Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

EWU stays with online classes this fall

 

Last updated 5/5/2020 at 12:19pm

John McCallum

Normally filled with the vehicles of students living in nearby residence halls, this Roos Field parking lot will likely look much the same this fall as Eastern Washington University officials announced their intention to continue with a fully online instruction format.

CHENEY – Eastern Washington University officials announced that they will continue with the current online instruction format created about seven weeks ago in response to measures imposed to slow the spread of the acute respiratory disease COVID-19.

"Eastern is moving forward with an online first approach to the fall terms," EWU Provost Dr. David May said during a Tuesday, May 5, morning telebriefing. "We want to keep our students, faculty and community safe."

May outlined for operating principals for fall instruction, which May said provides "maximum flexibility and for students and for faculty in the event the pandemic worsens and importantly gives students and families choices." While unlikely, May added that the principals provide for changes should the situation improve.

May said all courses currently online will be developed to continue fully online this fall. Those that cannot be offered fully online, and have been identified by college deans as "needing to be in a face-to-face format" will use health criteria to protect students and staff.

"We will be offering a very limited number of those courses in a face-to-face mode," May added.

All courses offered in the fall will have an established meeting pattern to facility students' abilities to plan their lives. Finally, if restrictions are eased enough where health experts agree moving some classes back to a face-to-face format is possible, the university will do so, but will require all classes have the capability to return to online should conditions change.

In announcing its "online first, maximum flexibility" plan, Eastern is bucking a trend among local four-year institutions. Washington State University, along with Gonzaga and Whitworth universities have all announced plans to resume on-campus instructions this fall.

Eastern will also continue with limiting its on-campus living and dining options. As with spring, only a couple residence halls will be open this fall, with students limited to one per room, with social distancing practices in place and frequent cleaning and sanitizing of facilities.

"Same as dining, staffing will be adjusted accordingly," university director of communications/media relations Dave Meany said.

EWU President Dr. Mary Cullinan acknowledged there are still many questions students and others have about fall – ranging from tuition and fees to athletics and campus events. She said officials are working on those, and in the case of athletics the NCAA and Big Sky Conference, and will have more answers soon.

"But again, the health and safety of faculty, staff, students and our community, that health and safety have to be our top priority," Cullinan added.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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