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University of North Dakota directing nonessential employees to work from home; NDSU to discuss options Monday

GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota is preparing to ask all its nonessential employees to work from home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the university announced on its coronavirus blog.

The university says employees should report to work Monday, March 16, as usual to discuss work plans with their supervisor, how to track time and gather necessary files and belongings.

"Social distancing continues to be the most effective way to limit the spread of coronavirus," the university said. "In light of the increasing pace of known cases throughout the country, the University of North Dakota is directing all nonessential employees who can work remotely to work with their supervisors do so effective on Monday, March 16, through Saturday, April 4."

Meloney Linder, vice president of marketing and communications at UND, said the situation is "fluid" and noted "nonessential employees" may differ from its typical definition, as some staff will need to be on hand at the residence halls and dining services.

Following UND's announcement, North Dakota State University in Fargo released the following statement about its employees:

"In conjunction with state leaders, NDSU is evaluating numerous options regarding its continuing operations. We will soon provide further guidance when details are finalized," NDSU said. "Until then, all NDSU employees should continue to report for work as regularly planned. "

UND students in need of services are expected to call rather than visit in person. University residence halls and Wilkerson Commons dining services will remain open to assist students who remain on campus. University Childcare Learning Center will remain open until further notice.

While the university remains open, with employees working remotely, buildings will have limited access. Employees will still be able to enter their buildings with electronic and key access.

The Wellness Center, American Indian Center, Hyslop and Chester Fritz Library buildings will be closed with staff working remotely.

The health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance. This is a fluid situation, and the University will continue to monitor and communicate changes.

All benefited and non-benefited individuals who are approved to work from home will continue to be paid as normal during this time, according to the university. Those working remotely will need to account for their work and time.

UND Human Resources and Payroll Services will be sending out an email with instructions on how employees can track their work. The vice president for research will be sending out an email regarding research activities. Nonessential employees who are not able to work remotely are considered to be on-call and/or ready to report to work as necessary.

UND students are on spring break this week. Following spring break, the university will be conducting its courses online for two weeks. In-person instruction is scheduled to begin again on Monday, April 6.

UND is asking students who plan to stay in the residence halls over the next several weeks to fill out a form available in Housing Self Service.

Students needing to stay on campus must register by Monday, March 16, at 8 a.m.

Only students who have registered to stay will maintain access to their residence hall. Students who have not registered to stay will not be able to gain access to their residence hall. Access to residence halls for all residential students will be reinstated after the remote instruction period has ended.

UND announced Friday that all events and gatherings with estimated attendees of more than 100 are canceled, including events at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, Hyslop and other university-owned facilities.

There is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in North Dakota, in Ward County. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at UND.

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Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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