FORUM, Vol. 44, No. 14, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus cautions impact spring on campus

University leaders implement remote learning during unprecedented time

Students moving home in March. Classrooms empty in lieu of remote learning. Commencement and other campus events large and small postponed or canceled.

The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has caused university leaders to take quick and unprecedented action and react fluidly to announcements from state and local health and governmental officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

President Philomena V. Mantella canceled classes March 12-13, allowing faculty members to transition to remote learning, which began March 16 and will continue through the start of spring/summer classes on May 4.

Mantella said these are challenging times, and working together will ensure essential operations continue smoothly. 

sign in Fieldhouse, indicating closed

Photo by Kendra Stanley-Mills
A closed sign is posted on a door to the Fieldhouse. The facility and other campus buildings closed in mid-March as precautions because of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Students move out of living centers

After remote learning was extended through the semester, students who live on campus began moving their belongings out of living centers.

First-year students Taylor McMiller and Brody Conaty loaded up their clothes and other items to head back to Detroit and Grand Ledge, respectively.

McMiller said her 5-year-old brother, Donavan, who came to help, is happy she's moving home to Detroit for the rest of the semester, but not happy about sharing a bedroom again.

Housing and Residence Life created a move-out process and students signed up for dates that worked best for their needs. 

Housing and meal credits during this period will be sent to student accounts. For more information, visit gvsu.edu/housing.

Keeping campus clean demands extra attention

Maintenance, service and grounds staff members have been on the front lines keeping campus buildings clean and sanitized amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for Facilities Services, said staff members and contractors have been incredible in responding to the needs of the community.

"We are really appreciative of their efforts during this ongoing situation," Thimmesch said, adding some staff members have been reassigned to populated buildings.

Charter Schools Office helps parents educate at home

With many U.S. states suspending K-12 education for varying periods of time, millions of parents are looking for resources to help bridge the education gap between coronavirus-related stoppages and the time when schools resume.

Grand Valley's Charter Schools Office created a resource website with prompts for activities and educational work based on grade level, as well as a resource for social-emotional learning: https://sites.google.com/view/gvsufamilyresources/home.

Study abroad programs canceled

In mid-March, study abroad programs and courses planned for the spring term were canceled. Later that week, all summer study abroad programs were canceled.

Michael Vrooman, interim chief international officer in the Padnos International Center, said students who made deposits to GVSU on trips will be refunded and PIC staff members will work with affected students to minimize the impact on their academic coursework.

In February, study abroad programs in Italy, China and South Korea were canceled and students in those countries were asked to return to the U.S.

IT supports campus community

As students, faculty and staff members adjust to learning, teaching and working remotely, Information Technology has adjusted approaches, been nimble and flexible to help everyone succeed in remote applications.

Sue Korzinek, associate vice president and chief information office, said IT staff has worked hard to help with logistical challenges and been responsive to new needs.

Korzinek said the shift to online education has driven a spike in the use of both Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto, which are online video and learning tools that can be used by students and faculty for classes. Use of Collaborate increased 800 percent, and Panopto saw a 725 percent increase in use.

The IT department has also finalized a contract for off-hours support for Blackboard so faculty and students can have Blackboard support 24/7, and helped nearly 100 faculty and staff members implement technology that allows them to work from home with access to their GVSU desktop.