Local universities set guidelines for self-quarantine, online classes during coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 4:56 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 09:19:06-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Students who have gone on Spring Break and are returning from vacation pose a potential risk of spreading coronavirus across Hampton Roads.

Now, colleges are announcing new measures to prevent the illness from spreading on their campuses.

Many universities in Virginia have moved all of their classes online for the foreseeable future and some are postponing or canceling all university events with more than 100 people.

Meanwhile, local universities like Regent University are asking students to self-quarantine if they travel to countries that the CDC has identified as high risk for contracting the virus.

Old Dominion University senior Logan Banks is heading on a dream vacation to Hawaii for Spring Break, and he’s taking precautions to protect himself from possible exposure to coronavirus.

“I’m not going to wear a mask or anything, but I probably won’t shake too many people’s hands. I’ll probably wash my hands as much as possible,” said Banks.

This comes as 10 Regent University students are self-isolating after attending a conference where someone tested positive for coronavirus. Regent’s classes are still scheduled to start back up on Monday.

Meanwhile, ODU announced new measures this week to help protect the Monarch community, including a Public Health Incident Task Force that will address things like alternative work schedules and transitioning to virtual instruction.

Banks says professors are just as concerned about the virus as students.

“Some are like, ‘I’m probably going to end up canceling classes.’ Teachers are people too, so their reaction is going to be different just depending on how they feel about health issues in general,” said Banks.

ODU canceled study abroad trips and is mandating faculty and staff traveling to high-risk countries like China, Italy and Japan to self-quarantine for two weeks before returning to campus.

Banks says professors are already taking steps of their own.

"Some teachers will just do different things -- they just keep the hand sanitizer on the desk, or they’ll go wash their hands or they don’t want to shake anybody's hands, or they’re only accepting digital copies of work right now," Banks said.

Hampton University did not cancel its study abroad program, but it is mandating the same self-quarantine procedure.

Other local colleges like Tidewater Community College and Norfolk State say they are monitoring the spread of the virus and following guidelines from the CDC.

The State Council for Higher Education say it’s up to the schools to decide what’s best for student and faculty safety.

It encourages people to follow CDC guidelines, but it isn’t going to implement any state-wide university mandates at this point.

News 3 has compiled a list of Virginia universities and colleges that have canceled in person classes and have gone online. Click here to view the list.

Hampton University announced that classes will continue; however, all non-essential visitation has been suspended from the campus and all students, faculty and staff who have traveled internationally are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.