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March 11, 2020: Coronavirus Update: Suspension of In-Person Courses

March 11, 2020: Coronavirus Update: Suspension of In-Person Courses

Dear DePauw Students, Faculty and Staff,

As we continue to monitor Coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, including its designation today as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, it is increasingly clear that we need to take further action to protect the health of our campus and Greencastle community. 

Although there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on DePauw’s campus or in Greencastle, the number of cases in Indiana, the U.S. and across the globe continues to rise. Though unpredictable, the virus is known to be highly infectious and recommendations to slow transmission such as social distancing are challenging to achieve on our residential campus.   

Accordingly, after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, and in collaboration with faculty and staff across campus, we are taking additional actions.  

Class Suspension Followed by E-Learning 

In-person classes will be suspended after the end of the day on Friday March 13th and all class meetings will be suspended during the week of March 16th through March 20th. This will provide faculty and staff with time to prepare for a transition to e-learning alternatives and students to make plans for the remainder of the spring term. A decision regarding May term is forthcoming. 

Spring break will take place as scheduled, March 23rd through March 27th. Beginning March 30th, we will transition to e-learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 term. Students will hear from their faculty members about e-learning approaches for specific courses. These approaches may include working together in ‘real time’ for some courses.

Students are expected to depart campus housing as soon as they are able, but no later than March 20, 2020. Only students who have successfully petitioned via this form, and have remained in residence over spring break, will be allowed to stay on campus to complete e-learning. Reasons that may be considered for a petition include:

  • International students who cannot return home or whose homes are in a time zone four or more hours different from DePauw.

  • Students who do not have reliable internet access at or near their homes or who cannot return home for other reasons.

  • Students who need access to specialized equipment to complete course work.

  • In rare cases, students who have other extenuating circumstances.

Additional Messages to Follow

Follow-up messages to students will detail additional information about housing, dining services and campus operations, including internships, work study, visa status and more. Additionally, students currently abroad should expect a message from The Hubbard Center for Student Engagement. 

Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Dave Berque will provide additional guidance to faculty regarding course instruction and virtual learning resources.

Faculty and staff should continue to work as regularly scheduled while we continue to monitor this situation; additional information from Human Resources and Academic Affairs will be sent by the end of this week.  


University-sponsored events remain canceled until further notice; however, athletics events will continue until March 20, 2020 under the ‘no fan’ policy enacted on March 9. Beginning March 21, 2020, all athletics practices and competition are canceled for the remainder of the 2020 spring season.

Commencement remains scheduled for May 17, 2020 and Alumni Reunion Weekend for June 11th through 14th. We will provide additional updates about both events as those dates approach. 


All University-sponsored travel – international or domestic – should remain canceled unless an exception is granted by a divisional vice president. These restrictions do not apply to any members of our community who may be studying elsewhere and are required to return home or to travel between home and work at DePauw. 

Respect for one another

We are extremely conscious of the potential for public health situations to cause social stigma. 

Racist behaviors or stereotyping in or outside of the classroom, or in the workplace, are not acceptable at DePauw. We encourage students and employees who have experienced harassment or discrimination to file a bias incident report

Please care for and respect others during this challenging time and always.  

Preventative health measures  

Please follow all guidelines from local and state health resources.  

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place; using the restroom; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; and, before eating.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick or symptomatic.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is effective to prevent transmission of the virus.

If you have a fever above 100.40F/380C, a cough, or experience shortness of breath, contact one of the following for a health assessment and please follow their instructions. DO NOT go directly to a medical facility.

  • DePauw Health, 765-658-4555

  • Putnam County Health Department, 765-301-7660

  • Hendricks Regional Health Hotline, 317-520-5500

  • Indiana State Department of Health, 800-382-9480 


As a reminder, please continue to monitor the DePauw Preparedness website for information and updates.

We’ve worked with faculty and staff across campus including the Critical Incident Management Team, the Course and Calendar Oversight Committee, and the Curricular Planning and Policy Committee in making the incredibly difficult decision to suspend in person classes. The highly interactive nature and closeness that make DePauw so special also, sadly, increase the risk of exposure. 

We are grateful to the faculty and staff who continue to respond and react to this rapidly evolving situation – and for doing so with the health and safety of our community as our shared goal. Thank you also to DePauw students, and your families, for your understanding, patience and support in the days and weeks ahead.

We’ll continue to provide updated information; if you have questions, please use the following contacts:

  • Students and parents: Student Academic Life will be available at 765-658-4270 until 9:30 pm this evening and during regular business hours tomorrow. 

  • Staff: Human Resources at 765-658-4181

  • Faculty: Dave Berque at vpaa@depauw.edu

Without question, these actions will pose significant challenges, which we will work together to resolve. We will continue to keep you updated as this situation evolves.


Dave Berque, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs
Alan Hill, Vice President for Student Academic Life
Bob Leonard, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Kathy Vrabeck, Chair of the Board of Trustees