Campus as it appears on August 24. This is the first time students have been on campus en masse since its closure in March.

Isaac Hoops/The Nevada Sagebrush
Campus as it appears on August 24. This is the first time students have been on campus en masse since its closure in March.

Editor’s Note: When the coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, things happened—and they happened quickly. To display how quickly things changed, The Nevada Sagebrush compiled a timeline of events relating to the coronavirus and how they impacted the University of Nevada, Reno.

February 28: USAC cancels Italy, Korea study abroad programs

The University Studies Abroad Consortium announced on Friday, February 28 that all study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea would be cancelled and students studying abroad there were to return home as cases rose in the countries. The program would be officially over by March 8.

“The health and safety of our students is our top priority so during periods where the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control travel advisory levels increase to a 3 or higher, USAC’s policy is to suspend the program operations until those levels decrease.”

March 11: UNR, UNLV begin limiting students admitted into sports events

In a joint-statement uploaded to the Nevada Athletics website from Nevada and UNLV Athletic Departments, sporting events at both universities were to be held without fans in attendance. 

March 11: NSHE, UNR asks courses to prepare for online learning after spring break

Two days ahead of spring break, the Nevada System of Higher Education and the University of Nevada, Reno, asked faculty members to prepare classes for online learning after the break, but did not yet announce a campus closure.

“We are requesting that faculty have an online delivery instructional plan for all classes (e.g. lectures, labs, performance, recitation, arts, etc.) finalized no later than March 30,” the email to faculty read. “These plans would be used in the event the University chooses to shift to alternate operations and directs students to complete their spring semester work without further in-person instruction.”

March 12: UNR, UNLV announce transition to remote instruction after spring break

Just a day after UNR and NSHE said they would not be transitioning to remote learning, UNR announced that as of Monday, March 23, classes will pick up remotely after spring break.

Earlier that day, UNLV also announced they would be moving to remote instruction after spring break.

March 12: MWC suspends spring sports

The Mountain West Conference, of which Nevada is a part of, suspended spring sports indefinitely due to the pandemic.

“Given the current status of COVID-19, the Mountain West Board of Directors has suspended all spring sport competitions indefinitely.  The health and well-being of student-athletes, as well as the campus and general communities, is of utmost priority,” the statement read.

March 14: USAC closes study abroad programs worldwide

In an announcement on Saturday, March 14, USAC announced all programs would be cancelled worldwide effective immediately. 

Due to the escalation of travel restrictions and potential for border closures in response to the U.S. Department of State Level 3 warning, we have made the difficult decision to close all USAC programs worldwide effective immediately.”

March 16: NSHE Postpones UNR, UNLV Presidential Search

On the Monday of spring break, the Nevada System of High Education postponed its nationwide search to fill the position of president at both the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Las Vegas. The search was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, according to NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly. The search for a new chancellor was also postponed. 

March 16: Mayor Schieve closes non-essential businesses

City of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve closed all non-essential business during a news conference on March 16 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Closed businesses included casinos, bars, restaurants and gyms. 

March 18: UNR ceases all non-essential campus operations 

UNR President Marc Johnson announced in an email to the campus community the closure of all non-essential operations on campus. Students living in the residence halls were asked to leave the dorms as soon as possible.

“Access to campus will be available to faculty, staff and students attending to critical functions of the University who have their own building keys or cards,” the email from Johnson read. 

March 19: Residential Life announces closure of residential halls

UNR’s Department of Housing and Residential Life announced that students would be given six days to move out of the residences halls. The check-out times spanned from Friday, March 20 to Monday, March 25. Students that were unable to move out had the option to request to stay. The dorms were closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

In the email, students were told that they would receive partial refunds for meal plans, but would not be refunded any amount for their housing contracts. The university later provided partial refunds for those with housing contracts after students started an online petition pushing back against the university’s original refusal to provide refunds. 

March 20: UNR student tests positive for COVID-19

UNR announced on March 20 that an off-campus student had tested positive for COVID-19. The student had returned from studying abroad. 

March 24: UNR announces virtual commencement plans

In a press release, UNR announced that it would be holding a virtual commencement ceremony for Spring 2020.

Additionally, the university announced that classes would be remote for the remainder of the semester. 

March 27: UNR announces Spring 2020 graduates allowed to walk in Fall 2020, Spring 2021 ceremonies

After an online petition entitled “Our spring graduation commencement postponed instead of online” received over 16,000 signatures in six days, the university announced it would allow Spring 2020 graduates to walk in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 ceremonies. 

March 31: UNR allows students to change grades to satisfactory and unsatisfactory 

The university announced in an email on March 31 that it would allow students to change their final grades for the Spring 2020 semester to a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Undergraduate students were able to request changing their grad to satisfactory if they received a D- or better. Graduate students could request a satisfactory grade if they received a B- or better.

Students were allowed to petition changes to their grades from May 6 to May 26.

April 2: UNR announced remote summer instruction

NSHE Chancellor Reilly directed NSHE institutions to continue remote instruction for summer classes until June 30.

April 10: NSHE approves contract extension for Johnson

The Nevada System of Higher Education announced on April 10 that it would be extending President Marc Johnson’s contract until December 2020 due to the suspension of the presidential search in March. 

The search for UNR and UNLV presidents will continue in September, with a president chosen for UNR by September 17. 

April 10: Board of Regents announce budget reduction proposal

In response to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s request for budget reduction proposals from all state agencies, the Board of Regents approved a proposal including budgets with 4% cut in fiscal year 2020 and 6%, 10% and 14% reductions in fiscal year 2021. 

Included in the proposals was a per-credit surcharge that would see UNR and UNLV students paying $6 more per credit, or a 2.5 percent increase.

April 29: UNR moves summer orientations online

UNR announced on April 29 that all new student orientations would be held online due to COVID-19 concerns and stay-at-home orders.

May 4: NSHE announces Fall ‘20 reopening 

NSHE announced plans to resume in-person classes for the Fall 2020 semester. 

“Several options are on the table, including a hybrid approach with a mix of remote and in-person instruction. For instance, a science class might be designed to include online lectures and in- person lab sessions that follow established social distancing measures. Further safety measures could include reducing class sizes, using masks, and increased testing availability,” said Reilly in the announcement. 

May 21: UNR cancels NevadaFIT

UNR announced the cancellation of all NevadaFit programs on May 21. According to the NevadaFit website, the program brings over 4,000 students to campus, including student mentors. 

Earlier in the month, UNR moved summer orientation programs online.

July 16: UNR announces fall 2020 HyFlex reopening plan

On July 16, UNR announced plans for reopening campus in a hybrid model. The document included plans for specific buildings, class instruction and campus operations. 

The News Desk can be reached at or on Twitter at @NevadaSagebrush.