Valdosta State University announced Wednesday night that for the time being, all school operations will continue, bucking the trend of several nearby universities, which have chosen to close due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the new coronavirus.
Dr. Rodney Carr, vice president of Student Success, sent an email to VSU students, faculty and staff detailing the administration’s decision to continue operations.
“While we understand the concerns and fear around COVID-19, it is extremely important that the campus community stay calm and not panic,” Dr. Carr’s e-mail said. “The overall risk of COVID-19 to faculty, staff and students at Valdosta State University remains low.”
VSU’s choice to continue in-person classes runs counter to other schools in the region, such as Florida State University.
In his e-mail, Dr. Carr also said that VSU is asking students, faculty and staff to complete a travel form if any person is traveling either domestically or internationally. The form is set to be released on Friday through MyVSU.
Dr. Carr declined to offer details on the travel policy.
VSU SGA President Jacob Bell agreed with the administration’s idea to keep track of travel during spring break. Spring break for VSU will be March 16 to March 23.
“Certainly, I think that is wise to track where students, faculty and staff go over the break,” Bell said. “At this time, I think [the administration] made the best decision with the information that they have, as far as the coronavirus outbreak.”
One VSU student said the email puts students at risk.
“I think it was very unsafe,” Mark Sheme, a sophomore musical theatre major, said. “It could potentially become a public health crisis for VSU students in the area.”
Sheme added that student travel could be bad for the university.
“I know that is a lot to consider regarding how to transfer classes online … but I think just not potentially doing anything in regards to [the coronavirus], and waiting for something negative to happen with somebody coming back from break in areas like Orlando, Atlanta or Jacksonville” is not best course action, he said.
To prevent the spread of the virus, Dr. Carr’s email referenced a list of measures by the Center for Disease Control, including washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and staying home if you feel sick.
Another VSU student said the administration is not thinking about the exposure of COVID-19 with students in mind.
“I think [the email] is very simple minded,” Savannah Kennedy, sophomore musical theatre major, said. “He is acting like it is something that is not killing people and is something that’s not hand-to-hand and mouth-to-mouth.”
Kennedy said the best solution to keep students safe is to switch to online classes or add an extra week to spring break, which will give administration time to deep-clean and sanitize the school.
Florida State University announced its decision Wednesday.
“Our highest priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” read a statement on FSU’s website Wednesday night. “Therefore, we will shift to online instruction for all courses on March 23 for a period of at least two weeks.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District said Wednesday that there was a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Lowndes County but the risk to the general public remains low.
At this time, there has been no changes in class schedules at VSU.
Written by Prince Robinson Jr., Managing Editor, and Lenah Allen, Campus Life Editor. Photo Courtesy of The Spectator.