News 2020: March 9th message from Chancellor Johnson on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
March 9th message from Chancellor Johnson on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Chancellor Johnson shares updates on the latest coronavirus planning and procedures

COVID-19 Update

Dear campus community,

As the global community continues to respond to the still-unfolding COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation, I want to communicate with you about how UMass Dartmouth is preparing for any scenario.

First, I want to state that there have been no cases of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at UMass Dartmouth.

A team of staff from across campus communicates daily to discuss the latest updates and recommendations from international, federal, state, and local agencies. Members of this team are in direct contact with health officials at various levels to ensure that our University is ready for whatever may come.

As we gain new information and continue planning, each member of the campus community will have heard from their department chair, supervisor, or corresponding Vice Chancellor about what part they will play in our effort to minimize any disruptions. I am confident that should the scenario in Massachusetts escalate, UMass Dartmouth will be ready to ensure students’ academic progress will continue seamlessly through online and other modalities. This decentralized approach is a last resort, but when it comes to our mission – we will provide nothing less than our best effort.

Remember, if you or someone in your household develops flu-like symptoms, stay home and immediately contact your primary care doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.

Computing and Information Technology Services (CITS) has prepared a guide for teaching, learning, and working remotely if you are unable to come to campus. Please review this information.

Human Resources has met with all Unions and everyone agrees that all faculty and staff will be permitted to use sick or any other accrued leave to care for themselves, a family member in the same household, or for self-quarantine. The use of sick leave banks will generally follow the contractual guidelines. Staff members in units without sick leave banks (and who exhaust their leave accruals) will be permitted to “borrow” sick leave against future accruals for any absence in connection with the coronavirus. Arrangements are being made to provide sick leave benefits to student employees and non-benefited staff who have limited sick leave.

Human Resources is still working through this complex situation (including a special time reporting code) and will shortly issue guidelines to implement these arrangements.

Working with Faculty Senate and Faculty Federation leadership, Provost Karim has created an Instructional Contingency Plan to ensure that learning and teaching proceeds as normal, no matter where it takes place. This email was sent earlier today. Please refer to it for detailed instructions about how we can finish the semester strongly – even if not on campus.

I want to stress that these plans are for scenarios that we may encounter in the future. Nothing is certain, but we must remain vigilant. Please refer to our UMass Dartmouth Coronavirus Updates page for the latest information.

I once again want to thank every single one of you for your willingness to be flexible and your dedication to ensuring that nothing stops UMass Dartmouth from delivering a world-class education.

With gratitude,


Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.