Memphis, Mid-South universities transition to online learning amid coronavirus spread

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several local and regional universities have announced they will be making changes to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The University of Memphis is extending spring break through March 22 in “an effort to reduce risk on our campus and protect the health and safety of our community.”

During the break, staff and faculty will begin the transition to remote and virtual learning for the majority of courses and educational activities for the rest of the spring semester, the university said.

Students are encouraged to return home as classes transition to online learning. For those who can not, campus housing and dining will remain open.

There are some classes, like labs and performing arts, that will require face-to-face contact. Those classes may continue at the discretion of the Provost.

The university said instructors will be contacting students directly with more detailed instructions by March 20.

Christian Brothers University said they will also be going to online learning “in an effort to do everything within our power to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Classes have been canceled from Friday, March 13, to March 17. On March 18, the university will officially begin the online format. They hope to be back in class on Tuesday, April 14.

“We do not make this decision lightly, as we know that this transition will cause some significant temporary disruptions in the lives of our faculty, staff, students, and their families. However, we feel it is in the best interest of our campus and our community to take such action in following public health recommendations for social distancing and virus mitigation.”

Link: CBU coronavirus update

Several hours later, Tennessee State University announced they will also be transitioning to online classes beginning Monday, March 16.

The university said they are also suspending international travel through the end of April and will monitor domestic travel.

On Wednesday, the University of Tennessee announced they would also be suspending in-person classes at all campuses, including the UT Health Sciences Center in Memphis.

This will begin March 23 for UTHSC. The school will then begin offering all face-to-face lecture classes online until further notice. Clinical hospital rotations will continue as usual.

All eight Mississippi public universities have decided to extend spring break and then transition to online classes as well.

These universities include Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Classes will resume on March 23 and will be taught online. Students are encouraged to stay at home.

“The situation remains fluid and university plans are subject to change in response to new information and recommendations received,” said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. “We continue to work with the Mississippi Coronavirus (COVID-19) Preparedness and Response Planning Steering Committee and the Mississippi State Department of Health as we develop our plans for the coming weeks and months. Our goal is to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus while maintaining the quality and integrity of our instructional programs.”

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