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story.lead_photo.caption Lincoln University's recruitment office is reflected in the window of the Scruggs University Center, where hundreds of textbooks sit in stacks. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.
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Lincoln University in Jefferson City has closed its campus starting today, and the university's curators voted unanimously Tuesday to give Lincoln's president emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

LU announced Tuesday afternoon the university would close to all but essential employees through April 12.

President Jerald Jones Woolfolk said the university's vice presidents had already identified which staff are considered essential, who could be notified to come in as needed.

A Lincoln news release said essential employees include those working in residential life, facilities, the campus library and at the Lincoln University Police Department.

All other employees are to work remotely, and protocols and policies on remote work were being developed. The Board of Curators saw draft forms of those documents but did not vote on them.

The Board did vote to approve temporary expanded authority for Woolfolk, giving her the authority as university president to "place into immediate effect any temporary lawful policies, procedures or other measures which in her judgment are necessary or appropriate to meet the public health emergency associated with the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease, including but not limited to safeguarding persons and property and maintaining university activities as appropriate," according to the approved document.

Temporary policies, procedures or other measures taken by Woolfolk may remain in effect "until such time identified by the president or the Board of Curators, or until such time as the Board of Curators withdraws the authority granted in this rule or otherwise directs."

Woolfolk also has to keep the Board of Curators advised of her actions.

She said the university has to be able to act "very quickly" on state government guidelines in the current crisis.

"I think it will go a long way in helping the university," Curator President Frank Logan Sr. said of the approved framework.

LU's legal counsel, Jacqueline Shipma, said the approved measure is similar to steps the University of Missouri has taken with its president.

As for students during the university's closure, all courses are being offered online or through other alternative means.

Woolfolk said professors know who signs into courses, so the university could keep track of how many students are participating.

Woolfolk also said 68 students had been given permission to stay on campus.

Lincoln had previously announced it expects all on-campus students who can move out by Sunday to do so.

Students permitted to stay for the remainder of the semester will reside in Anthony Hall.

In addition to having access to food, Inman E. Page Library will also be open — only to students — from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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