University of Windsor, St. Clair College suspend in-person classes amid COVID-19 concerns

The University of Windsor and St. Clair College are moving away from in-person classes as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

College said online classes will begin after March Break, university to offer 'other forms of delivery'

Changes are coming to classes at the University of Windsor and St. Clair College. (Tom Addison/CBC)

The University of Windsor and St. Clair College are moving away from in-person classes as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

In an emailed statement to staff, the college announced that all face-to-face classes and lectures will move to online delivery starting Monday, March 23. There were no classes planned next week because of March Break.

Labs that require specialized equipment will continue, the college stated, until further notice. 

The college urged staff to create a plan that will see their courses completed on April 17, and asked them to conduct final assessments by means of assignments such as research papers, instead of exams, which would require students to go to the campus. 

In a COVID-19 update issued on Friday, the university said all classes will be cancelled on March 16, March 17 and March 18 to provide faculty with enough time to "alter the delivery of classes away from face to face to other forms of delivery, including online."

Starting Thursday, March 19, all courses will resume in their respective new forms of delivery. 

The university said it's also considering an alternative way of delivering exams. 

"The transition will require the patience of our entire institution, as there are still many questions to answer," reads an excerpt from the university's latest March 13 update. " But we are confident the commitment and dedication of our campus community will ensure success."

While face to face classes will be cancelled, the university will continue to remain open. Additionally, residents will continue to operate until further notice, while library, food, student health and other student services will remain available. 

The university has also cancelled or postponed all non-essential on- and off-campus events. 

The move comes the day after Ontario announced all publicly-funded schools across the province would close for two weeks after March Break over concerns about COVID-19.

Doug Ford's government said in a statement the move is "necessary to keep people safe" and based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health.

Also on Thursday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, said there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region. 

That same day, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare announced a physician working in psychiatry had developed coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating at home. The physician in question is being tested, though it will take at least 24 hours to receive the test results.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that, effective Monday, all of Michigan's public and private schools will be closed until April 6 as efforts continue to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement made during a late-night news conference came as officials said 10 more coronavirus cases had been reported in Michigan, raising the state's tally to 12. Already, some K-12 schools had begun announcing weeks-long closures, and others began training staff to potentially move to online learning only.