Oakland University suspends face-to-face classes for remainder of semester in response to coronavirus outbreak


Trevor Tyle

Oakland University suspended all face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak across the country.

Campus administrators announced that Oakland University will suspend face-to-face classes, which was effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, and will continue through the end of the semester Wednesday, April 25. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Michigan, in the neighboring counties of Oakland and Wayne.

Classes on Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13 will be canceled. Remote learning will go into effect on Monday, March 16. 

“We recognize that these actions will be disruptive and create challenges for many, and will have financial implications for the university,” University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our community is our focus at this extraordinary time.”

OU is the latest university to shift from in-person classes to an online format, following similar announcements from Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and Wayne State University. Senior Associate Provost Michelle Piskulich told The Oakland Post earlier this week that a task force of about 45 members has been regularly meeting to “mitigate the risk [of the coronavirus] on campus.” 

Campus will remain open during this time, allowing faculty, staff and student employees to continue working. However, the university also recommends all employees “actively self-monitor” for potential symptoms of COVID-19.

On-campus residence halls and apartments are also expected to remain open during this time. University officials have confirmed they will continue to provide dining, counseling, health and medical services for students.

“I want to remind everyone that Oakland University is an inclusive and welcoming community,” Pescovitz said. “We must remain vigilant and true to our values, and continue to respect each other and the diversity of people who make our community such a special place. We will not tolerate any type of discrimination or derogatory remarks toward any particular group or person.”

The scheduled commencement fairs have also been canceled. Currently, all graduation ceremonies for the winter semester are expected to commence as scheduled on April 30, May 1 and May 2.

According to Jean Ann Miller, senior director of the Office for Student Involvement, all campus events and gatherings expected to host 50 or more people have been canceled, including Siblings Weekend and actor Terry Crews’ scheduled appearance at the O’rena. Miller later confirmed that Crews’ visit to campus would be rescheduled to the fall 2020 semester.

The Recreation Center is expected to remain open and operate standard business hours for Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12. No details have been revealed regarding the Rec Center’s hours for the remainder of the semester.

Club sports seasons have also been canceled. According to an email sent by intramural and club sports coordinator Jordan Leslie, all club sports practices, competitions and travel have been canceled until further notice.

All university-sponsored domestic and international air travel has been suspended until further notice as well.

Summer study abroad programs are currently under review. Students will be reimbursed for any study abroad programs that are canceled.

No announcements have been made regarding official university athletic events.

“At this exceptionally challenging time for our campus, we must work together to protect the health and well-being of our Oakland University community,” Pescovitz said. “In times like these, I have no doubt in the abilities, perseverance and commitment of our faculty, students and staff to collaborate as we navigate this unfolding, and difficult situation.”

For suggested preventative measures and additional information regarding the coronavirus outbreak, visit the Oakland University website. The university will provide students with updates as necessary via email, social media and emergency text alerts from the Oakland University Police Department.

This article will be updated as more details become available.