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Ohio Valley Colleges And Universities Respond To Coronavirus Threat

College administrators around the region are weighing their options as the coronavirus makes the lectures, events and dormitories of campus life potential means of transmission of the highly infectious virus. Several schools are opting for distance learning and suspending in-person classes. The Ohio Valley ReSource and its partner stations will update this story as more information about area colleges and universities becomes available.


Administrators at Berea College in Kentucky opted to cease instructional activities at the end of the week. In a statement on the school’s website President Lyle Roelofs said that after careful analysis the school has concluded “that it will not be possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus.” The University of Louisville announced Wednesday it is extending spring break through March 17. Starting Wednesday, March 18, through April 5, all classes will be delivered remotely. The University of Kentucky announced Wednesday that it will remain open, but instruction will continue through online or other alternatives from March 23 through April 3. Bellarmine University announced Wednesday that face-to-face classes and activities are suspended from Thursday, March 12, until Wednesday, March 18, when courses will resume online or electronically. The administration anticipates students returning to classrooms on April 1, but that is subject to change. Western Kentucky University announced Wednesday it will extend spring break through March 22. Beginning March 23, WKU will transition away from face-to-face classrooms through April 5.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency Monday after confirming three cases of the virus in Cuyahoga County. DeWine recommended all Ohio universities suspend in-person classes and move to online instruction. Late Tuesday Ohio University announced it is suspending in-person instruction on all campuses and locations until at least March 30. President Duane Nellis said Tuesday in an email that the university is moving to virtual instruction, effective immediately. Ohio U. students are on spring break and Nellis said that students who traveled home over spring break are encouraged to stay at home, and those who were traveling should not return to campus. Nellis said in his email that university officials understand “the disruptive nature of these measures but believe it is essential to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while continuing to fulfill our educational mission.” Elsewhere in Ohio, other colleges and universities were taking similar measures Tuesday. The Ohio State University announced that it will suspend face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, other classroom settings and move to virtual instruction through at least Monday, March 30. Kent State University announced“we will cease face-to-face classes through April 12. Remote instruction will begin March 16.” Xavier University announced that beginning Monday March 16 it will move to a remote learning format for all courses. The University of Cincinnati will suspend face-to-face instruction and move to remote instruction at the end of the week. Face-to-face instruction will resume Monday, April 13, 2020. Miami University of Ohio announced that beginning March 11 its campuses are suspending all face-to-face instruction. Courses will be delivered by remote instruction through at least April 12.

West Virginia

Tuesday night West Virginia University President Gordon Gee announced that the school will suspend classes the week of March 23-27, following spring break. Beginning Monday, March 30, classes will be delivered remotely. “The heart of the university experience is the exchange of ideas that occur in our classrooms and on our campuses every day,” Gee said in a statement. “We are disrupting this process only in an effort to keep our WVU community safe.” On Wednesday Marshall University announced a plan to shift to distance learning. Marshall will suspend in-person classes from March 16 – 20. After the school’s spring break the following week all class instruction will be delivered some manner other than face-to-face. Michelle Rotuno-Johnson and Aaron Payne at ReSource member station WOUB contributed to this report.

Jeff Young is managing editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource, a journalism collaboration led by Louisville Public Media.

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