University President Dr. Michael V. Drake announced Monday in a universitywide email that lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar in-person classroom settings will be suspended due to coronavirus outbreak. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Former Managing Editor for Design

Ohio State has suspended face-to-face instruction effective immediately due to the coronavirus outbreak until at least Monday, March 30, according to a universitywide email. 

University President Michael V. Drake announced Monday night in a universitywide email that lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar face-to-face classroom settings will be replaced by virtual sessions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“While there are no campus-associated cases of COVID-19, we know that there are at least three confirmed cases in the state of Ohio, and we expect that there will be more. We are being proactive in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the university,” Drake said in the email. “I understand that our policy guidelines will cause measurable disruption, but the risk of not acting outweighs the inconvenience of these temporary measures. The safety of our campus community is always our top priority.”

Three cases of the virus were confirmed in Ohio Monday afternoon and Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in a tweet. 

Students may complete virtual classes from their permanent homes or return to campus, according to the email sent out Monday night. Students returning to campus should practice appropriate social distancing and enhanced public health and hygiene.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, to avoid touching your face and to clean surfaces that are frequently touched to avoid contracting the virus, according to the organization’s website.

“We urge all students to make the choice that is best for their own personal situations,” the email reads. 

Classroom experiences, such as labs, are being evaluated and the university will provide official guidance later this week, according to the email.

Effective immediately, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended and domestic university-sponsored air travel has been limited to business-essential travel and will be approved on a case-by-case basis, the email said. 

No new, non-essential events will be scheduled on campus until April 20, the email said. 

As mentioned, the situation is evolving daily. All guidelines are subject to change as emerging events warrant,” Drake said. 

The United States has had 709 cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths at the time of publication, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Ohio State is one of the first universities to take such measures preceded by the University of Washington, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and Columbia University. 

 The University of Washington announced Friday that it would suspend in-person classes to “increase precautionary health measures” until March 30, according to the university website. Washington currently has 167 confirmed positive cases according to Johns Hopkins University.

The University of California, Berkeley announced Monday that it would suspend almost all in-person classes and will be offering all lectures through “alternative modalities” effective through March 29, according to the university’s website. 

Stanford University moved all in-class instruction to an online format for the last two weeks of the winter quarter, effective March 9, according to the university’s website.

California has 136 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Columbia University and Princeton University both canceled classes as well: Columbia University closed for March 9-10, and Princeton announced it would hold classes online beginning March 23.

There are 143 confirmed cases in New York state and 11 in New Jersey, according to Johns Hopkins. 

The previously announced university-sponsored travel restrictions to countries with a level 3 warning such as China, South Korea, Italy and Iran, remain in place.  

On Jan. 30, the university announced its first travel restriction, limiting travel to China until March 6, according to a universitywide email. On Feb. 19, this restriction was extended to April 20.

The university has also since suspended university-sponsored travel to South Korea, Italy and Iran until April 20. 

According to a universitywide email, those who travel to restricted areas must report their travel to the university at travelreporting@osumc.edu through April 20.