homepage logo

Shepherd announces decision to finish semester online

By Staff | Mar 27, 2020

An aerial view of Shepherd University pictures an empty campus, similar to how the university's campus will remain for the duration of the spring semester. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — West Virginia’s Stay at Home Order went into effect on Tuesday night, as local residents prepared to begin taking even more extreme measures to protect themselves from catching and spreading COVID-19 than they had, while practicing social distancing.

According to Governor Jim Justice’s order, which can be found on the Corporation of Shepherdstown’s website, “stay at home means stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others), only go out for essential services, stay six feet or more away from others and don’t gather in groups.”

The details of this order confirmed the earlier decisions of Shepherd University to take precautionary measures to avoid encouraging the spread of COVID-19.

On March 18, Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix released a YouTube video announcing that the school would be finishing its spring semester online.

“I would like to take this opportunity to communicate an important decision regarding Shepherd University in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the advice of our Executive Leadership Team, and Shepherd’s Campus Health Task Force, I have decided that beginning March 30, Shepherd University will complete the spring semester in online instruction,” Hendrix said, mentioning this “will allow our students to successfully complete the academic year.”

“Shepherd is equally committed to the welfare of our employees’ health, and we are trying to balance this with the need to maintain administrative services for current and incoming students,” Hendrix said, mentioning the university is allowing administrative work to continue, in adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s best practice guidelines. “Some adjustments to work schedules will be made, taking into consideration employees with health issues, or with families at home with health issues.”

The university’s facilities staff, Hendrix said, will begin a process of deep-cleaning the university campus, now that it is almost completely vacated, to ensure students and employees will not be able to catch the virus, if it has reached the campus.

According to Hendrix, some students will be allowed to continue living in the campus’ residence halls, including those who are: claim Shepherd University as their only residence; hold a student visa/have refugee status/or other noncitizenship status – and Shepherd University is their only U.S. residence; U.S. residents and live a significant distance from campus and feel it is safer to stay on campus than to be at home; and without and cannot obtain internet access at, or near, their home residence.

“Members of the Executive Leadership Team will continue to provide oversight, to ensure that students receive essential services during this period of alternative academic instruction delivery,” Hendrix said. “Based on other pandemics that have transpired, we appreciate that COVID-19 will pass, and our institution will remain strong. We have a profound responsibility to remain calm, well-informed and serve our students and employees and community to the best of our ability.”