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UNG Announcements & Updates

July

July 29, 2020: Distribution of Face Masks

Effective July 15, all University System of Georgia institutions, including UNG, will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities or buildings where six feet of social distancing may not always be possible. UNG will provide all employees and students with a reusable and washable cloth face covering before fall semester.

Masks will also be available during Week of Welcome events on all campuses. Students and employees may also pick-up masks at the following dates and times. The Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee campuses will be drive-up events where students and employees may pick up their mask without exiting their vehicle.

If you have any questions, please contact Greg Williams.

Dates & Times

  • Monday, August 3, 9:00 a.m. to Noon
  • Wednesday, August 5, Noon to 3:00 p.m.
  • Monday, August 10, Noon to 3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 11, 9:00 a.m. to Noon

Locations

July 24, 2020: Nighthawks Together: Important Student Updates

Dear UNG Nighthawks:

We look forward to seeing you on campus again this fall! We have spent the summer preparing for students to return to classes—both in buildings and online—and ensuring our campuses are safe and healthy places to learn. We encourage you to review the UNG Nighthawks Together website for full details and ongoing updates about our plans for this fall, and have highlighted below some topics that will help you understand what to expect this fall.

Adjusted Schedule

Fall semester classes are set to begin as scheduled on August 17.  Instruction will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 24, with final exams moving online following Thanksgiving.

Instruction Modifications

Changes to classrooms and courses: Whether in person, virtual or a hybrid of the two, instruction at UNG will look different this fall due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have taken many steps to ensure that high-quality teaching and learning continues. To provide for social distancing in classrooms, many classrooms will need to operate with 25%-50% of their normal seating capacity. However, our goal is to have as many face-to-face interactions as possible.  UNG has adjusted courses to reflect in-person, online or hybrid modalities.  Students should review their schedule to verify the modality of their courses.  While some adjustments may be possible during the drop-add process, we are not able to accommodate all requests. If a student adds a class during drop-add, D2L will not update until the following day, so students should also email the faculty member to alert them to the change.  If a student has a documented disability or is immune-compromised, they should contact Student Disability Services to initiate accommodations.

Equipment needs:  All students will need access to a computer with video and audio capability to fully participate in courses and to be able to do testing.  UNG's Bookstores now have UNG IT Approved Dell laptops, webcams and accessories available in-store and online at ungbookstore.com.

The first week of classes:  Students should go to their D2L course section for information about when to attend class for hybrid courses. The D2L platform will open the first day of class. They should also monitor their UNG email for messages from their faculty members with instructions for the start of classes. D2L support

Face Coverings

UNG—along with all University System of Georgia (USG) institutions—will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six feet social distancing may not always be possible, including all classrooms. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing. Face coverings will not be required when alone in an enclosed office or study room, in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met, or for students in their own residence hall rooms or suites. Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff, or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons. Please contact Student Disability Services to request accommodations.

We have purchased more than 30,000 cloth face masks—enough for every student, faculty and staff at UNG, with extras on hand.  These will be distributed to students at move-in, at drive-in events, and at welcome tents at the beginning of the semester.

Health and Safety

  • All members of the UNG community should be aware of the many safety precautions being taken by the university and understand their individual responsibility to abide by the guidelines issued by public health agencies and UNG to contain the spread of COVID-19.  UNG has developed mandatory health and safety online training for students and employees; the student module will be available soon and should be completed before coming to campus.
  • All members of the UNG community will be expected to conduct a daily self-screening, including a temperature check, before coming to campus.  All students should have access to a personal thermometer to conduct this screening.
  • To complement enhanced cleaning protocols, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available in all classrooms, offices and common areas across campus.
  • Student Health Services will offer COVID-19 testing for students by appointment.  Additional testing options are available through the Georgia Department of Public Health or private healthcare providers.
  • UNG will partner with the Georgia Department of Public Health for contact tracing and management of positive cases of COVID-19.

We are doing everything within our power to maintain a healthy and safe environment for all of us to live, work and learn.  Your commitment to safety, cooperation and flexibility remain essential for our success.  A webinar for students and their families is planned for July 27 at noon.  If you are unable to participate, the presentation will be recorded for viewing later.

We look forward to seeing you next month!

Dr. Bonita C. Jacobs
President

Dr. Chaudron Gille
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. James Conneely
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

July 20, 2020: Instructional Guidance for Fall

Dear Faculty,

As you prepare for fall semester, I want to take a moment to provide some updates and answer questions I have received about expectations for fall semester. As you are aware, over the last month we have identified the seating capacity while respecting six feet of social distancing of every classroom across all five campuses. We then tagged all courses with the appropriate modality to reflect both the capacity and the accommodations for faculty who are high risk. Monday of last week, we completed the conversion of the schedule. In consultation with the deans, I recommended and Cabinet approved a decision to end face to face instruction the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and move final exams online. Also, in response to extensive advocacy by faculty, students, and institutional leadership across the system, the USG changed their stance on wearing masks, and they will now be required in all indoor public spaces on university campuses. These decisions were made with the safety of faculty and students in mind, but they also clearly have implications for how you prepare to teach your classes.

This situation continues to evolve, and many questions remain. Areas where we still are working on processes and expect further guidance from the USG include providing accommodations to students, contact tracing on campus, and enforcement of the mask policy. As those questions are clarified, I will share more information with you. I also suggest that you become familiar with The Nighthawks Together: Fall 2020 Plan website and the covid-19 site. It has information specifically for faculty and contains the most up to date information for reference by the whole university community. The site and the FAQs will be updated frequently. The guidance I offer today focuses on the online component of your courses and communications with students.

Minimum Online Component for ALL Courses

In order to meet the instructional standards of seat time for accreditation due to the shortened term, and to insure that we are prepared to pivot to online instruction if that becomes necessary again, all courses must have a D2L component. This component must include the syllabus, the gradebook, a calendar or list of assignments, and a content module. This content module could contain a discussion board, a reading or video, a self-quiz, something similar, or all of the above. We have added a module on Academic Integrity to the D2L Resources that is available to everyone. It has two quizzes, and the students receive a certificate of completion that they could upload to demonstrate completion. This module could be utilized to fulfill the content requirement. Review the Learning Objectives: Pocket Guide to Academic Integrity.

Attendance Policies/Role Verification

Attendance in online courses is established through completed activities, such as discussion posts, assignment submission, quiz or test completion, etc. This recommendation stands whether the work is graded or not. This is the reason the mandatory attendance quiz and introduction post are used for roll verification purposes. This may well be the best approach for your hybrid course also depending upon the frequency of contact. Although documenting regular attendance is a best practice for student success and retention in both virtual and traditional environments, faculty should consider the following recommendations as we accommodate students who may fall ill during the semester or have responsibilities to help care for their families and friends:

  • Do not use an attendance grade.
  • Allow students to complete missing work in a timely fashion if they must miss class.
  • Do not require that a student submit a note from student health or their doctor to make up missing assignments.
  • Use a seating chart for the face-to-face component of your classes to facilitate contact tracing in the event that it becomes necessary.

First Week of Class Communications and Format

We will be directing all students in hybrid courses to check their D2L course for information about when to come to their face-to-face class session. D2L has a feature that will automatically populate students into subgroups for you so that you may assign them to a particular rotation. However, the D2L platform will not be open to students in advance of the first day of class. For that reason, we ask that you also draft an email to each of your classes that can go out the Friday before classes start in which you communicate expectations for the first week of class. You may wish to have all hybrid students meet online the first day of class so they can reference their cohort assignment. You may also wish to use the automated email format in D2L to send reminders to students about scheduled face-to-face sessions throughout the semester, particularly for the H2 format.

Communications with Students

One of the most frequent complaints we have had over the last four months from students and parents is about communication with faculty and feedback on student work. As we have all experienced in navigating these few months, an environment that is constantly evolving creates a great deal of anxiety due to uncertainty, and so communication becomes even more critical. Best practices for online courses suggest that timely response to student inquiries should be sent within 24 hours during the workweek, and within 48 hours on the weekend or over holidays. Grading of submitted work should be completed within 7 days of submission. Equally important, communicate your preferred method of contact to your students. Should they email you within D2L, only use your UNG email? Will you post all communications to the class in D2L or use your class email distribution list? You cannot rely on communicating course and assignment information during the class time when you are in a hybrid format and/or may have students with special accommodations. For those teaching hybrid or face-to-face classes, office hours may be conducted virtually, in your office wearing masks, by appointment, or some combination thereof. All of this information should be included in your syllabus so students can reference it throughout the semester.

