ACU has extended spring break an additional week to March 23 and will move classes online until April 9 in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus.
Kevin Campbell, senior vice president for operations, said that the decision came after careful deliberations among the Senior Leadership Team.
“Senior administrators began monitoring the coronavirus in early January and have been in daily conversation since late February,” Campbell said. “The situation in the U.S. has escalated quickly over the past several weeks and, due to the unpredictable nature and rapid spread of the virus, we are confident this is the best solution for continued instruction of our students at the Abilene campus.”
Students who are studying abroad will be returning to the U.S. for the remainder of the semester. Several of those in Leipzig were in transit Friday, and those in Oxford will return within days. All university-sponsored travel – domestic and international – will be suspended through March 31 and evaluated thereafter.
“We are still working through these details at this time,” Campbell said. “Study abroad students will be working online to complete their courses and are not required to return to campus for the remainder of the semester.”
While other universities have shut down their residence and dinning halls, ACU is keeping its open throughout this process. Campbell believes it’s in the best interest of the students that these accommodations remain available.
“We have a number of students who have already returned from spring break or who chose to stay in the residence halls during the break,” Campbell said. “Some have jobs in the Abilene community. Additionally, considering where students are coming from, staying in the residence hall could be the safest option for some of them. We want them to have options and make the decision they feel is best for their health and safety.”
The Chapel office had planned to cancel the daily gathering for some period after the break until the university opted to extend spring break and moved classes online. However, Chapel still could be impacted when in-person classes resume.
Spring pledging also has been suspended indefinitely. In fact, Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, urged social clubs not to meet during this time.
“The health and well-being of our campus community is our highest priority,” Schubert said. “We take this responsibility seriously, so we believe these steps are necessary.”
While class registration is nearing for the fall semester, university officials say the timing won’t be effected, and advisers will work with students virtually.
Students should be aware that some changes could come into effect regarding online classes. Campbell said while in-person classes are expected to resume April 9, that date could change.
“We will make that decision as we get closer to April,” Campbell said. “The unpredictable nature of this virus means we have to remain flexible.”
Schubert said no decision has been made whether students who have meal plans and live in residence housing will receive refunds. That is expected to be discussed later in April, he said.
Looking into the sports realm, the Southland Conference has suspended all sports’ competitions until March 30. All ACU athletic events have been canceled for the remainder of the month. The conference will reevaluate the situation in the coming weeks.
The university has created a page of frequently asked questions here. They will continue to update the community of any new developments.