On Friday March 20, Valparaiso University announced the continuation of virtual learning throughout the remainder of the spring semester.

In a post on Valparaiso University’s Instagram page at 10:47 a.m. CST, Valpo announced that they had made “the difficult but necessary decision to extend remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester, including the final exam period.”

The post was later deleted, and then found to be posted again with the previously added comments on the post now deleted. An email to the class of 2020 came at 10:54 a.m. CST, with another at 11:08 a.m.  CST confirming again, virtual learning for the remainder of the semester.

This decision was not made lightly, but I believe it is necessary in order to fulfill Valpo’s educational mission, keep our campus community safe and healthy, and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to more vulnerable populations,” Heckler said in his email.

Students living in on campus housing received an email from Residential Life stating that students wishing to remain on campus must fill out the form emailed to them by Monday, March 23. After Monday, all non-registered students will lose swipe access, and will be expected to be moved out.

If students wish to come back to campus and move out, the university also included a form that will notify the Residential Life Office and all student property must be removed by May 13. 

The separate email to seniors included a video message from President Mark Heckler. Heckler shared empathy with the seniors saying “I can only imagine the disappointment you must feel under these unexpected circumstances.”

Heckler goes on to say that our Valpo sense of community is strong and despite the current situation, these relationships students have made over the years will remain strong.

While other schools surrounding Valpo have canceled commencement ceremonies, at this time, Valpo can’t be sure these activities can be held as scheduled in May, Hecker promised in his message that Valpo will have a commencement for the class of 2020 when it’s appropriate.

“I’m so proud of all that you’ve accomplished during your time here,” Heckler said in the video. “And we know, you will be confidently prepared to go into the world and we look forward to learning of the great accomplishments we know you will make in this world.”

Many students took to Twitter to express their feelings about the cancelation of in person classes and news about spring commencement.

“This makes me really sad, but mostly I’m just really sad for the seniors. They don’t deserve this :(,” one student tweeted.

Another student responded to the Instagram post that was originally published saying “Obviously mistakes happen but Valpo needs to acknowledge the panic that this gave students before the email came out.”

Senior Nikki Zoumis was at home working on online homework when she received the news.

“When I heard of the message, I immediately called my dad,” Zoumis said. “We had been discussing Purdue’s commencement cancellation the other day and we knew that Valpo would follow soon enough.”

While she’s happy seniors will still receive a ceremony, it’s “heartbreaking” to miss out on a lot of her last moments as a senior.

Senior Katelyn Necco said her and her family at home are in a state of shock with how rapidly the situation has evolved.

“We’re thankful that precautions are being taken and safety is of the main priorities all across the country,” Necco said.

Necco felt an immediate sense of heartbreak upon hearing that her “senior year was basically cancelled.” Necco who is also a certified nursing assistant says her job as well as nurses, patient care assistants, physicians and many others are still vital for patient care.

“The hospital I work at has closed all but two entrances to the building to ensure patient safety,” Necco said about the changes her job has taken. “”Every individual, including employees, must now have their temperature measured as they enter the hospital. All individuals are asked if they have any respiratory symptoms like coughing or even shortness of breath.”

Necco encourages her fellow seniors to have strength and preserve during these hurdles. 

Valpo joins many other Indiana colleges such as Ball State University and Purdue University in canceling in-person classes for the remainder of their spring semester.

The Torch will continue to update this story as more information becomes available. 

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