Assessments and Final Exams

As I noted in the opening paragraph, final exams will be online. The reason for this decision was to avoid having students travel home for the Thanksgiving holidays, and then return to campus, increasing the opportunity for the spread of Covid 19 during the winter months when health experts anticipate a surge of infections and coinciding with flu season. Although the proctored requirement for online courses is in effect, that can be fulfilled as the final exam or at another point in the semester. Please do not plan to have final exams proctored in person on campus. For online proctoring, we have acquired a new license for Respondus Monitor as an alternative to ProctorU, which has some limitations as well, but which is free to use. Respondus Monitor does not work on Chromebooks. In addition, DETI is an excellent resource for exploring assessment best practices in online instruction, which might provide additional alternatives to proctoring. If you make changes in your assessments, please be cognizant of the impact on program assessment or general education assessment and coordinate that with your department.

During the semester, we will have some limited capacity for you to use large spaces on campus, such as the Continuing Education auditorium in Gainesville or potentially the gym floor in Memorial Hall, for a face-to-face exam period with the entire class socially distanced at one time. This will need to be done before Thanksgiving, not during finals week, and it would not replace having some exam, project or paper due during final exam week. If you wish to schedule a large space for face to face exams during the semester, please make that request through your department chair, and we will work together to reserve an alternative space for your class on that day.

Use approved tools and platforms within D2L. Other tools can present security risks and may not be accessible to students with disabilities. Group texts for example may not be accessible to a student with disabilities. You recently received an email announcing that we have added Zoom as a tool for your use. We are compiling a matrix that outlines the capabilities of Blackboard Collaborate, Visual Huddle, TEAMs, Zoom and other approved platforms, so that you may select the best tool for your needs. This reference will be available on the DETI website. If you have a technological need, please consult with DETI about available resources.

Teaching Resources

CTLL and DETI continue to offer a variety of workshops, videos and just in time resources to assist you with your course planning. Because you will have limited touch points with your students in the hybrid format, how you use them to engage your students will be critical. A complete list of internal and external faculty development resources is available to you through the Nighthawks Together Faculty Development & Resources page. I also recommend to you Transparency in Teaching and Learning or TILT as an important pedagogy for all instruction. In a virtual setting it can reduce students’ confusion in many ways.

  • TILT makes transparent things that are sometimes unclear to students:
    • The purpose of an assignment: Why is it relevant?
    • A detailed description of the assignment: What do excellent examples look like?
    • Explicit criteria for grading: How will the assignment be assessed?

Finally, I appreciate the questions and concerns shared through your department chairs, deans, the Faculty Senate and emails directly to me. We are navigating uncharted seas together and that communication helps us make better-informed decisions and find solutions to problems. It feels somewhat like we are charting a course between Scylla and Charybdis, but I am confident that together we will be successful. I thank you for your creativity, your resourcefulness, your concern for your students, and your flexibility.

Be well,
Chaudron

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D.
Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs

July 17, 2020: UNG Presidential Update

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff: 

As we continue to work toward fall semester, I have several important updates for you.  Please read these details carefully. 

Mask Guidance

We have had several questions following Governor Kemp’s July 15 Executive Order regarding COVID-19, particularly regarding face coverings. The USG has confirmed this morning that the guidance previously issued regarding face coverings remains in place and is not in conflict with the Governor’s Executive Order.  

Returning to Campus

As announced previously, we are targeting July 27 for the beginning of phase 3 of our Employee Return to Campus plan.  The non-closure emergency leave remains available through the end of July for employees who are unable to return to campus for work and who are unable to telework. Soon, we will launch online training modules for supervisors, employees and students to understand the health and safety measures and protocols that will be in place as we return to campus.  

Budget

Our new fiscal year began on July 1, and I am thankful that the state legislature and the Board of Regents were able to protect our dedicated faculty and staff from furloughs.  However, with a state budget reduction of more than $8.6 million and a significant reduction in our funding formula allocation, UNG faces significant challenges this year.  We will have to manage our limited resources very carefully and increase our focus on the ongoing development of non-state revenue sources.  The FY21 capital budget, which is separate from the operating budget, included two crucial UNG projects – the completion of the Gainesville Campus renovations of the former Lanier Tech facility and the construction of the Cottrell Center for Business, Technology and Innovation.  Unfortunately, the final budget this year did not include the planning and design of the Cumming Campus addition; we will continue to advocate for that critical project. 

Voluntary Separation Plan

The Voluntary Separation Plan developed as part of our budget reduction strategy has been approved by the USG. The program will achieve personnel savings by offering retirement-eligible employees financial support to facilitate that career transition. The program is entirely voluntary, and the Office of Human Resources will share program details with all employees today. 

Summer Enrollment

Our enrollment this summer was up 10.23% over last year.  Further, summer enrollment has grown almost 32% over the past six years. That significant increase points to the robust summer course offerings we have added in recent years to help students remain on track for degree completion and the expansion of online offerings and upper-level courses. Kudos to the many faculty, staff and administrators involved in supporting this record summer enrollment growth.

Town Hall Meetings

We are planning a virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff at noon on Wednesday, July 22.  The link to join that meeting is https://go.ung.edu/town-hall .  You may submit questions you have to president@ung.edu .  Please know that I will also host a town hall meeting for students and families on Wednesday, July 27, to try to address questions they may have.

This pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and I know this remains an incredibly stressful time.  I appreciate your continued support, patience and flexibility as we strive to serve our students and ensure our campuses are safe.

Please stay safe, stay well,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

July 7, 2020: Revision to Employee Return to Campus Plan; new USG guidance

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

Our UNG plans will be updated to reflect the following important decisions and new guidance received yesterday. Please read these details carefully.

Change to Employee Return to Campus Plan

UNG's Employee Return to Campus plan was targeted to begin its third phase on Monday, July 13, which would bring most remaining personnel back to campus to resume normal operations. We have decided to delay the beginning of phase 3 to Monday, July 27. This is the date when most employees will return to campus-based operations. In consultation with their supervisors and direction from their unit vice presidents, some employees may continue to work remotely or on a staggered schedule to accommodate social distancing requirements through phase 3 and beyond. Fall semester is still scheduled to begin August 17.

Use of Face Coverings

Effective July 15, University System of Georgia institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities or buildings where six feet of social distancing may not always be possible. UNG will provide all employees and students with cloth face coverings prior to fall semester; distribution details are forthcoming. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for social distancing. Face coverings are not required in one’s own residence hall room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where social distancing requirements are met. Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in discipline through the applicable conduct code for faculty, staff or students. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

Updated CDC and USG Guidance

Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for managing covid-19 related issues. Among the changes are to definitions for people who will need extra precaution due to age and underlying medical conditions. In response to those changes from the CDC, the USG is providing updated guidance on who is eligible to seek alternate work arrangements due to falling into one of these categories.  The form to request an accommodation is available on the ADA Workplace Accommodations page.

  • Older Adults
    • The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a healthcare provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled.
  • People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions
    • People with the following underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements under the previously developed process.
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
      • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
      • Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
      • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
      • Sickle cell disease
      • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
      • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
      • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
      • Cystic fibrosis
      • Hypertension or high blood pressure
      • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
      • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
      • Liver disease
      • Pregnancy
      • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
      • Smoking
      • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
      • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

I will continue to update the UNG community as our plans for fall semester take shape, and I will host another town hall meeting for faculty and staff this month to address questions you may have.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

July 3, 2020: Fall 2020 Plan

Dear UNG Students, Faculty and Staff:

UNG and all University System of Georgia institutions are planning to begin the fall semester with face-to-face instruction and social distancing expectations in place on our campuses. UNG's plan, contingencies and accompanying details are now available online at Nighthawks Together: UNG's Fall 2020 COVID-19 Operations Plan.  I am very grateful to the more than 140 faculty, staff and administrators who have provided expertise and leadership to develop these essential plans, which are built on three guiding principles that are designed to support and shape the behavior of our university community. They are:

  • UNG will continue to make the safety of students, faculty and staff its first priority. 
  • Classes and operations must be able to go between best practices in face-to-face and online delivery for a period during the semester, based on public health information.
  • Clear and proactive communications regarding planning and implementation processes, operational changes are essential. 

