Administration uncertain as to when or how residential students will go home

Western Colorado University will move entirely to online learning starting tomorrow, Monday Nov. 9.

Western President Gregory Salsbury announced the change Sunday afternoon in an email to students and staff, and said the decision was based on positive tests reported Nov. 8. Those new positive COVID-19 results followed an uptick in cases last week.

University administrators will meet with Gunnison County Public Health officials tomorrow, Nov. 9 regarding how students living on campus should transition home for the upcoming holiday break. 

Western had planned to end on-campus classes in two weeks, during the week of Thanksgiving, and to administer remaining classes and exams remotely. The plan had been put in place to reduce the risk of students spreading the coronavirus between campus and their hometowns.

The decision by Western follows an announcement by University of Colorado at Boulder on Nov. 5 that the largest university in the state would move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester starting Nov. 16. Like Western, CU Boulder had anticipated ending in-person classes after Thanksgiving.

Below is Salsbury’s message to students, sent by email at 4:35 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9.

Dear Western Community:

We are experiencing a rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19 on our campus. As we have already announced, we have seen an uptick in the number of positive cases over the last week. Now, due to a number of positive cases which were reported just today, Sunday, November 8, 2020, we have made the decision to move entirely to online learning beginning with classes scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, November 9, 2020 and continuing for the rest of the Fall 2020 semester. 

I am sure you will have many questions, especially regarding on-campus residents and how they will transition home for break. We cannot answer those questions until administrators meet with Gunnison County health officials tomorrow (Monday, Nov. 9, 2020). Following that meeting we hope to have guidance regarding whether residents should begin traveling home, what instructions they will be given, who is allowed to stay, and other important guidance. Please know we will update you with more information tomorrow in the timeliest manner possible following that meeting. 

Until we know more, we are “business as usual” on campus with the exception of classes moving to the online format. Swipe access to academic buildings will be suspended for students. Meals will be served on a grab and go basis. Still, this could change in the next 24 hours based on direction from Public Health.

Once again, there are still some unknowns at this point. However, we are endeavoring to give you the up-to-the-moment information we have, so you can begin to make plans. We will update you again when we know more.

Thank you for helping us make a smooth transition during the next two weeks as we work together to contain the spread of COVID-19. Your efforts are key as we work to fulfill our promise of promoting intellectual maturity and growth of our students, while preparing them for a lifetime of contributions to their communities.

Kindly, 

President Salsbury