Iowa regents ask universities to prepare to move class instruction online amid coronavirus cases identified in Iowa


Lily Smith

Regent President Mike Richards listens during the state Board of Regents meeting at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Friday, November 15, 2018.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

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The state Board of Regents has asked Iowa’s three regent institutions to “move as quickly as possible towards the ability to deliver instruction virtually,” Regent President Mike Richards said in a statement Tuesday.

Richards said students, faculty, and staff should prepare for this eventuality this week before spring break. The universities will receive specific information no later than 8 a.m. Thursday.

The regents have also extended the international travel ban by seven days each Monday, effective March 9. The travel ban initially took effect March 5 and applies to university-sponsored international travel for students, faculty, and staff.

“Providing this continuous 30-day window, until conditions improve, will allow faculty, staff and students to plan accordingly,” the statement said.

University-sponsored domestic travel remains an institutional decision at this time, Richards said, but the regents will continue to evaluate daily. Its current recommendation is to avoid areas with high numbers of identified COVID-19 cases.

Colleges have shown signs the universities have been planning to move toward online instruction.

A March 2 email sent to Tippie College of Business students advised instructors to prepare tools to conduct classes remotely in case of a widespread coronavirus outbreak in Iowa. UI officials have said they’re following the campus’ critical-incident management plan to cooperate with public entities that manage disaster control to continuously plan and minimize risk from such incidents.

Check later for updates on COVID-19 coverage