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Coronavirus Updates: Suspension of in-person classes March 19, 20; travel restrictions; on-campus athletic events attendance; local community service; and precautions


Dear DePauw Students, Faculty and Staff, 

After consultation with the Critical Incident Management Team and the Course and Calendar Oversight Committee, the Vice President for Academic Affairs has asked DePauw faculty to use the two days leading up to spring break (Thursday 3/19/20 and Friday 3/20/20) to prepare to shift to online instruction at a future date should that be needed. While in-person classes will not meet on these days, students may be expected to participate in virtual instructional activities and to complete assignments.  Staff will continue to work their regular schedule. The University will remain open on these dates and students will be fully supported. Faculty have received detailed information about resources for preparing for online instruction.

Faculty members should cancel in-person instructional meetings. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to find alternate dates for exams currently scheduled for 3/19 and 3/20 so they can use those days to develop, refine and test plans for virtual instruction. Faculty may cancel classes completely, using the time to prepare for future virtual instruction, or may use the time to test virtual class meeting technologies and/or other instructional strategies for their classes. Students should expect to hear from their individual faculty members regarding expectations for their classes. 

Although we recognize the value of every class meeting, and never take class cancelation lightly, we believe taking this time is the least disruptive option for preparing effective alternatives to in-class instruction for our students should the need arise.      

Travel and self-quarantine

The University has suspended all non-essential University-related travel through Spring Break and continues to monitor CDC advisories, at-risk destinations and recommendations. Employees with questions about what constitutes non-essential travel should contact their Vice President for guidance. 

We do urge faculty, staff and students with travel plans to check for updates to CDC travel advisories prior to departure and follow guidelines for your health and safety while traveling.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html  

We are advising community members to avoid unnecessary exposure and reconsider personal travel internationally and to places in the US with reported cases, but recognize that it is a personal choice to travel. Those who choose to travel to those at risk destinations must report their travel using this form and upon return self-isolate at their home or an off-campus residence (note that The Inn at DePauw is on-campus) for 14 days and monitor their symptoms before returning to campus. 

  • Students should note that if they choose to visit an at-risk destination, which then requires self isolation upon return, class attendance requirements are not waived. Students should call DePauw Health for instructions regarding self-isolation. 

  • A separate communication to staff and faculty will be sent regarding personal travel to at risk destinations and other concerns related to Coronavirus. 

Clarification regarding events, including athletic event policy

As noted in the email on March 6, 2020, academic events with guest lecturers or visitors are canceled beginning March 8, 2020 at least through Spring Break. Although there is no perfect definition, closed meetings that are attended by a single guest are not classified as events.  

On campus athletic events will continue as scheduled, though the university has implemented a ‘no-fans’ policy, and athletics will operate events with only required staff. Athletics routinely applies Standard Precautions to daily practices, social distancing is practiced by virtue of benches, and athletics will continue to take additional hygiene precautions. To date, the NCAA has not recommended canceling sporting events. 

Local Community Engagement

University sponsored faculty, staff and student engagement activities with the local community are suspended at least through spring break. This includes, but is not limited to, visits to retirement communities, hospitals, and School of Music and College of Liberal Arts students’ classroom visits to community schools.

We understand that public health concerns can cause stress and anxiety, and urge you to take proper precautions for yourself and take care of each other. Should you or a friend or colleague have the need for mental health services, students should reach out to DePauw Counseling Services, and employees should consult with HR to learn more about EAP opportunities. Additionally, Student Academic Life is available to students and parents for any questions or concerns at studentacademiclife@depauw.edu or 765-658-4270. 

As State Health Commissioner Kris Box stated, “I urge Hoosiers to continue to educate themselves about this illness and take common-sense precautions, but also to be aware that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild in individuals without underlying medical conditions.”

We will continue to communicate with a mindset of thoughtful consideration of risk and a focus on the health and safety of our students and employees.


The Critical Incident Management Team