McRobbie made the decision after consulting with university leaders, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student. University leaders are following the advice of federal and global authorities to try preventing the spread of the virus by limiting gatherings of large groups of people.
“These measures will undoubtedly cause inconvenience and disruption, yet the risks of not acting now far outweigh the foreseeable inconvenience and challenges of these actions,” McRobbie said in the statement.
IU encouraged students to go home between March 23 and April 5, if possible. For those two weeks, students' course work will continue through online teaching, according to the statement. The university is looking into how to accommodate classroom activities that include labs or other in-person interactions, and said it will release specific guidance.
IU campuses will not close. Residential halls and dining options will remain open, according to the statement.
In an interview with WISH-TV, Carney said the situation would be reevaluated after the two weeks of online classes to determine if it is safe for students and faculty to return to campus.
IU will continue to deep clean campus buildings, Carney said. He said the university has already increased the intensity of its cleaning process and is following the recommendations listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for cleaning to prevent coronavirus.
Carney said professors received suggestions over the past few weeks to create lesson plans for online learning. He said the Teaching.IU website can help faculty members create and share online content. IU created this Teaching.IU system for emergency situations that require online teaching, Carney said.
There have been no cases of the virus on any IU campuses as of Tuesday, according to the statement. Two IU students have been diagnosed with COVID-19 after studying abroad in a country with a level 3 travel alert from the CDC. The students are receiving care at home.
IU recommends nonessential events involving about 100 or more people be postponed or canceled, according to the statement. People should not schedule any new nonessential large events.
All university staff and faculty members should look for department-specific policies on fulfilling work obligations from home by telecommuting. IU Human Resources has also instituted policies about IU-sponsored health care, paid time off, essential employees, building or campus closures, telecommuting and alternative work schedules.
All university-sponsored international travel is suspended through April 5, according to the statement. Personal international travel is strongly discouraged due to the risk of being unable to return if the virus situation changes. If a traveler is returning from a country that has been designated a level 2 or 3 threat from the CDC, the traveler must self-quarantine off campus for at least 14 days before returning to campus.
University-affiliated domestic travel outside of Indiana is also suspended through April 5. Personal travel outside the state is discouraged with the exception of students returning home.
IU is discouraging visitors on campus until April 5, according to the statement. If visiting from a country with a level 2 or 3 travel alert, visitors are also required to follow self-quarantine rules.