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With classes going online, some students head home

Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, and other administrators held a series of webinars and an in-person meeting on Friday, March 13, to answer questions and update students and parents about the university’s steps to respond to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The university’s priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff in a rapidly changing situation, they said. No one has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Stetson Community, and the university is closely following all safety, security and health measures as directed by the state Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement Thursday night, Libby announced all classes at Stetson will move online, starting Wednesday, March 18, and continuing through the spring semester. The campus will remain open, and students can decide whether they want to stay on campus or go home for the rest of the semester.

Some Stetson students and their families were moving out of their residential halls on Friday, March 13, after the university announced it would switch to online classes, beginning Wednesday, March 18. Photos: Stetson University/Faith Jones

Students are asked to inform Residential Living & Learning of their decision by March 20. If they decided to leave, they are asked to move out of their residence halls by March 23. More information is available on the Stetson Coronavirus Communication Student Updates website.

Stetson administrators outlined the changes and answered questions during Friday’s webinars and in-person meeting. Here are some highlights.

Q: If students leave, will they be reimbursed for housing and meals?
A: Refunds will be made. More information is available on the Stetson Coronavirus Communication FAQ webpage.  

Q: If students leave, do they have to take all of their belongings with them?
A: Students will need to take all of their belongings if they are leaving. The university does not plan to store students’ belongings, although a list of local resources for storage will be provided.

Students load up their belongings on Friday, March 13.

Q: Can parents come and help students move out?
A: Yes. Family members and friends are asked to use their judgment related to the coronavirus and their health. If they have been in an impacted area in the past 14 days, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or are experiencing flu- or cold-like symptoms (fever over 100.3, cough, shortness of breath), they should avoid coming on campus or into campus buildings.

Q: If students stay on campus, will they have access to the dining hall and other University facilities?
A: The Commons dining hall will remain open, although it may change some menu offerings and hours of operation, depending on the number of students who remain on campus. The duPont-Ball Library will remain open, as will Student Counseling Services and other facilities used by students.

Q: What safety and security measures will be put in place for students who remain on campus?
A: Stetson has a comprehensive infectious disease protocol and already has been following these safety, security and health measures. The university receives direct guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stetson’s Health Service is connected to AdventHealth, the major hospital system in the area, and can access their support and resources.

Q: Will students be notified if someone on campus tests positive for COVID-19?
A: The University will notify the Stetson Community of any positive case of COVID-19 within the campus community, although the university would protect the individual health information of students, faculty and staff.

Q: Might in-person classes resume on campus if the health threat lessens in coming weeks?
A: Stetson will teach online classes for the remainder of the Spring academic term. In a few weeks, Stetson will be nearing the end of its academic term. The University believes a move back to in-person classes would cause more disruption not only in housing and on-campus services, but also in the classroom.

Q: When will students learn if Commencement will take place?
A: The University expects to have a decision by the end of March. University administrators are looking at this very carefully and will provide an answer to the Stetson Community as quickly as possible.

Students have until March 23 to move out of their residence halls.

Q: If students have ordered a cap and gown for Commencement, how can they pick them up?
A: The University remains open. Caps and gowns can be picked up in the University Bookstore, which remain open, as usual, as well as other offices on campus, academic buildings and residence halls.

Q: Will the schedule for Academic Advising and Registration be changing?
A:  The Academic Advising schedule and Registration schedule for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 will remain as publicized on the Registrar’s website. Each student has a faculty advisor and can meet with their advisor virtually. They also can meet in person, if the student remains on campus and the student and faculty member feel comfortable meeting in person and maintaining a safe social distance as a precaution.

Q: Will the requirement for Cultural Credits be waived for graduating seniors since students might not be on campus?
A: Stetson does not expect the Cultural Credit requirements to be waived. Provost Noel Painter, PhD, has asked for recommendations on how students can accomplish the Cultural Credit requirements when they are not on campus. More information will be provided to students.

Q: Should students still plan on their Study Abroad trip for the Fall 2020 semester?
A: At this time, no decision has been made about Study Abroad for the Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters. Students should continue to expect those to happen, while being mindful that events are developing quickly worldwide.

Other Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the Stetson Coronavirus Communication website, including FAQs on Student Employment, Residential Living & Learning, and more.