The entire Nighthawk community has a critical role to play in our successful return to on-campus and in-person activities, and our actions must be guided by concern for others. Toward that end, I want to draw your attention to some essential pieces of our plan that will provide our students, employees and communities with critical safeguards against the spread of COVID-19.

  1. Public health guidance is clear that the use of cloth face coverings and practicing social distancing (staying 6' away from others) in public settings is vital in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  UNG will provide a washable cloth face covering to all students and employees and strongly encourages their use when on campus, particularly when indoors and social distancing may be difficult to achieve.  In certain situations where adequate social distancing is not possible or when special accommodations are necessary, employees and students may be required to wear a cloth face covering.
  2. We are modifying the fall 2020 course schedule to reflect how courses will maximize the face-to-face experience of students while adhering to social distancing guidelines. These changes will be indicated in Banner to identify which courses will be fully face-to-face, fully remote, or one of three levels of hybrid modality. 
  3. We have adjusted the fall academic calendar to complete classes by Tuesday, Nov. 24, and conduct finals remotely the week of Nov. 30.
  4. All members of the UNG community should conduct a daily self-screening before coming to campus and stay home if symptomatic of COVID-19 or if they meet other conditions.

Each of us needs to do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus, especially among those most vulnerable. Much of our work over the next several months will emphasize this commitment among members of the Nighthawk community.

Even with this comprehensive plan in place, we realize that the circumstances for the fall semester remain uncertain.  The months ahead will require tremendous flexibility from everyone to allow the university to respond to future challenges and adjust our course quickly as dictated by pandemic conditions and public health guidance.  We will provide frequent updates to students, employees and other stakeholders as our plans unfold.

As we enter this weekend, I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.

President

July 1, 2020: Revised Fall Academic Calendar

The University of North Georgia has revised the academic calendar for the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Classes will begin on Monday, August 17, and conclude Tuesday, November 24. Final exams will be conducted remotely the week of November 30.

Key dates in the Fall Academic Calendar include:

  • Aug. 17 - Classes begin
  • Sept. 7 - Labor Day holiday
  • Nov. 24 - Classes end
  • Nov. 25-27 - Thanksgiving holiday
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 4 - Final Exams (online)

The revised calendar supports the safety of all UNG students, faculty and staff and meets accreditation requirements.  If necessary, students will be able to return to our campuses following the Thanksgiving break, but there will not be face-to-face courses or exams. 

Chaudron Gille, Ph.D.
Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of North Georgia

June

June 18, 2020: UNG Presidential Update - Fall planning, Budget news

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

I write today to update you on two important topics—our plans for fall semester and the state budget process.

Planning for fall

Under direction from the University System of Georgia (USG), we have developed plans for fall semester that consider three scenarios: 1) face-to-face instruction with social distancing expectations, 2) fully online classes, and 3) classes and operations would transition to an online format at any point during the semester. This extensive planning effort—involving more than 140 faculty, staff, and administrators—has been guided by these principles:

  • The university will continue to make the safety of students, faculty and staff its top priority.;
  • Classes and operations must be able to go between best practices in face-to-face and online delivery for a period during the semester, based on public health information.
  • Clear and proactive communications regarding planning and implementation processes and operational changes are essential.

All USG institutions plan to resume face-to-face instruction with social distancing expectations this fall, and this will include more hybrid courses and flexible approaches. USG leaders have reviewed our plans, and our workgroups are refining them to clarify institutional practices and processes. I anticipate that we will publish the full plan no later than July 1. 

As UNG begins to operationalize its plans, we are working with the USG to define specific situations that may require the use of face-coverings and appropriate enforcement provisions. We will share those details as they are available. Additionally, we will supply every UNG employee and student with a reusable cloth face-covering and actively promote their use as a best practice for helping to mitigate the spread of covid-19.

Budget update

Yesterday, the Georgia State Senate released its version of the FY21 budget, which begins July 1. As anticipated, the Senate proposed an overall operating budget reduction of 11% or $288.7 million for the USG. Unfortunately, no new funds were provided for enrollment growth, maintenance and operations of facilities, health insurance increases, or pay raises.

The legislative process will continue as the budget moves back to the House of Representatives for consideration and eventually back to Governor Kemp for approval. After the budget is approved, we will learn more from the USG regarding our FY21 allocation and the implementation of potential furlough days, the proposed Voluntary Separation Program and other budget reduction measures I have shared previously.

On a positive note, the Senate's version of the capital project budget, which is separate from the operating budget, includes funding for three UNG projects. The projects include: completion of the Gainesville Campus renovations of the former Lanier Tech facility; construction of the Cottrell Center for Business, Technology and Innovation; and the planning and design of the addition to the Cumming Campus building. These are important projects to support UNG's students, faculty and staff, and I am grateful to our legislators for their advocacy.

These past few months have been personally and professionally difficult and stressful for each of us, and the days ahead remain challenging. Thank you for your continued professionalism and support. Most importantly, thank you for your care for one another and our students. I will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

June 5, 2020: Employee Return to Campus Planning and Guidance

Dear Faculty and Staff:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought extraordinary challenges, and you have responded with creativity, flexibility and care for one another. The challenges will continue in the coming weeks, particularly as we prepare for employees and students to return to campus.

As I noted last week and as we shared in the Faculty-Staff Town Hall meeting (login required) this week, UNG’s Employee Return to Campus Plan includes incremental steps in three phases. A summary of the plan (PDF) is attached to this message for your reference. Phase 1 is planned to begin June 15 and will involve a limited return to campus for approved units. Their priority will be to prepare for the next stages of employee return and our students’ return to campus this fall. In phases 1 and 2, most employees will continue to work remotely fully or on a staggered basis.

Employees who have continued to work on campus during this time should continue to do so. All other employees should not return to campus until receiving direction from their supervisor. We will not have a full return to campus until we reach phase 3.

Many people have asked about work accommodations for those who fall into the Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC categories for higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Those employees may request alternate work arrangements, and our Office of Human Resources is developing an electronic form to facilitate that process. In the meantime, you may email that office at ada@ung.edu to notify them that you may need accommodations.

The health of our employees and the community remains our top priority. In each phase, leaders in each area will closely with the COVID-19 Planning Team, Emergency Management, and Facilities to ensure that appropriate social distancing and protective measures, including arrangements for appropriate PPE, are in place before staff members begin returning to campus. Supervisors should particularly note this additional guidance and forms to help you in planning and management.

As we have stressed, we will proceed cautiously and with a great amount of flexibility. Our plans will remain fluid and may change based on the latest guidance from the USG, the Governor’s COVID-19 task force, Georgia Department of Public Health, and CDC. Thank you for your continued commitment to finding creative solutions and your work to ensure the health and well-being of our UNG community.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs,
Ph.D.President

May

May 29, 2020: UNG Presidential Update - Planning for a Phased Employee Return to Campus

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff,

I know many people are wondering when we will return to campus. Throughout our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have prioritized the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and we will continue to do so. With that as a guiding principle, our workgroups have developed a plan to transition employees back to campus-based work cautiously and deliberately. This gradual return to campus will occur over three phases, beginning June 15 and continuing over the summer.

This strategy continues to encourage teleworking as much as possible, especially for high-risk personnel, while enabling critical personnel to return to campus to prepare for students’ return in August. The plan’s recommendations comply with Executive Orders and directives from the Governor’s Office and reflect guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the USG.


Phase 1:

Phase 1 will begin June 15. It will be limited in scope and will not end before June 28. The primary task of those returning in Phase 1 is to prepare our campuses for the continued safe return of more members of the university community in Phase 2, ultimately culminating in the full Phase 3 return of faculty, staff and students in August for the Fall Semester. Our efforts will focus on cleaning and preparing campus, and the majority of our community will continue to work remotely. Our facilities teams and others on campus doing this work will be provided with extensive training, personal protective equipment, and other measures to ensure their safety.

Those employees previously defined as essential and who have been working on campus during the period of reduced operations should continue to do so. On a limited basis, supervisors who should return to campus to ensure the work environment they oversee is compliant with health and safety guidelines and staff members who perform mission-critical/time-sensitive functions, as determined by their supervisor, and who need to work onsite may return as necessary. Employees should not return to campus until they are notified by their unit that they can do so.


