Prior to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying on Sunday that large events and mass gatherings of over 50 people should be halted due to COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, Purdue University had already shut down campus events through April 6.
“Our Spring Fest has had to be canceled. We’re going to do Ag Week in another format. That’s the one that the students are in charge of, and they’ll do that in an online format. So, a number of different things are being canceled in the best interest of health and safety,” said Karen Plaut, dean of the College of Agriculture.
“All face-to-face Extension/engagement activities are canceled through April 6th…We’ll make another decision later in the month to figure out when we can move forward that is consistent with where the university is.”
Plaut says the cancellations have pushed them to move faster toward distance learning, something they knew they needed to do anyway. For students and professors in the College of Ag, she says this is going to be a difficult transition.
“Our professors really like interacting with students face-to-face. So, to be put in an online environment at this time in the semester is a new opportunity. It’s difficult. There’s no doubt about it. Our students will be online. They may be on campus, but they also may be in rural Indiana where the bandwidth isn’t very great. So, trying to adapt your materials to their location, it is a challenge.”
Plaut does believe that they are up to the challenge. Students will begin online courses upon returning from Spring Break on Monday, the 23rd. Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Provost Jay Akridge notified students Monday evening that remote learning will continue through the end of the semester.
Plaut knows it’s certainly not an ideal situation, but they are going to keep the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty at the forefront of any decision making.