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BREAKING: Wright State to move all classes online amid coronavirus fears

Wright State University| Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian


UPDATED: 5:15 PM:

At 5 p.m. today, WSU President Sue Edwards announced moving all in-person courses to online as of March 16.

“I know disruptions and contingency planning can be difficult and stressful. I sincerely appreciate your efforts and cooperation to keep our students, employees, and communities safe as we take these measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19,” according to the mass communication sent by President Sue Edwards.

All official university events, receptions, gatherings, and student activities are suspended until further notice.

Any face-to-face classes scheduled to meet for the rest of this week are suspended as of midnight tonight, March 10. 

Faculty members are encouraged to use the rest of this week to prepare their courses for remote learning starting Monday, March 16.

Both the Dayton Campus and Lake Campus operations and administration remain open.

University facilities remain open, therefore researchers may continue working in respective laboratories.

All employees including student workers should coordinate with supervisors about the expectations regarding work at this time.

Athletic events will defer to NCAA and Horizon League guidance.

On-campus food services and residential housing on the Dayton Campus and Lake Campus, as well as libraries and computer labs will remain open, according to the email release.

With the confirmation of three cases of Coronavirus in Cuyahoga County in northeast Ohio, WSU is taking steps to protect the health of the community.

No cases have been confirmed at WSU’s Dayton or Lake campuses.


International outbreak

Three cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in the state of Ohio as of March 9. An additional five cases are under investigation.

Gov. Mike Dewine has declared a state of emergency following the news of the outbreak reaching the state. 

There are current restrictions against travel to Iran and China due to a level three travel warning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At this time, entry from these countries to the U.S. are prohibited.

Additionally, travelers have been advised against going to Italy and South Korea from the U.S due to a level three warning.

According to Dr. Douglas Leaman, Wright State University interim provost, these restrictions  apply to all WSU students, faculty and staff on study abroad and individual trips.

 “I encourage everyone to employ these preventive practices that will help curtail the spread of all respiratory viruses,” said Leaman in the communication letter.

Leaman listed ways to prevent the spread:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash your hands if visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Wright State Facilities, Hospitality Services and residence halls worked throughout spring break to clean surfaces that receive frequent contact in preparation for the return of students.

The campus concerns

WSU has created their own webpage regarding information of the coronavirus threat, which includes the university’s response and other relevant details.

This source will be updated frequently to ensure that the community stays up to date. 

The University Center for International Education will make a determination by March 20 on which international programs may be canceled for the summer term, according to letter from Leaman. 

The university is currently restricting university-sponsored travel to any countries that are under a CDC Threat Level 3 travel warning.

As of today, that includes travel to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Restrictions apply to all faculty, staff and students on individual trips and study abroad programs for spring semester.

Decisions will be based on CDC and U.S. Department of State information, as well as consensus among institutions with programs in affected areas. 

According to Leaman, the university is recommending that students, faculty, and staff pay close attention to any incoming alerts from the U.S. Department of State as well as the CDC.

“The safety of our university community remains our primary concern, and we have plans in place to address emergencies, including those resulting from infectious disease,” said Leaman. “I want to assure you that a Wright State University working group is monitoring the situation daily and meeting regularly to lead our efforts to prepare for coronavirus.”

The webpage for students, staff and faculty found at http://www.wright.edu/coronavirus.

According to Leaman, the working group includes: 

  • Emergency Management
  • Wright State Physicians
  • International Affairs
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Academic Affairs
  • Facilities

Faculty President, Laura Luehrmann released a Faculty-Line newsletter addressing faculty about the developing threat of the virus. Luehrmann expressed that she has been in contact with both Leaman and Faculty Senate Vice President, Brian Boyd in response to the threat

Luehrmann poses the point that instructors should exercise flexibility in absences due to the virus and students’ ability to travel to a doctor, given the spread of the virus. She stresses that anyone feeling ill should stay home and limit social interaction during this time. 

Potential precautions

Luehrmann identifies that the faculty leadership is working closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in preparation for potentially moving courses to an online format.

“If you are new to Pilot, please consider taking some time now to familiarize yourself with logging and and navigating through the learning management system,” said Luehrmann. 

It is also suggested that professors that are familiar with Pilot to prepare to make materials accessible so classes can continue as scheduled in the remote format. 

There is no confirmation how this will affect university events and activities.

Globally festivals, concerts, events, and ceremonies are all being cancelled.

Stay up to date with this “Is it Cancelled Yet?” page.

What other schools are doing

Several universities have made the decision to adjust classes due to the outbreak. 

This includes Ohio State University. OSU has halted in person instruction through the month of March, effective immediately. The decision came following the news of the three cases confirmed in Ohio. 

According to OSU’s web page containing current information on the virus, students are encouraged to return to their permanent places of residence and follow precautions such as hygiene and health methods.

“We are evaluating classroom experiences such as laboratory and performance classes, and the university will provide specific guidance this week. We will reevaluate these guidelines on an ongoing basis and share updates or modifications as more information becomes available,” the statement reads.

The University of Dayton is evaluating athletics travel on case-by-case basis.

At this time, WSU is following instruction of local, state and national health agencies.