By Courtney Klaus and Madeline Alvarez
With the outbreak of COVID-19, or Coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Association yesterday, Newman University is taking extra precautions to limit the spread of the virus by extending its Spring Break an extra week.
Spring Break was originally scheduled for March 16-22, but has been extended until March 29.
Director of University Relations Clark Schafer said that there are no cases of the virus affecting Newman students or faculty that the university is aware of. He said that Newman’s decision to extend the break was not due to any imminent danger. The precautions are simply being taken as a defense in case the virus were to infect someone in the area, he said.
“Social distancing is one of the best protections out there against the spread of the virus, and that’s why we’re doing this at this time,” Schafer said.
While in-person classes will not be taking place at the university for an extra week, Schafer said, online classes will continue as normal, and staff and administration will continue with business as usual at the university during the break.
Universities across the nation are taking similar precautions.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, by Wednesday over 40 universities in the U.S. had shut down their campuses. Last night, the University of Kansas released an announcement that it too will be extending its spring break an extra week to March 23.
“Each of us plays an important role in maintaining our personal health, which in turn helps protect our broader community,” KU’s press release said.
Last week, Newman University announced it was postponing a trip to Rome, originally scheduled for Friday, to October of 2020. The entire country of Italy has been placed on lockdown since Tuesday to slow the spread of the virus.
Schafer said the extra week without classes at the university should not affect the athletes and foreign exchange students staying on campus during the break and the Mabee Dining Center will continue to serve meals at regular times.
Other decisions regarding the policy in the Residence Halls during the break had not been made as of Wednesday night, Schafer said.
“It’s definitely a fluid situation,” he said.
Student Life sent a Spring Break travel survey out to students on Wednesday afternoon in an email. The email said the survey would serve as documentation in case any students have issues attending class when Spring Break ends for an illness or travel-related reason.
Provost Kimberly Long said in an email that administration had asked all faculty to be prepared to move their in-person classes online if necessary.
To avoid contracting Coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wash their hands frequently, avoid close contact with anyone who coughs or sneezes and disinfect frequently used surfaces. Anyone who feels like they might be sick is encouraged to stay home unless going to the doctor and to avoid contact with anyone.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman University LinkedIn