Breaking: Mercer announces COVID-19 response, majority of students plan to move online

Mercer administration has introduced a plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email from President Bill Underwood, it was announced that students have a choice between in-person and online instruction.

“Online delivery of coursework for students choosing the latter option will begin on March 23, and faculty will communicate details of how that will work to their students by the end of next week,” Underwood said in the email. 

Underwood clarified in another announcement that students who decide to choose the online route will receive more information from their course instructors in the next week.

Students are required to inform the University of what they plan to do by 5 p.m. on Monday.

In a poll conducted by The Cluster, 269 students responded about how they plan to proceed in light of Underwood’s announcement. 

The majority of students (39%) say they plan to return home and proceed with online classes.

Another 34.9% say they intend to remain on campus and continue attending in-person classes, and 26% say they are remaining on campus but opting for online instruction.

It was also noted that students have the ability to change their minds if their situations change.

“A student who initially decides to continue with in-person classes on campus can move to a virtual format at any time,” Underwood said. “Likewise, a student who initially decides to convert to a virtual format can decide to return to campus as circumstances continue to evolve.”

For students who plan to remain on campus, all student services, including residence halls, food service and the Student Health Center, will remain operational.

In a March 10 email to the student body from Underwood, he said that the University expects students to “develop symptoms associated with this new strain of coronavirus,” but he is “confident that Mercer is well-positioned to care for these individuals.”

Journalism professor Evey Wilson said in an email that there have been brief preparations on the part of faculty.

“At our faculty meeting on Tuesday, we spoke about the possibility of going online,” Wilson said. “Professors were urged to start thinking about how to use Zoom and Skype in their classrooms in the off chance we would go online.”

All Mercer communications can be found on the COVID-19 page on their website.

The Cluster will continue to report any developments with the University’s plans.