Mary Baldwin University latest to suspend in-seat classes
There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases on the MBU campus, the school reported in a news release late Thursday, but university leaders made the decision to move all undergraduate classes online as public health experts have ramped up caution about its highly contagious nature, how it is transmitted, and the importance of social distancing to stop or slow down the spread of the virus.
The university is suspending in-seat classes beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, and will resume studies via online instruction at 8 a.m. March 18. Instruction will continue online for the remainder of the spring semester (ending April 20).
The university plans to decide in the coming weeks whether to resume in-seat classes for its May term; campus life; and on-campus events, including commencement.
In an email to students, MBU President Pamela R. Fox offered students who cannot go home the opportunity to stay on campus with modified housing and dining services.
“For most of our students, the safest place for you to be during this outbreak is at home,” Fox wrote. “However, if Mary Baldwin is the safest place for you to continue your studies online, you should stay here and MBU will provide housing and limited dining services.”
The change in status includes all campus events, including public lectures, prospective visit days, and athletics competitions.
MBU’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and the Shakespeare and Performance graduate program will not move to online instruction. Program leadership will follow up with faculty to discuss special health and safety accommodations for health sciences students and personnel at the college’s branch campus in Fishersville and at the Shakespeare and Performance space at its headquarters in downtown Staunton.
Fox noted the unprecedented nature of the decision, but reiterated the university’s primary concern: the wellbeing of the campus community and beyond.
“I do not take this decision lightly and have made it with the health and safety of the entire MBU family in mind, which includes your own loved ones,” Fox wrote to students. “I understand the impact that this will have on each of you, and I want to pledge the full support of the MBU administration, faculty, and staff. No student’s path to a degree will be denied or delayed because of this decision.”
More information on the university’s response to COVID-19 can be found on the MBU website.