Utah Universities Change To Online-Only Classes To Minimize Transmission Of Covid 19 Among Students

Mar 16, 2020

An empty classroom at Southern Utah University
Credit Southern Utah University

Colleges and Universities in Utah, including the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Brigham Young University, announced Thursday they are no longer offering in-person classes for the time being. This in response to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, a strain of Coronavirus. Amanda DeRito works in Marketing and Communications at Utah State University. She says the change to online-only classes has caught professors and administrators off-guard.

“We’ve canceled classes tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday to give professors a chance to move what they don’t have online there," DeRito said. "Some classes are easier than others, so there may be a delay for some classes in getting up and running and we really ask that students just be patient with us.”

Professors at universities across the state are feeling the squeeze from the sudden change.  Dr. Patrick Belmont is a professor in the Watershed Sciences Department and USU's faculty senate president.

“It won’t be quite the same educational experience," Belmont said. "That’s why we do all this face-to-face teaching. But 25% of courses don’t have any online content whatsoever at this point, and that’s going to take a lot of heavy lifting over the next couple of days to make that content available in some way.”

 

Dr. Angela Diaz is a history professor. She and other professors participated in a department training meeting to help them navigate online training tools. Diaz has taught online courses before, but says this time is different. 

“You know, suspending classes like this, I’m calling it ‘Make-do mode’.  My goal is to do as much as I can to make the remaining amount of content for each class as accessible- and easily accessible- as possible for the students, recognizing that the students will be under stress.”  

USU's Dr. Francis Titchner says she is also feeling the stress.

“Forty years teaching, I’ve never been through anything like this," Titchner said. "I’ve neve been so much at a loss as to what is the best thing to do.  I honestly don’t know. It’s getting to me.”