Clark University and Westfield State University are moving to remote learning models and urging students to move off campus as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Clark University President David Fithian and Provost Davis Baird announced the switch to remote learning in a letter to the community after five people tested positive for coronavirus overnight.
Classes are suspended at Clark until Wednesday and remote coursework begins Thursday. Students are encouraged to leave campus as soon as possible and get tested for coronavirus.
"While this is not an emergency situation, it is serious," Fithian and Baird wrote. "we are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution."
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The five new positive test results came through the university's testing process and magnified concerns that university officials had about the overall coronavirus trends in the Worcester region and nationally, according to the letter. There is no evidence to suggest that the five positive test results are linked.
Meanwhile, Westfield State University is moving all academic courses online for the rest of the semester and beginning a controlled move-out of its residence halls Tuesday. University housing operations will be closed to the general student population from Nov. 23 until the spring semester begins Jan. 19, 2021.
“Even though enlisting our months-long contingency planning was always a possibility, this was a difficult decision that impacts our full campus community,” said Westfield State University Interim President Roy Saigo, Ph.D. “But, we are at a critical juncture as the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.”
The university’s decision follows its lessening capacity for isolation and quarantine cases and a continually increasing need for related staffing and other resources to manage COVID-19-specific and other campus operations.
Clark University's plans for the intersession and spring semester have not changed at this point. Registration is proceeding as scheduled, beginning Tuesday.
Common areas at Clark are limited to reduced gatherings and dining services are only offered on a grab-and-go basis. All University employees are being strongly encouraged to work remotely, with the exception of essential workers.
University officials urged people to comply with health and safety protocols like wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, getting tested and washing hands regularly.