Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University announced today that its classes will remain online for the remainder of the spring semester. In addition, the university is cancelling its commencement ceremonies though it promises to celebrate graduation in some form.
The announcement came in a letter to students, faculty and staff which was sent via email earlier this evening. The university had announced earlier that face-to-face classes would be cancelled through the end of March and that classes would move online starting next week. The letter noted that a separate announcement for Washburn Tech would be coming later.
“As you know, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow both nationally and in our state,” said President Jerry Farley in the letter. “There are no new positive cases of COVID-19 at Washburn, but we realize that limiting our contact with other is more critical than ever to fight the spread of the virus.
Farley noted that Governor Laura Kelly had already issued an executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people and, today, ordered the closure of all K-12 classrooms for the remainder of the academic year.
As a result, Farley said, the university will continue to use its distance learning systems to deliver classes for the remainder of the year and is taking the important, intentional steps needed to minimize the necessity for the on-campus presence of Washburn faculty and staff whenever possible.
“These developments are deeply disappointing to all of us at Washburn,” Farley said in the letter. “We will be doing our work in different ways in the coming days and weeks, but it is important to remember that Washburn University is open and operating and ready to continue to carry out its mission.”
The announcement said that the university is determining how to address housing and dining. Once those decisions are made, those living on campus will receive instructions on move out procedures as well as information related to refunds.
International students and study abroad students will be working with the Office of International Programs for guidance about their individual situations.
All Washburn employees are being encouraged to work remotely where possible. Leadership in each area of the university will help determine the feasibility of remote work for their employees. However, the emphasis will remain on delivering essential services. Telecommuting guidelines have already been added to the university’s website and the information systems staff is helping to meet the technological needs of faculty and staff for remote work.