WISE, Va. (WJHL)- Officials with UVA-Wise announced Wednesday that they would offer classes online for possibly the rest of the semester, “In response to the growing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”
In an e-mail Wednesday, school officials said that faculty will be given a week to prepare courses online, and will need to switch to online instruction by March 23.
That e-mail also said, “The College is also cancelling non-essential travel for employees and students, and gatherings or events with 100 or more people will also be cancelled or postponed.”
UVA-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry said in part, “We feel we are taking the right action to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and our community.”‘
UVA-Wise officials will revisit the issue of whether to stay with online courses on April 5.
Below is the letter issued to those on campus Wednesday:
Dear Campus Community,
I want to share an update on our response to the COVID-19 virus and how we plan to handle operations for the rest of the spring semester. It was a difficult decision but we will be moving our classes online.
We will not have classes on campus for the foreseeable future, but we will review the situation on April 5 and possibly at later times during the semester.
We will start online instruction on March 23.
Students who are away on spring break should remain at home or return to home if they have been away. Some international students and others with extenuating circumstances may return to residence halls, and we will release more information to those students soon.
In addition, events on campus with more than 100 people will be postponed, cancelled, or offered electronically.
As the virus spreads in Virginia and beyond, we feel it is important to take these steps. While we do not have a confirmed case on campus or Wise, we hope that taking these measures will prevent the virus from spreading. We are following University of Virginia guidelines and share many of the same concerns that President Jim Ryan has already expressed and shared with the University and the public. As President Ryan explained in his message, health experts have said the time is now to take steps to prevent the virus spread.
Our buildings at UVA Wise will remain open and so will our UVA Student and Employee Health Clinic. We are cancelling all travel to conferences for both students and employees, and we are postponing several planned events in an attempt to keep the COVID-19 virus from spreading. Non-essential travel for work will be cancelled. Details will be forthcoming as decisions are evaluated. At this time, these restrictions do not apply to athletic events or events at Prior Center, but those decisions will be re-evaluated often.
The decision to move to online instruction was not an easy one. We will provide faculty with help they may need to get their courses ready for virtual instruction. Some of our faculty who already offer online learning may mentor those who are just branching out with virtual learning. Full time students, faculty, and staff were provided iPads last fall. The iPads offer several tools to help online learning continue. Rachel Hulme, the senior specialist with Apple Professional Learning, will work with faculty next week to explore creative ways to make virtual teaching easier for faculty who are new to online classes. Faculty will be briefed in more detail on this plan soon.
For the time being, staff should continue reporting to work as usual and take the recommended steps to prevent illness. Staff with questions or concerns should speak with their supervisors. We ask that staff who are feeling sick to please remain at home.
In the meantime, the CDC, Virginia Department of Health, UVA, UVA Health, and others offer guidance on ways to deal with COVID-19, including valuable tips to keep everyone as safe as possible. You will find links to information on this website to keep everyone up to date on the changing situation. We realize you will have questions about our response and about COVID-19. We are working on a website to provide updated information, and it should go live later today.
I urge the campus community to follow the guidelines and continue to work and study as Virginia deals with the events surrounding the COVID-19 situation. Please remain calm, practice the CDC and VDH guidelines, and continue to make all of us proud of UVA Wise, our students, faculty and staff.
Donna P. Henry