In the wake of the growing global outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus, Drew University will be moving all classes online beginning Monday, March 16, President MaryAnn Baenninger announced in an email Tuesday afternoon. The move is consistent with the decisions of many colleges around the country, many of which are asking students to not return after their spring break—in some cases for the rest of their semester. As of March 12, Drew plans to resume face-to-face classes beginning April 6.
Drew’s hope, and the hope of schools around the country, is that by practicing “social distancing”—having members of the Drew community not congregate in groups for extended amounts of time—the virus will be less likely to enter the community and spread. Virtual classes are not the only way that Drew is encouraging social distancing; all student and University-run events over the course of the next three weeks have been cancelled or postponed, including the much-anticipated Junior/Senior Ball. Prior to the President’s email, an announcement was made that the Drew Forum featuring former Senior Advisor to the Obama administration Valerie Jarrett, planned for March 11, would be pushed back to the fall semester.
Nearly 150 people flocked, both virtually (via Zoom) and physically, to a Student Government-hosted forum Tuesday night. While it occurred just hours after the university had announced the suspension of in-person classes, it had been scheduled over a day prior. Representatives from the University administration, including Vice President of Campus Life and Student Affairs and Dean of Students Frank Merckx and Associate Provost for Academic Administration Dr. Jessica Lakin, answered student questions about the transition. A full list of those questions and answers can be found here.
Where Drew’s plan for coronavirus prevention differs from many schools around the country is the allowance of students to remain in university residence halls throughout what the University is terming “Drew Virtual Time.” Other colleges, among them Harvard University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, have told students that they must vacate residence halls on short notice, resulting in campuswide protests. At the forum Tuesday night, Merckx said that such a move would be “cold,” and noted that for many students “Drew is home,” and that they would not immediately have a place to go to during Virtual Time. In addition to staying in residence halls, students are also able to come and go from campus for their regular routine.
For more information on the transition to virtual classes, visit drew.edu/coronavirus.