Ohio Valley Colleges And Universities Respond To Coronavirus Threat


Updated on Mar. 12, 2020 at 4:33 p.m.

College administrators around the region are weighing their options as the coronavirus makes the lectures, events and dormitories of campus life potential means of transmission of the highly infectious virus. A few schools in the region have opted to suspend in-person classes in favor of remote participation, and as of Tuesday one Kentucky college had cancelled the rest of its spring semester as a precaution. 

The Ohio Valley ReSource and its partner stations will update this story as more information about area colleges and universities becomes available.


Administrators at Berea College in Kentucky opted to cease instructional activities at the end of the week. In a statement on the school’s website President Lyle Roelofs said that after careful analysis the school has concluded “that it will not be possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus.”

The University of Louisville announced Wednesday that it is extending spring break through March 17. Starting Wednesday, March 18, through April 5 all classes will be delivered remotely.

The University of Kentucky announced Wednesday that it will remain open, but instruction will continue through online or other alternatives from March 23 through April 3.

Bellarmine University announced Wednesday that face-to-face classes and activities are suspended from Thursday, March 12, until Wednesday, March 18, when courses will resume online or electronically. The administration anticipates students returning to classrooms on April 1, but that is subject to change.

Western Kentucky University announced Wednesday it will extend spring break through March 22. Beginning March 23, WKU will transition away from face-to-face classrooms through April 5.

Wednesday evening Murray State University announced that following the school’s spring break next week instruction will be done through online or alternative delivery methods, but not through face-to-face instruction, from Monday March 23 through Sunday, April 5.

On Wednesday Eastern Kentucky University announced that students should not return after spring break. Beginning Monday, March 23, all courses will be delivered remotely, either online or through other established alternative learning options.

On Wednesday Spalding University announced that effective Monday, March 16, the university will move all face-to-face classes online. Face-to-face classes are scheduled to resume on April 6, 2020 but this date is subject to change.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency Monday after confirming three cases of the virus in Cuyahoga County. DeWine recommended all Ohio universities suspend in-person classes and move to online instruction.

Late Tuesday Ohio University announced it is suspending in-person instruction on all campuses and locations until at least March 30. President Duane Nellis said Tuesday in an email that the university is moving to virtual instruction, effective immediately. Ohio U. students are on spring break and Nellis said that students who traveled home over spring break are encouraged to stay at home, and those who were traveling should not return to campus.

Nellis said in his email that university officials understand “the disruptive nature of these measures but believe it is essential to safeguard the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while continuing to fulfill our educational mission.”

Elsewhere in Ohio, other colleges and universities were taking similar measures Tuesday. 

The Ohio State University announced that it will suspend face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, other classroom settings and move to virtual instruction through at least Monday, March 30.

Kent State University announced “we will cease face-to-face classes through April 12. Remote instruction will begin March 16.”

Xavier University announced that beginning Monday March 16 it will move to a remote learning format for all courses.

The University of Cincinnati will suspend face-to-face instruction and move to remote instruction at the end of the week. Face-to-face instruction will resume Monday, April 13, 2020.

Miami University of Ohio announced that beginning March 11 its campuses are suspending all face-to-face instruction. Courses will be delivered by remote instruction through at least April 12.

West Virginia

Tuesday night West Virginia University President Gordon Gee announced that the school will suspend classes the week of March 23-27, following spring break. Beginning Monday, March 30, classes will be delivered remotely.

“The heart of the university experience is the exchange of ideas that occur in our classrooms and on our campuses every day,” Gee said in a statement. “We are disrupting this process only in an effort to keep our WVU community safe.”

On Wednesday Marshall University announced a plan to shift to distance learning. Marshall will suspend in-person classes from March 16 – 20. After the school’s spring break the following week, all instruction will be delivered in a manner other than face-to-face classroom settings.

On Wednesday Fairmont State University extended spring break through March 20 for those classes that meet in person. Courses will transition to online-only beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice.

Concord University also announced it will extend its current spring break by a week, until March 20, to curtail the potential spread of coronavirus.

Shepherd University extended spring break for a second week (March 23 through 27) for students but delayed any decision on suspending face-to-face instruction.

West Virginia State University extended its spring break through Tuesday, March 24, with classes resuming Wednesday, March 25. During the week of spring break, campus will be closed to all but essential personnel, and staff are being directed to work from home. Classes will resume normally on March 25, however, students feeling ill are advised not to attend class and coordinate with their instructors to complete course work remotely.

West Liberty University also announced Thursday its current spring break will be extended until March 20 for in-person classes.

Michelle Rotuno-Johnson and Aaron Payne at ReSource member station WOUB contributed to this report.