VIEWS ON THE NEWS:Coronavirus leading Brandeis to cancel in-person classes
As of a March 11 email from University President Ron Liebowitz, Brandeis has made the decision to suspend in-person classes for the remainder of the semester starting March 20 and told students to leave campus by March 25 if they are able. Spring break dates have changed to account for this shift, giving students time to make both travel and storage arrangements. What are your thoughts on Brandeis’ decision? How can Brandeis best accommodate students, faculty and staff during this difficult time?
Prof. Thuy Lam (HSSP)
The move to virtual classrooms may seem sudden, but it is necessary and is keeping in line with decisions that other colleges and universities have made in terms of the remainder of the Spring semester. It is necessary and in the best interest of the students, faculty, staff as the response in the U.S. has been a bit slower compared to other countries with respect to testing potential cases and tracking exposed and potentially exposed individuals, resulting in this apparent increase in cases. In order to try to flatten out the curve, which is to keep the peak number of cases at a level the health care system can handle, we need to institute social distancing. There is a real danger when you have large groups together which can easily result in a domino effect — risk for exposure increases, therefore increasing the number of cases, resulting in a rapid acceleration of the epidemic. The issue is not how it will affect us now or a week from now, but rather four to five weeks from now. It seems to me that Brandeis is doing what it can to help accommodate students, faculty and staff during this epidemic. Faculty have been offered tutorials and training sessions on how to transition their classrooms to a virtual setting. There are a lot of nuances between teaching in a classroom compared to teaching online, and it will be very difficult for some. However, given this necessary measure, we all have to figure out how to best end the semester for the students. Brandeis has a duty to ensure that students unable to leave campus are safe and have appropriate housing and dining accommodations. That is all that they can do at this point. We must err on the side of caution.
Thuy Lam is a lecturer in Health: Science, Society and Policy and in Biology at Brandeis University.
Prof. David Sherman (ENG)
Over the past week, I've seen Brandeis students at their strongest: organizing food, places to sleep, transportation, and storage for one another. All while trying to avoid infection. In distress, so many on campus have been smart and humane. All the faculty I know are expressing solidarity by offering students ways to keep learning, in this new distance and uncertainty. We know that the desire to learn remains a crucial part of who we are. And that we're all going to learn far more about ourselves and others than we expected.
David Sherman is an associate professor of English at Brandeis University.
— Editor’s Note: A March 16 email clarified this statement to require undergraduate students to move out of campus by March 18, barring certain circumstances. These responses were submitted before that announcement.