March 13, 2020: Coronavirus Update

March 13, 2020
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Founders Hall

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Dear SUA Students, Faculty, and Staff,

This is an update on what SUA is doing to prevent and/or limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and within our campus community. Even though we still have no reported cases of COVID-19 at SUA, we have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy campus and at the same time continue with our fundamental purpose of delivering the best quality education.

Given recent developments over the last several days, and in line with recent action taken by many of our local peer institutions, we have made the difficult decision to have students return home and to remain home for the remainder of the semester. We ask all students to vacate the residence halls by March 27. Students who have extenuating circumstances that prevents them from returning home should submit a petition to our Dean of Students, Hyon Moon. Only upon a strict review and approval process will a student be allowed to stay on campus. All courses will continue online through the end of the semester in May (or the end of the Bridge program in late April) to assure a high quality of instruction for students so they can complete the semester/program within the regular academic calendar. The academic administration and IT are all working together so our faculty can use online platforms effectively to provide quality online courses and prevent disruption to your course of study. As a reminder, student employees are not permitted to work remotely. If you have any questions about student employment, please contact studentjobs@soka.edu.

Students who return home from campus and are subject to a status change in enrollment will receive a pro-rated housing cost for the spring semester. Information regarding potential financial aid adjustments will be communicated in the coming weeks.

Students who were on study abroad in Europe have already been notified that they will be returning to their home countries effective immediately.

In addition, all academic support and student services will be moved online beginning March 23 through the end of the semester (or the end of the Bridge program). In lieu of in-person meetings, we will be utilizing Microsoft Teams. Some offices already have the capability to hold virtual meetings. Other offices will be able to use Microsoft Teams from March 23. Other activities that do not require a face-to-face meeting will continue in the manner in which they are normally done now.

To prevent the possible group transmission of the COVID-19 virus and following the California governor’s recommendation to cancel any gatherings over 250 people, the university has decided to postpone or cancel all in-person university-sponsored events and activities until further notice which unfortunately includes this year’s Commencement Ceremony. Since the majority of our students are not from the local area, and would need to make travel arrangements well in advance for themselves and their families, it was decided to cancel Commencement at this time. Additional information about graduation will be sent out in the coming weeks.

Faculty and staff will continue to report to campus for normal business operations. As the situation changes, updates will be announced. Please continue to follow all the CDC recommended guidelines including frequent hand washing and social distancing. University-sponsored travel will be restricted to essential travel only, and everyone will be required to monitor both State Department travel advisories and news about all affected areas before traveling. Faculty and staff will need to inform the academic deans or area head/supervisor, respectively, about their personal travel plans as well. As previously communicated, faculty and staff who are not feeling well are to remain home and communicate directly with their supervisor.

We know that these new developments are disappointing, but we need to work together to keep our campus community healthy and safe. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and will keep you informed of any updates and changes.

Please stay healthy and take good care.

Sincerely,

Daniel Y. Habuki
President, Soka University of America