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CU Boulder COVID-19 Explosions Prompt Two-Week Shift Online

CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano in a September 21 message to the university's students, faculty and staff.
CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano in a September 21 message to the university's students, faculty and staff.
University of Colorado Boulder via YouTube

On September 15, the University of Colorado Boulder announced a stay-at-home recommendation following an explosion of COVID-19 infections at dorms and multiple Greek houses near the campus so large that it made Boulder County a national hot spot for the novel coronavirus and helped boost the case count for the entire state to the highest levels in more than six weeks.

Nonetheless, CU Boulder administrators didn't immediately shut down on-site instruction. Instead, the powers-that-be designated it an essential activity, much like purchasing food or obtaining medical assistance.

Now, however, things have changed. On September 21, Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced that CU Boulder will shift to entirely remote education for at least two weeks.

The start date: Wednesday, September 23.

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Moreover, future extensions are possible; two weeks is referred to as the minimum amount of time that must pass before students will be able to be back in classrooms again. Moreover, the announcement spells out potential discipline for violating public-health orders, with ten-day suspensions possible for anyone who throws a big party or otherwise breaks isolation rules, for example. DiStefano notes that this has already happened to a dozen CU Boulder students.

Here's a video sent to the larger CU Boulder community in which DiStefano discusses the move, acccompanied by the announcement itself.

From the Chancellor: Shifting temporarily to remote instruction — minimum 2 weeks

Sept. 21, 2020

Dear CU Boulder students, faculty and staff,

Since we began the two-week stay-at home period for students last week, our COVID-19 cases have started to come down. To continue this downward trend and help protect the health and safety of our Boulder community, our campus will operate under temporary remote-only instruction for all undergraduate, graduate and law classes for a minimum of two weeks beginning Wednesday, Sept. 23. We made this decision in close consultation with local and state public health officials. While the student self-quarantine remains in effect, between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7:

• All undergraduate, graduate and law classes will be taught remotely.
• Labs, studio and performance classes will be remote, unless approved for an on-campus format by the appropriate college or school dean.
• Staff currently assigned to work on campus will continue to work on campus.
• On-campus research will continue and is not affected by this shift.

Today and tomorrow, classes will continue as planned as faculty make adjustments to prepare for Wednesday.

The provost’s office will provide further guidance to faculty, and our Division of Student Affairs will provide further guidance to our students and families.

Your collective effort to comply with the student self-quarantine period is helping us bend the curve in our favor. Thank you and please keep up the good work. To solidify our progress, we are further increasing enforcement for the small number of students who violate public health orders.

Any serious public health violations by students, like hosting or attending large gatherings or breaking isolation guidelines, will result in an immediate ten-day suspension pending adjudication through Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. More than a dozen students already received notices of such over the weekend.

I know this situation is extremely difficult, and I wish, as I know we all do, that our circumstances were very different. The next two weeks are about more than our ability to see each other in person. The risks to our broader community are too great, and COVID-19 spreads too easily, for any further noncompliance with public health measures to go without immediate consequences.

And so to the members of our campus community who haven’t been abiding by public health guidelines, let me be clear one more time: It is your responsibility to follow these protocols as someone who lives in the Boulder community and is part of this university.

Practicing physical distancing, wearing face coverings and avoiding gatherings — 24/7, on and off campus — are the only way we will keep our broader community safe enough to return to an in-person campus experience. This may be the last opportunity for our campus to bend the curve of infection and return to in-person instruction before we are forced to move to remote operations for the remainder of the semester.

Please visit the COVID-19 webpage, which has been updated with additional details, for more information.

Let’s prove we can do this and be Buffs together.

Phil DiStefano
Chancellor

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