USHE COVID-19 Updates

Updated: March 18, 2020, 3:00 p.m.

Utah’s public colleges and universities to postpone or cancel Spring 2020 commencement activities

Because of the public health emergency created by COVID-19, all Utah public higher education institutions will postpone or cancel their Spring 2020 commencement activities.

To protect the health of Utah communities, Governor Gary Herbert and the state’s COVID-19 Community Task Force have recommended limiting the size of group gatherings and to continue practicing social distancing. These changes to Spring 2020 commencement activities are in line with those recommendations.

More information is available on each institution’s website:

Updated: March 12, 2020, 1:15 p.m.

All USHE institutions are moving instruction online, as many courses as they can, and as quickly as they can, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See each institution’s messaging for more information. 

All public colleges and universities are currently posting updates on their websites:

More updates and information from the USHE and K-12 press conference today can be found on Governor Gary R. Herbert’s Facebook page.
Also, see the statement from The Office of the Governor, including all of the recommendations from the press conference.

Updated: March 10, 2020, 11:00 a.m.

Guidance for USHE colleges and universities on COVID-19 campus-wide messaging

The Utah System of Higher Education asks all USHE institutions to consider the following guidance before disseminating messages to their campus community about COVID-19: 


  1. At the very least, use guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when considering messaging your campus or updating policies or practices. It is up to institutional leadership if the institution wants to go beyond those recommendations. 
  2. Provide USHE with a summary and/or draft of your campus-wide message at least one hour before you intend to send it. USHE will send those proposed messages to the Lt. Governor’s office and the Utah Department of Health for their review. (USHE serves as the liaison between USHE institutions and the state’s Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force, led by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox.)
  3. Track those in your campus community who are self-isolating. If they begin to exhibit symptoms, inform your institution’s local health department.
  4. Consider updating policies and practices regarding work from home opportunities and online/electronic course capacity.
  5. Disseminate prevention, awareness, and anti-stigma messaging regularly, as appropriate. See updates and sample messaging from other institutions in our shared folder

Updated: March 3, 2020 3:41pm

Utah System of Higher Education to coordinate planning efforts on COVID-19 at Utah’s public colleges and universities

Will report efforts to Governor Herbert’s Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force

SALT LAKE CITY – On March 2, 2020, Governor Gary R. Herbert announced the creation of the Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force, led by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will coordinate Utah’s public higher education planning and response, and work closely with the state task force to inform it of higher education’s efforts. As of Monday, there were no cases of the virus confirmed as contracted in Utah.

Many of Utah’s public colleges and universities have done substantial work in planning for a potential COVID-19 outbreak and informing their stakeholders of their efforts. The Commissioner’s Office has asked that each institution form a COVID-19 working group, if they have not yet done so, that will meet weekly and inform the Commissioner’s Office of their plans and progress. The Commissioner’s Office will share this information with the Governor’s task force. 

Each institutional task force will consider: 

  • Recently-released guidance for higher education institutions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Reviewing, updating, and implementing emergency operations plans, including on-campus housing protocols
  • Creating plans to communicate accurate and timely information to the campus community, including the creation of a hotline
  • Reviewing information sharing systems with partners, including local health care departments and local law enforcement
  • Monitoring and planning for absenteeism
  • Establishing procedures for students, staff, and faculty who are sick (with any illness) on campus
  • Ensuring campus health clinics prepare for COVID-19
  • Student, faculty, and staff travel, including study abroad programs
  • Capacity of existing networks, including online and electronic course possibilities
  • Any anticipated challenges, and how the State of Utah can assist with those challenges

“As always, our students’ safety is of the utmost priority for us,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Institutions
have worked hard to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 coming to Utah. We are working diligently to ensure the best coordination between our office, our institutions, and the State of Utah for the health of all community members.”

The Commissioner’s Office itself will follow the University of Utah’s protocol, as the Office is located in the same general area and shares several services with the University. Updates on higher education coordination efforts can be found at 

All public colleges and universities are currently posting updates on their websites:

For more resources, see: