Berea College to Close Temporarily to Preemptively Avoid COVID-19 Outbreak

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This morning, the Administrative Committee reached a decision in response to the COVID-19 challenges that will have significant implications for each and every member of the community.

Concluding, after careful analysis, 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, we have decided that the College will cease instructional activities as the end of the day on this Friday, March 13th.

Faculty are requested to give immediate consideration to how their courses can be brought to closure in that time, and we apologize for the very short notice.  Because most students will have left campus and not all will have internet access, instruction should not continue, although assignments for students to complete and submit can be part of the plan and electronic communications may continue. The due date for final grades will not change.

Students are requested to give immediate consideration to planning to return home with this Saturday, the 14th, being move-out day.  Residence hall rooms will need to be fully vacated. For students for whom returning home would be a hardship, continuing accommodations on campus can be provided, upon application to Student Life.  Students remaining on campus will be expected to continue to fulfill Labor responsibilities and may be redeployed to other duties.  Students who will need assistance with travel costs may also apply to Student Life for assistance. All students will continue to be paid for their campus work positions through the end of the semester, even if they are off campus and not able to actually work.

College operations will not cease as of this date, and staff should plan to continue to fulfill their job responsibilities until urther notice from their vice president.

This announcement will result in many questions, and I request that you direct your questions to the vice president responsible for that area.  You may also anticipate that there will be a number of more detailed messages directed to targeted groups of recipients.  A team of responsible employees will join the Administrative Committee to work through all those detailed matters as expeditiously as possible.

There are a few immediate consequences of this decision that can already be announced:

  • Regrettably, our Commencement celebration will also be cancelled, or at least postponed to a date when such a gathering can be conducted safely.
  • Summer academic travel through the BIST program will be cancelled.  (Other summer academic travel managed through other institutions may also be cancelled, but we are not making that decision at this time.)
  • Effective immediately, we will also curtail student, faculty and staff travel supported by the College through at least the end of the semester.
  • Meetings of the GFA and the CFA planned for this Thursday afternoon will be held as scheduled, but faculty wishing to attend remotely via Zoom may do so.
  • Athletics contests scheduled through Thursday of this week may be completed.  I will be informing the schools of the USA South conference that we will be unable to compete in the remainder of our scheduled games.

We have a lot to accomplish in order for this very abrupt change in operations to be successfully undertaken.  I urge everyone to do their utmost to assist and to be flexible and creative in accommodating the many consequent and inevitable difficulties.