President Michael V. Drake held a press conference at Bricker Hall Tuesday about the university’s decision to suspend face-to-face instruction until at least March 30. Credit: Jack Long | Special Projects Director

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking Ohio State to partially refund tuition and room and board after the university suspended all in-person classes and announced students will vacate the dorms by March 22 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a Thursday email sent to the university community, University President Michael V. Drake said the university would suspend all in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester and extend spring break until March 22. Students living in residence halls will begin moving out March 14.

“While the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus is ultimately out of the control of the university, it is completely unreasonable for the student body to pay the full cost of tuition and, if applicable, housing,” the petition, which has more than 13,000 signatures, reads. 

Johnathan Kacherski, a third-year in computer science, started the petition Thursday, and wrote “It is ultimately not the responsibility of Ohio State students, many of which are currently full-time students and thus are considered low-income earners, to bear the cost of the impact of the coronavirus on academic resources.”

University spokesperson Ben Johnson said in a text message that the university would share more information in the coming days about financial implications, commencement and virtual instruction.

“Our first priority is the health and well-being of the Ohio State community, and we are immediately focused on ensuring our students are safe and in a position to successfully continue their academic careers,” Johnson said.

The coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, spreads from person to person through mucus and saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It easily spreads in the community when people are within 6 feet of one another.

“These are extraordinary times. I am gratified by the flexibility and spirit of cooperation we have experienced from our students, faculty, staff and parents. We are all in this together, doing our very best to keep our students and community safe while continuing to support their academic progress,” Drake said in the email.

The fifth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ohio Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s website. There have been no confirmed cases of the virus at Ohio State.

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