As universities, school districts and other organizations take precautions against the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, two Texoma colleges are joining them. Austin College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University will be extending their spring breaks amid fears of the disease spreading.
“Nothing is more important to me than the well-being of our students, our employees, and our community,” Austin College President Steven O’Day said in a release by the college. “Our response team has been monitoring the situation continuously over the last 45 days to manage the current realities. We continue to be committed to providing every opportunity for the completion of the semester, despite the disruption due to the rapidly emerging coronavirus pandemic.”
The college will be extending its spring break by an additional two days, and classes will resume on Wednesday, to allow for adequate preparation throughout the college. Residence halls will reopen for returning students at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
In the event that the pandemic continues to escalate, college officials said they are looking into options to continue courses remotely.
“We are deeply committed to maintaining the excellent teaching and learning standards of Austin College. Our commitment is to provide every opportunity for completion of the semester,” O’Day said. “We are planning to offer options for remote classroom participation, should it become necessary.”
Students who are currently travelling through areas with COVID-19 level 1,2 or 3 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus.
College officials will continue to evaluate events and gatherings, including athletics, on a case-by-case basis. However, college-related travel is suspended for the remainder of the semester.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Meanwhile, SOSU, which is just beginning its spring break, is already extending the break by an additional week for students. Students were initially scheduled to return to class on March 23, but courses will be held online starting on March 30.
“After discussions with other Oklahoma colleges and universities, including our five sister institutions in the Regional University System of Oklahoma, and local health officials, Southeastern is taking the following steps as precautionary measures as applicable on its main campus in Durant, the McCurtain County Campus, and all other locations of program delivery,” the university said in a press release Friday.
On March 23, healthy faculty, staff and administrators will return to the university and operations will resume. Student employees will have the choice on reporting to work. Online classes will continue as previously scheduled.
“Even though the campus will be open, we are prohibiting large gatherings and cancelling internal and external campus events until further notice,” the university said.
Despite cancelling classes for March 23 through March 27, housing, meals and other routine services will be available for students who are not able to leave campus.
Online instruction for face-to-face and hybrid courses is scheduled to start on March 30 and will run through at least April 10. University officials plan to make a decision on the remainder of the semester on April 3.
For more information on SOSU’s response, please visit the university’s website.
Officials with Grayson College said the school has not made a decision on its response to the Coronavirus, but school administration is discussing options. An announcement could be made Friday, officials said.
This story will be updated with up-to-date information as it becomes available. For more information on the coronavirus, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.