Lorain County Community College has postponed all in-person classes from March 11 through March 14, in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19. The college also has extended its spring break from March 15 to March 24, and classes will resume on March 25 using alternate formats.
“As you are aware, the situation regarding Ohio’s response to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving,” said Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs & University Partnership Jonathan Dryden, Ph.D. via an email. “The governor just concluded a press conference at which he announced recommendations requesting that colleges and universities transition college course instruction to alternative forms of delivery using either distance learning technology or established protocols for social distancing recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).”
Though face-to-face classes have been suspended, classes will remain running online as scheduled. By adopting CDC social distance protocols, it may still be possible to have classes of cases of very small gatherings, as long as social distancing is put into place.
Not only has this impacted LCCC, but other universities in North-East Ohio due to the coronavirus outbreak as well. Some of the other colleges participating in the shutdown of in-person classes are: Cleveland State, Ohio State University, Kent, John Carroll University, and the University of Findlay.
Harry Kestler, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology, said that the U.S. has another month of coronavirus cases before things start to calm down.
“If you stay up to date on the coronavirus, you will notice that Wuhan, China is done. What I mean by that is there are no more hosts for the virus to infect. Things will start to get better over there now. Here in the U.S. however, we are where they were a month ago,” Kestler said.
Kestler believes that society needs to start preparing for future virus outbreaks today. “There are 400 different coronavirus strains, and this is just one of them we are dealing with right now. You know, people don’t take the flu seriously until something like this happens. I believe that we need a universal flu vaccine. We need to focus more on that because these kinds of viruses have been living in animals for years before they eventually make their way to us,” Kestler urged.
Nurse Practitioner Dawn Gibson-Owens, has an office at Mercy Health in the city of Lorain. Owens wants her patients to be aware of the outbreak, but to also note that the most at risk are the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems.
“I understand the scare running through the communities right now, but people don’t realize the coronavirus has been around for a very long time. The one we are dealing with right now is a mutated strain that originally only affected dogs and cats,” said Owens.
Owens said that the best prevention for the coronavirus is to use standard precautions you would normally use for the seasonal flu. “This is the same panic that occurred during the H1N1 outbreak. The people highest at risk are the very young, the elderly, or people who have a compromised immune system. If an average adult with a healthy immune system is infected with the virus, it would most likely present itself as a bad cold that your body would then fight off,” Owens said.
According to Dryden’s statement in his email regarding the matter, the CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
Dryden went to say, “Both governor DeWine and chancellor Gardner have encouraged colleges to demonstrate flexibility and creativity as we work to protect the welfare of those in our community.”
To maintain social distance protocols, operations of the testing center have also been suspended until March 25.
Alternative approaches to delivering midterm exams or assignments are to be considered that do not require a proctored testing environment in order for students to not fall behind in their respective courses, Dryden said.
“While we recognize this situation is far from ideal, we are relying on [the staff’s] creativity and ingenuity to devise reasonable substitutes,” said Dryden.
This act of suspension will also impact eight week in-person courses that conclude this week, and Dryden stated, “For that reason, final grades for in-person 8A courses will not be due until Friday, March 27.”
Dryden assures his office will provide additional information and guidance as more information is gathered.
“I appreciate the disruption these changes are creating but all must work together in the interest of our community’s welfare,” said Dryden.
Visit www.lorainccc.edu/coronavirus for updates.
Oscar Rosado contributed to the story.