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

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.

Utah’s public colleges and universities have done substantial work in planning for a potential COVID-19 outbreak and informing 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 options
  • 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 ushe.edu. 

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

See our USHE COVID-19 Updates page for more information as it becomes available.

Media Inquiries

Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director