Our goals are to protect the health and safety of all our employees and our community while taking the steps within our control to make it more likely that students can return to campus safely this fall semester. Throughout this process, we must remain flexible and adjust our expectations and operations to conform to public health guidance and changing circumstances. As we successfully complete each phase and account for the latest public health information, we will announce guidelines and timing for the next phase.

Next Steps

I will host a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 3, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m., to present our plans and discuss a safe and productive return to campus. You can participate virtually through the link below. Questions should be emailed to president@ung.edu.

I can share that students are enthusiastically planning to return to campus for fall instruction, and our enrollment is looking strong. Our UNG workgroups, which are composed of dozens of faculty, staff, and administrators from each campus, are developing a plan—to include multiple contingencies should we have to adjust—for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Thank you for all you are doing to carry out our mission in this extraordinary situation while prioritizing the safety and success of our students and employees.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

May 19, 2020: UNG Presidential Update - Budget Planning

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

I appreciate so many of you participating in the virtual Town Hall Meeting we held last week. I know you continue to have many questions, and I will continue to keep you updated.

As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the state’s economy. This April, state revenues declined by more than $1 billion (or 35.9%) compared to April 2019. With further revenue declines expected, the University System of Georgia (USG) and all state agencies have been asked to prepare budget plans with a target of 14% in reductions for Fiscal Year 2021, which starts July 1. However, nothing will be final until a budget appropriation is approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, and that is expected to happen in June.

Chancellor Wrigley asked us to be strategic as we plan for this reduction at our institution. Included below is UNG’s proposed budget reduction plan, which includes both temporary and permanent actions that place the greatest priority on our core instructional mission and helping our students complete a college education I want to reiterate that this is only a plan, and final reductions will be determined in the weeks ahead.

FY20 Original Budget State Application FY21 Potential 14% cut
$86,745,551.00 ($12,144,377)
Reduction Action Expense Category (Personal Services, Travel, Operating, Equipment) FY21 Savings
Implement USG Furlough Program Personal Services $2,241,840
Hold vacancies for all non-critical positions Personal Services $3,000,000
Utilize University Contingency Operating $1,000,000
Eliminate All Non-Essential Travel for FY21 Travel $1,000,000
Cut Operating Supply Expenses Operating $2,000,000
Capture Utility Savings (estimated 10% savings) Operating $326,000
Eliminate budge that supports campus improvement projects Operating  $1,000,000
Implement Voluntary Separation Program Personal Services $1,076,538
Reduce Part-time/Temporary/Rehired Retirees Personal Services $500,000
Total Savings Projected  $12,144,378

Clearly, there are challenging days ahead. However, I am confident that, through your innovation and resiliency, UNG will continue to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students while also employing appropriate public health protocols to ensure health and safety.

Please be safe and stay well,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

May 8, 2020: UNG Presidential Update

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

Yesterday, the USG Board of Regents approved a system-wide furlough plan and guidance for potential staff reductions as part of an overall plan to reduce the state budget by 14% for Fiscal Year 2021. Please remember that any actions related to furloughs and staffing reductions will be based on the final state budget appropriation, which will be determined in June. 

For UNG, the 14% potential budget reduction equate amounts to $12.1 million. Preliminary calculations show that the proposed five-tier furlough plan would have an impact of about $2.24 million at UNG. As shown below, the plan is based on salary scale and is designed to protect our most vulnerable employees.  If implemented, please know that employee benefits would remain intact. 

Salary Tier Minimum Salary Maximum Salary
Tier 1 $0 $33,475
Tier 2 $33,476 $58,756
Tier 3 $58,757 $98,999
Tier 4 $99,000 $153,999
Tier 5 $154,000 and above
Salary Tier 12 months 10 months 9 months
Days Furlough % Salary Reduction Days Furlough % Salary Reduction Days Furlough % Salary Reduction
Tier 1 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
Tier 2 4 1.5% 3 1.4% 3 1.5%
Tier 3 8 3.1% 7 3.2% 6 3.1%
Tier 4 12 4.6% 10 4.6% 9 4.6%
Tier 5 16 6.2% 13 6.0% 12 6.2%

Chancellor and Presidents will take 26 furlough days which equates to 10% reduction.

We still need to identify nearly $10 million more for our budget reduction plan. Our budget team has already begun working on this, and we will be considering freezing vacancies, reducing travel and operating budgets—including summer utility savings from reduced operations, and, potentially, early retirement opportunities. Reductions in force will be a last resort as we strive to make strategic reductions that support our ability to serve students and fulfill our mission. 

I understand this is troubling information, on top of stress you may already be experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions we have all experienced. Your Faculty Senate and Staff Council leaders will be involved in my discussions with cabinet leaders next week as we navigate these very challenging decisions. This is still a planning process and will likely evolve; I pledge to keep you informed as our plans progress.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

May 7, 2020: Board of Regents Announces Potential Furloughs as Part of Budget Reduction Planning

Good morning,

The USG Board of Regents met this morning and approved a recommendation for potential furlough days as part of the previously announced 14% state budget reduction planning process. Because the legislature and governor have not yet approved the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, this information is preliminary and is subject to change based on the final budget. The news release issued by the USG is below for your reference. We will continue to provide updates as we have them.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President


Board of Regents Provides Authority for Potential Reductions Due to COVID-19
May 7, 2020

The Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia (USG) provided authority Thursday for a plan for possible staffing reductions and furloughs due to rapid changes in expected state revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

USG is working now with its 26 colleges and universities to develop a new spending plan for fiscal year 2021 that includes a 14% reduction from the current fiscal year.

Any action related to staffing reductions and furloughs will be based on the final budget appropriation to be approved in June. The Board’s approval allows institutions and the system office to respond to the state’s request for a plan to reduce spending by 14% starting July 1.

While this may include difficult decisions, the system’s top priority continues to be helping students complete a college education. USG remains grateful to all its employees for making a difference at a critical time for the University System, including keeping institutions and the University System Office (USO) accessible and responsive during this extraordinary time.

The Board’s guidance, to be reflected in each campus plan, requires faculty and staff at all 26 USG colleges and universities as well as the USO to take a minimum number of days of unpaid time off depending on their salary range, with the exception of those with the lowest base salaries. For most employees, this means either 4 furlough days or 8 furlough days, depending on their salary. Those with the highest base salaries will be required to take 16 furlough days, or the equivalent of a 6.2% pay reduction.

In addition, the Chancellor and all Presidents at every USG institution will take the equivalent of a 10% pay reduction which includes 26 furlough days for fiscal year 2021.

USG institutions and the USO may also need to adjust staffing levels to meet operational needs and address the immediate impact of revenue and funding losses. These plans, including the number of impacted employees, will be unique to each institution.

“Employees of the University System of Georgia and our 26 colleges and universities continue to show resilience and dedication despite facing uncertainty and unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “Their work has been instrumental in supporting not only USG’s 333,000 students, but thousands of Georgians across the state. I deeply appreciate the contributions of our employees impacted by these measures, and ask all of us to show our respect, compassion and gratitude for their service to our students.”

Institutions have already experienced changes to campus operations caused by COVID-19, including a move to remote instruction and the departure of thousands of students from campuses, which has had an immediate negative impact on auxiliary operations and finances.

USG will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 and adjust as circumstances require. The system also continues to implement cost-cutting measures. These include a Comprehensive Administrative Review that will reduce administrative costs system wide by more than $100 million and a critical hire process that was implemented in December 2019.

While remote instruction will continue through summer, on-campus classes are tentatively expected to restart in the fall. A final decision will be based on guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

May 1, 2020: UNG Presidential Update

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our economy. Earlier today, state leaders announced that all state agencies, including the University System of Georgia (USG), should plan to reduce their budgets by 14% for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1. It is important for you to know that, at this point, this is a planning figure only. We hope that the impact on UNG will be partially mitigated by state funding based on our enrollment growth and federal stimulus funds.

The USG will provide additional direction in the days ahead on system-wide elements of the budget reduction plan. Institution-level plans will also be required. I will be working internally with institutional leaders, including representatives of the Faculty Senate and Staff Council, to develop strategic institutional budget reduction plans for submission to the USG by mid-May. Our goal will be to sustain the academic mission of the institution while minimizing, as much as possible, the impact on personnel.

I know this news generates many questions for you. We will have more information to share at our Town Hall meeting on May 14, and I will provide updates as they become available in the interim. These are unprecedented events that will test our ingenuity and our resourcefulness, and I am grateful for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs,
Ph.D. President

April

April 29, 2020: UNG Presidential Update

Dear UNG Faculty and Staff:

We are drawing near the end of the most unusual spring semester ever, and I don’t think any of us could have imagined the extraordinary level of disruption we have experienced. With instruction moved online, employees teleworking, and traditional events canceled or conducted virtually, our campuses have been strangely quiet during what is one of our most active times of the year. Yet, despite our physical separation, the UNG community has pulled together with a powerful shared commitment to our students and to one another. Our focus has remained on our mission of educating students, and there are many, many examples of faculty and staff members who have conducted exceptional work to support their continued success. Thank you!

As an update to the federal CARES Act funds, we disbursed more than $3.32 million to 11,292 spring semester students Tuesday. Additionally, 1,085 students have applied for UNG CARES Emergency Grants and those grants will be disbursed this week. The UNG Foundation is also providing emergency funds to students who are ineligible for CARES funding. This is an important step to provide aid to our students facing financial challenges and to help them remain enrolled.

We have been fortunate to be able to continue to pay all UNG employees under the current circumstances, but I know that some in our UNG family may be facing financial hardship based on employment changes in their household. While we are unable to use Foundation support to provide aid to employees, I want to remind you that our UNG Food Pantries are operating on all campuses, including Blue Ridge now, and that this service is available to staff and faculty, as well as students. I encourage you to take advantage of this as needed. For service hours and details, see the “Food Pantry Operations Updates”.

All of us are eager to resume normal operations, and we have begun a planning process for a staggered, phased-in approach to do so as soon and as safely as possible. However, there are many questions still to be answered. I have established six broad groups and numerous sub-groups to develop plans for a smooth transition to full operations at UNG. These working groups will address workplace and health safety, instruction, research, outreach and continuing education, student life, enrollment management, athletics, communications, and fiscal impact. The groups are being led by senior administrators and involve nearly 140 members of our faculty and staff.

We expect to receive additional guidance from the USG on these challenging issues. Our top priority in this gradual reopening over the summer is the safety of our faculty, staff and students. Our plans must promote a healthy and safe environment, and comply with directives from the Governor’s Office and guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health. Conditions permitting, our plan is to resume in-person instruction for fall semester in August. However, please understand that this situation remains fluid, as guidance is subject to change, even after our plans are put in place. We still have much work to do in the days and weeks ahead, and I will continue to keep you updated on our progress. I have scheduled another virtual Town Hall meeting for faculty and staff on Thursday, May 14 at noon, and we will share additional details soon.

Finally, I want to let you know that we are planning a virtual celebration in honor of our spring graduates on May 8 through our Commencement website. Now through May 8, I encourage you to post congratulatory photos and short videos on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #UNG20grad and #UNGremotegrad as a way to show our support for our graduates. These messages and videos will be collected on the Commencement site starting May 8.

I know many of you are juggling an array of professional and personal responsibilities in this unusual environment. Thank you for your patience and flexibility over the past several weeks and in days to come.

Stay well,
Bonita

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

April 24, 2020: UNG CARES Program - Grants to Students will Begin on April 28

Dear UNG Students,

UNG is committed to doing everything in our power to help our students overcome academic and financial barriers on their paths to graduation. To this end, the university will use resources from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the UNG Foundation to assist students during this difficult time.

UNG will use $6.8 million in CARES Act funding to provide UNG CARES Program grants to eligible students currently enrolled for spring semester who have experienced educational disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will begin to be disbursed automatically to eligible students beginning April 28. Similar grants will also be available to students who continue their enrollment in summer semester.

Students who are facing specific hardships may apply for the UNG CARES Emergency Grant to receive up to $700 in additional assistance. Information and the link to apply for these grants are available at http://go.ung.edu/ung-cares. The Emergency Grant applications will be reviewed and placed on student accounts daily. 

Each student must select a refund preference to receive UNG CARES funds in a timely manner. Failure to complete this process will delay receipt of the funds for a minimum of 14 days. For additional information and assistance, visit the Office of Financial Aid or Business Office webpages. You may also contact the Office of Financial Aid at finaid@ung.edu or the Business Office at business.office@ung.edu.

In addition, counselors in the Student Money Management Center are available to advise students on how they can access other resources, including financial coaching and debt management.

For those students who are not eligible for CARES Act funding, please know that the UNG Foundation is partnering with UNG’s Office of Financial Aid and the Student Money Management Center to provide additional resources to assist with emergency needs. Please contact the Student Money Management Center or Office of Financial Aid for assistance.

The $6.8 million that UNG is receiving and awarding through CARES Act funds will not be sufficient to address all of the hardships faced by UNG students. Still, we hope that the various resources UNG is providing will reduce the burdens faced by a number of you. We understand how stressful and challenging this time is, and we appreciate your patience as we navigate these difficult times together.

Sincerely,
Bonita Jacobs
President

April 14, 2020: Summer Tuition and Fees and 2020-2021 Tuition

In a measure to support state and federal steps to stem the spread of COVID-19, UNG and all University System of Georgia (USG) institutions will deliver summer semester courses as regular online classes via D2L.  In response to these unusual circumstances, the USG Board of Regents has taken steps to reduce the cost of attendance to students for summer 2020.  

Previously, fully online students paid a differential that helped fund the development of online courses.  Moving forward, the online tuition fee for undergraduate programs will be the same as the regular in-state per credit hour rate for associate- and bachelor’s-degree students.  The exception is eCore courses, which will remain at $159 for all undergraduate students.  There are no tuition changes for graduate students.  

Additionally, the Board of Regents has reduced all mandatory fees for summer semester to only the institutional fee and technology fee, both of which may be prorated based on your credit hour registration.  You may use the "Semester Estimator" or tuition and fee charts for planning purposes.  

Please note that we have canceled some courses planned for face-to-face instruction that we are unable to transition online.  Faculty have adapted all other courses for online delivery.  UNG has added alternative online offerings that will be available for registration via your Banner Nighthawk Course Scheduler on Wednesday, April 15.  

Further, there will be no tuition increases when we resume face-to-face instruction in the fall for the 2020-2021 academic year.  This decision by the Board of Regents allows the USG, including UNG, to offer some of the lowest tuition rates among peer higher education systems.  We understand these are challenging times for you and your families, and we are taking all possible steps to support your continued educational success and progress. 

We anticipate summer semester invoices will be populated and distributed on Friday, April 17.  Be sure to monitor your student email account for that information.  Details about payment deadlines and Nelnet Payment Plan information, along with FAQs, are on the business office and UNG Remote Life webpages.  Please direct any questions to business.office@ung.edu.

Sincerely,
Bonita Jacobs, PhD
President

April 3, 2020: UNG COVID-19 Faculty and Staff Update

Thank you for your dedication to implement remote instruction this week and to serve our students as we progress toward the completion of spring semester.  We continue to closely monitor state and federal guidance to ensure we are operating in a manner that supports our mission and the safety and wellbeing of our students, employees and communities. Please note the following important information. 

Until further notice, based on direction from the University System of Georgia (USG) and Gov. Kemp’s April 2 Executive Order that requires a statewide shelter in place, UNG will continue reduced operations to minimize the number of individuals who remain on campus.  Please note that Gov. Kemp’s Executive Order includes an exception that enables USG institutions, including UNG, to continue distance learning and performing other essential functions. UNG faculty, staff and students can conduct Necessary Travel for these purposes. When there are necessary in-person operations, we must implement measures, as outlined in the order, to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19.  To meet those mitigation requirements, UNG Facilities will curtail routine services to all UNG campuses next week.  However, the facilities staff will respond to any emergency needs for space cleaning or maintenance of building systems.  During this period, please call Public Safety at 706-864-1500 to report any emergency maintenance needs. 

Effective Monday, April 6, we will institute UNG’s Summer Hours, under which staff members work 9 hours, Monday through Thursday, and 4 hours on Fridays.  Our goal in implementing this early is to provide you additional flexibility.  I recognize that each of you faces different circumstances and demands in working remotely.  If, during this time, you need greater schedule flexibility, please coordinate with your supervisor. 

