The Northwest Missourian will provide as-they-happen updates on University response to the coronavirus. Several staff are contributing to the updated report.
Northwest to move all classes online, campus to remain open
Northwest will move all in-person and blended classes online starting March 23 in its latest attempt to help stop the spread of COVID-19 after the United States and Missouri each declared a state of emergency, according to University release.
In-person and blended classes, which have been suspended entirely until March 23, will remain entirely online for at least two weeks moving online March 23. Courses that were already online-only classes will proceed with coursework as originally scheduled March 16, according to the release.
All student organizations, activities and events are canceled through April 5.
Northwest's campus will remain open as the University continues to assess the viability of remote work for many of its employees. Residence Halls will reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 14, though students are encouraged to stay home. Campus dining will be open for the duration of next week, the release said, though services will be limited.
The released urged students who have traveled internationally and students showing symptoms of COVID-19 not to Northwest and to self-quarantine for 14 days.
All student organization gatherings, non-essential travel canceled
All Northwest student organization meetings have been canceled until in-person classes resume and all student organization-sponsored activities and events will be canceled through at least March 22, according to a memo sent out to student organization leaders from the Office of Student Involvement and Student Senate March 13.
The cancellations are a part of the University's effort "to limit the spread of the coronavirus and maintain social distancing," the Office of Student Involvement said in the memo. The document urged student organization leaders and advisers to take the necessary stops to cancel or postpone events or meetings between now and March 22, including off-campus gatherings.
Additionally, the memo urged the suspension of "non-essential University-supported travel until further notice," citing an email order from University President John Jasinski. The travel suspension applies to student organization travel, the memo said.
Further updates on University gatherings and events scheduled after the March 22 cutoff will be provided some time next week, the memo said.
Maryville releases information regarding COVID-19
Maryville dropped a press release in response to COVID-19 assuring citizens that the city has procedures and practices ready for emergency situations.
The city is receiving updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, according to the press release.
The press release encourages citizens to follow guidelines set by the CDC including frequent handwashing, social distancing, cleaning surfaces that come in contact with hands and limiting interactions when sick.
Maryville tipped its hat to Northwest’s decision to postpone resuming in-person classes until March 23. The press release also pointed out that Nodaway County has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Residential and Auxiliary Services preps for arrival of students, clarifies Northwest's academic plans for next week
Northwest Residential and Auxiliary Services are working alongside Facility Services, Aramark — Northwest’s campus dining food service provider — and scores of student employees to prepare for the return of some students March 15 amid the nationwide spread of COVID-19.
Northwest’s residential halls will reopen to students at 1 p.m. March 15, as originally planned, though students will not be required to return for face-to-face classes until March 23. The scheduled resumption of classes is subject to change as the University monitors the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, said Rose Viau, the assistant vice president of Residential and Auxiliary Services.
“Our emergency response team that has been meeting and is continuing to meet will be talking more and more as things change,” Viau said. “We don’t know all those answers because we don’t know how things are gonna change.”
Viau said Residential and Auxiliary Services have prioritized communication with residential assistants, who are not required to return next week, while trying to gauge how many students plan to return to campus March 15, sending an email survey out to on-campus residents March 12 inquiring about students’ travel plans.
Around 450 students responded to the survey as of 2:30 p.m. March 12, Viau said, though the number of students who planned to return remained unclear. Residential and Auxiliary Services plan to use the survey results to ensure campus dining prepares appropriate amounts of food for the students on campus next week.
Viau said Aramark, in accordance with the University, is implementing procedural changes within the J.W. Jones Student Union in an effort to reduce the risk of potential virus spread. The changes include increased cleaning and sanitation efforts, the removal of communal ketchup dispensers in favor of individual packets and the elimination of self-serving stations at the Union.
Residential and Auxiliary Services are taking precautions within residential halls to help prevent the potential spread of disease by educating residents on smart sanitation habits while working with Facility Services and custodial staff to increase sanitation efforts. Viau said procedures could be further altered as COVID-19 continues to spread.
“As long as people are educated and understand how to take care of themselves, even in this kind of living environment (within residence halls), that doesn’t give me huge heartburn,” Viau said. “Now, of course, I don’t want it to happen at all. That would be easier for all of us.”
With in-person classes slated to resume March 23, assignments from those classes should not be assigned until then, Residential and Auxiliary services said on Twitter at 5:06 p.m. March 12.
“No assignments should be coming out for in person classes (that have moved online) and won’t start back till March 23,” the tweet said. “If the class was already an online class on the schedule they will be business as usual since they were never in person.”
