UH’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic has been excellent. The school and its leaders have communicated regularly with students and, as far as I have seen, have not put out conflicting information like many other schools and organizations.
In addition, the UH COVID-19 website is clean and offers insight and information in a straightforward manner.
In January, the University was among the first to call student attention to the virus. The decision to “pause” classes this coming week was done in order for UH to learn more about the spread of the virus but also to test and improve online learning systems.
UH has used learning management software Blackboard (or sometimes Courseware) for posting assignments and for homework but the scope of what is about to happen is extraordinary: the school is moving 400,000+ credit hours online. Lectures, discussion, testing, and everything else will be online until (at least) April 4th.
But the most important component of UH’s considered response to Coronavirus, to me, is how the school treated those that live on campus. Harvard gave students that live on-campus a 5-day deadline to move out. MIT forced students with sick family members to evacuate campus. Dozens of other schools pushed students away leaving many without safe options.
Thankfully, UH was smarter and more compassionate. From the school’s March 11 update:
Students are encouraged to stay at home, but university housing will be open for resident students deciding to return. Residential student services will be available and all protocols regarding sanitization and hygiene to prevent the spread of (the) virus are being followed.
Keeping student housing available, as well as the services they depend on, matters an awful lot to 4700 out-of-state and international students. Many of them may not have the option to fly home. It also means a lot to local/in-state students that believe staying on campus in their best interest.
Keeping student housing open is a seemingly small gesture but a vital one for those kids. Dr. Renu Khator and her staff thought this through and developed a sensible, compassionate plan for the UH community.
The University of Houston has grown in innumerable ways in the last decade. But the most important of those is the competence of leadership. Dr. Khator and her cabinet have done an excellent job with this challenge and have mitigated the disruption for 65,000+ students, faculty, and staff.