systems are working overtime to prepare for a surge of seriously ill people. There also will be many questions we cannot answer quickly, because we must first prioritize safety for our employees and students and support your academic progress toward degree first. Please know that we will get to many of your questions as fast as we can.
Back in Bloomington, your faculty members have been working heroically to ensure that your progress toward degree will continue. We are a residential campus that believes deeply in the relationships and presence of face-to-face instruction, and we are doing our level best to replicate as much of that experience as possible in our move to online instruction. Classes differ broadly in their approach, and include elements—such as laboratories, studios, clinical placements, field experiences, and other forms of instruction—that our faculty are working hard to modify for you at this time. We know that online is not the same as face-to-face classes, but we are optimistic that we will be able to provide the learning you need to complete the semester.
We are also working hard on how to do fair and equitable evaluation, including the option for a grade of Satisfactory rather than a letter grade in appropriate cases. The Wells Library is working to provide remote access to materials. The semester will end at its usual time. Your primary points of contact on your classes are your faculty members and your academic departments and schools. Please look there first for guidance.
We are also working on providing student services, from advising to health services to mental health counseling, remotely. We continue to be here for you. Please submit a Care Referral if you are feeling concerned for yourself or another Hoosier. We will help get students connected to the appropriate resources. Learn more here for current resources and let us know if you have any questions at email@example.com.
We have sent a survey about your access to connectivity. I know that internet providers across the country are opening their hotspots to meet this crisis. Please pay close attention to developments in your local area.
Finally, I know that you are anxious about financial matters. We are working hard to think through these matters as well, and are deciphering the relief that has recently been passed by Congress. Your scholarships are secure. If you were a residential student, your housing will be prorated. These decisions are being made as quickly as we can make them.
This will be only the first of my communications to you. I know our students are resilient, resourceful, and kind. We all want to help our country get through this. At Indiana University Bloomington, we are also thinking about how our students can help support our K-12 children who are out of school and their teachers, our health care providers, our local nonprofits. I have the greatest confidence in you, and our faculty, staff, and I will work as hard as we know how to keep you moving toward your goals and dreams, even in this unsettled and uncertain time.
With all my best wishes for your continued safety and health,
Executive Vice President and Provost
Val Nolan Professor of Law