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A Message From Dean Barbara Wilson

Dear Students,

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you formally from the Dean’s Office, so I wanted to take this opportunity to touch bases with you at this time.  This email will be lengthy, as we have much to share.

First of all, I know that many of us are deeply impacted by the acts of the past week that have led to protests across the nation following the killing of George Floyd. Please know that the leaders at the College of Nursing (CON) believe that discrimination and injustice in any form have no place in our society or on the University of Utah Campus. As our Division Chair of Acute and Chronic Care for the CON, Dr. Marla DeJong recently noted, “As we prepare the next generation of nurses and gerontologists to care for patients and advocate for wellness, it is important that we intentionally create an equitable classroom or online learning environment that engages students in meaningful and relevant learning, and appreciate students’ diverse backgrounds, experiences, and learning goals.” 

For those of you that need access to additional resources and support at this difficult time, here are links that you might find helpful:

University’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity:

Student Resiliency Center – help is a text, email, or phone call away:

Also our own College of Nursing Program Managers / Academic Advisors in Student Services can help with advising and referrals as needed.  Your program managers are:

To that end, I want to let you know what we’re doing to prepare for your return to campus.  First, please know that one of our guiding principles for reopening our college this fall is your safety.  While none of us have ever experienced a pandemic such as COVID 19, we are well positioned as Utah’s Academic Medical Center to respond to this unusual and historic time in a thoughtful manner.  Although strategies are still ‘shifting’ as we find out more about both the prevalence and spread of COVID 19, here are our plans for your safe return:

  1.  All students who enter the College of Nursing in any open space or classroom will be required to wear a mask.  While wearing a mask may be inconvenient, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) note that face masks slow the spread of the virus and helps people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. As you most likely  know, COVID 19 is spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced anytime an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.  These droplets can land in the noses or mouths of those nearby; and studies on infection control report that these droplets usually travel around 6 feet.  While a cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.  Protect yourself and those around you – wear a mask. If you do not have a face mask, the State of Utah offers free face masks and will mail, upon request and free of charge, up to six masks to each Utah Mailing address.
  2. Because we know from research and the best available evidence that droplets travel around 6 feet, we will adhere to the 6 feet physical distancing in our building. Including all open spaces, the SIM center, and our classrooms.  Help us protect your well-being and that of your peers by adhering to these general public safety guidelines. There will be no exceptions. 
  3. Faculty from all programs and courses currently taught in person (face to face) are evaluating how we maintain appropriate physical distancing while still offering the premier nursing education that the University of Utah College of Nursing is known for.  Large classes greater than 36 students will no longer be able to meet in person in the CON for the foreseeable future. You’ll see approaches such as subsets of students meeting on campus in alternating weeks, greater focus on technology  and distance-accessible education, and other strategies.  The CON is preeminent in our ability to provide distance-accessible education, both in online (asynchronous) and interactive video conferencing (synchronous) formats – we have been providing distance-accessible education for nearly 20 years.  We are experts in on ground and distance-accessible education, and we are committed to offer you a world-class education.
  4. After an analysis our all of the classrooms in the College of Nursing, we know that the maximum number of students we can have in any classroom in our building is 36 (Room 2300, the large auditorium).  Rooms 2400 and 2600, our next-largest classrooms, can accommodate 30 students while maintaining the appropriate physical distancing. Know that as we ‘reopen’ in the fall, we will adhere to all physical distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC.
  5. This presents us with both challenges and opportunities to provide creative, innovative solutions to your educational experience.  You’ll find more opportunities to connect with your peers in virtual, interactive video conferencing settings. We know that meeting in person with your professors and peers is important, and so you will be on campus periodically throughout the semester as needed.
  6. Clinical Rotations:  For those of you in our programs that require clinical hours,  many of our hospital and community partners are once again allowing nursing students to return for clinical experiences in the fall.  As long as the University of Utah remains in an “ORANGE” status, students will be expected to wear surgical masks and eye protection in clinical settings with direct patient contact (these personal protective equipment, or PPE, will be provided by the clinical site).  Even if we move to “YELLOW” status, these same PPE standards apply.  We encourage you to take all precautions in the clinical setting; and your faculty will work with you to provide the appropriate training (e.g., donning and doffing PPE) prior to your clinical experiences.

We are excited to reconnect and hope that you are well.  Please reach out to your academic program advisor or specialty track director if you have other specific questions at this time.

Kind regards,
Barbara Wilson