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Students in Nevada university dorms asked to return home

Updated March 18, 2020 - 6:40 pm

Students living in dorms at Nevada universities have been asked to leave and return to their homes and families as part of the closure of all nonessential operations at Nevada System of Higher Education schools, according to an announcement from Chancellor Thom Reilly.

But for the many students who are from other countries and states or who do not have the resources to go home, the schools will let them stay and will continue to provide support that is essential to their well-being, including food, health care and education services. Also access to libraries and computer labs might be permitted on a limited basis under social distancing protocols.

The updated guidance was issued late Tuesday because of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s direction to close all nonessential businesses for 30 days. With remote instruction already in effect at NSHE schools, nonessential employees were to start to work from home Wednesday.

“This closure includes any operations that may currently be open on campuses, such as athletic facilities, vendors, and any other location where any group may socialize,” Reilly wrote. “Presidents of each NSHE institution shall provide to me for approval a list by the close of business tomorrow of all areas and operations they consider essential to the continued well-being of NSHE students and employees, and the State of Nevada.”

Some programs training nurses and health care providers, and those conducting scientific research, may continue at the discretion of each university president, Reilly wrote, provided that that all precautions outlined by Sisolak are followed.

UNR announced that all campus buildings would be closed by 5 p.m. Wednesday, with students in residence halls asked to leave unless they have extenuating circumstances.

“Student Services is working on limited food options for students who remain,” a note from the university said.

A note from interim UNLV President Marta Meana sent Wednesday said that the Lied Library and the Student Union would close by 5 p.m. Wednesday but that health clinics would remain open as long as protective supplies last. Locations for computer labs are being assessed.

A separate note from the university’s office of Housing and Residential Life said residents who have other housing options will be required to move out by 5 p.m. Saturday. The directive does not include residents at The Degree and Legacy LV.

Students who are on spring break and cannot return by Saturday to retrieve their belongings should contact the university for shipping options.

The breakneck speed of new developments regarding closures has left some parents making last-minute choices for their students.

Parent Scott Gulbransen said that while his son planned to stay at UNR to work his on-campus job, the family decided late Sunday that he should fly home Monday to Las Vegas.

“I said pack up your valuables and get home,” Gulbransen said.

Gulbransen said that while he understands that the university can’t plan for every crisis, he would appreciate more communication from UNR, particularly regarding whether the university will prorate room and boarding costs, as UNLV has offered to do.

UNR spokesperson Kerri Garcia Hendricks said Wednesday that residents are still financially responsible for their housing assignment and that the university is reviewing the situation.

Across NSHE, university police, campus health services and certain computer operations will continue. All NSHE employees other than those deemed essential are directed to stay home and practice social distancing.

NSHE had previously announced that searches for a new chancellor, as well as new presidents of UNR and UNLV, would be suspended.

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Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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