Ferrum Moves Classes Online as Coronavirus Spreads in Virginia | By Mary Stoudt
A novel coronavirus has recently spreaded around the world since its first case was identified in Wuhan, China in January, when the nation was about to celebrate its lunar New Year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease that it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019, which abbreviates to COVID-19.
Upon its outbreak in China, many precautions were soon made by the World Health Organization and other institutes.
According to the CDC, “On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ (PHEIC). On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, WHO publicly characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.”
Following this information and its increasing prevalence in the United States, all colleges and all K-12 public schools are under a state-mandated closure. Ferrum College also responded to this pandemic quickly, by making the decision to switch to online learning on March 13, 2020.
In an email sent by Ferrum President Dr. David Johns, he said, “We have been monitoring carefully the unfolding COVID-19 situation and its impact. As always, the health and safety of our students and employees is our top priority.”
Also in this announcement, Johns notified Ferrum students of the transition from
face-to-face learning to online learning, which began on March 18. As of now, in-person classes are expected to resume at Ferrum on April 6.
In the same email, students were also informed that they would be allowed to stay on campus if they chose to; however, students who left campus would not be permitted back until face to face classes start again. Additionally, the dining hall will remain open to serve students who stay on campus.
Junior Dakota Fletcher currently chose to stay on campus during this time. “I want to enjoy the spring season on campus even with all the panics going on. I also wanted to take advantage of being able to work on campus during this time,” said Fletcher.
In the email sent by Johns, students were also updated about the suspension of different activities. “Suspension of all College sponsored or supported travel that is non-essential to the operations of the College. Suspension of any non-essential gatherings or events. Please use your best judgment when considering rescheduling, conducting remotely, or canceling the gathering/event. Suspension of athletic events and travel for all teams (competition and practice) beginning Monday, March 16.”
Junior Mikayla Moreno who is Student Government President and involved with her sorority Delta Phi Epsilon, as well as numerous other clubs shared her thoughts about the protective measure of social distancing. “Having to cancel classes for a few days and then proceed with online classes is definitely not what anyone expected to happen. It sucks not being able to have all of the scheduled events, intramurals, the end of the greek process, the SGA
elections, and such. But, I know that Dr. Johns and his team are doing what is best for everyone,” said Moreno.
In addition to the information provided by Johns, Dean of Students Nicole Lenez sent out an email to students regarding information about staying on campus as well as for those who chose to leave campus during the online learning period. Lenez stressed a “social distancing” policy that no gatherings on campus are allowed and no exceptions would be made; if any student is caught violating the rules during this time, they will be asked to leave campus immediately. As of March 22, two students were asked to leave campus and to go back home, due to the violation of this policy.
Dr. Sandra Via, Director of the School of Graduate and Online Education Studies, also sent out an email to students through the Office of the Provost in regard to online learning.
Via said, “We know that this is a stressful time for you, and that this transition is not easy. Again, you are our main priority and we want to ensure that you are successful in your courses.” In a joint effort, Dr. Via and every Ferrum faculty have provided a stream of guidelines and instructions to help maximize the effectiveness of distant learning during the past two weeks. More online learning resources can also be found on Ferrum’s webpage.
Ferrum College will be constantly updating students on COVID-19 via email as well as on the Ferrum website www.ferrum.edu/coronavirus.