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Miami classes move online; students asked to leave campus

Miami University will conduct classes online through the end of spring semester and is asking students to leave campus promptly. 

The news came just hours after the University of Cincinnati Health Center confirmed four cases of novel coronavirus in Butler County on Friday and hours before President Donald Trump officially declared a state of national emergency throughout the U.S. 

As of Monday, March 16, there were six confirmed cases in Butler County, none of which are in Oxford. 

How will classes work?

On Tuesday, March 10, Miami opted to move to remote instruction until April 12, after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked state universities to transfer to “remote learning” due to the coronavirus. In his email on Friday, March 13, Crawford said the virus is expected to hit its peak in April and May and that the university would not be able to return to in-person classes this semester as was originally planned. 

“We have decided to complete the remainder of the semester through remote instruction,” Crawford wrote. “We are announcing this decision today, so that faculty will have the maximum amount of time possible to fully prepare to deliver the semester’s remaining course material remotely, and so that students and parents can plan accordingly as students depart campus.” 

For the remainder of the semester, all classes will operate through Canvas. Professors may use video conference platforms such as WebEx, but classes will not necessarily meet virtually at their regular class times, said Provost Jason Osborne at a faculty assembly on Tuesday, March 10.

Osborne said Canvas is currently working to ensure the bandwidth will allow professors to upload large files, like videos of lectures.

“We have to be able to continue the educational operations of the university,” Osborne said.

Additionally, eCampus.com is starting a program called VitalSource Helps, which offers free access to ebooks for students impacted by the change to remote learning.

It’s especially difficult for lab, studio and performance-based classes to move online, but the university is committed to providing a quality education to all students.

“Last week, we conducted several tutorials with faculty to offer resources and creative ideas about best practices for remote instruction for the arts,” Dean of Miami’s College of Creative Arts Elizabeth Mullenix wrote in an email to The Miami Student. “We are also sending out weekly newsletters with resources for faculty, and our professional agencies and accreditation bodies are also wonderful resources since students and faculty nationwide are in similar circumstances.”

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Denise Taliaferro Baszile, associate dean of student services and diversity for Miami’s College of Education, Health and Society, sent an email to all student teachers outlining their updated requirements for licensure given the pandemic.

“First, all candidates must have completed at least 50% of their clinical experience,” Baszile wrote. “Based on our assessment of where our student teachers stand, everyone has completed at least 50% of the student teaching experience. The second requirement indicates that student teachers should, to the best of their ability, support their cooperating teachers in the remote learning environment.”

International students on visas will not be affected due to a workaround offered by the federal government in light of the coronavirus, and nonstandard online courses will not affect their visa status, Osborne said. 

Can I stay here?

While the university had previously allowed students to stay in their residence halls, they are now being asked to leave. 

Dean of Students Kimberly Moore urged students to leave campus promptly in an email sent out to all students Monday night.

“There may come a time in the coming days or weeks when you are not able to leave campus due to changing state and federal orders,” Moore wrote in the email.

According to the email, if any student cannot leave campus, there is an exemption form that must be filled out by March 18, and university employees will follow up with students on an individual basis beginning Tuesday.

If students have already left campus, they should not return to get their belongings. Building RDs will be in contact with residents in the coming days to share information about retrieving items left in the dorms.

“We don’t want students to return right away because of the health-risk,” Moore told The Student.

Students who live off-campus are free to make their own choices about whether they will stay in their Oxford residences or return home for the rest of the semester, she said.

Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services David Creamer wrote in an email to The Student that each administrative division is currently determining how to maintain critical services.

What’s still open?

As of right now, the university and campus are still open.

Registration and advising for all students is still open, and students can enroll in fall courses, Moore said. The university is also working to support students academically while they are away from campus. The Rinella Learning Center is working on how to deliver remote tutoring services, and the Miller Center for Student Disability Services will work with professors to ensure courses remain accessible, Moore said at the Tuesday faculty assembly.  

The university also canceled all gatherings of more than 50 people and recommends that people stay six feet away from one another to prevent the spread of the virus, which is a practice referred to as social distancing. 

The Recreation Center and Goggin Ice Center are closing until further notice starting Monday night. Library hours are being reduced and could potentially close as early as Friday. Armstrong Student Center (ASC) offices, study spaces and lounge areas closed at 8 p.m. Monday night and will be closed indefinitely. Students can still get food to go from ASC from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. until further notice.

All university-sponsored travel has been canceled, both domestic and internationally, until further notice, according to an email from Crawford on Monday, March 16.

What about my campus job?

As for student employment, most positions will be “deemed nonessential and will be temporarily cancelled,” per the university-wide email sent out by Moore. 

In his March 16 email, Crawford said he is meeting with university leaders to identify as many university employees as possible who can work remotely, following the guidance of Gov. DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health.

What’s next?

It’s unclear whether Miami will still hold commencement for the Class of 2020 in May. Miami is actively evaluating graduation plans and will inform the community when they have made a decision.

“You make decisions based on the information you have,” Moore said. “We can’t commit to any timelines right now.”

Jenny Bailer, Butler County’s health commissioner, said this all came suddenly, and the university will continue to evaluate how to move forward. 

“Today is today, and tomorrow will be different,” she said.

Miami’s coronavirus information page can be accessed here. The CDC also has a comprehensive coronavirus page. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms can call the Student Health Service at 513-529-3000. 

Students with questions about the coronavirus and the university’s policies can reach out to Associated Student Government.

@timcarlin_

carlintm@miamioh.edu 

@cadoyle_18

doyleca3@miamioh.edu

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Armstrong Student Center closed at 8 p.m. Monday night indefinitely. It has been corrected to reflect that all offices, study spaces and lounge areas are closed indefinitely, but students can still get food to go from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

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