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UNLV suspends in-person events due to COVID-19 pandemic

UNLV announced Tuesday that it will suspend in-person events and won’t consider exemption requests until further notice.

In a Tuesday letter to the campus community, President Keith Whitfield and Executive Vice President/Provost Chris Heavey wrote: “Due to UNLV’s thoughtful and cautious approach this fall and your diligence in following guidelines, we will only need to make minor adjustments to what is currently in place.”

The move comes as coronavirus case rates are increasing in Clark County and statewide. On Sunday, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a three-week “statewide pause” that began Tuesday that includes reduced public and private gathering sizes, 25 percent occupancy rate for certain facilities — including gyms and libraries — and stricter mask usage requirements, but no additional business closures. The new gathering size restrictions, though, don’t apply to schools.

In addition to suspending in-person events, several UNLV facilities — libraries, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and computer labs — will be limited to 25 percent of total occupancy, Whitfield and Heavey wrote. “We estimate current usage is lower than or meets the new occupancy limit.”

The face mask policy also is being tightened. Whitfield and Heavey wrote that masks are mandatory both indoors and outdoors. “This includes wearing a face covering at all times unless actively drinking, and wearing a face covering in all shared spaces, even when individuals are more than six feet apart.”

Face masks now are required in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, including while exercising.

UNLV already is offering about 80 percent of classes remotely during fall semester and plans to stick with a similar percentage this spring. The university is planning to keep its current academic calendar in place, including Thanksgiving and spring breaks.

But earlier this month, UNLV officials asked faculty to shift from delivering in-person classes to remote instruction when possible. And the university will further reduce its business operations from Dec. 19 to Jan. 10 during winter break and some buildings will be closed.

The university — which has more than 30,000 students — has seen 443 coronavirus cases among students and employees since the pandemic began, although more than half were among people who weren’t on campus while infectious.

In their Tuesday letter, Whitfield and Heavey wrote: “As the Thanksgiving holiday break nears, we wanted to express our gratitude for all you have done to maintain a safe environment and reduce the rates of COVID-19 at UNLV. Each one of you has played a part in keeping each other safe and well, and your actions have made a significant difference during these challenging times.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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