Southwest extends spring break due to Coronavirus; classes moving online through April 5

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Southwest Tennessee Community College is extending the College’s spring break for students to March 21 in light of the escalating novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Shelby County and World Health Organization’s declaration of the virus as a global pandemic.

Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall announced the extension to students and employees in a virtual town hall meeting this afternoon. The extension will allow faculty and staff an opportunity to implement its contingency plan for online instruction. All classes will be taught and administered online March 23 – April 5.  On-campus instruction resumes April 6, barring any new developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have been preparing for this day since news of the coronavirus surfaced,” Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said. “The decision to extend spring break and move to online classes was approved by Tennessee Board of Regent’s Chancellor Flora Tydings today.” As part of TBR’s network of 40 colleges and technical institutes, Southwest operates in alignment with the TBR system. “This decision was not made in isolation,” said Hall, who discussed preparations with TBR presidents across the state.

“We asked our college presidents last week to begin preparing for a possible shift from in-person to online classes,” Tydings said. “Similar measures are being implemented at other public and private colleges and universities, not only in Tennessee, but across the nation.”

The virtual meeting with the College’s stakeholders allowed senior leadership to address specific questions from students and faculty to add to their contingency plans. “Our students’ health and well-being are a top priority as it is with all colleges,” Hall said. “Given our culture of caring, our senior leadership felt it was important to visually reach out and dialogue with our students and employees across our seven locations.”

Since the outbreak, Southwest has launched a coronavirus website, canceled spring study abroad trips, canceled or postponed large meetings and events on campus, instituted a deep cleaning protocol that complies with CDC guidelines for all College facilities, and advised students, faculty and staff to stay home if they are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.  The College also will hold its second Coronavirus Seminar featuring Southwest Associate Professor of Microbiology Dr. Ziba Hooshdaran who will provide the latest information on the outbreak and safety precautions. The event is March 18 at noon on the Macon Campus and will be broadcast live online.  Visit the College’s coronavirus website for webinar details.

The college’s administrative offices remain open for regular business hours throughout spring break. College leaders urged employees to take appropriate preventative measures as described on the College’s coronavirus website and advised by the CDC.  Southwest will continue to confer daily with local and state public health officials and review guidance from the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments and other authorities.

Southwest regularly posts updates on its coronavirus website and social media channels. Students and College employees also receive updates and announcements via email and text.