Berea College cancels in-person classes for the rest of the term, WKU continues to watch situation

Abbey Nutter

Berea College, a school located in Madison County, has cancelled in-person classes for the rest of the semester starting Friday due to coronavirus concerns.

In a letter to the campus, Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said it would be “not possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus.” He also requested students vacate residence halls by Saturday, March 14. 

In the letter, Roelofs said students who may need assistance with travel costs could apply for financial assistance through the university. He added all students will be paid for their campus employment, despite being off-campus and unable to work. 

The letter also stated Berea faculty were requested to conclude their courses prior to the new final day of classes. 

College operations as a whole will not end on Friday and Roelofs said employees should plan to continue work unless later notified. 

Berea College, a small private university of about 1,600 students, is unique because students work on-campus and service jobs and no student pays tuition. 

Read more: What is the coronavirus? What you need to know to be prepared at WKU

Consequences of Berea’s closure according to the letter include the cancellation of summer academic travel opportunities, and the commencement ceremony will be cancelled, or postponed to a safe date, according to the letter. 

Bob Skipper, director of Media Relations, said WKU has been monitoring the spread of the coronavirus for weeks and will continue to do so in lieu of Berea’s closing.

“We are following closely what’s happening in higher ed in our region, and what’s going on with the coronavirus,” Skipper said. “We’re constantly reevaluating our situation.”

Berea is one of several universities across the country which have cancelled in-person classes, at least temporarily. University of Washington was reportedly the first to make the decision after a wave of coronavirus outbreaks concentrated in the state. 

News reporter Abbey Nutter can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @abbeynutter.