Ohio State suspends in-person classes for the rest of the semester and announces students will need to move out of residence halls. | Credit: Lantern file photo

Ohio State has suspended face-to-face classes for the remainder of the spring semester and will begin moving students out of residence halls due to the coronavirus outbreak, University President Michael V. Drake announced in an email sent to the university community Thursday.

Beginning March 23, all instruction will be virtual, the email reads, while spring break has been extended to March 22 so faculty and staff can prepare virtual coursework. Students living in dorms will receive an email from University Housing Friday morning with instructions to schedule a move-out time between March 14 and 22, according to the email. 

“We have a large student population and global reach that require us to manage this issue while taking a variety of circumstances into consideration,” Drake wrote in the email.

The university will also limit the number of in-person clinical and fieldwork experiences, the email said. Students who are expected to be affected will be notified with specific information.

Time slots to move out of university housing will be “strictly enforced to ensure appropriate social distancing,” the email said. The university advises people who are ill to stay home and keep a safe 6-foot distance from others to prevent the spread. 

The virus, 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. 

Residence halls and some dining halls will remain open until March 22, and the email said the university will work with students who aren’t able to move out between March 14 and 22 on an individual basis. University housing will send more information in the upcoming days.

The university also updated travel restrictions and now requires all students, faculty and staff currently traveling in Europe to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to the United States. The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to Europe.

“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.

A 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.

The announcement follows an order from Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday banning gatherings of more than 100 people. While schools are exempt from the order, DeWine issued a mandatory three-week break for all K-12 schools starting the end of the school day Monday.

Other universities across the U.S. and Ohio have taken similar measures.

Kent State University, located in Northeast Ohio, announced Tuesday the suspension of in-person classes until April 13, according to its website. Students began moving out of residence halls Wednesday.

The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that in-person classes were suspended for the remainder of its spring semester, according to its website. 

Columbia University announced Thursday that classes would be virtually conducted for the remainder of the semester and urged students to move out of dorms if possible, according to its website.

Harvard University announced Tuesday that students were not to return to campus after the end of their spring break on March 23, and that classes would be moved to an exclusively virtual format until the end of the spring semester, according to the university’s website.