Students relieved as PNW suspends face-to-face classes for two weeks

Hours after PNW announced a two-week suspension of face-to-face instruction, students expressed support for the decision to reduce the risk from students returning from spring break who might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Until April 6, classes will be conducted exclusively online and students will not be required to attend physically, save for those on March 12 and 13 who had previously been scheduled for in-class exams. Campus events on those days have also been cancelled and events involving 25 or more attendees have been suspended through April 5. This does not include athletic events, which will continue as scheduled.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Oriana White, president of Student Government Association. “It is preventative, but they’re not cancelling classes because they think an outbreak is inevitable … They just want to make sure that we’re taking all the proper precautionary steps so that our faculty and staff and students don’t get sick.”

White said a two-week period of campus quarantine following a period of frequent travel might prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Currently, there are 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ill. and 13 cases in Ind. Nationally, the number has reached more than 1500. 39 Americans have died.

While students can expect face-to-face classes to resume on April 6, the university has stressed the fluidity of the situation and has not ruled out adjusting that date as the situation develops.

“The university continues to monitor the situation closely and any further changes would be announced as soon as they become known,” said university representative Kris Falzone. “At this time it is not possible to project future actions due to the rapidly evolving nature of this global situation.”

The inter-campus shuttle has been suspended pending the reinstitution of typical class operations, but the student residence halls will remain open during the interim. However, the cafe in SULB will halt operation after 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 12. It is expected to reopen April 6.

All summer study abroad programs will be cancelled, and the administration urges careful consideration regarding personal travel over the break.

Faculty and staff will remain on campus and operate within their typical schedules. All PNW facilities will also remain open, including Gabis Arboretum and the Portage Meeting Facility. Students will continue to have access to campus wifi, computers and libraries.

Freshman Megan Granados shares White’s relief about the administration’s action.

“I think it’s great that they’re taking these preventative measures,” she said. “I think it’s great to give students a period to start showing symptoms so it doesn’t spread more.”

However, there are concerns about the efficacy of the proposed online-only format.

“I know personally I have a really hard time learning it in person, so it’s going to be even harder to learn math or accounting online,” said Granados.

Students are urged to monitor their PNW email inboxes as well as the university website for any updates to university policy.