Ohio State University has suspended all in-person classes through at least March 30 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and put a stop to all university-sponsored international travel.
The university announced the move on Monday night in an email from president Michael Drake.
Ohio State is shifting all face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings to online instruction.
In the email, Drake said there are currently no cases of COVID-19 associated with the campus. Earlier in the day, Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed the state's first three cases of the virus were detected in Cuyahoga County and declared a state of emergency.
"We are being proactive in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the university," Drake said in the email. "I understand that our policy guidelines will cause measurable disruption, but the risk of not acting outweighs the inconvenience of these temporary measures."
Students are currently on spring break with classes scheduled to resume Monday, March 16.
Students are allowed to remain in campus housing or return to their permanent residence. Drake encouraged students to stay "where appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures will be actively encouraged."
Ohio State is also is preparing plans for telecommuting opportunities for faculty and staff, when approperiate.
More than 20 U.S. colleges have canceled in-person classes due to the coronavirus, as of Monday morning, according to NPR. The colleges include Columbia University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University and the University of Southern California, plus the University of Washington and a clutch of community colleges in Washington state.
Ohio State is also halting all university-sponsored international travel until April 20. The school had already issued travel restrictions for China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.
The university is also not allowing any new, non-essential events to be scheduled on campus through April 20. School officials are also encouraging event organizers for previously-schedule non-essential events through April 20 to evaluate if they should continue in-person.
Drake also announced that he has convened a task force of senior leadership and subject matter experts "who are meeting around the clock and are focused on our university’s preparations and response."
The CDC reports that 19 people have died from COVID-19 so far in the United States.
The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634.