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

Ohio State will provide resources to faculty and students to transition over to online classes after the university suspended face-to-face instruction due to the coronavirus outbreak — but some forms of instruction and future campus events are still up in the air.

University President Michael V. Drake announced in an email Monday that all face-to-face classes will be taught virtually until at least March 30 to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. Faculty will have to transition their classes to online instruction by the time classes resume after spring break on March 16.

“This is a big change and we’re asking a lot but [the faculty] understand that this is an unusual situation,” Drake said at a press conference Tuesday.

Michael Hofherr, chief information officer at Ohio State, said the university is assisting professors and instructors on how to use Carmen, the university’s online education management system, and Zoom, a video-conferencing software.

The website keepteaching.osu.edu was created as a guideline for instructors to take their course completely online, Hofherr said. It includes information on how to upload course syllabi, organize class materials and gradebooks, and use Zoom to teach virtually.

Hofherr also said 50-100 individuals are being trained to help the faculty transition to online instruction and answer their questions.

“We’re here to help our faculty move forward,” Hofherr said. “But we know this is going to be a challenge.”

Carmen and Zoom are both “scalable,” meaning they can handle a large number of users at once when needed, Hofherr said, and the university’s internet is expected to handle the increased use by students and faculty.

Drake that some classes lend themselves to online transitions, while others — like labs — will come down to an individual determination dependent on the class. 

“Some, like laboratory experiments, can’t be done online, and so there’s a range, and as we look at that range of things that can be done online, we’ll have to make individual decisions with particular classes as to what the right thing to do is,” Drake said. “We believe that some instruction will take place in person but under circumstances that minimize the chance of viral transmission and we think that’s okay.” 

Drake also said he hopes to hold spring commencement at Ohio Stadium in May, but the university will continue to evaluate the situation as new information comes.

On-campus dining services will be available, Kamilah Allyn Champion, hall director at the Res on 10th, said in an email to residents of the dorm.

Hofherr said the university is also working on alternative instruction methods for students who have no internet access at home and choose to not come back to campus.

Drake said March 30 was selected as the initial date to resume classes because it is a two-week period, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the virus first occur two to 14 days after exposure occurs.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.

Drake said the university will evaluate whether to resume in-person classes a few days before March 30.

“This is not a circumstance where I think we should worry or have any kind of panic, it’s not that at all,” Drake said. “It’s active engagement to do what we can to make us as safe as we can be and to have the educational outcomes that we wish.”

Drake said the Wilce Student Health Center has been preparing for detection and treatment practices for the past few weeks.

At the time of publication, there are 118,101 confirmed worldwide cases of COVID-19 and 4,262 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

The United States has 808 confirmed cases and 28 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been three confirmed cases in Ohio, all in Cuyahoga County, a county in Northeast Ohio where Cleveland is located.

According to the spring semester 2020 15th day enrollment report, 3,913 Ohio State students are from Cuyahoga County.

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.

Following Gov. Mike DeWine’s Tuesday press conference where he said colleges should move to online instruction, other Ohio universities have also placed restrictions on face-to-face classes. 

John Carroll University, located in Cuyahoga County, suspended in-person classes until Monday, April 13, according to its website. The online classes will begin Monday, March 16. 

Otterbein University, located in Westerville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, has suspended in-person classes for the remainder of the week, according to the university’s website.

Kent State University, located in Kent, Ohio, in Portage County, a county directly Southeast of Cuyahoga County, has suspended in-person classes until April 12, and will begin remote classes on Monday, March 16, according to their website. 

The University of Akron has canceled face-to-face class for the remainder of this week and all of next week to allow faculty to prepare their plans for online instruction which will begin March 30, according to its website. It did not provide a date for when they hope to resume face-to-face classes. 

The University of Toledo canceled in-person classes for Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17. Remote classes will begin on Wednesday, March 18 according to the website. It did not provide a date for when they hope to resume in-person classes.

Ohio University, located in Athens, Ohio, has suspended in-person classes until March 30 and has asked students who traveled over spring break not to return to campus and prohibited students who live in on-campus residence halls from returning to campus after spring break without authorization.

Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio, announced they will suspend in-person classes and set up remote instruction from Wednesday until April 12, according to the website. 

DeWine also asked for universities to screen students returning from international travel or cruise ships, eliminate international travel and cancel/postpone university-sponsored travel and large meetings. 

“We are at a critical time, and we need to get this right,” DeWine said. “Every action each of us takes will help save lives.”