March 13 Message to Campus: Remote Education to Continue Through the End of the Semester

To Our Faculty, Staff and Students:

We write today to share that we have made the difficult decision to continue remote education for the rest of the semester.

We have made this choice for several reasons, including:

  • the health and safety of the campus community amid rapidly growing concern about the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio;
  • a desire to bring clarity regarding the university’s plans for students and their families; and
  • the academic benefits in enabling faculty and students to plan for remote course delivery during the coming months.

We appreciate that this message represents a significant change from communication earlier this week that we would re-evaluate the remote approach prior to April 6. At the time, we thought the possibility existed that COVID-19’s spread might be mitigated by next month. Since then, Cleveland Clinic has reported an additional five confirmed cases (beyond the three already confirmed in Cuyahoga County); Gov. DeWine has ordered the closure of all K-12 schools from March 17-April 3; and the Ohio Department of Health yesterday estimated that 100,000 people in Ohio already are infected with COVID-19.

Given this new information, the chances that we would be able to resume normal operations by April 6 have fallen dramatically. Without confidence in that likelihood, we feel this choice is best for all members of our community.

We realize this new information raises several questions, some of which we will not be able to answer immediately. Below is guidance regarding the areas in which we have definitive answers:

  1. Can on-campus students move out completely now?
    Yes. Student Affairs will provide additional information later this afternoon about the logistics of this process.
  2. Do all on-campus students have to move out completely now?
    No. We recognize that some instances exist in which leaving early is not a possibility. Student Affairs will provide additional information later this afternoon.
  3. What happens to commencement?
    This event is scheduled for May 17. At this time, we feel it is too early to say whether the ceremonies will be able to proceed as planned. We will provide updates as we have more information. In either case, we will make arrangements for all students to receive their diplomas and other physical items related to commencement (such as awards or other aspects of regalia).
  4. What about refunds for room and board?
    The university has already begun working on a policy regarding rebates/refunds for room and board for the weeks of the semester that resident students are not living on campus. We will provide information to resident students and families as soon as possible.

Again, we realize these are just a few of the many questions you will have regarding this change. Our colleagues will be sending additional communications later today and/or this weekend.

We are grateful for your understanding and patience during this time.

Barbara R. Snyder

Ben Vinson
Provost and Executive Vice President