In response to the global coronavirus outbreak, Wake Forest announced in an email Wednesday evening that all courses will be moved to online instruction beginning March 23. The university also stated that classes will be cancelled from March 16 – 22, the week after spring break, and students are being asked not to return to campus withholding special circumstances.
“After extensive consultation with public health officials, we have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest for our campus community, local Winston-Salem community and the broader community, that we take measures to help contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said President Nathan Hatch in the email.
While campus will remain open, students will not be permitted to stay on campus past March 17 if they have not registered with the Office of Residence Life & Housing and received approval. According to the university’s coronavirus webpage, further plans will be shared on the availability of student services such as dining options and library access.
Online instruction will take place for the entirety of the university, including undergraduate programs, the School of Divinity, the School of Law and other graduate programs. The email stated that “it is unknown at this time when classes will return to an in-person format.”
The move follows similar arrangements made by Duke University, Elon University and UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as other universities nationwide, as North Carolina announced a state of emergency on March 10. While there are only seven known cases of COVID-19, five of which are in Wake County, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release that the decision was made to mitigate the spread of the disease. There are currently no reported cases in Forsyth County.
As reported by the News & Observer on March 10, Wake Forest administration asked faculty to prepare for online instruction through the rest of the semester, summer and fall if necessary.
Last month, the university announced the closure of the Casa Artom program in Venice, Italy. The students and resident faculty members vacated the country and were planning on returning to Wake Forest after spring break. Managing the worst outbreak outside of China, Italy is currently under a nationwide quarantine and all universities were closed on March 4.
According to the university’s coronavirus webpage, further plans will be announced for study abroad programs, Wake Washington and Wake West in the next 24 hours.
“In these efforts, our first priority has been to safeguard the health of the Wake Forest community and our neighbors, even as we sustain our vital educational mission,” Hatch said in the email. “In coming days, the disruptions caused by this situation will demand much from all of us.”