Remote Learning, Staying on Campus and Other Updates

This message also was sent to Case Western Reserve faculty.

To Our Students:

We deeply regret the disruption that COVID-19 developments have created for all of you. The weeks after spring break are among the busiest on campus—not only with regard to classes, but also athletics, other extracurricular activities, and longstanding traditional events.

We very much hope that the university will be able to return to regular operations next month, but at this point cannot begin to estimate when or whether that might happen. As always, our paramount concern is the health and safety of the campus community; that top priority is guiding every decision made regarding education, research, and all other aspects of daily campus life at Case Western Reserve.

Several of you have posed similar questions; we are answering those below to be able to give prompt replies to such inquiries.

Campus Housing

Q: How does the university define “extenuating circumstances” in terms of staying in campus housing? What do I have to do to be able to stay?
A: We are strongly recommending that students return to their family homes because of our desire to maintain your health and that of other members of the campus community. Many of our undergraduates live in fairly close quarters, and a significant number of their classes involve sizes and/or spaces where students sit quite near one another (and, in some cases, faculty as well).

That said, we know that many of our students cannot return to their family homes for reasons of distance, finances, or other important considerations. We simply ask that any student who plans to stay in university housing (including fraternities and sororities) register with Student Affairs so the university knows exactly who is on campus during this time. The deadline to complete this form is noon, Friday, March 13.

Q: I am a student and also work on campus; am I allowed to stay on campus?
A: See the answer to the previous question, and then consult with your campus employer regarding the possibility of remote work. If the nature of your work is such that it cannot be performed remotely; you and your employer would like you to report to work; and you meet none of the Centers for Disease Control’s criteria for being at higher risk for complications from contracting COVID-19, you may continue to work and stay on campus.

Q: I am a student and conduct/assist with research in a campus lab and—even though it is not learning for which I get credit—I very much want to continue this aspect of my education; am I allowed to stay on campus?
A: See the answer to the first question about campus housing, and then consult with your campus employer regarding the possibility of contributing remotely. If the nature of your contributions are such that they cannot be performed remotely; you and your employer would like you to continue in that lab; and you meet none of the Centers for Disease Control’s criteria for being at higher risk for complications from contracting COVID-19, you may continue to report to the lab and stay on campus.

Q: I did not take books or other class-related items with me when I left for spring break. My family cannot afford to send me to get my things and fly me home. What do I do?
A: We are working to develop options for students unable to return to campus before going to their family homes.

Q: How likely is it that we will be able to move back before April 6?
A: Circumstances are changing so quickly we cannot confidently provide any estimates.

Q: I am an international student. Given that classes are going to be delivered remotely until at least April 6, should I just go ahead and return to my home country?
A: We strongly encourage you to stay if at all possible. Given the rapid spread of COVID-19 and measures that governments have been taking in response, leaving this country now risks the real possibility that you may not be able to return to campus if the university returns to regular academic operations next month. In that context, we recommend that you consult with International Student Services before making any decision, particularly if you are thinking of leaving the U.S.

Remote Delivery of Education

Q: How will we find out how to participate in our classes? Do we contact our professors? Look on SIS or Canvas?
A: The university is working with faculty to assist them in adapting their courses for remote delivery. As we noted Tuesday, all classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday, March 16-17, to allow professors additional time to prepare. We would expect you to receive an update in some form (email, on Canvas, etc.) no later than 5 p.m. (EDT) Monday, March 16. (Remember, classes resume Wednesday, March 18.)

Q: What about courses impossible to complete remotely (labs, etc.)?
A: Faculty are working now to develop alternative approaches to meet the course objectives under these new restrictions, and will communicate directly with students regarding how they will address this issue in their particular classes.

Q: What about graduate students’ thesis or dissertation defenses, which are required to take place in person?
A: In these unusual circumstances, the School of Graduate Studies will adjust those rules to allow those activities to take place remotely. Deadlines to submit materials for degree certifications also will be revised to accommodate the timeline changes this situation creates.

Q: I have an academic internship, externship, or co-op that is managed through the university (or the university assisted me in getting). Do I continue to report to work between now and April 6?
A: The answer to this question will vary by the nature of your work and, in some cases, the direction of your employers. Below are some broad guidelines, but we strongly encourage that you also consult with the university faculty or staff member coordinating your program and your employer.

  1. If your work involves contact with individuals whom the CDC identifies as high risk for complications from contracting COVID-19 (for example, nursing home, senior center, dialysis center, etc.):
    We recommend that you consult with your campus program representative and employer about ways that you can contribute remotely.
     
  2. If you work in a public setting that involves a broad range of individuals coming and going (for example, a downtown courthouse, board of elections, city hall, etc.):
    We recommend that you consult with your program representative and employer regarding whether you can contribute remotely. If the nature of your work makes doing so impossible (and you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19), we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.
     
  3. If you work in a more traditional office setting and your employer has not recommended remote work:
    If you are not personally of higher risk from COVID-19, we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for prevention.  

For all other circumstances, consult with your campus program representative and employer for guidance.

Other Questions

Q: What about extracurricular activities like athletics, Greek Life, USG, etc.?
A: Consult with the Student Affairs staff member who oversees the area that includes your activity for more information. 

Q: I/my parents want to know about refunds for room and board and/or reduced tuition charges for remote vs. in-person education. What is the university going to do for us?
A: The university’s first priority remains the health and safety of the campus community. In that context, we wanted to communicate with you and your parents as quickly as possible after the decision to transition to remote instruction. 

That said, we recognize that some of these decisions have financial and other implications. Staff are working through all of the applicable laws, regulations and university policies to address these issues and will provide more specific guidance as soon as possible.

Again, we recognize that these changes to the spring semester are disappointing and frustrating. We apologize for all of the difficulties and questions that they are creating for you and your loved ones. We also very much appreciate your patience as we work to provide the most accurate and reliable answers as possible.

Barbara R. Snyder
President

Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President