Updated on Saturday, March 21 at 4:16 p.m. with an updated map of schools that have altered their schedules because of the coronavirus.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus, Elon University is suspending in-person classes until April 6. All classes will be held online beginning March 23, according to a statement from President Connie Book.

"In-person classes will resume [on April 6], but this is an evolving situation," said Owen Covington, director of Elon's News Bureau. "The university will continue to examine new information and reassess risks as it determines whether changes to current plans are necessary."

Elon plans to have students return to campus for in-person classes a week before the university's Easter Holiday on April 13.

Covington said "with the continued increase in the number of confirmed cases in the United States, a growing number of states with declarations of emergency, and the prospect of social spread of the virus within our community and beyond, this action seemed most prudent."

No cases of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, have been confirmed at Elon.

According to Covington, the decision to hold online classes for two weeks will allow the university to "assess the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina and the country and its potential impact on campus." He said the two-week period is "not specifically related to the virus incubation period."

More than 1,500 other institutions across the U.S., including Duke University and the entire North Carolina School System, have altered spring class schedules.

Offices and services will stay open for students remaining on campus over spring break and throughout the two-week online period, according to Book's statement. Elon is asking students planning to stay on campus to fill out this online form

Students living in on-campus apartments — The Station at Mill Point, The Oaks Neighborhood and Park Place — do not need to fill out the form, Aneshia Jerralds, associate director of residence life for operations and facilities, confirmed over email.

According to Jenny Ciesiulka, associate director of student involvement, all student organization meetings and events from March 14 to April 5 will be canceled. In an email, Ciesiulka wrote the Moseley Center will be working to deny all PhoenixCONNECT event submissions during this time frame.

Changing with the coronavirus

Elon is represented by students from 46 states across the country — each of those states have declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is a respiratory disease that has spread to more than 100 countries, infected over 120,000 individuals and killed more than 4,300 people worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, which is defined as a “worldwide spread of a new disease.”

As of March 17, North Carolina has nearly 50 cases of the coronavirus. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10.

According to Christopher Waters, associate vice president of information technology, staff members hosted in Carol Grotnes Belk Library to assist teachers preparing to make the transition online.

Waters said “there’s been a tremendous amount of work around the clock” to make sure faculty are prepared. A new "Faculty Resources for Remote Learning" tab has been added to IT's website.

For some professors, the concern goes beyond their ability to teach classes.

Anton L. Delgado | Elon News Network
Senior instructional technologist Dan Reis (left) and application trainer Julie White (right) work with assistant professor of economics Steven Wagner during the first Faculty Remote Learning Training session on Friday, March 13.

"A lot of us who teach online regular feel good. But we cannot assume that our students all have that ability, or they will intuitively know how to navigate those mechanisms. We may have trainings, but they don't," said Prudence Layne, associate professor of English. "We also can't assume that everyone will have a personal computer and internet access."

For students without computers, IT suggests checking one out from Media Services. In general, Media Services has approximately 56 laptops — an assortment of MacBooks and Dell computers. As of March 17, there are still more than 45 computers available.

For students without internet access, there is currently no guidance.

With a looming three-week break from in-person classes, the Office of the Registrar announced that registration for fall 2020 classes will begin on April 14. Students will have to reach out to their advisers online and get their class schedules approved remotely.

Coronavirus concerns off-campus

The university has canceled "all non-essential university travel ... until further notice." 

This includes alternative spring break plans. According to the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, Elon Outdoors and Catholic Campus Ministry trips to South Dakota, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Belize are among those canceled.

On the same day Elon announced its post-spring break plan to transition online, students participating in the Study USA program in New York and in Semester at Sea were given similar news.

Elon is asking all students, faculty and staff traveling through a country with a level two or three travel warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days before returning to campus. 

"The university has been regularly communicating these federal guidelines to students, faculty and staff, and is counting on travelers to share their travel plans with the university if they have the potential to impact the campus community," Covington said. "Considering the potential impact of the virus, we believe those who traveled to those countries will take proper steps so they do not put the health of others at risk."

The day after President Donald Trump announced the travel restriction on Europe, the Global Education Center recalled more than 60 students studying across the continent. Following the recall in Europe, 11 programs throughout Africa, North America, South America and Asia were also suspended. 

Dealing with diseases

According to Randall Bowman, archivist and assistant librarian, the last time Elon dealt with a situation as serious as the coronavirus was in 1918 during the Spanish Influenza outbreak.

Bowman said in 2007 there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and an outbreak of avian flu in 2009. However, Bowman said these were “not quite as serious as what is going on right now.”