Coronavirus Closes Bucks Campuses

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Ben Peterson, Centurion Staff

Prepare for an extended stay-cation. Following the lead of many other colleges, Bucks County Community College is closing all three campuses due to the coronavirus outbreak and all classes will be taught online until at least the end of April.

College President Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt made the announcement March 12. In a letter posted on the college’s Facebook page, she said courses will resume after Spring break on March 23, but “all coursework and communication will be done via electronic devices through April 30.”

“In the last two days, many universities in our region including West Chester, Penn State, Penn and Princeton, have made the decision to move from face-to-face classes to remote instruction. We have made the decision at Bucks to do the same,” she said.

Earlier, Shanblatt had said all Bucks campuses would be closed during Spring break – from Saturday, March 14, through Sunday, March 22 – so that classrooms and facilities could be thoroughly cleaned.

Shanblatt said that for students currently taking in-person and hybrid courses, classes will resume online beginning March 23. But, she added, “In some cases there may be a delay in the start of select courses for up to a week to allow the faculty time to prepare. Faculty will notify students of any and all changes by March 23.”

Shanblatt said professors would be in touch with students with information on their particular classes. She said students should check their Bucks email and Canvas inbox for more information.

“As we monitor this situation, we will update the plan for the remainder of the semester no later than April 17,” she added.

In addition to classes, all athletics programs have been suspended, and all public events canceled through April 30.

As of March 11,  there are 938 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, most of which are reported in California, Washington, and New York. Each of these states have over 100 reported cases. 35 other states are also reporting cases of the virus, including Pennsylvania. You can check for up-to-date numbers at cdc.gov. 

Globally, the WHO reported 118,322 cases in 113 countries of the virus on March 11, 80,955 of which were reported in China, where the virus originated.

The college’s facilities department is taking extra precautions at all three campuses to “combat the spread of any germs by adding extra staff who are frequently wiping down high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, water fountains, doorknobs and handles, along with railings and computer equipment.” While it’s clear that Bucks is taking reasonable action to prevent the spread of the disease, it’s imperative to take individual precautions. During Spring break, all Bucks campuses will be closed to allow “for a deep cleaning of all classrooms, offices and facilities.”

Especially with the threat of the virus, you should practice good hygiene, including, but not limited to, “covering your mouth when coughing; covering your nose when sneezing; frequently washing your hands; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home if you are sick; and sanitizing personal spaces,” as detailed in Shanblatt’s letter.

As Spring break approaches, trips abroad can be particularly dangerous given how easily the virus spreads. Shanblatt asks that “if you are traveling abroad, please consider how your trip could affect your ability to return home, given U.S. government restrictions.” 

She also wrote that “we strongly discourage all members of the Bucks community from any personal travel, which could result in quarantine upon your return.” If you do travel, you may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

To make sure you receive the news about new plans if necessary, Bucks urges all students to sign up for E2campus alerts by texting “BUCKS” to 79516.