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University of Mississippi to discuss shifting to online classes amid coronavirus crisis

The University of Mississippi may be the next to shift its spring classes to online-only the remainder of the semester.

Deans are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the move, and what challenges it might entail if the University decides to close their classrooms due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Ole Miss is currently in the middle of spring break with students out until March 16. Mississippi is still one of a handful of states to not have a confirmed case of COVID-19, but many facilities across the state are taking precautions regardless.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus as a worldwide pandemic.

Last week, Provost Noel Wilkins sent a letter to faculty telling them to prepare for the potential of shifting the remainder of their classes to online.

“We need to be proactive in our planning to ensure that we can assure the continuity of pursuing our mission and educational endeavors should COVID-19 necessitate changes to our teaching and learning,” Wilkins’ letter read.

Ole Miss would be the fourth Southeastern Conference school to shift to online classes, should a decision be made following the meeting. The University of South CarolinaVanderbilt, and Kentucky made the switch in recent days. Kentucky is doing online-only classes for a couple weeks once students return from spring break later this month.

Prior to spring break, some administrative actions have already been taken to ensure the University community’s safety, including study abroad cancellations and student, faculty and staff travel restrictions to certain areas that meet the following levels of concern:

• CDC Alert Level 2 (Sustained Community Transmission, Practice Enhanced Precautions)
• CDC Warning Level 3 (Avoid All Non-essential Travel)
• U.S. Department of State Advisory Level 4 (Do Not Travel due to COVID-19).
This currently includes travel to: China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information is provided.