Several Fall Term Classes Temporarily Canceled Or Moved Online Due To COVID-19

An empty classroom. Photo by Gina Chuang

As faculty and students enjoyed in-person classes and activities after a year of online or mixed classes, COVID-19 once again caused issues. According to the DePauw University COVID-19 Dashboard, there has been a total of 12 positive cases within the DePauw community over the last two weeks. As a result, some classes have been either temporarily suspended or moved to Zoom.

The process underlying the decisions to cancel or move classes online is mostly adapted from the school policy “Absence from Campus during the Academic Year.” Specifically, if more than three class periods are suspended or taught from home, the responsible faculty member needs to speak to the vice president of academic affairs, Dave Berque, or the dean of the School of Music, depending on which course is affected. Since Depauw has returned to in-person learning, Zoom instructions are limited and counted as absences, according to Berque. He added that he “had not received any negative feedback” from the professors and students of the affected classes.

Concerning remote classes, Sarah Steinkamp, the leader of the COVID-19 mitigation team on campus, said, “The hardest situation of all is a mixed class. It will be easier if all are online or all are offline.” There are individual students who have missed face-to-face classes because they were quarantined. In this type of situation, Berque and Steinkamp recommended resources that students can reach out to, which includes CARE. Quarantined students can email should they need help contacting their professors and catching up with their classes by remote learning.

On a positive note, Berque confirmed that so far none of the classes have been completely canceled or made online. If that happens in the future, Steinkamp said, “It will not be an individual or overnight decision.” The role of the COVID-19 mitigation team is to monitor the number of cases on campus. When they are concerned about an increase or a possible outbreak, the decision to entirely cancel or move classes online will only be made after careful consideration among the team and other stakeholders, as well as approval from President Lori White.

Berque and Steinkamp gave messages to students as members of a community navigating mostly in-person learning again:

“I know that precautions are inconvenient and tiring. But in a hopefully post-COVID-19 time, caution is needed for enjoyment, so let us all be flexible and try to do our part,” Berque said.

“We are in a community and need to take care of each other, although it can mean different things to different people. For some, it means wearing a mask all the time. For some, it means staying at home when they have symptoms of COVID-19. We all have to do our part: we did well last year and have the ability to continue doing well,” Steinkamp added.