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Universities suspend in-person classes

Universities around the region are suspending in-person classes and making a move to online instruction, due to precautions regarding the coronavirus.

Both Ohio University, including its Lawrence County campuses, and Marshall University announced plans for coming weeks, though officials at both schools said there are no suspected cases reported and it is intended as a precaution and to mitigate a possible spread.

Ohio University announced on Tuesday that it is suspending in-person instruction on all campuses and locations through at least Monday, March 30.

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said the campuses would be moving toward a virtual instruction environment during the period, which takes place immediately.

“Ohio University has been vigilantly monitoring the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), and we have been providing regular updates to help keep our entire university community safe throughout this rapidly evolving situation,” Nellis said in a statement. “For the past several weeks, I have been working closely with university leaders and subject matter experts to coordinate OHIO’s preparation and response.”

Nellis said that no cases of coronavirus have been reported at any of the school’s campuses or locations and school officials continue to believe the risk of transmission on campuses is low at this time.

“However, as this outbreak is becoming more widespread in the United States — including three cases in the State of Ohio, which has declared a state of emergency — Ohio University is taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our communities and the public at large,” Nellis said. “To that end, Ohio University is following the guidance of state and local Departments of Public Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Nellis said all students who traveled home over spring break are being encouraged to stay at home, and added that those who were traveling over the break were being asked not to return to campus during the suspension.

He said those who live in residence halls on campuses are not to return, unless they request and receive prior authorization from the school’s housing officials. Students who need to access residence halls to retrieve essential items are asked to contact housing officials on their campuses.

Nellis also said university-sponsored travel is suspended during the period and that all planned events in the timeframe, other than athletic events, may be postponed or moved to alternate formats.

University officials said students will be contacted by instructors via email on or before Monday to inform them of individual course plans. If a student has not heard from their instructor by Wednesday, March 18, they are asked to contact the campus representative listed below for assistance.

The school said designated spaces are available on all campuses/centers to access computers and Wi-Fi.

Clinicals, field placements, student teaching, internships, and practicums at off-site locations will continue, but subject to change as the situation evolves.

On Wednesday, Marshall University president Jerome Gilbert said the school will be suspending classes for next week, March 16-20, so faculty members could prepare for altered course delivery. This suspension will be followed by the school’s scheduled spring break from March 23-27.

When classes resume on March 30, university officials said all class instruction will delivered “non face-to-face,” via online, email and other options, varying upon the course.

Marshall has set up an email at COVID19@marshall.edu for students or employees who have questions about university procedures related to the virus or these changes to the school’s calendar.

Marshall said in the announcement that students will receive instructions from their professors about how to access information remotely for course content. It is anticipated Marshall will return to normal operations on April 13 or when school officials determine it is safe. Faculty and students are advised to monitor email for updates.