Wash U Joins SLU, Maryville U. In Taking Classes Online As Coronavirus Precaution | St. Louis Public Radio

Wash U Joins SLU, Maryville U. In Taking Classes Online As Coronavirus Precaution

2 hours ago

Updated at 2:20 p.m., March 10, with comments from a St. Louis University administrator and information about preparations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

On Wednesday, Washington University became the third campus in metro St. Louis to tell students, faculty and staff to stay home after spring break. 

Wash U's announcement came one day after St. Louis University and Maryville University said they would suspend classes to help reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. None of the campuses has reported a case of the disease or any students, faculty or staff being exposed to it.

Wash U will extend its spring break for a week in order to prepare for online instruction, which will begin through online platforms starting March 23. A spokesman for SLU said the campus will use the week of March 16 to allow professors and staff to prepare for online instruction. 

SLU students are being advised to monitor their email and the university's social media channels for updates.

Maryville University is starting online instruction next week.

Washington University is the third university to announce it will use online platforms for instruction.
Credit James Ewing

The campus closures come in response to concerns about COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China. 

In a letter to students, faculty and staff, Wash U Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said:

"Beginning March 23, there will be no in-person courses taught in the classroom or any other setting until at least April 30, 2020. All classes, including those traditionally held in studios and laboratory settings, will be conducted online."

SLU officials on Tuesday said:

“University leadership has decided to suspend all in-person instruction and on-campus learning during the week of March 15. During this period, faculty will be working to develop a plan for how we might complete the term remotely, should a decision be made to do so.”

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Jessica Evenson, St. Louis University’s Vice President of Compliance and Ethics said, "We are on this."

“So like most universities, we have faculty who are already leveraging remote's or online learning technologies," Evenson said. "What we acknowledge is that some do not. So this week allows us to get them oriented to the technology, help them identify how pedagogically they want to move forward and deliver their learning. ”

Maryville also made its announcement Tuesday, saying:

“Maryville University is transitioning to a virtual learning format for two weeks beginning March 16 amid the national coronavirus epidemic. The university is using this week, spring break, to prepare for this transition. On Monday, March 16, all on-campus classes will resume their spring semester in a virtual format for the following two weeks during which the university will be assessing the evolving COVID-19 situation.”

Other campuses:

In a message to its campus community on Wednesday, the University of Missouri-St. Louis said:

"Though the university is operating under normal conditions at this time, our shared goal is to ensure the continuity of our academic mission in the event of a campus closure due to an emergency. To support this goal, the university is requiring all faculty to upload their syllabi and publish all of their courses in Canvas  by March 18 and to set up Zoom video conference accounts, if they have not done so already."

Harris-Stowe State University canceled its study abroad programs to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations. The university has not offered any further instructions to students, faculty or staff about online classes.

Lindenwood University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville are also on spring break. Both universities have posted information about the coronavirus online but have not announced plans for online instruction or other preventative measures.

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Follow Holly Edgell on Twitter @hollyedgell.

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