ANCHORAGE, AK – Alaska Pacific University (APU) today announced a number of preventive measures it will take to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, including moving classes online for the remainder of the academic term and canceling its spring commencement.
“Although there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Alaska, we are taking preventive measures to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff, and communities throughout the state, to help slow the spread of the virus, and to ensure students are about to complete their courses and educational programs in a timely way,” Onders told members of the APU community. “By reducing the number of people on campus, we can help Alaska mitigate the risks of the virus.”
In an email to students, faculty and staff, APU President Bob Onders outlined the University’s plan. It includes:
- Canceling in-person classes through Friday, March 20 to give faculty time to prepare for distance learning.
- Resuming a normal class schedule on Monday, March 23, with most classes held online using the University’s Blackboard platform. A handful of classes will continue to meet in person, including science labs and some music courses.
- Asking resident students to return home for the remainder of the academic term. (Students with extenuating circumstances may request an exception to stay on campus, where there will also be modified dining options available.) Students will be able to store their belongings until the fall term.
- Closing Moseley Sports Center and the Atwood gym to public use.
- Requesting that advising appointments and other student business with campus offices be conducted over the phone or online.
- Canceling commencement events in April. Students who graduate in the spring will be invited to participate in the Fall 2020 commencement ceremony.
The decision, which comes near the end of APU’s spring break, was made the day after Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a public health emergency in response to the global spread of the coronavirus. “Social distancing,” or reducing in-person contact between people, is one of the most significant steps that can be taken to slow the global spread of the virus and the potentially fatal disease it causes, COVID-19. Similar arrangements have been made at colleges and universities around the nation, including the University of Alaska.
With no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, APU is taking proactive steps to help “flatten the curve” of the virus’ spread. Experts have stressed the value of social distancing and other measures that can slow the rate of infection in order to reduce strain on health care resources.
Onders acknowledged that the changes are a less than ideal end to the semester but said the University is taking every precaution to protect its students, faculty, staff, and the greater Anchorage community.
“APU is a resilient institution dedicated to the success of our students and the health of our communities,” Onders said. “We will continue to work together to respond effectively to this challenge.”