Non-Closure Emergency Leave will continue to be available, as needed, to ensure that eligible employees receive their regular compensation.  Additionally, the Office of Human Resources will send information about new benefits available as a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes a provision for emergency paid sick leave and an expansion of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage.

I know that the instability of the past few weeks has touched each of us and that yesterday’s announcement from the USG that we would continue remote instruction through summer semester presents additional challenges.  Thank you for what you are doing to support our students and one another.  I hope you will take a moment to review the message that I sent to them earlier and the new UNG Remote Life website with resources for learning, teaching and working remotely. 

As I noted in our Faculty-Staff Town Hall meeting earlier this week, it is the best of times and the worst of times.  The communities where our campuses are located are experiencing community spread of COVID-19.  We continue to prioritize the safety of our students, faculty and staff as we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia and fulfill our missions of education, leadership development, service, and research.  I am grateful to each of you for your dedication, your service, and your leadership. 

Sincerely,
Bonita
Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

April 3, 2020: UNG COVID-19 Student Update

Thank you for your efforts to participate in online instruction as we progress toward the completion of spring semester.  We are committed to ensuring you have access to the resources you need to continue your courses.  If you do not have reliable access to any computer equipment at home, we have a limited supply of laptops that you can check-out.  You may make an appointment with Information Technology to receive the equipment.  Please submit this form to initiate that process.  If you are enrolled for summer, this equipment will be available to you then as well.  If you don’t have reliable Internet access, please visit our Connectivity Resources page for assistance.  

Until further notice, based on direction from the University System of Georgia (USG) and Gov. Kemp’s April 2 Executive Order that requires a statewide shelter in place, UNG will continue reduced operations to minimize the number of individuals who remain on campus. However, our faculty and staff are working remotely to support you.  If you need assistance, please see the resources available on the new Learning Remotely webpage or contact your faculty member or your Dean of Students. 

Please note that Gov. Kemp’s Executive Order includes an exception that enables USG institutions, including UNG, to continue distance learning and performing other essential functions. UNG students can conduct Necessary Travel for these purposes. When there are necessary in-person operations, we must implement measures, as outlined in the order, to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19.   

As you know, we have extended the deadline for withdrawal with no academic penalty to April 10.  If, after trying the online format, you feel you must consider withdrawing, please submit this form.  We will consult with you on the next steps, as there may be other implications you need to consider. 

I know this has been challenging, and we continue to seek ways to support students in these unusual circumstances. I am grateful for your commitment to completing the semester strong.  As Nighthawks, we will soar together! 

Sincerely,
Bonita Jacobs
President

April 2, 2020: USG Directs Universities to Continue Remote Instruction for Maymester and Summer Semester

Yesterday, Gov. Kemp announced a statewide shelter-in-place order that will begin tomorrow and continue through April 13.  Many of you have had questions about Maymester and summer semester courses.  Dr. Steve Wrigley shared the following information just moments ago.  

May and summer semester instruction will be delivered remotely with limited exceptions.  USG institutions will return to normal operations for fall semester assuming health conditions allow for it. All institutions should continue to implement their current telework and flexible work strategies so that only a minimum number of staff are on campus to maintain operations and support remote instruction.  The Governor’s Executive Orders on schools and shelter in place allow for continued access to remote education and maintaining minimal operations for students, faculty and staff.

I wanted you to have this information as soon as possible.  Given this new guidance, Dr. Chaudron Gille, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, will work with academic deans and department heads to develop a plan for these sessions.  Likewise, other administrators will work with units across the university to continue to serve students.  

We will continue to provide you additional information as it becomes available.  I encourage you to stay connected to UNG through this new resource site for students, faculty and staff, UNG Remote Life.

Sincerely,
Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

March

March 26, 2020: UNG COVID-19 Update

We learned unsettling news yesterday that one of our students was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is currently being treated in a local hospital.  I pray that our student has a speedy and full recovery.  Because it has been two weeks since the student was last on campus, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 from this individual is minimal.  As I am sure you understand, the university may not share the identity of the student or other information that might reveal the student’s identity.  The faculty members who would have had the student in class have been notified without identifying the student.  The Georgia Department of Public Health would determine if additional notifications are necessary based on information from the individual diagnosed with COVID-19.  

I understand that this is a stressful time for you and that the move to online learning may create additional challenges. I am deeply appreciative of your cooperation and understanding as we endeavor to work through a very difficult and extraordinary situation.  One of the concerns we have heard from many of you is that students may not have reliable access to internet or computers.  To support our students and ensure a successful transition to online, we are surveying students to identify and help address such concerns.  We are also in the process of establishing a student outreach system that keeps them connected to the university. 

Next week, UNG campuses will maintain reduced operations, and, with controlled exceptions, all employees who can work remotely should continue to do so and not come to campus unless it is absolutely essential.  Supervisors may continue to use non-closure emergency leave as needed to support those employees whose roles do not allow them to work remotely.  If you do need to come to campus, please be sure to have your key or ID card to gain entry, as most facilities will be locked due to minimal staff on-site. 

The Library Technology Center in Dahlonega will be open to UNG students, faculty and staff Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and our libraries will offer remote services (research consultations, instruction, chat etc.) from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. 

We will have limited Postal Services and Logistical Services operations with scheduled times for departments to pick up mail and packages and drop off outgoing mail as necessary for continuity of operations.  You may contact Charlotte Wade at charlotte.wade@ung.edu for coordination of these services. 

We will consolidate our scheduled spring semester town hall meetings for faculty and staff into a single, virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 1, at noon.  We will send you the link and instructions for participating in that meeting early next week. 

Our business continuity plan continues to evolve as we adapt to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Times like these test our resolve and creativity, and I remain impressed by the resilience and innovation I see across our university. Thank you for your understanding, your support, and the daily contributions you make to the success of UNG and our students.

 

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

March 25, 2020: UNG Student has Tested Positive for COVID-19

Out of an abundance of caution, the University of North Georgia is making the university community aware of the following situation related to COVID-19: 

  • A student in UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business reported today that they have tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last on the Gainesville Campus on the evening of March 11. The student is being treated at a local hospital. 
  • According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, it is mandatory for those who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of notification.
  • Health officials are taking precautionary measures to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and take appropriate public health action to reduce its spread and protect the public in identifying potential contacts.  The best prevention measures for any respiratory virus, including COVID-19, are:
    • Adhere to social distancing practices and CDC guidance regarding groups and group activity.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

It is important that each of us pay close attention to our overall health, and to any COVID-19 symptoms that may arise. COVID-19 symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 and develop those symptoms, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care center and describe your symptoms.

For accurate and reliable information about COVID-19, visit the CDC's COVID-19 Resources, and monitor UNG’s Coronavirus website for updates.

Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

March 24, 2020: UNG Update for Spring Semester

Dear UNG Students:

I know that your lives and routines have been disrupted over the past couple of weeks and that you may have concerns about the remainder of the semester. While we are facing new challenges, know that we will do everything in our power to support one another through this unprecedented situation.  

We are mobilizing student leaders to help as mentors and allies in this transition. I realize that sometimes it is better to talk with someone your age who is facing similar issues than with someone sitting in an office. In the meantime, please note there are several student resources available at https://go.ung.edu/coronavirus.  Other helpful links include:

I know this situation is impacting some of you financially.  You may not be able to work in the jobs you had, and bills are due. I encourage you to talk with the Student Money Management Center (SMMC) about how to approach credit cards, banks, etc. to arrange for alternative payment options. Also, SMMC has a limited amount of short-term loans, and you might ask if you qualify. The bottom line is that you are not alone.  The financial crisis is real, and the most important thing for you to do is ask for help. Start with the SMMC who can provide guidance. Because we need staff to telework, there will be limited on-campus presence, but they can be reached at smmc@ung.edu or by phone at 706-867-3308 (Dahlonega) or 678-717-3985 (Gainesville), 

If you are considering a withdrawal from classes, I encourage you to wait. We are addressing issues that may of concern to you. 

