The university is discussing potential changes to classes in the wake of the COVID-19, or Coronavirus, outbreak, Marquette University released in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The university said more information will be announced Thursday prior to students returning from spring break, which currently extends through March 15. There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Milwaukee. Wisconsin has three confirmed cases of coronavirus, two in Dane County and one in Pierce County. One of these cases has recovered, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
“Marquette University continues to monitor the recent outbreak of respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus in close coordination with the Milwaukee Health Department and the Marquette University Medical Clinic,” the release said.
The statement said all actions are being taken for the health, safety and well-being of the campus community “in content of our responsibility to deliver a high-quality educational experience to our students.”
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee extended its spring break by one week and is moving classes online. One of its employees is being tested for COVID-19, but the case has yet to be confirmed or denied. The University of Wisconsin-Madison also moved all of its classes online through April 10.
Currently, there are “no special protective actions or order currently in place for the Milwaukee area,” Marquette’s release said.
“This is a complex and challenging situation requiring thoughtful analysis and careful deliberation,” the release said. “We must be responsive but not rash in our decision making, especially when it affects an educational experience that demands great sacrifices from many of our students and their families.”
There are currently five subcommittees dedicated to the university’s response: medical, academic, employees, student life/residence life and external contacts.
“These groups are developing plans and protocols for varying degrees of campus impact from the virus, including everything from continuity of instruction through distance learning mechanisms to developing guidance on the size of in-person events to protocols for employees working offsite,” the release said.
Dr. John Su, vice provost for academic affairs, is leading the academic subcommittee. He is working on a tiered plan for continuity of instruction through online methods, such as D2L, MicrosoftTeams and email. Su and the subcommittee members are contacting department chairs to discuss the feasibility of these methods.
In addition, the university has implemented new cleaning procedures and is “utilizing stronger anti-viral cleaning agents in residence halls, common areas and restrooms in university-owned apartments, academic buildings and office buildings on campus.”
Signs are being posted on campus that instruct visitors that they should self quarantine themselves at home for 14 days if they have visited or have come in contact with someone who has been exposed to the virus. Posters and signs are also being displayed in restrooms and break rooms on campus that remind people of the importance of hygiene practices and to stay home if they experience sickness.
Marquette has also suspended all university-sponsored travel for faculty, staff and students to countries that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies as Level 3. That currently includes China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. That is subject to change as the virus continues to spread.
Minsters at the Church of Gesu and Chapel of the Holy Family are also forgoing the giving of communion with the cup at Mass. Instead, everyone will be asked to receive communion in hand, and ministers will not give communion on the tongue.
As of today, Marquette is restricting all new, nonessential university-sponsored travel until further notice. That includes domestic and international trips. Trips that are currently taking place are not expected to be recalled.
All faculty and staff are asked to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days at home if they have recently visited and or passing through a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice area. Individuals who are returning from cruise ships where there were no reported cases are asked to self-monitor for symptoms and to practice “social distancing.”
All updates regarding the coronavirus and its impact on campus can be found in Marquette Today, as well as the university’s Medical Clinic website.
This story is developing.