In an unprecedented move, Kenyon will conduct online courses for the remainder of the spring semester as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is currently unclear whether these changes will extend through Senior Week and Commencement activities, or if Commencement could take place during the summer. Originally, the College had planned for one week of remote learning starting on March 23.
The move was announced by President Decatur on March 16 during a town hall meeting. Decatur said going online was “the only option” moving forward, given the circumstances. Kenyon will join the Ohio State University, Oberlin College, Grinnell College and a growing number of educational institutions around the country in shifting to remote learning.
This decision comes on the heels of Kenyon’s March 11 announcement to extend spring break by a week and have one week of online classes. Since then, all major domestic sports leagues—including the NCAA—have cancelled or postponed their games. On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also put forth a recommendation against gatherings of over 50 people for at least eight weeks. Those eight weeks will elapse on May 4, originally the first day of final exams.
Ohio has been a national leader in enforcing preventative measures to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus. On March 9, after three people in the state tested positive, Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio. On March 10, DeWine asked higher education institutions to screen students who travelled internationally for the disease and to heavily consider a move to online learning. A couple days later, he banned mass gatherings of over 100 people and announced that all K-12 schools would be closed for the next three weeks.
Given the state’s estimated 100,000 cases as of March 13, the governor stated that there was a realistic possibility that schools would stay closed through the remainder of the academic year. Ohio was also among the first states to close businesses in the wake of the pandemic: Last night, it was announced that all bars and restaurants would be closed for the foreseeable future; the state extended this ban today to include gyms, recreation centers and movie theaters, among other spaces where large groups might gather.
The College has yet to announce many details of this new protocol, including potential student reimbursement and how it will impact students currently on campus. Other issues include the logistics of how student’s possessions are to be cleared from their living spaces, moving out of said spaces, Commencement and admissions.
This story will be updated throughout the day.