  • Some of you have told me you are unsure about being successful online. We know we need to help students adapt to this change and, as much as possible, on an individual basis. We will be sending you details and providing online assistance as to how to manage online classes. 
  • I want you to also have full understanding of the financial and academic implications of withdrawal including impact on financial aid, scholarships, and refund policies. In some cases, taking an incomplete is a better option, provided it is available. 
  • Please do not make these decisions in haste without talking with an advisor.

Instruction will delivered remotely, beginning March 30, and employees across our campuses will be teleworking to the extent possible.  Our faculty are working diligently to shift to online instruction and to assemble tools and resources to help you adapt to learning in an online environment, and they will be in contact with about your courses.  Together, we will remain on track to complete spring semester strong.

I have notified our graduating seniors that the spring commencement ceremonies will be cancelled.  Fortunately, because we have a summer commencement ceremony, we are able to invite our spring graduates to participate in ceremonies on Saturday, August 1.  I hope that they and their families and friends will take advantage of that opportunity to honor and celebrate that important milestone. 

For residential students on the Dahlonega Campus, the UNG postal office will be forwarding your mail to your home address.  Please be sure you have the correct address listed in Banner. Also, we are in the process of issuing partial refunds for housing and dining and hope to have them processed on March 31 or soon thereafter. 

Remember that while we may be working and studying remotely, we are still connected.  We will continue to provide regular updates in the days ahead and throughout the semester. If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to someone. Our offices are providing assistance online, by phone, or by in-person appointments.  

In the meantime, make a note of the contact information for the Deans of Students below, and contact them if they can be of assistance.

 Finally, everyone, please heed the guidance from healthcare officials to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and practice social distancing.
  • Stay home if you are sick.  Please report ALL immediate health-related concerns to UNG Student Health Services by calling 706-864-1948 (Dahlonega) or 678-696-2676 (Gainesville).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

I know this is a challenging time for everyone, and it is a rapidly changing scenario.  I am continually impressed with the creativity and resourcefulness of the UNG community, and I am confident that we will weather this storm together. Stay well! 

Sincerely, 

Bonita Jacobs
President

March 19, 2020: Access to UNG Facilities and Services

Beginning Thursday, March 19, most University of North Georgia buildings will require UNG card or key access, as most offices are operating with reduced staffing on-site. If you need to be on campus, please have with you at all times what you need to gain building access.  Each building will have signs posted giving more information to the University community, the public, and vendors and contractors, should they need access. 

Our personnel are working remotely to the extent possible, and we encourage students, personnel and members of the community to conduct business with UNG offices through online resources or by phone or videoconference as much as possible.  Our goal is to protect our students, our workforce and the public by following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

A few UNG offices and facilities, listed below, will provide limited access, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, for appointments and essential walk-ins.  Individuals should not come to campus if they are sick, and everyone should follow best-practices for social distancing.

Student Health Services Operations

Students may use the Student Health Centers in Dahlonega or Gainesville, rather than an urgent care, primary care, or emergency facility, but they should call ahead to make an appointment. 

Students should contact Student Health Services by email or phone before going to the Health Center, particularly if they have potential COVID-19 symptoms.

Student Counseling Operations Update

Student Counseling will offer appointments via tele-counseling and in-person, as appropriate.  To make an appointment, students should call one of the following numbers.

  • Cumming - 470-239-3134
  • Gainesville - 678-717-3660
  • Dahlonega - 706-864-1819
  • Oconee - 706-310-6205

Testing Centers Operations Update

The UNG Testing Centers are offering limited in-person tests. Virtual test administrations will continue for all Accuplacer and Legislative exams. Effective July 15, all persons entering the UNG Testing Centers will be required to wear a face covering.

Please be mindful: Testing staff use latex free gloves when handling test materials. If you have an allergy that may impact your testing experience, please notify testing staff of your concern.

Career Services Operations Update

Career Services welcomes you! Beginning August 10, our offices on the Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses are open normal operating hours. The Oconee, Cumming and Blue Ridge campuses are served virtually during the fall semester. For students, first appointments with a career specialist are virtual, which may be scheduled online or by phone or email. For quick questions or to schedule an appointment in person, stop by during office hours. Employers and UNG alumni may reach us by phone or email for assistance.

Career Services is hosting virtual career chats throughout the summer and fall. You may register on Handshake for links to these chats.

Student Disability Services Operations Update

Student Disability Services will be available to meet with students via online appointment through Skype or Outlook as our physical offices remain closed.

For new services or to register for accommodations related to being in the high-risk population for COVID-19, begin your registration online.

For students who may have individual concerns regarding accommodations, contact your campus Student Disability Services office via email for a quicker response:

Campus Rec & Wellness Operations Update

The Dahlonega Rec Center will open for Fall 2020 on Wednesday, August 12. Facility hours will be as follows:

  • Dahlonega - rec.sports@ung.edu, 706-864-1622
    • Hours of Operation (Aug. 12-14)
      • Wednesday, Aug. 12 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
      • Thursday, Aug. 13, 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
      • Friday, Aug. 14, Resume Normal Hours
    • Hours of Operation (Starting Aug. 14)
      • Mon. - Thurs. 5:45 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
      • Fri. 5:40 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
      • Sat. 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
      • Sun. 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

For more information on the Gainesville Rec Center operations:

Commandant of Cadets/Assistant Commandant Operations Update

Staff are working remotely as our physical offices remain closed.

  • Questions About the Corps of Cadets? Email Lisa Siuta, or call 706-864-1793

 

UNG Food Pantries

Student Money Management Center

Dean of Students

Residence Life

For questions regarding Housing, contact the Residence Life Office at 706-864-1902 or residencelife@ung.edu.

Enrollment Management

Staff will be working remotely; however, student support services will continue remotely. Please refer all questions to the following email addresses for each office, which are being monitored and questions answered in a timely fashion:

 

Multicultural Student Affairs

Please view the MSA website for information on services, programs, and connections established through the office.

Please contact the MSA Office with any questions or to request assistance:

Veteran & Adult Learner Programs

Please review the Veteran & Adult Learner Programs website for the latest information about services and programs to support veteran and adult learners at UNG.

For additional information or assistance, please contact:

 

March 16, 2020: USG to Move to Online Instruction for the Remainder of the Semester

I write to inform you that the University System of Georgia (USG) has determined that all 26 institutions, including UNG, will move to online instruction for all courses for the remainder of the semester with extremely limited exceptions. This action comes following last week’s decision to suspend instruction for two weeks to ensure business and instructional continuity, and to allow further state assessment of COVID-19.  In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe; that we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia; and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times. 

Based on tonight’s announcement from the USG, students will not be allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from the university, which will be forthcoming soon. Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home or who cannot find housing elsewhere. We will make every effort to accommodate those students who are unable to depart campus. 

We will send specific instructions to students regarding when they will can return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students will be expected to follow those instructions.  We will provide additional information on refunds for housing, dining, and other services, as we receive additional guidance from the USG.  Students should wait for university officials to contact them. 

The university will remain open, with minimal staff physically on-site, to ensure continuity of certain services. 

We know that students, faculty and staff will have many questions based on this announcement.  We will be providing more detailed information to you frequently in the days ahead. 

March 13, 2020 : UNG Operations Update

As you know, the University System of Georgia has suspended instruction until March 29; however, the university is not closed. This two-week timeframe, which encompasses UNG’s Spring Break scheduled for the week of March 23, will give us time to test our business continuity plans and online instruction modules and for state officials to continue to assess the current situation regarding coronavirus in Georgia. 

At UNG, this temporary suspension of instruction includes all face-to-face and online courses, but not eCore courses. Any decision to alter operations or move classes online beyond March 29 will be determined by the University System of Georgia in consultation with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Dr. Chaudron Gille has provided guidance to our faculty and academic departments about these preparations. 

Is UNG still open?

While instruction is temporarily suspended for this two-week period, UNG will continue to operate. Essential personnel will be on campus, though teleworking across the university will be encouraged to the extent possible.  As a result, students and visitors should be aware that in-person services may be limited and that use of online and digital communications will be expanded. Please visit the UNG Resources section of the UNG coronavirus website for emerging details on facilities and services.

Employee Expectations

Employees should consult with their supervisors regarding expectations of essential personnel and teleworking opportunities. Our IT department has created a Remote Work Toolbox that provides essential support to help you be successful. We have also expanded the Employee FAQs on UNG’s coronavirus website to include USG guidance about leave, travel and student workers, and we will add to that as more information becomes available. Please consult with your supervisors or the Office of Human Resources as needed.

