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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Kent State Gets Ready for On-Campus Classes with Contingency Plans in Place

image of family moving items into KSU dorm
A family heads for Allyn Hall during move in on the Kent campus.

It's move in week for many Kent State students. But as students and faculty get ready for in-person classes to start next week, some universities across the country are shutting down due to spikes of COVID-19 on campus.

The University of North Carolina and Notre Dame in Indiana have both pivoted to online classes because of COVID outbreaks. And there have been hundreds of cases reported at colleges from Kentucky to Colorado.

Manfred van Dulmen, chair of Kent State’s reopening committee, said the university has different tiers of plans should there be a COVID-19 outbreak, ranging from reducing the number of students in classes to shutting down campus.

"Every situation is different. It depends on the number of cases, whether they’re connected. Do they occur in the residence halls? Do they occur off-campus? All of those factor in in thinking about scaling back," van Dulmen said. 

He said students or faculty members can pivot to online learning if they choose.

When asked if safety measures like smaller class sizes, reduced dorm capacity and stringent social distancing guidelines will be enough to keep students on campus, van Dulmen said even he is unsure.

"Certainly, and I’ve said this from the beginning, you cannot have a reopening plan without having a plan for reducing campus capacity."

He said the university has a COVID-19 operating team that meets daily to assess the situation. There's also a response team that will assist state and local health departments with contact tracing when cases are identified.