By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
Delta State University students were poised to return from spring break this week, but due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, all classes will be taught online beginning March 23 in order to mitigate any potential spread of the disease.
The World Health Organization has declared Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, a pandemic. Researchers still have much to learn about the virus, but it has shown to be like the flu, only more contagious and more dangerous to older populations and those with preexisting health issues.
Mississippi identified its first case last week, and the Institutions of Higher Learning responded by announcing a schedule change for all eight public universities in the state.
In a statement released last week, Delta State President William LaForge announced:
“In an effort to be proactive regarding the need to safeguard our university community, and to maximize social distancing, thus slowing down person-to-person transmission, Delta State has made a number of important and timely decisions, and taken several action-oriented steps to immediately modify its campus operations and services,” said LaForge.
Students should not return to campus but residence halls will remain open. Those with housing needs or who are looking to pick up essential items must contact the Housing Office at 662-846-4151 before going to their rooms.
Faculty returned to work this week and staff will continue with their work schedules.
DSU’s Facilities Management Department is increasing efforts to sanitize campus facilities for those who must remain on campus.
All domestic and international travel has been suspended until June 1.
Until further notice, Young-Mauldin Cafeteria, Food Court in the Nowell Union, fitness center, gym and pool will be closed to the public.
The Jimmy R. Williams Bookstore will remain open for limited hours.The O.W. Reilly Student Health Center will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m.
The Roberts-LaForge Library will also be closed to the public, but students will be able to access library services electronically.
All campus events including the upcoming Winning the Race conference have been cancelled until further notice.The Gulf South Conference has suspended all athletic events for an indefinite period.
“During this stressful time, I underscore the need for you to be vigilant, and to take all necessary precautions to avoid the virus and protect yourself and your family,” LaForge said. “This is the time for smart decisions, good care and more than an ounce of prevention. If you or your loved ones exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the coronavirus, please seek medical assistance and self-quarantine.
“While the health and best interests of our students, faculty and staff are our priorities in dealing with the current challenges, we will continue to operate the university to the best of our ability in order to serve our students and their progress toward degree completion.”
One Cleveland resident has offered help to those displaced by the situation.
Will Jacks posted on his Facebook page that students with no place to go are free to contact him for a spot at Jacks Farms.
“We will figure out a way to make things work,” Jacks wrote. “Sofas. Palettes. Maybe even tents if needed. But know this – you will have a place here if you need one, and we will help you make it through this odd period of uncertainty.”
Jacks told The Bolivar Commercial he is looking to do his part to help.
“I know that even in times of normalcy our international students often have more trouble than American students when the school shuts down for breaks,” Jacks said. “While there will be housing available, many universities are asking students to find an alternative place to stay if possible, so rather than panic and complain about this unusual time being uncomfortable for me, I chose to see if I could help solve a problem that is likely to arise.
“I don’t anticipate a huge demand for housing on the farm, but if we have it, I’ll find a way to take care of it, I’m sure, with the help of this gracious community.
“None of us know how this will turn out. I choose not to complain but to embrace the change and not fight it. To help where I can, rather than push, and to accept that some things are out of my control, and some things aren’t. I can’t control what happens with the virus, but I can control my response to the needs of the community around me.”
Delta State University is also warning about potential scammers looking to capitalize on coronavirus confusion and is asking everyone to be cautious.
LaForge offers anyone with questions to call Delta State University at 662-846-4000 or email him personally at email@example.com.