NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – After Oklahoma health officials announced the second presumptive case of novel coronavirus in the state, authorities at a local university are taking extreme steps to make sure students are not exposed to the virus on campus.
On Thursday, officials with the University of Oklahoma confirmed to KFOR that the school will go ‘all digital’ for two weeks once students return from spring break. As a result, students who usually attend classes in-person will now be completing two weeks of their courses online.
“As a precautionary and protective measure, the University is transitioning all in-person classes on the Norman campus to an online learning environment for the two-week period following Spring Break, beginning Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3. To be clear, there are currently no cases of COVID-19 at OU. The unambiguous guidance from our public health experts is that this important measure is necessary to protect the health of our community,” the notice read.
Officials say that students who are leaving campus for spring break should take all of their instructional materials to prepare for ‘distance learning.’
All university-releated events scheduled to occur between March 14 and April 5 are suspended with the possible exception of sporting events, which may be subject to spectator restrictions.
At this point, the university says in-person instruction is planned to continue uninterrupted on both the OU-Tulsa and OUHSC campuses.
“My sincere appreciation goes to each of you for the resolve you’ve shown in the face of such uncertainty. We recognize that this is a significant adjustment for faculty and students, and we are committed to providing the necessary support to help facilitate this effort. Thank you all for taking this matter seriously, and for your commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our community,” OU Interim President Joseph Harroz, Jr. said.
It’s a move that is occurring at college campuses across the country.
The University of Central Oklahoma announced that it was extending spring break by one week in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Oklahoma City University officials announced that all classes will be online for at least two weeks once students return from spring break.
Last week, the University of Washington announced that it was canceling all in-person classes as the Seattle area deals with a growing number of COVID-19 cases.
Earlier this month, OU closed its study abroad programs in Italy after the CDC declared it a Level 3 area and discouraged all nonessential travel.
Officials say all employees and students returning to the United States from China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea must self-isolate for 14 days and remain away from university campuses and events. The self-isolation period begins on the day they arrive back to the U.S. or their last contact with an individual arriving in the U.S from or through any of the impacted countries, whichever is longer.
Before students and employees can come back to campus, they must complete a telephone medical screening call, the 14-day isolation period, and a follow-up telephone medical screening through Student/Employee Health.
For the first time in 11 years, the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic as the virus continues to spread across the globe.
So far, the United States has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, and at least 33 people have died.
Officials expect that number to rise significantly due to a major backlog in testing.