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How 9 Metro St. Louis Universities Are Responding To Coronavirus Fears

The new Sumers Welcome center employees a glass, curtain wall design.  [9/27/19]
James Ewing
Washington University was among the first campuses to announce plans for online-only instruction.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. March 13, with new information about St. Louis University and the University of Missouri System 

There are no known cases of COVID-19 on college campuses in the St. Louis region, but many university admistrators are taking precautions by suspending in-person instruction and transitioning to online teaching platforms for varying periods of time.

Here's how the insitutions are responding.

Fontbonne University

Fontbonne is the only school on this list that is not suspending in-person classes at this time. An online statementreads:

"Faculty have been asked to make plans to teach courses online, if the need arises, or if ordered to do so by local health officials. Fontbonne is preparing for that possibility and a variety of other contingencies; however, to this date, there has been no request from health officials to stop offering on site classes on our campus. We are working on objective, measurable, and reasonable guidelines to best determine a time when to go to an online format, if that is necessary, but we do not feel that time is now. "

Harris-Stowe State University

On Wednesday afternoon, Harris-Stowe State University announced that spring break would be extended until March 23. A letter to the campus community reads in part:

"The University will be using the week to put new policies in place as preventative measures to protect our university community, thoroughly sanitize the campus, and plan for a possible shift to online-only classes in the event of a closure." 

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University will switch entirely to virtual classes from March 13 to 29 for all class sessions at all locations. "Residential students, who are on spring break through March 15, are strongly encouraged not to return to campus if possible," readsan online statement.

On Friday, the university announced it was suspending all athletic practices and competitions, effective immediately, for both in-season and out-of-season sports. The decision came from the Great Lakes Valley Conference, the athletic conference to which Lindenwood belongs.

A letter to student-athletes reads in part:

"We want to let each of you know how devastated we are for all of our student-athletes, especially those that will not have an opportunity to finish out their season. You have given so much to Lindenwood both on and off the field of play and we are truly appreciative for how you represent this University."

Maryville University

Maryville University made its announcement Tuesday:

“On Monday, March 16, all on-campus classes will resume their spring semester in a virtual format for the following two weeks during which the university will be assessing the evolving COVID-19 situation.”  

St. Louis University

After first suspending in-person instruction for the week of March 15, St. Louis University officials on Thursday announced the university would move all courses online "until at least April 30, 2020. All formerly in-person courses will transition to remote delivery starting Monday, March 23, giving faculty members the next week to plan for instructional continuity."

On Friday, the university announced it would continue with online-only courses through the end of the semester.  

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Chancellor Randy Pembrook announced that the university is extending spring break for one week. Until March 23, all in-person instruction and on-campus learning is suspended.

“Given the concern for spread of the virus through contact and the need for greater social distance, we have been developing plans for continued operations and instruction,” Pembrook said in a message. “Ensuring the safety and well-being of students, staff and faculty is paramount. We will use this period to monitor the situation and plan for additional contingencies.”

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Initially the University of Missouri-St. Louis only suspended classes for one week. But the university system updated faculty, staff and students about new plans on Friday, announcing the suspension of all in-person classes for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

Some university facilities will remain open, including libraries, residence halls and dining services. But the university's recreation center will close.

Officials said that plans for final exams and commencement are still being made. 

Washington University

Washington University will extend its spring break for a week in order to prepare for online instruction, which will begin on online platforms starting March 23. 

In a letter to students, faculty and staff, Wash U Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said:

"Beginning March 23, there will be no in-person courses taught in the classroom or any other setting until at least April 30, 2020. All classes, including those traditionally held in studios and laboratory settings, will be conducted online."

Webster University

Ina statement, the Webster University said:

"Webster University will move all classes at non-military U.S. locations throughout the U.S. and at the Vienna, Austria campus to an online environment, through Friday, April 3. Courses in Athens, Greece, are also moving online until Thursday, March 26, and the staff in Athens will continue to work on the campus but at reduced staffing levels. Webster’s locations in China have been operating remotely since the beginning of the Spring 2020 term in January."

Meanwhile, at Mizzou and in Rolla

Like UMSL, the University of Missouri in Columbia and the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla will move all instruction online starting March 16 until the end of the semester. Recreation centers will close at both universities, but other university facilities will remain open.

The system's announcement also said that the Mizzou's College of Veterinary Medicine will provide resources and testing facilities to help the state fight COVID-19.

"Our researchers have worked with similar viruses for years and are collaborating globally to help fight the growing COVID-19 pandemic," the announcement said.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Columbia or Rolla or associated with either university.

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Follow Holly Edgell on Twitter: @hollyedgell

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Holly Edgell is the managing editor of the Midwest Newsroom, a public radio collaboration among NPR member stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.