Due to the nationwide outbreak of coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19, NKU announced that spring break will be extended through Saturday, March 21, and a majority of instruction will transition to online, according to a campus-wide email from President Ashish Vaidya.
Beginning March 23, NKU will shift to alternative instruction, moving face-to-face classes to online delivery. Vaidya said that students should watch for emails with detail about the transition to the online format and adjustments to clinicals, labs or other necessary requirements for course completion.
NKU will still continue normal university operations. All residence halls, dining halls and campus buildings will remain open. However, all non-essential university-sponsored events with more than 150 attendees will be canceled through the end of the semester. Other events will be reviewed on an individual basis.
According to the email, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended through the end of the semester, and all travelers from Level 3 countries will be required to self isolate for 14 days after arrival in the United States before returning to campus. Domestic travel will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
At this time, there are zero confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region, and at NKU. Finals Week and Spring Commencement will remain as scheduled but will be monitored going forward. Regular updates will be provided via email and on NKU’s Coronavirus Preparedness website.
The news came after Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley declared a state of emergency to help prepare the city against the spread of COVID-19, and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s suggestion to limit time in public spaces, such as schools, nursing homes, prisons and church services.
Coronavirus in Kentucky, nationwide
There are currently eight cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, according to Beshear. There are five cases in Harrison County, two in Fayette County and one in Jefferson County.
This morning, Beshear said all Kentuckians should avoid crowds and large gatherings—including church services—in an effort to prevent community spread of COVID-19.
Following an announcement of a prayer breakfast cancelation, Beshear said, “Faith is very important to me, but the life and health of our people is more—just as—important.”
On Wednesday, the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, noting that there were 120,000 cases worldwide. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control reports more than 900 cases and 29 deaths from the virus—though several sources have reported that there are likely more as the U.S. is lacking in its response to the virus. Only 4,384 people nationwide have been tested for the virus as of Monday.
” Coronavirus is a growing concern, and Kentucky is under a state of emergency,” Vaidya said. “As a regional leader, we must do our part to ensure we are following the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations for social distancing to reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Other university closures
NKU’s announcement comes just one day after Miami University, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and Ohio University announced they would begin transitioning to online classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Ohio State University announced on Monday it would also suspend in-person classes.
Tuesday, Berea College announced it will cease instructional activities by the end of day on March 13. Faculty are urged to give immediate consideration on how their courses can be brought to closure in that time.
In its release, the college said, “Because most students will have left campus and not all will have internet access, instruction should not continue, although assignments for students to complete and submit can be part of the plan and electronic communications may continue.”
The University of Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that classes will move to online instruction or other alternatives from March 23 through April 3, which follows its spring break. The University is asking students who are traveling domestically or internationally during spring break to fill out a travel form to “support returning travelers and safeguard the community as much as possible.”
The University of Louisville is extending its spring break through March 17, with classes being delivered remotely from March 18 through April 5. Additionally, international travel and nonessential domestic business travel are suspended indefinitely. Its campus will remain open and on-campus events will continue but are under review.
Western Kentucky University is also extending its spring break through March 22 to allow faculty time to prepare for a change in “delivery of instruction.” Students are encouraged to remain at home, but residence halls will remain open for those who need to return to campus. On March 23, WKU will switch to an alternate delivery format through April 5.
Bellarmine University is suspending on-campus classes beginning March 12 with online classes continuing as usual. On March 18, classes will resume via temporary online delivery modes, and on April 1 on-campus classes are projected to resume.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department has these recommendations if you are sick:
Keep in mind this is a virus and treat the illness as you would with any other virus, like the flu. If you have runny nose, cough, fever or other common respiratory infection symptoms, take Tylenol- or Motrin-like products and stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours.
If you think you need medical care, call your healthcare provider for their instruction before leaving home.
NKU’s Health Services has set up a telephone triage for those who are sick and need a consultation. Please call 859-572-5650.
Visit an emergency department if you believe you have an emergency. The Kentucky Health Department recommends people only go to the emergency room for an illness that would have taken you to the hospital BEFORE COVID-19.
All other questions about COVID-19 can be directed to the Kentucky Department of Health hotline at 1-800-722-5725.
The University recommends following these precautions to help prevent the spread of viruses:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:
Before, during and after you prepare food,
Before you eat and after you use the bathroom,
After handling cash,
More frequently when someone in your home is sick.
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Frequently clean doorknobs, light switches, phones and other items commonly touched with disinfectant wipes.
Avoid contact with people who are obviously sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then discard it in the trash.
With spring-break travel this week, stay up-to-date with the latest travel information from the CDC.
This is a developing story and will be updated.