Moravian’s Plan for the Coronavirus

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Moravian's Tiered Mitigation Plan to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The spreading of the coronavirus is happening faster than most people excepted, and colleges across the nation are being some of the first public entities to take drastic actions. 

Since last Monday, hundreds of colleges across the nation have canceled in-person classes and have switched to online methods to continue classroom instruction. In some more drastic cases, some colleges have completely shut down for the rest of the semester, forcing students to vacate their residence halls by the weekend. 

On March 12, Moravian College announced that it would hold all classes and coursework online for two weeks, starting on Monday, March 16. 

Both large and small college events and gatherings were also canceled, as well as all Landmark Conference competitions. However, the College still remains open, meaning that students are allowed to stay in their residence halls. Locations such as the library, dining halls, and offices on campus will be fully operational. 

The big question coming from students is what does this change in the semester mean for the Moravian community? 

While most classes can adequately utilize the Zoom and Canvas features, some majors, such as art, music, nursing, and the sciences, have more “hands-on” coursework that requires in-person, group, or physical instruction. These classes will have to adapt as much as they can in order to continue in an online manner effectively and efficiently. 

Some academic credits such as clinicals, practicums, off-site placements, and internships aren’t as crystal clear. 

These credits are up to the discretion of the placement coordinators and can proceed as normal, conducted remotely, postponed, canceled, or limited. However, this now raises the question of if these credits are canceled or postponed and are a requirement for graduation, are they going to be waived or will students have to complete these requirements next semester? 

On March 14, President Bryon Grigsby released a more detailed plan about how the College will respond to the virus by releasing a plan entitled the “Moravian Tiered Mitigation Plan.

This plan consists of five different responses the College will follow depending on what happens in the future. As of March 14, two members of the College community were being tested for the virus; however, there are still no confirmed cases, and the College remains open. 

Tier 1 is when there are no confirmed infections in PA, which was used by the College during the week of March 2. Students who returned home from Level Three countries (China, Iran, South Korea, most of Europe, etc.) after spring break were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and education about the virus was implemented. 

Tier 2 is when there are confirmed cases in PA, but not in the Lehigh Valley. This plan was used by the College during the week of March 9. Large social gatherings were restricted or canceled and the College prepared to move classes online.

Tier 3, the position the College is in now, is when there are confirmed cases in the Lehigh Valley. This plan will start to be used during the week of March 16. All classes will be online, all public events are canceled on campus, access is restricted for  people outside the Moravian community, and students are able to self-select to go home or stay in residence halls for the next two weeks.

Moravian also released their plan in case of future confirmed cases in the campus community or if the government closes college campuses.

Tier 4 will take place if there is a confirmed case on campus. Government agencies, the Bethlehem Health Bureau, the CDC, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health will all be notified, the infected student will be quarantined, any students that were in contact with the infected will also be quarantined, and food on campus will be provided in a “to-go” fashion with quarantined students having meals delivered. 

Finally, Tier 5 will take place in the event the government requires all college campuses to close. Moravian will work with parents in order to move students to their home efficiently, online classes will continue until the College is allowed to reopen, and infected students, faculty, and staff will be monitored by the College. 

At this point, it is difficult to predict what will happen at Moravian if the virus continues to spread. On Friday, March 13, Governor Tom Wolf ordered that all K-12 schools should be shut down immediately for the next two weeks, which follows what most colleges across the nation have already done. However, unlike most states, PA has not yet declared a state of emergency. 

Based on the recent statements by the College, it seems like Moravian is going to take this pandemic one day at a time, which might work for now but may cause more issues in the future depending on if the virus gets worse and if the government gets more involved with trying to quarantine the public.