The past week, numerous schools have been suspending face-to-face classes and opting for online classes, some for the remainder of the semester.
Thursday morning, members of the Valpo community received an email, adding Valpo to the list of schools going online.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have modified the University’s operations in order to fulfill our educational mission as a student-focused residential campus, keep our campus community safe and healthy, and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to more vulnerable populations,” said President Mark Heckler in the email.
The university will reopen as scheduled on Sunday, March 15. On March 16, the date students were to resume classes post spring break, classes will move online.
Face-to-face classes are set to start back up on April 13.
Students who take part in internships, clinicals or other face-to-face activities are encouraged to reach out to their professors.
Students who wish to remain in their on campus housing must fill out the google form in the email by Sunday at noon.
This ensures that the university knows who is on campus. Additionally, they will only be allowing access to residences halls to those who “are registered.”
Other services such as dining and the health center will also remain open.
Campus events may still continue, but only if they have less than 100 people in attendance.
If a pre-scheduled event has more than 100 people attending, it must be cancelled or postponed.
For some students, such as senior Kristina Crespo, feelings about the suspension of face-to-face classes are quite mixed.
“I’m appreciative of the university for staying proactive regarding the health of the community,” Crespo said. “On the other hand, as a senior, hearing that almost a month of campus activity is suspended made me disheartened.”
Crespo, like most seniors, sees their second semester as a time to enjoy the last times for formals, dance marathons and living on campus with friends.
The other question in play is how professors plan to continue teaching with this new initiative.
“I’m concerned about the lack of information I feel like our community has received,” Crespo said. “As a health science student, I’m wondering how I will complete remaining field experience hours or successfully continue courses like organic chemistry online without professors there to teach the tough topics.”
Senior finance major Sam Mihalich has hope in the professors and their ability to adapt to the new form of teaching.
“I think the professors at Valpo will try to uphold the same standard of education,” Mihalich said. “I prefer in person instruction, but we must adapt to this unique situation.”
In terms of travel, it was noted on March 10 that the university recalled all study abroad. Additionally, the university is also suspending all non-essential university sponsored domestic travel.
Being so close to a busy city and airport, Mihalich sees the suspension of operations as “crucial” and “necessary.”
“Out of all the schools in Indiana, we are one of the most at risk because of the school's strong ties to Chicago,” Mihalich said.
Senior Annika Brown also supports the university’s decision to move classes online and cancel large campus gatherings.
“I think the biggest challenge right now is figuring out how to adapt our normal routines to these new changes,” Brown said. “I think this is an important opportunity for our campus community to choose a mentality of support and collaboration in a time that beginning to feel more and more full of uncertainty and fear.”
Brown adds that it’s also important for everyone to continue to stay informed about the facts of how the virus is spreading.
Any student, faculty or staff who thinks they may be sick is encouraged to reach out to their doctor.
Campus employees who may be ill are encouraged to take sick days, as the university does not want them to come to work sick.
Employees who might be at-risk, those with asthma, respiratory illness or diabetes for example, might have the option to work remotely.
In regards to cleaning processes, Heckler said in the email, “Our Building Services staff is working diligently to employ best practices, extra precautions, and enhanced disinfecting protocols.”
Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19, reported or suspected, at Valpo, but in the email Heckler stated, “...there are certain individual and institutional precautions we can take to safeguard the health of all members of the Valparaiso University community and our neighbors in the surrounding areas.”
Heckler also said in his email that he understands the challenge this may pose for those who are in our community, but that the health, safety and well-being of our community is important.
“Let us come together as a resilient and determined community to rise above these challenges as we engage in respectful dialogue across our differences and in the common pursuit of truth,” Heckler said in the email.
As mentioned in the email, this is a fluid situation and the university will continue to put out updates. The Torch will continue to keep the community up to date as well as more information becomes present.