BYU community adjusts to COVID-19 precautions

A lone student rides a bike outside of the Harold B. Lee Library on March 16, the Monday after BYU announced all classes are moving online. (Preston Crawley)

BYU is adjusting to a new schedule after announcing it would be moving to remote instruction starting March 18 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. All sporting events, performances, recitals and activities have been canceled for the rest of the semester.

The university plans to use the video conferencing app Zoom to continue with classes according to a campus-wide email sent on March 16. “If you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone for receiving video, you can use the computers at the library or OIT has a limited number of computers available for checkout,” the email reads.

On-campus resources are also adjusting after the announcement. The Research and Writing Center staff will continue meeting with students over the internet starting March 18. The library and BYU Store will remain and the testing center will close after all tests started on or before March 12 have been administered.

According to the email sent on March 16, the Cougareat, Cannon Center, The Wall, Jamba Juice, Legends Grille and all creamery locations will remain open, but all other dining locations will be closed.

Students can also park in any Y or G lots without a paid parking pass, but A lots and specialty stalls will still be monitored as normal. University gyms will also be closed. Some academic buildings on campus will also require key card access to enter.

BYU will accommodate students with on-campus jobs who need to continue working. Supervisors are encouraged to determine whether any of their employees can work from home and to ensure that assigned work is productive, even if that means considering alternative assignments, such as creation of professional development materials, research projects and deep cleaning and organizing work areas and information.

“Working with Student Employment and networking with colleagues, we should try to find alternative employment opportunities for student employees if productive work is no longer available in our own units,” reads a press release from BYU Human Resources released March 16. “Please be wise and creative to accomplish tasks that will make BYU better when this is behind us.”

Working-hour limitations for student employees will continue to be enforced.

Some performing arts classes are being canceled, and other private lessons will continue via video chat.

After all performances at BYU were canceled for the rest of the semester, students in performing groups were left wondering what would happen with the class portions of their bands and choirs. Men’s Chorus member Andrew Reed said it was announced in class on Thursday that the class would not be transitioning to meet online or continuing at all.

“It’s all just stopped since we can’t perform any concerts or anything,” Reed said. “There’s not really a reason for us to keep rehearsing.”

This semester was Men’s Chorus director Rosalind Hall’s last year at BYU after over 20 years with the university. Reed said this made canceling their upcoming concerts and classes especially sad.

“In class we had a personal concert of all the songs we would have sung just for Sister Hall,” Reed said. “It was a tender memory we will all keep forever.”

Students are also worried about access to instruments because many use school-owned instruments to practice. Music education major Carsten House is taking String Workshop, where students learn how to play string instruments. House’s professor said they would continue lessons over a video call; however, all the instruments are on campus, so House said he isn’t sure how he will be able to practice.

“I may have to withdraw from the class. I don’t know yet,” House said. “I don’t know if I’ll still be able to keep my academic scholarship because that would drop me below the scholarship numbers.”

House said he plans on trying to work something out with his professor so he doesn’t have to withdraw.

Amy Gabbitas, manager of BYU’s instrument office, said they are currently allowing music majors access to instruments. Students can either continue coming to the Harris Fine Arts Center to practice or fill out an off-campus use agreement.

“It’s changing as we find out what’s going on with the building,” Gabbitas said. “As long as the building stays open, they can come to the building to practice. If the building closes, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”

Gabbitas said the major concern is the larger instruments like the percussion instruments because they cannot leave the building, but she’s sure the office will figure something out for these students if the building does close.

Senior vocal performance student Josie Larsen was scheduled to perform her senior recital on Saturday, March 14, but it was canceled along with all other on-campus performances. Vocal performance majors and other performance majors are required to perform a junior and senior recital before graduating.

“It is a cumulation of, honestly, not even just the four years that I’ve been in my undergrad, but also since the time I started voice lessons when I was 11,” Larsen said. “This is what we look forward to our entire undergrad.”

Larsen’s parents had booked flights from Seattle to see her perform, but they canceled the flights when Larsen learned she would no longer be performing her senior recital. “I hope that whenever I do get to do it, that they’ll be able to come visit or something, so they can still see it because they’ve been part of this whole process my whole life,” she said.

Larsen’s voice teacher informed her that she had two options to complete the required recital: hold the recital on-campus with only close friends and family or record the performance from a remote location.

Larsen said she rescheduled her recital for Saturday, March 21 in the Madsen Recital Hall, but on Monday, March 16 she received another email update saying all concerts and recitals are completely canceled for the remainder of the semester.

“It’s out of my control, and it’s no one’s fault,” Larsen said. “It’s just the circumstances we’re in.”

This is a developing story and updates will be made as more information becomes available.

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