Breaking: Classes Will Move Online Following Spring Break

President Bilger announced a series of changes in response to the spread of COVID-19 in an email Thursday evening

Note: This is a rapidly developing story. The information in this piece is current as of Thursday, March 12, 9 p.m.

In an email to the Reed community on Thursday, March 12, President Bilger announced more drastic measures to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus) and reduce risk. Spring break will begin early with class cancelled on March 19 & 20. Following break, classes will be taught online through April 10. Many campus events will be cancelled as well as school-sponsored travel; other social distancing measures will be implemented throughout the college. The college is also encouraging students to limit personal travel and monitor Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for travel. Bilger stressed that campus will not be closing: classes will continue online and residence halls and food services will stay open. The announcement follows an increase in local COVID-10 cases, government responses, other college closings, and a campus petition to move to remote learning. 

On Thursday morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown held a press conference to address the growing number of local coronavirus cases. As of the press conference, there have been 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oregon, and health officials estimate that there may be as many as 200 undiagnosed cases. In response to the current situation, and the potential for exponential growth, Governor Brown banned public gatherings with over 250 people and encouraged further social distancing measures. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee had implemented similar procedures on Wednesday. On Thursday, he shut down all K-12 schools in the three countries of the Seattle metropolitan area from March 13 to April 24.

The spread of COVID-19 and the government response has spurred many colleges in the Pacific Northwest to either move classes online or shut down completely. In Washington, Western Washington University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University have all switched to distance learning. In Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, and Portland State University have also moved to online teaching methods. On Thursday morning, Lewis & Clark College announced their transition to remote learning. Like Reed, they are keeping their campus open including food and housing for students. Colleges throughout the country, like Harvard University, Boston University, and UC Berkeley, have also shut down or moved to online systems. 

On campus, there have been calls to move to online learning. This week, some professors already began using remote technology like Zoom video calling or posts to the course Moodle website. A petition to stop in-person classes was disseminated starting on Wednesday, and at the time of Bilger’s email it had 345 signatures from students and other community members. Petition organizer Kayla Luo declared victory following the announcement. 

For up-to-date information on Reed College’s response, please refer to the COVID-19 FAQ page here. Read President Audrey Bilger’s full email with more information here. To learn more about COVID-19, please refer to the CDC website here and precaution methods here. Information for this article was compiled from multiple sources: Washington news, Kate Brown and Oregon information, and the student petition.

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