by Tim Miller
Cedarville University President Dr. Thomas White announced Wednesday that the university will suspend all in-person classes through the next two weeks due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Classes will continue to meet Wednesday. The suspension of in-person class meetings begins Thursday and runs through March 27. Classes will be administered online beginning Monday.
Students have until Friday at 5 p.m. to move off campus for the break, Dr. White said. He said the decision was made after getting on a conference call with a group of doctors and Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine.
Dr. White seemed to make the decision reluctantly, although he said he trusted leadership. He said he felt DeWine’s advice stemmed from not wanting to overwhelm healthcare providers in the state.
While Dr. White made the announcement to students during their daily chapel session at 10 a.m., professors were briefed beginning Tuesday afternoon with the news and and are learning how to prepare to run classes online for the coming weeks. Dr. White assigned Gen. Loren Reno, a special advisor to Dr. White, to lead a team responsible for Cedarville’s planning efforts.
No plans were announced regarding if students would be reimbursed for meal plans and the like for any missed time from campus.
There are no known confirmed or tested cases of the coronavirus among Cedarville University students or employees at this time.
Cedarville already banned fans from attending the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament it is hosting today and tomorrow. The move can now likely be considered a precursor to the school’s newest announcement today. Indoor athletic events will now take place with limited spectators, while outdoor athletic events will continue as planned.
Multiple universities in Ohio have already announced they will be suspending in-class meetings and in favor of online instruction. Ohio State was the first to make the decision, announcing on Monday it was suspending classes at least through March 30, according to a university press release. Yesterday, Wright State, Ohio University, Akron University, Kent State and multiple others have followed Ohio State’s lead in some capacity.
The Ohio Department of Health said there are 15 people undergoing testing for the coronavirus as of March 10. Three poeple have tested positive for coronavirus in Ohio, all of whom live in Cuyahoga County, some 200 miles from Cedarville. In total, the ODH says there are 255 people under public health supervision related to the coronavirus.
Dr. White encouraged students not to be afraid, but to use their Christian faith to witness and encourage others during a near-crisis time in the nation.
“Can you imagine if you were unsaved and you heard about a virus that was going to rock the nation? You and I have the good news they need,” Dr. White said.
He also urged students, staff, and family of the university not to panic over the decision. As he explained his reasoning for the decision, it was clearly more so to obey leadership rather than because he felt there was paramount risk to those close to the university.
Dr. White said he anticipates students returning to campus on March 29 and that additional guidance will be sent via email by March 25. Students and employees continue to receive up-to-date information with instructions on how to approach the break, both educationally and otherwise. The university has also launched a webpage devoted solely to university-specific coronavirus updates.
This is a developing story and more information will be included in this story as it becomes available.
Tim Miller is a senior Marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.
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