Northwest Athletic Director Andy Peterson confirmed the sentiment described in the tweet, saying that in-person and “blended” classes would be suspended, along with coursework for those classes. The delay, Peterson said, is being implemented to give faculty time to prepare for an indefinite move to online-only coursework, should the spread of COVID-19 call for such measures.
International Involvement Center working with Northwest study abroad students
Director of the International Involvement Center Phil Hull said the recent travel restrictions from Europe to the U.S. will not affect Northwest study abroad students.
As travel from Europe to the U.S. is restricted in some countries but not all, U.S. citizens are not subject to the ban. Therefore, Northwest study abroad students will not be banned from returning home.
"Things continue to evolve and we remain in contact with students, their host universities and program providers as more information becomes available," Hull said.
Hull said the process of communicating travel plans with students has been underway since mid-February. No students were studying abroad in Asia, so the countries affected earliest with the coronavirus did not impact the study abroad program at Northwest.
One student who was studying in Rome, Italy saw her program canceled and has been back in the U.S. since March 6.
Four other students saw their programs canceled and are returning within the next week, Hull said.
Three additional students are studying in countries at a level-one advisory and, to date, have decided to stay enrolled in their programs.
Nodaway County Health Center tasked with keeping schools, businesses informed
The Nodaway County Health Center’s main task moving forward will be to keep up with and share the information they are receiving from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Missouri Department of Health.
Nodaway County Health Administrator Tom Patterson was not directly involved in the decision Northwest made to suspend in-person classes until March 23 due to concerns over COVID-19, but he was in communication with Northwest throughout the decision making process.
The health center has one testing kit for COVID-19.
Patterson does support the University’s decision and said that this was a logical strategy to interrupt the disease process.
Northwest is using the method of social distancing Patterson said, which is a common strategy used to interrupt the spread of respiratory diseases. Patterson and the Nodaway County Health Center have been receiving information from the CDC as well as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The health center is tasked with spreading that information.
“This situation is fluid, information is developing every day. So, as we receive guidance we share that with the schools and University and even local businesses,” Patterson said.
Nodaway County Health Center is experienced in dealing with respiratory and flu outbreaks much like it did H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, in 2009 Patterson said.
“There are a lot of mechanisms in place to deal with respiratory diseases,” Patterson said. “This time of year in general with colds and flu going around you want to take standard precautions.”
Those standard precautions are routine and thorough handwashing, using hand sanitizer and staying home if you feel ill Patterson said. Paterson urged members of the public to remain calm during this time.
“We are trying to encourage people to remain calm and not be hysterical,” Patterson. “Being hysterical is not going to help you it’s only going to make it worse.”
Nodaway County Health Center is a part of a network of other local health agencies and they can call upon neighboring health agencies for assistance. It is not uncommon for local public health agencies to reach out and help each other and that is a possibility if there is a COVID-19 case in Nodaway County.
President John Jasinski confirmed eight Northwest students are still abroad.
As travel concerns widen, Director of the International Involvement center Phil Hull is communicating with students abroad in an effort to bring them back to the U.S.
Jasinski said he is proud of the steadfast work the University has executed so far.
“We pride ourselves on having strong partnerships with external resources,” Jasinski said. “As the situation changes day by day, hour by hour, the hiccup would be it is fast changing and you have to be fast in response and proactive. And we have been.”
Northwest postpones resumption of in-person classes on both campuses
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Northwest will postpone the resumption of in-person classes at its Maryville and Kansas City, Missouri locations until March 23.
In a March 11 email message from University President John Jasinski, Northwest students, faculty and staff were told residence halls will open March 15 as originally planned to allow for students to return if needed. Campus Dining will also provide “scaled back operations” the week of March 15 for those living on campus.
Jasinski said the postponing of classes comes by heeding the recommendations of public health organizations.
“This is truly a unique situation that, as we have seen, is evolving in unpredictable ways,” Jasinski said in a University press release. “As Bearcats, we will continue to adapt.”
While classes are postponed, students are expected to continue coursework, internships, and profession-based experiences as directed by faculty and advisers.
The campus will remain open and operational the week of March 15, as faculty and staff are expected to report to campus as scheduled, whereupon they will receive more information from University leaders.
Horace Mann Laboratory School and the Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families will remain open as normal.
Northwest Athletics has suspended ticket sales for the 2020 NCAA Division II Central Region men’s basketball tournament after a statement March 11 from NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding the coronavirus.
The University published a webpage for coronavirus response updates as they come, and advise keeping up on latest national updates, as well as checking the University calendar for changes and cancellations.