Will campus activities be cancelled?

From March 16 through March 29, campus-based student activities will be canceled. Other events may be evaluated and changed on a case-by-case basis. Please review the UNG Event Calendar or contact event organizers for updates. 

Please note that, as of today, the NCAA and Peach Belt Conference have cancelled all remaining regular season competitions and championships.

Stay Informed

Information continues to develop rapidly and may change with minimal notice as conditions evolve. We encourage everyone to regularly visit https://go.ung.edu/coronavirus for updates, including those made this afternoon. 

The health of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority. We will continue to work with USG leaders in collaboration with state officials and DPH to act on the most up-to-date guidance available. In the meantime, I encourage you to lean on one another for support and ask for help as needed – we are in this together.

Sincerely,
Bonita C. Jacobs, Ph.D.
President

March 13, 2020: Message to UNG Community

Yesterday, we alerted you to a decision made by leaders at the University System of Georgia (USG) to suspend instruction at all USG institutions for two weeks, beginning Monday, March 16. We will continue instruction and class assignments as scheduled through the end of this week. 

The USG guidance indicates that most students should vacate residence halls by the end of today and remain away from campus until March 29. We know there are students who will be unable to go home or secure alternative accommodations easily, and we will make accommodations for those students to remain safely on campus and have access to essential services, including the dining hall. Students do not need to remove all of their belongings from the residence halls. They should pack only whatever equipment and instructional materials they need to follow their courses remotely should that become necessary after this two-week period. 

We know that you have questions based on this rapidly evolving news. Our university’s leadership is working to address these questions and make the necessary arrangements to implement the USG’s guidance, and more information will be forthcoming later today.  We encourage everyone to regularly visit https://go.ung.edu/coronavirus for updates. 

The health and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff are our top priority, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation in this uncertain and evolving situation. UNG is a strong, resourceful and caring community, and we will get through this successfully together while ensuring we minimize the impact on students.

March 12, 2020: UNG will Temporarily Suspend Instruction for Two Weeks

UNG will temporarily suspend instruction for two weeks

This afternoon the University System of Georgia (USG) issued guidance to temporarily suspend instruction at all USG institutions for two weeks, beginning March 16, 2020. It is important for you to know, there are no known cases of COVID-19 among the UNG community. This decision was made after receiving new guidance from Gov. Kemp’s Coronavirus Task Force and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) this afternoon. This two-week timeframe, which encompasses UNG’s Spring Break scheduled for the week of March 23, will give us time to test our business continuity plans and online instruction modules and for state officials to continue to assess the current situation regarding coronavirus in Georgia.

We know that you have many questions based on this rapidly evolving news. Our university’s leadership is working to address these questions and make the necessary arrangements to implement the USG’s guidance, and we will share more information as it becomes available. In the interim, please note the following:

  • Friday, March 13 is a normal class day and operational day for UNG. Students are expected to attend class and personnel are expected to report for work as scheduled.
  • The guidance to temporarily suspend instruction for two weeks includes face-to-face courses and existing online courses, excluding eCore. This will provide our faculty and staff important time to ensure the operation of online instruction should that become necessary.
  • The USG guidance indicates that students should vacate residence halls by the end of Friday, March 13, and remain away from campus until March 29. However, we know there are students who are unable to go home or secure alternative accommodations easily. We will make accommodations for those students to safely remain on campus and have access to essential services, including the dining hall.
  • Campus-based student activities will be canceled during this two-week period.
  • As many of you may already have Spring Break travel plans, we encourage all students, faculty and staff who may be traveling in any capacity (either domestically or internationally) to register their travel information through UNG's Office of Global Engagement International Travel Registrynew window. As a reminder, the CDC strongly advises against anyone traveling to a location subject to a Level 3 or higher Travel Health Notice, including most of Europe, South Korea, China and Iran. We also encourage community members to check with the U.S. Department of State website, and talk with family and travel companions to make a wise decision about travel plans, particularly related to travel in Europe.
  • Gov. Kemp has suspended all non-essential professional travel for state workers.
Finally, prevention is paramount, and the best prevention measures for any respiratory virus, including COVID-19 are:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we work through this evolving situation. We take very seriously the responsibility to make prudent and well-informed choices for the well-being of our campus communities and the public. We continue to prepare for all scenarios in this rapidly evolving situation.

The health of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority. We will continue to work with USG leaders in collaboration with state officials and DPH to act on the most up-to-date guidance available. The USG is providing regular updates to all institutions and the public on the USG websitenew window.

March 6, 2020: Message to UNG Community

We continue to closely monitor the situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the immediate risk of exposure to the virus remains relatively low in the United States.  However, we want to keep the university well informed with resources related to the illness and its spread. We have compiled important information and resources about COVID-19 at this website - https://go.ung.edu/coronavirus. Please refer to the site often for updates, guidance and other useful information. Members of our university community are working closely together and with state partners to ensure we are prepared for future developments. Your understanding, knowledge and cooperation are critical to achieving our goals in addressing this public health challenge. 

The health and welfare of the University of North Georgia community is a top priority at all times, and at this time of heightened concern it is critical that each of us does our part to limit and prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as flu and COVID-19.

January

January 30, 2020: Message to UNG Community

We have been closely watching reports of a new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. There have been no identified cases at UNG or in the state of Georgia. As of today there have been six confirmed cases in the United States.

Our health professionals will continue monitoring the situation and are following the direction given by public health experts. It is important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a recommendation to avoid all nonessential travel to Hubei Province, China. Students who have traveled from China in the past 14 days and have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should contact Student Health Services immediately at 706-864-1948 (Dahlonega) or 678-696-2676 (Gainesville).  

Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the seasonal flu, which remains the higher risk for our population. This is also the time of year when we typically see a rise in cases of seasonal flu.  We encourage everyone on campus to follow the same preventative strategies used during a normal cold and flu season: getting a flu shot, washing hands regularly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when experiencing symptoms of illness. Students who have paid their health fee are eligible for a flu shot at no charge, while supplies last. 

It is recommended that anyone over the age of 6 months get the flu shot, and especially people with chronic medical conditions who are at high-risk for flu-related complications.

Past USG & State of Georgia Releases

May 1, 2020: Message from USG Chancellor Wrigley

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Your hard work has continued to keep all of our 26 institutions and the University System Office (USO) accessible and responsive in an extraordinary time, even as you have had to juggle your own personal challenges.I am grateful and proud of the way each of you has responded to our rapid shift in operations.

The challenges thrown at us by the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented. The health and safety of our students and employees are our greatest priorities.

As you are aware, the state of Georgia is facing a significant drop in revenue from the coronavirus that has caused the news I must now share.

Today, the state Office of Planning and Budget, House Budget and Research Office, and Senate Budget and Evaluation Office directed all state agencies to develop new spending proposals for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. In doing so, all agencies including USG must submit proposals that include a 14% reduction of their base budget.

I have instructed all institutions and the University System Office to prepare a plan to address these 14% reductions. These plans must be submitted to the state no later than May 20.

This will not be easy work. We have asked everyone to be strategic in their approach to meeting this reduction, therefore across the board cuts are not permitted. Our priority continues to be helping our students complete a college education. Our mission is more critical than ever as we take a leading role in helping all Georgians recover.

Right now, institutions are only submitting plans to address the 14% reductions for FY21. It will be some time before we will know the specifics of these plans and how they will be implemented. Among actions that may be taken include furloughs and layoffs. Additionally, we are placing a hold on all vacant positions not deemed essential, and remain committed to a critical hire process for the few that are. We will be faced with some uncertainty until the FY21 budget is adopted and approved.

The state will continue to monitor the financial impact of COVID-19 and adjust as circumstances require. Any budget plans submitted to the state must also be finalized and approved by the Georgia Legislature, and signed by the Governor.

I know this is hard news to hear. Please keep in close contact with your supervisor for further guidance and if you have any questions. We will provide updates as quickly and as transparently as possible.

Above all, know you are making a difference at a critical time for the University System. There is no question this will be tough. But we will get through it, and be stronger. Thank you for all you do to support our students and the state of Georgia.

Sincerely,
Steve W. Wrigley
Chancellor

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