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OU, amid coronavirus concerns, moves classes online for two weeks following spring break

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Evans Hall

Evans Hall pictured Sept. 12.

Citing ongoing concerns over the coronavirus, OU announced that classes would become online-only for a two week period following spring break, according to an email from interim OU President Joseph Harroz

According to an email, all Norman campus classes will move online beginning March 23 through April 3. OU Tulsa and OU Health Sciences Center will continue in-person classes as scheduled, according to the email. Harroz also encouraged students to take all instructional materials with them when they left for spring break. 

“The unique characteristics of these campuses — the generally non-residential environments, small class sizes, and health care instruction components — do not require suspension of in-person instruction at this time,” Harroz said in the email. “Nonetheless, the situation for both the OU-Tulsa and OUHSC campuses could change rapidly and the university will keep all students, faculty, and staff on those campuses informed of any new developments.”

All university events from March 14 to April 5 are suspended, with the possible exception of sporting events, according to the email. If sporting events occur, they may be subject to spectator restrictions.

The Daily reported Monday that university administrators were considering moving classes online after spring break. The decision comes less than a week after the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Oklahoma was announced March 6, and a day after a Utah Jazz player was confirmed to have a case of the coronavirus in Oklahoma City.

OU's decision to move classes online comes as dozens of universities have moved classes online or canceled some classes due to the spread of the coronavirus. 

Universities that have moved classes online can be found in this spreadsheet compiled by Georgetown University scholar Bryan Alexander, or in this article from the Arizona Republic. The University of Tulsa moved classes online effective Wednesday, but Oklahoma State University had not taken that step as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

According to the World Health Organization, people can avoid the disease through hand-washing, social distancing, keeping hands away from the face, practicing respiratory hygiene and seeking medical care quickly if symptoms — including fever, cough and difficulty breathing — arise.

According to the World Health Organization, illness due to the coronavirus is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. But it can cause serious illness — about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care, and older people are at increased risk to experience serious illness.

OU has released a series of announcements regarding its monitoring of the coronavirus and answers to frequently asked questions about the coronavirus, which can be found on OU’s website.

“My sincere appreciation goes to each of you for the resolve you’ve shown in the face of such uncertainty,” Harroz said in the email. “We recognize that this is a significant adjustment for faculty and students, and we are committed to providing the necessary support to help facilitate this effort. Thank you all for taking this matter seriously, and for your commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our community.”

Scott Kirker is a letters and Spanish senior and assistant news managing editor for The Daily. Previously he worked as summer editor-in-chief and as a news reporter covering research and administrative searches.

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