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John Carroll University commits to remote learning for rest of fall semester

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Posted at 8:51 AM, Sep 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-05 10:50:12-04

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — John Carroll University announced Friday that it has extended remote learning for students through the rest of the fall semester.

John Carroll University President Michael D. Johnson outlined the reason for the decision in a message sent to parents, students, faculty and staff.

“As an institution, we have two priorities right now: protecting the physical and mental health, safety, and wellbeing of our community, and providing the best possible academic and student experience through the lens of our Jesuit Catholic mission,” said Johnson. “With these priorities squarely in focus, we have made the difficult, but prudent decision to maintain remote learning and off-campus living through the end of the fall semester. We care deeply about you and your overall experience, and bringing you back to on-campus living and learning at this time is simply not the right decision.”

The school started testing students for COVID-19 on Aug. 25 and so far, 852 students have been tested for the virus. Of those, 26 tests came back positive, according to Johnson. The positive results also included a “cluster” of cases that involved students living off campus.

The university’s positivity rate is currently at 3.02%, and while that number seems low, Johnson said it is “categorically higher, by tenfold, than the base rates at campuses that have already opened up and are experiencing problems.”

Other schools that have opened up that are having issues with COVID-19 springing up on campus have had to swap to online classes, quarantine entire campus and send students home. It’s something that has caused “undue stress on academic and institutional operations and resources” at those schools, according to Johnson.

Labor Day is also something that the school has been concerned about.

“Public health authorities are now anticipating a Labor Day surge in cases, which may not be fully reported until a week or more following the holiday, at the time our residential students would have mostly moved onto campus,” said Johnson. “An acute outbreak of significant magnitude on our campus would rapidly limit our ability to quarantine and isolate students.

The safety and wellbeing of students, staff and faculty is the top priority right now for the university and online classes will allow the school to move forward in the right direction.

“Given the data and anecdotal evidence that we are privy to, and in consideration of our stated priorities above, we are confident in this decision. Indeed, aside from the physical health risks of COVID-19, this is the least disruptive path forward on many levels, including for students’ academic success, mental health, and stress,” said Johnson. “We know you did not choose John Carroll University to take classes on Zoom, but we also know that a return to campus followed by a quarantine or a return home would be equally, if not more, disruptive and stressful for you.”

You can read more about JCU's fall plan, here.

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