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San Diego State University moving to virtual instruction as coronavirus concerns grow

No confirmed coronavirus cases exist within the university community.
Credit: SDSU

SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University's Senate has decided to begin transitioning all classes to virtual instruction as a precaution to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, the university announced Tuesday.

There are no current cases of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, in the SDSU community, but the university's administration had begun encouraging faculty at the start of this month to consider moving course material and instruction into virtual spaces.

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SDSU is offering training workshops for faculty to assist with the transition, which must be completed by April 6, according to an SDSU spokesperson. Until today, that move has been voluntary.

Following SDSU's spring break, from March 30 to April 3, all classes will be held under virtual instruction through the end of the semester with some exceptions. The last day of classes is May 7.

"In the continued interest of health and safety, SDSU and the University Senate are encouraging all faculty to transition as soon as possible from in-person meetings and classes to distributed or fully virtual modalities," university staff said in a campus-wide email. "This decision, supported by a University Senate vote today, pertains to an all campus adoption of virtual course offerings. Many units have already moved to meet the request."

The university is make decisions whether to host events on a case-by- case basis. Variables such as air travel, susceptibility of the audience, the availability of virtual options and guidance from health departments, will factor into the decisions.

The campus remains open, with business and academic services continuing.

Also on Tuesday, UC Los Angeles announced it would suspend all in-person classes "wherever possible" beginning tomorrow and continuing through April 10 in response to concerns about coronavirus, while all of the university's home athletic events will be held without any fans in attendance.

"While there are no confirmed cases at UCLA at this time, I believe that it is important for communities to look out for one another and to do what is best for our global and UCLA communities," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote in a message to the campus community.

Block said university officials have been coordinating with public health officials to develop "plans for every possible scenario."

As a result, beginning Wednesday, the university "will suspend in- person classes wherever possible and transition to online platforms through April 10, which is the end of the second week of Spring Quarter," Block said.

He said Winter Quarter final exams will be administered remotely, with individual instructors communicating plans to students.

Block said the campus will remain open, but "we're transitioning over the next few days to cancel nonessential gatherings of more than 100 people."

"I know this raises a lot of questions about courses, like performance courses, that are difficult to teach remotely and, for our staff who support campus operations, what their roles will look like," Block wrote. "We understand there will be questions around many issues. Please be assured that answers and additional information will be forthcoming over the next few days.

"... I know these changes may cause some stress and uncertainty. Please bear with us while we manage this complicated transition."

Block and UCLA Athletics also announced that attendance at all university athletic home games will be restricted to "essential personnel only," including athletes, coaches, trainers, medical personnel, game officials, administrative staff and credentialed media. No spectators will be admitted.

Spectators who have pre-purchased tickets were urged to contact the Central Ticket Office.

"UCLA Athletics will continue to follow University of California and UCLA travel guidelines when it comes to team and personnel travel," according to UCLA Athletics. "At this point in time, teams will continue to practice and compete, however, any student-athlete who does not feel comfortable traveling or participating in team activities will be excused from doing so."

Block conceded that the coronavirus, or COVID-19, "is clearly going to disrupt and chage our schedules, habits and lives for the foreseeable future."

"This will not be a perfect transition, however, it will not change who we are and what we do. It will also never compromise UCLA's impact in our community and the broader world. How we react and work together in times like these help define who we are, and I have no doubt that the Bruin community will once again rise to the occasion as we transition to our second century."

USC on Wednesday will begin a three-day experiment with online-only courses as a test of its technical capabilities in case the university opts to move away from in-person classes on a more extended basis.

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