Northeast Ohio colleges prepare to pivot as coronavirus cases surge
With COVID-19 cases surging in the surrounding community and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issuing stern directives to try and bring those numbers down, the University of Akron is moving forward with a plan to go completely virtual again starting Monday.
AKRON, Ohio (WJW)-- With COVID-19 cases surging in the surrounding community and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issuing stern directives to try and bring those numbers down, the University of Akron is moving forward with a plan to go completely virtual again starting Monday.
"We have lots of contingencies. The announcement we made last night just moved our virtual end of semester period up one week and we did that because of the surge that we are seeing in all the counties in Ohio. And we have the same concerns the governor has for all of our students and our faculty and staff," said University of Akron President Dr. Gary Miller.
Akron, as well as Kent State University, had planned to go virtual following a Thanksgiving break.
Dr. Manfred Van Dulmen, the chairman of Kent State University's Pandemic Leadership Committee, said on Thursday that the school was not making any immediate changes in response to the governor's statement on Wednesday, but would stay the course for the next week before the holiday break.
"We are not seeing any outbreaks on campus or in the residence halls," Van Dulmen said. "So we are not changing campus operations right now."
Other colleges and universities in the area told FOX 8 News that the governor's directives fall in line with the preventative measures they are already taking.
Case Western Reserve University reported it was making no changes. The same with the University of Mt. Union in Alliance.
Cuyahoga Community College was not making any changes, but John Horton, speaking for the school, said they were carefully watching the state's color-coded COVID map for any changes and were ready to revise their plans as needed.
Oberlin College has not made any changes, but said it remains flexible. Students in campus housing were asked to pack up their belongings before leaving for the holiday.
In advance of the Thanksgiving break, Kent State University and the University of Akron were conducting aggressive testing of students faculty and staff. Students at the University of Akron were being tested at the school's health services office. Kent State University on Sunday scheduled a large-scale testing effort involving the National Guard.
"So we are just upping our vigilance and the way we interact with one another for these next three or four weeks," Miller said. He said the University of Akron will be aggressively testing again after the break.
Like the governor, schools are concerned about what could happen during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Kent State offering this advice to all on campus: "Get tested, lay low, stay with family in that bubble and do not go out unless you have to and travel safely." said Van Dulmen
Both schools said they believe students are taking the advice seriously.
"I will say that we are incredibly proud of our students and the faculty and staff who have, from the very beginning, been very vigilant, very careful, very attuned to the needs the health needs of each other its very gratifying," Miller said.
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