Saint Louis University suspends in-person classes amid coronavirus concerns


Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Another local university is suspending in-person classes for coronavirus concerns. Saint Louis University says that there are no confirmed cases at the school. But, they are suspending on-campus learning for next week and developing a plan to complete the term remotely, if necessary.

Maryville University is offering online-only classes for the next two weeks. They are also using their spring break week to prepare for the transition.

This letter was sent home to students:

Dear SLU Students,

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) at Saint Louis University. As you likely are aware, the first case of COVID-19 in the state of Missouri was identified Saturday, in St. Louis County. We recognize that this has heightened anxieties about students’ return from spring break next week. In response to these concerns, I am announcing two key decisions for our University. 

Suspending In-Person Courses

 University leadership has decided to suspend all in-person instruction and on-campus learning during the week of March 15. During this period, faculty will be working to develop a plan for how we might complete the term remotely, should a decision be made to do so.

This means that students are not expected to return to campus this weekend. However, we recognize that some may need to do so. Students whose circumstances require them to return to their on-campus residence should complete this form, which will allow us to communicate directly with them. 

 Three important things to know about this decision:

  •  No decision has been made at this time to move face-to-face courses and learning experiences online. A determination will be made next week about when/whether the University will resume face-to-face instruction. That decision will be based on the latest information available at that time. 
    This is not an extension of spring break. Faculty members hope and expect students continue to make progress toward their learning by reading and studying in preparation for courses to resume. 
    Not all SLU students are affected by this decision. Please see below for exceptions.
  • During this period, the University remains open. To the extent possible, we will aim to continue with normal operations, although we recognize that usual business may need to be conducted by phone/virtual meetings. We know that many of you have appointments scheduled on campus next week — with Academic Advisors, with University Counseling Center staff, with the Dean of Students Office, and so on.
  • We encourage you to keep those scheduled appointments by phone/video meetings if you are able to do so and if the faculty and staff you are meeting with are able to accommodate the appointments through alternate means.

It is important to note that this suspension of in-person instruction and on-campus learning does not apply to:

  • The School of Law (Law students should take their cues from their dean)
  • The School of Medicine (Medical students should take their cues from their dean)
  • Scheduled online courses offered by the School for Professional Studies or other schools/colleges at SLU
  • In-progress research activities (unless otherwise directed by the faculty members leading the research teams)
  • Experiential learning opportunities that take place off campus, such as internships, clinical rotations, student teaching, etc. (unless the organization/host says otherwise)

New Travel Restrictions

Effective today, the University is restricting all non-essential SLU-sponsored travel until further notice. This difficult decision was made in consultation with our campus’ infectious disease experts in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students who have trips scheduled through the University should consult with the faculty/staff advisor leading the trip to determine next steps.

Though the restriction is focused on all SLU-sponsored travel, University leaders also encourage you to strongly consider postponing your personal travel for the time being. We encourage you to report all travel plans through the University’s travel form so we can communicate with you on short notice if necessary.

Reminder: If you choose to travel to a country the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled with a Level-3 Health Notice, you must isolate yourself at home for 14 days before returning to campus. 

Students with concerns about their own health should contact the Student Health Center by calling 314-977-2323, or their usual health care provider if they are at home.

Communication Moving Forward

 We know these decisions raise numerous questions for students about many things, including timelines for course and degree completion, housing concerns, meal plan availability, and much more. We are working to identify and answer as many of these questions as possible, and we will be following up with additional information soon. Our top priority today was letting you know this decision as soon as possible so you may adjust your travel plans.

Until now, we’ve prioritized communicating with the campus community only when new decisions need to be announced. Effective today, we are transitioning to more regular updates, regardless of whether new information is available. We will update SLU’s COVID-19 website as soon as possible to reflect all of these changes. Students in particular schools/colleges also may receive separate communications from their deans’ offices with additional program-specific information.

We ask for your continued patience as leaders and medical professionals work through this complicated, evolving issue. Please know that we are prioritizing the health and safety of our campus, as working to assure that students may complete their academic work this term and graduate on schedule. 

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

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