Purdue University switches to online classes due to coronavirus

General view of the campus of Purdue Boilermakers on October 20, 2018 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana notified its students Tuesday that all classes -- for the time being -- will be held online instead of in-person, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Purdue posted the following message on its website:

"Dear members of the Purdue University community,

The global outbreak of COVID-19 continues to warrant the attention of each and every one of us as we work together to keep our students, staff, and faculty safe and healthy. While we have no cases of COVID-19 on our campus, there are confirmed cases in Indiana. We continue to make decisions in our precaution-containment-continuity framework, with our overarching focus on health and safety – especially for those in high risk categories. Ensuring health and safety now means taking actions that aim to limit exposure of Purdue community members to the virus, imposing social distancing where appropriate, and generally elevating preventive hygiene practices across the campus.

To that end, and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), and our own public health safety experts, we are implementing a number of actions intended to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health of our Purdue community. We recognize that these actions will be disruptive and create challenges for many of you, as well as have financial implications for the University, but the health and safety of our community is our focus at this extraordinary time.

•    IMMEDIATE ACTIONS: We ask every faculty and staff member teaching this semester to accommodate students who are not feeling well by being flexible with attendance policies. Likewise, we have guidance on the COVID-19 website for faculty and staff who have students displaying flu-like symptoms in class to assist those students in seeking medical attention.

•    FUTURE CLASSES AND INSTRUCTION: All faculty and staff should move their courses to online or alternative delivery before March 23 and should be prepared to continue as long as in-person instruction seems inadvisable (potentially through the end of the semester). To be clear, the campus will remain open after spring break. However, starting March 23, students must take their courses online. (Students in clinical programs, such as the DVM, will be contacted directly by their department.) Students in areas with limited Internet access should contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 765-494-1747 or odos@purdue.edu.

•    STUDENTS WHO LIVE IN RESIDENCE HALLS: Students in the residence halls have the option of choosing whether to return to campus or not after spring break. Again, we will work to ensure that all students can complete their program of study online or have other accommodations.

•    PREPARING FOR ONLINE INSTRUCTION: Our Innovative Learning group has prepared a set of resources to assist faculty and staff in delivering their courses online, including finding alternative means of instruction for laboratory and clinical courses if required. Faculty and staff involved with teaching will receive a separate message from Dr. Frank Dooley, senior vice provost for teaching and learning, with additional details. The web link to the online teaching resource page can be found here: https://www.purdue.edu/innovativelearning/teaching-remotely/

•    TRAVEL: We are suspending all university-sponsored domestic and international air travel effective March 16 through May 2. A faculty or staff member who believes that they have an essential business reason to travel by air can request a waiver through their unit leader (dean, vice provost, vice president, etc.), but the expectation is such waivers will be rare. Nonessential travel by other means (bus, van, car) is strongly discouraged.

•    EVENTS: We are suspending all university-sponsored events (including those hosted by registered student organizations) involving external visitors effective March 16 through May 2. For purposes of this suspension, gatherings of 50 or more attendees should be postponed or canceled. Where possible, organizers can explore ways of conducting the event through livestreaming or other technologies.  A faculty or staff member who believes that they have an essential business reason to hold an event can request a waiver through their unit leader (dean, vice provost, vice president, etc.), but again, the expectation is such waivers will be rare. At this point, we hope to be able to host Commencement exercises, but a final decision will be made at a later date.

•    SUMMER STUDY ABROAD: To provide students with maximum opportunity to secure alternative academic arrangements, all summer study abroad will be cancelled. Students will be reimbursed by the University for any expenses that are not reimbursable from other sources. Students should check with their academic advisor about alternative coursework for the summer.

•    RESEARCH AND GRADUATE STAFF: Research activities will continue at this time. Those who are involved in these activities should expect a separate communication from EVPRP Theresa Mayer and Dean of the Graduate School Linda Mason with specific guidance in this important area.

•    STAFF: All other normal campus operations will continue at this time and campus will remain open. Supervisors should be making plans around essential personnel and telework in case we need to take more aggressive actions.

•    PERSONAL TRAVEL: We urge all travelers to carefully consider their intended destinations for personal trips and check on restrictions or quarantine measures that may be recommended or required by the CDC upon arrival or return. Personal international travel is strongly discouraged.

•    BEST PRACTICES: We continue to ask everyone in our community to follow the CDC recommendations for preventive actions:

- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

- Stay home when you are sick.

- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

You can find the most recent information and guidance for the campus on this website:

•    https://Purdue.university/covid-19

We recognize that these actions will raise many questions about specific situations. We have tried to anticipate many of your questions and have posted more information here. Please do keep us informed of your questions and concerns at ehps@purdue.edu and do check the COVID-19 website regularly for updates. We will continue to provide updates via email as the situation changes and as new decisions are made.

Again, we know this is an exceptionally challenging time for our campus, and it will take all of us working together to navigate this most difficult situation and protect the health and well-being of our Purdue community.  Our deepest thanks in advance for coming together as Boilermakers to make extraordinary things happen at this extraordinary time."



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Editor's Note: This story orginally reported that all classes were switched to online until the end of the school year. Actually, the classes are switched to online until further notice.