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Berea College shutting down for semester due to coronavirus; residence halls to be vacated Saturday

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Berea College is shutting down school for the semester because of the challenges that the coronavirus brings, according to an email statement from President Lyle Roelofs, who said the school is stopping instructional activities at the end of the day Friday.

Roelofs said the Administrative Committee made the decision in response to the COVID-19 challenges that will have significant implications for the community.

Concluding, after careful analysis, that it will not be possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus, we have decided that the College will cease instructional activities as of the end of the day on this Friday, March 13,” he said in the statement on behalf of the committee.

Move-out day for students will be Saturday and residence hall rooms will need to be fully vacated. The statement said for students for whom returning home would be a hardship, continuing accommodations on campus can be provided.

“Students remaining on campus will be expected to continue to fulfill Labor responsibilities and may be redeployed to other duties. Students who will need assistance with travel costs may also apply to Student Life for assistance,” Roelofs said. “All students will continue to be paid for their campus work positions through the end of the semester, even if they are off-campus and not able to actually work.”

College operations will not cease as of this date, and staff should plan to continue to fulfill their job responsibilities until further notice from their vice president, the statement said.

Roelofs said faculty is requested to give immediate consideration to how their courses can be brought to closure in that time. Because most students will have left campus and not all will have internet access, instruction should not continue, although assignments for students to complete and submit can be part of the plan and electronic communications may continue, the president said, adding the due date for final grades will not change.

With classes closing, Berea College’s spring commencement is canceled. Roelofs said it may be moved to another date when it can be conducted more safely.

Athletics contests scheduled through Thursday of this week may be completed, but the school is canceling the remainder of its scheduled games.

The statement also said, effective immediately, the College will also curtail student, faculty and staff travel supported by the school through at least the end of the semester.

“We have a lot to accomplish in order for this very abrupt change in operations to be successfully undertaken,” Roelofs said. “I urge everyone to do their utmost to assist and to be flexible and creative in accommodating the many consequent and inevitable difficulties.”

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