Univ. of Utah reminder of upcoming ‘online learning only’ period; ‘circuit breaker’ to reduce COVID-19 spread during VP debate

The University of Utah campus. Photo Courtesy: U of U

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 21, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The University of Utah sent a reminder to students and faculty Monday that it will move to online learning only for two weeks starting Sunday.

“From Sunday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, the U of U will move all education and student services online,” the university said in its weekly faculty/staff/student newsletter. “And, on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, the eyes of the country will turn to Kingsbury Hall as the university hosts the country’s only vice presidential debate for the 2020 election.”

The idea of a “circuit breaker” was based on models developed by U of U Health experts with the goal of creating a pause in the middle of the semester to help reduce the number of COVID-19 infections, the newsletter said. The university was already scheduled to shift to online coursework around the vice presidential debate and decided to extend online-only classes for an extra week to help reduce possible COVID-19 infections on campus. Read more about the circuit breaker here.

The U released this information about the two-week circuit breaker:

  • University employees who can work from home during this two-week period should do so. This excludes U of U Health employees, mandatory reporting employees, and employees in Housing & Residential EducationResearch personnel are asked to minimize their time on campus as much as possible and use campus facilities only for work that can’t be done remotely.
  • All buildings, except those run by HRE, the Union Building and U of U Health clinical facilities, will be locked throughout the circuit breaker and only accessible to those with ID cards or building keys. 
  • Buildings located inside the secured vice presidential debate perimeter will be locked down from 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 through Oct. 7. Researchers needing access to specific buildings in this area have been identified by the Office of the Vice President for Research and only staff who have been vetted and credentialed will have access to them
  • The Union building will remain open for students, staff and faculty only, with university ID required, during this two-week period with additional restrictions on access Monday, Oct. 5. through Wednesday, Oct. 7.
  • The Marriott Library will be closed during the circuit breaker period
The U also release these logistic details about the vice presidential debate:  
  • There will be significant disruptions to roadways and walkways in the areas around Rice-Eccles Stadium, Presidents Circle, University Street and 100 South from Monday, Sept. 28 through Wednesday, Oct. 7. 
  • The greatest disruption to campus will be from Monday, Oct. 5 through Wednesday, Oct. 7. Employees without an essential need to be on campus should work remotely on these days.
  • The campus community should expect to see a significant law enforcement presence on campus during this time period — especially around Presidents Circle. Campus safety officials are working with local, state and federal officials on a detailed security plan for the week leading up to the debate. 
  • In line with the U’s fall semester coronavirus health and safety guidelines, the university is discouraging any type of large gatherings on campus during the circuit breaker period and particularly in the days leading up to the debate.
  • The general public will have no access to university buildings during the circuit breaker period.
  • While gatherings are discouraged in accordance with the U’s fall semester coronavirus health and safety guidelines, the university recognizes and respects the First Amendment rights of individuals to gather to express their views. Be aware that vandalism and violence of any kind will not be tolerated on campus. Blocking a roadway with a vehicle also is prohibited. 

For more information on the vice presidential debate click here.

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