Western University of Health Sciences today began transitioning to online-only delivery of classes and lectures and directed students to not come to campus until further notice once their programs go fully online.
The shift in curricular delivery is in response to the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to Centers for Disease Control recommendations about minimizing virus exposure and transmission risk by avoiding large group settings.
The remote-delivery transition began with the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP), WesternU’s largest college, which notified students to not come to campus Wednesday, March 11 and to instead begin attending classes solely online. The colleges of Health Sciences, Dental Medicine, Optometry, and Veterinary Medicine will go online Thursday, March 12, and the College of Podiatric Medicine on Friday, March 13. The College of Pharmacy and the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences will begin remote delivery on Monday, March 16. The College of Graduate Nursing already is predominantly online and will require minimal operational adjustments.
Students at COMP-Northwest, the WesternU campus in Lebanon, Oregon, also were directed to begin attending classes online today and to not come to campus.
“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all those in the communities we serve are of paramount concern to the University,” said Dr. Daniel R. Wilson, President of WesternU. “WesternU was early to begin preparations to deal with the coronavirus, and we have remained as proactive as possible about staying ahead of the COVID-19 curve to serve each other, our patients, and our communities. The decision to begin remote delivery of curriculum, and to put measures in place to reduce the physical presence of students and employees as necessary, are prudent next steps in this public health effort.
“In this time of tremendous health care concern and need, the University must do more than reach the bar for sound community health and disease prevention. We must help set that bar. Indeed, I recommend that all persons not only be zealous in handwashing and hygiene but also minimize social interaction, as these are the ONLY means to reduce the speed and spread of this pandemic.”
As the spread of COVID-19 is difficult to predict, there is no timetable as to when in-person classes may resume. The University and each college will keep students apprised of operational status on a regular basis, including an advisory prior to the end of spring break, which begins at the end of March. Classes might continue only by remote means following the break.
Although the student presence will be curtailed, WesternU campuses are not closing. In addition to remote delivery of curricula, measures are being put into place to minimize the physical presence of employees on campus as may be necessary, including training and equipping staff to work from home. Faculty and staff on both campuses are still expected to report for work unless otherwise directed.
WesternU Health Centers in Pomona, Rancho Mirage, and Portland, Oregon, will continue regular operations until further notice.