Western Carolina University is keeping its campus open while transitioning classes online. BPR spoke to a university official about what students should do at this time.
On a Thursday morning the Cullowhee campus is mostly empty because of spring break.
That break has now been extended through March 23. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sam Miller says over a hundred students are on campus but all will need to weigh their options to figure out what is best for them:
“There’s going to be trade offs. So the students and their families are going to have to look at the situation and make some judgments to decide what’s the best solution for that student and that family,” says Miller.
Western’s demographics are similar to those of North Carolina overall. There are a mix of urban and rural students from across the state, explains Miller.
Many WCU students are from the Triangle - where most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state have been reported. Meanwhile rural students might not have good broadband access for online classes. Students should also think about the risk posed to elderly people in their families. Only about 10 percent of students are from out-of-state, mostly from South Carolina and Georgia. All of these issues will factor into a decision to return to campus or stay home. There are also complications to think about on campus.
Shared bathrooms in residence halls pose an issue for self-isolation says Miller.
“There's very little space on campus for us to implement a quarantine or a self isolation scenario,” says Miller.
Miller wants to make it clear services on campus such as dining halls and the health center will remain open. In line with CDC recommendations, students are asked to call ahead to the health center for an appointment. If anyone does not have a health service provider they can call the local health department for advice and treatment.
Campus gatherings have been restricted until further notice. However, at this time all construction projects on campus will continue on schedule.