From the Dean

This truly has been a momentous and challenging time. Since the spread of the coronavirus will continue and its impact increase over time, it is important for UND and the School of Medicine & Health Sciences to be proactive. So as you may well have heard already, we just made the decision to move all lecture and seminar face-to-face classes to remote delivery for the two weeks (Monday, March 21 – Friday, April 3, 2020) following the end of Spring Break (Spring Break runs from March 14 – March 20, 2020). We are encouraging students who have left the campus for Spring Break and are able to do so to refrain from returning to campus during that time period. Certain teaching activities (such as clinical rotations) may be allowed to continue, depending on the specifics involved. In some cases, the sponsoring institution (for example, a clinic or hospital) may limit facility access to essential personnel, which might not include students. We will continuously monitor and evaluate the situation and communicate to all faculty and students if the date to resume face-to-face classes changes or other adjustments in our educational and academic programs become necessary.

At this time, the University intends to remain open. However, hours of operation and services may be limited depending on employee availability and campus needs. Schedules may need to be adjusted.

UND recently suspended international travel for university-sponsored or university-funded trips. There have been a number of local events that have been cancelled or altered. As you may have heard, the quarterfinal hockey games scheduled for this weekend at the Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Frozen Faceoff games scheduled for next weekend in Minneapolis have been canceled by the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

One of the important guiding principles in this pandemic is that we need to try to proactively protect vulnerable individuals to the maximum extent possible. It seems clear at this point that the worst impact from this coronavirus outbreak is on individuals over the age of 60 and/or those with other chronic medical conditions, especially chronic lung disease or other immune system challenges. Therefore, UND and the School will endeavor to work with any individual—whether faculty, staff or student—who may be at high risk to help them mitigate that risk.

I want to thank everyone—especially our faculty and staff—who have been working so hard to try to safeguard our students as well as fellow faculty and staff while continuing to carry out our mission of education, discovery, and service to the maximum extent possible. It has been a fantastic effort, but it is likely that the road ahead will be even more challenging. Let’s stay focused on the well-publicized public health imperatives, especially social distancing and hand-washing, while we also strive to carry out our tripartite mission to the extent that we can. Thanks for all of your efforts and understanding. And try to stay safe out there!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Interim President and Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences