Methodist University Announces Updates on the Coronavirus Situation

Presidential Update

March 30, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

In response to Gov. Cooper’s stay-at-home order, the following rules will be in effect on the Methodist University Campus until further notice.

The Provost and the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students will be sending out additional information later today that is specific to students.

There also will be additional information coming out later today for Methodist University employees.

The Chief of Staff and Vice President for Planning and Administration will send out instructions later today regarding technology support during this time.

  1. The physical campus is essentially shut down, except for:
    1. Residence Halls where students continue to live
    2. Berns Student Center, where residential students may continue to get take-out meals
    3. The Library, where students and some faculty will continue to be able to use computer technology under strictly enforced social distancing rules
  2. All other campus buildings are closed.
  3. The University Post Office will be open only on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    1. Students still living on campus and others with explicit permission to come to campus who are expecting mail should check at the Post Office during those times.
    2. All FedEx, UPS, and other deliveries will be taken to the Post Office and may be picked up during those times.
    3. For critical university business mail (gifts, deposits, invoices, transcripts, etc.), members of the accounting office staff will be authorized to open mail, scan documents and email them to appropriate employees.
    4. If you are expecting an important piece of mail or a package, you may email Postoffice@methodist.edu to see if it has arrived or to ask Post Office staff to scan it and email it to you if that is your preference, or you may call 910-630-7160 or 910-630-7194 and leave a message.
    5. Strict social distancing rules will be in effect at the Post Office at all times.
  4. Administrative offices of the University remain open, but staff will be working remotely.
  5. Provost and Vice Presidents will provide Police and Public Safety with a list of all employees from different areas and all students who are either required or authorized to be on campus. IDs will be checked at the Welcome Center against this list, and those not on the list will not be permitted onto campus.
    1. Your Vice President or the Provost will notify you if your name is on this list.
    2. The names of all students remaining in the Residence Halls will be on the list.
    3. Commuter students will receive more information about this in a later message from the Provost.
    4. If you need emergency access to the campus, please contact your Vice President or the Provost and inform them of your need and the reason for that need. If they agree to authorize access, they will inform Police and Public Safety.
    5. Even if your name is on the list, please be extremely judicious about deciding to come to campus. This should be based exclusively on academic or professional need, not on personal or recreational need.
  6. Outside contractors who are working on such projects as the football/lacrosse field lights, the ravine, residence hall repairs, and cafeteria renovation will be permitted on campus. They are expected to follow strict social distancing protocols.
  7. All personnel who will be working remotely must leave the following message on their voicemail in exactly these words:
    1. Because of Governor Cooper’s stay-at-home order, this office is working remotely. If you need to contact someone from this office, please either leave a message or email (insert appropriate email address here). Someone will be in touch with you as soon as possible. This office will be receiving no in-person visitors, and no staff will be physically present in the office until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we hope you remain in good health.

This is a time of challenge unprecedented in the history of Methodist University. We will continue to do our very best to help students complete their coursework this semester and to graduate when they meet requirements. And we will do our very best to keep the university in operation on a remote basis. We thank you for your patience as we continue to work through how best to serve our students, protect our employees, and obey the law.

We pray for your health, safety, and serenity.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President


March 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,

As you may have already heard, Governor Cooper has issued a Stay at Home Order, effective Monday at 5 p.m. As a consequence, the only facilities at Methodist University that will remain open will be the Residence Halls (those with students remaining in them), Berns Student Center (including the cafeteria for food pickup), and the Library. Faculty and staff who work in other buildings may come in on Monday to get what they need and then return home.

Vice presidents will be in touch with their staffs on Monday to give more specific explanation.

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President


March 23, 2020

To The Methodist University Community,

In an effort to keep students informed of how the University is responding to the evolving situation related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), please carefully read the following updates:

Guidance regarding on-campus dining:

Starbucks will close today at 5:00 pm., and Chick Fil A will close today at 8:00 pm. Starting tomorrow, the Green and Gold cafeteria will operate for take-out only from 10:30 am. – 12:30 pm. and 5:00 pm. – 7:00 pm. daily.

Guidance regarding usage of Nimocks Fitness Center:

Per North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order, the Nimocks Fitness Center will close today at 5:00 pm until further notice.

Library Hours (effective today)

Monday – Friday 1pm-9pm
Saturday and Sunday 1pm-5pm

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President
William H. Walker, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students


March 23, 2020

Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,

In a recent Cabinet meeting, we were discussing the Credo Moving the Needle partnership, which is designed to improve student success, retention, and graduation at Methodist University. I talked about the importance of optimism – the importance of believing things will get better. For several years I have been reading about the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The most fundamental tenet of this concept was described by sociologist William Isaac Thomas in 1928: “If (people) define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” In other words, we can affect an outcome simply by believing in the likelihood of that outcome. This can happen for good or for ill.

The concept has been widely studied since it was first described. There are many examples put forward by sociologists, psychologists, historians, sports psychologists, and others where widespread belief in the inevitability of a certain outcome seemed to have a causal impact on the outcome itself. Sometimes the outcome was a good thing, preceded by widespread optimism. Sometimes it was a bad outcome, preceded by widespread pessimism or dread.

One of the reasons I have been fascinated by this idea is that I see a link between it and prayer. When we believe something good will happen, we begin to behave according to that belief, and our behavior increases the likelihood of the good thing happening. Prayer is similar. When we pray with faith and hope in our hearts, we become optimistic. That optimism begins to affect our behavior – we begin to behave hopefully, and that increases our personal involvement in the fulfillment of the prayer. For those of you who have faith in God, we could say that the prayer opens us for God to work through us for good. But regardless of belief, there is evidence that optimism works.

This is a time when we are all struggling between the poles of optimism and pessimism. I believe optimism itself is a form of prayer. It is prayer in action – prayer in our behaviors.  We need that now more than ever in my lifetime.

In these difficult, days, please actively search for reasons for hope. I cannot guarantee that optimism will work to defeat coronavirus, but I do know that pessimism may cause us to fail. When we are pessimistic, we stop behaving in ways that can influence a good outcome. Optimism will be evident in our caring for each other, in our taking social distancing seriously and acting accordingly, and in our strict adherence to preventative measures like hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when we feel ill.

Please join me in optimistic behaviors. Let’s all work together to give hope a chance.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, PhD.
President


IN-PERSON CLASSES WILL NOT RESUME DURING SPRING SEMESTER 2020. ALL RESIDENTIAL STUDENTS ARE ASKED TO VACATE CAMPUS BY MONDAY AT 5 P.M.

March 20, 2020

Dear Students and Parents,

Given the quick spread of the novel coronavirus and the critical need for social distancing, we will not resume face-to-face classes for the remainder of Spring Semester 2020. In addition, we are requiring all residential students to vacate the campus by Monday, March 23, at 5 p.m., except for those who are approved to remain because of clear extenuating issues.

There are still no diagnosed cases of COVID-19 on the Methodist University campus. We are taking this action on the advice of health care professionals, who recommend aggressive, proactive steps to slow the spread of the disease.

Additional important information:

We apologize for the change in our decision about residential students. We have tried to balance students’ educational needs and appropriate health and safety precautions in an environment where information about how best to respond to COVID-19 is constantly shifting. We thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.
President


March 18, 2020

Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,

It is with great regret that I must announce the cancellation of Spring 2020 Commencement and all related activities, including Baccalaureate (as well as all dinners, socials, award ceremonies, pinning ceremonies, commissioning ceremonies, and other events that occur in conjunction with Commencement). Given that the Centers for Disease Control have indicated that there should be no gatherings of more that 50 people for at least the next eight weeks, we have decided that it is not advisable to hold these kinds of big events.

I want to reiterate that cancellation of Commencement will not affect anyone’s ability to graduate from Methodist University. Commencement is a celebration of students’ transition into post-graduate life. Graduation occurs when the Office of the Registrar certifies that a student has met all requirements. All students will be able to complete their Spring 2020 coursework through distance learning. Students who have met all requirements for graduation will be awarded degrees and have their diplomas mailed to them.

Spring graduates are invited to participate in the December 2020 Commencement ceremony. We want to give you all a chance to attend a Commencement ceremony and to be hooded. We will be back in touch with more information about participating in the December 2020 Commencement in the coming weeks.

Commencement is my favorite event on the entire academic calendar. It is a day of joy and accomplishment that always moves me deeply. I am sorry for us all that we must cancel Commencement this spring, but our first objective is to protect the health of the entire MU community to the best of our ability.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.
President


March 17, 2020

To The Methodist University Community,

In an effort to keep students informed of how the University is responding to the evolving situation related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), please carefully read the following updates:

Guidance regarding student employment and community engagement:

All community service work is suspended effective immediately. Work study can continue for those students who are remaining on campus and who can be in the work area, while practicing social distancing. Work study students are not allowed to telecommute. Peer tutoring can continue one on one or in small groups under 10 while practicing appropriate social distancing.

Guidance regarding on-campus dining:

All on-campus dining options are open. Hours of operation can be found here https://methodist.campusdish.com/. Per North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order, beginning at 5 PM today, all dining options at Methodist will convert to take-out only. Students will be able to pick up their food and take it out, but they will not be allowed to dine inside established dining facilities.

Guidance regarding off-campus visitors:

Beginning this evening, residential students will not be allowed to have any non-Methodist visitors in any residential facilities.

Guidance regarding usage of Nimocks Fitness Center:

Campus Recreation is only allowing 10 people in the Nimocks Fitness Center at a time in observance of the social distancing guidelines. The staff will collect IDs upon entrance and visitors will only be allowed 1 hour to work out. At the end of that hour, staff members will ask the visitor to leave. If capacity in Nimocks is at 10, we will not let anyone else in the facility at that point. Once capacity drops below 10, we will again allow visitors to enter the facility. We ask that students not congregate outside the Nimocks Fitness Center. If there are already 10 people inside when you try to enter, please leave and come back at least one hour later. Until further notice there will be no competitive basketball play (ie. one on one, two on two, or other competitive play). Additionally, there will be no fitness classes or intramural play until further notice.

Nimocks hours of operation:

  • Monday – Thursday – 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Friday – 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Saturday – 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Sunday – 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Guidance for University Employees

As the University is still currently open and operational, we understand that employees may have situations that we need to accommodate. Guidance has been sent out to supervisors regarding the University’s recommendations on balancing the work and needs of the department while also considering the needs, personal circumstances, and challenges of employees. If you haven’t already received communication, please reach out to your supervisor for guidance and direction. If you need additional assistance, please contact Human Resources.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President
William H. Walker, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students


March 16, 2020

Dear Methodist University Students,

On Friday, Methodist University announced that we were suspending in-person instruction beginning Monday, March 16, and that all current, in-person classes are moving to distance learning formats, beginning March 23.

For you, this means than any scheduled classes you have (excluding classes that are already fully online), will not meet at all this week, March 16-21. Our faculty are using this week to prepare your coursework for the rest of the semester in Blackboard or other distance learning formats. Classes will resume in those distance formats on March 23, 2020. Your instructors will be communicating with you by email or via Blackboard this week to ensure that you know what to expect, how class information will be shared, and how you will complete assignments, including final exams and final projects. Be sure to check your MU email on a regular basis because many of your faculty members will be communicating with you via email.

We assure you that you will be able to complete all of your coursework and course requirements via distance learning through the end of the semester, whether you chose to leave campus or to stay on campus. Seniors in their final semester will be able to complete the courses they are taking and if, at the end of the semester, they have fulfilled all graduation requirements, they will graduate, and we will confer their degrees. This is true for students who remain on campus and for students who choose to leave.

Methodist University remains open to students, with access to services and facilities, like residence halls, dining services, the library and computer labs. Students will be able to make appointments with advisors and faculty, in-person or virtually, if they have questions or concerns about their coursework and to plan for next semester.

However, we are not giving students blanket advice on whether they should stay on campus or go home because we cannot anticipate the needs of each individual student or their campus, home, or travel situations. Given that situations at home vary so much from one student to the next, we are advising students to talk with parents and trusted acquaintances to decide for themselves what seems to be the safest course of action.

We are keeping the residence halls, the cafeteria, and other facilities open to serve students who decide to remain. We strongly urge that those students who remain on campus practice careful social distancing and other preventative measures, as described by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

We cannot guarantee that anyone will be completely safe from the virus, whether they stay at Methodist University or go home, but experts advise that the preventative measures such as “social distancing,” frequent hand washing, and avoiding touching one’s face reduce the risk of virus transmission.

The CDC defines “congregate settings and social distancing” as follows:

  • Congregate settings are crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums.
  • Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

Students, faculty, and staff using the cafeteria and other campus facilities are expected to follow social distancing and other preventative guidelines closely. We will be sharing additional information in support of students who chose to stay on campus throughout the weeks to come.

We appreciate the uncertainty we are all facing as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis and the anxiety this may cause as you plan for the rest of your semester. We are here to support your progress and completion of your coursework this semester. If you have questions, please talk to a faculty or staff member you trust. We cannot tell you that we know the right answers, but a conversation with someone you trust can help you sort out your own thinking in difficult times like this.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President
William H. Walker, Ed.D. Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students


MU In-person Classes Moving to Distance Learning Beginning Monday, March 23

March 13, 2020

Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,

As you are probably aware, the President of the United States has declared a national emergency related to COVID-19.

We remain confident that the Methodist University campus is still one of the safest places to be in the state of North Carolina. But, we are also aware that the cases of COVID-19 will continue to increase in the coming weeks, both in the state and across the nation. Medical experts are urging that we all take seriously the practice of social distancing, in addition to other measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, flu, or any other communicable disease.

One important aspect of social distancing is to avoid large gatherings. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to suspend Methodist University in-person instruction, beginning Monday, March 16. We have made this decision both to protect the health and well-being of our university community and to ensure that we are good citizens in supporting efforts to reduce the spread of cases in our area.

Key details of this decision are listed below, including special consideration for our graduate health professions programs (PA, DPT, OTD). Because this is an evolving situation, we will continue to communicate details to our entire campus community throughout the next several weeks.

KEY POINTS ABOUT CHANGES TO INSTRUCTION

  • Methodist University remains open. For all students who decide to remain on campus or for commuters who wish to continue using campus resources, residence halls will remain open, meals will continue to be served, and the library and other facilities will remain open.
  • There will be no in-person MU classes from March 16 through March 20, with the exception of specific, graduate PA, DPT, OTD classes. Students in those graduate programs will receive details from their program directors.
  • All clinical placements, student teaching, and internships will continue as long as the host sites remain open for student placements.
  • Classes will resume via distance learning technologies and approaches beginning Monday, March 23, and will continue to be offered until further notice. We will reassess options for resuming in-person instruction on a weekly basis.
  • Classes that are already being delivered fully online will continue as scheduled for the current semester.
  • If residential students plan to leave during this time, they must notify their RAs.

KEY POINTS ABOUT ADVISING AND REGISTRATION FOR SUMMER AND FALL 2020

  • We encourage students to keep or schedule appointments with faculty advisors next week as planned. These appointments can take place in-person, by phone, Skype, email, or other communication platform.
  • Course registration for Summer and Fall 2020 will continue as scheduled through the MyMU portal.

KEY POINTS ABOUT CAMPUS EVENTS

  • The USA South Conference Presidents have voted today to cancel all conference and non-conference competitions and all tournament play for the remainder of the academic year. All athletic competitions and practices are canceled.
  • All MU events are postponed until further notice.

KEY POINTS ABOUT GRADUATION AND COMMENCEMENT

  • The change in instruction does not affect a student’s ability to graduate. Grades will be turned in as scheduled, and all students who have met graduation requirements at the end of spring semester will graduate.
  • Graduating and earning a degree is not dependent upon attending a commencement ceremony.
  • It is impossible at this time to predict the state of public health on May 2, which is the date for commencement. We will notify the community about the status of the commencement ceremony no later than early April.

KEY POINTS FOR FACULTY AND STAFF

  • All faculty and staff are to report for work on their normal schedules until otherwise notified.
  • Daily University activity is expected to continue as usual.
  • Faculty are expected to use the week of March 16 to prepare to shift in-person courses to a distance learning format. Faculty will receive further information about resources and support from the Office of the Provost.
  • Until further notice, all domestic and international travel for university business and employee professional development reasons is canceled.
  • We strongly encourage cancellation of non-essential personal travel.

As always, we encourage a calm and reasoned approach to decision-making regarding COVID-19. There is no reason for fear or panic. As noted above, we are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution, in keeping with the advice of health authorities. All media inquiries should be referred to the Office of the President.

We continue to hold the education, health, and safety of our students as our highest priority. We will ensure that students receive the education for which they are enrolled this semester and that they have access to the facilities and technology they need on campus. Another top priority is the health and well-being of our staff and faculty. We will continue to closely and regularly assess the steps we need to take to ensure the safety of our employees.

We thank you for your patience as we work our way through the constantly evolving information about COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., President
William H. Walker, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students


This webpage will be a one-stop resource where our community members can find University updates, FAQs, and University and government resources pertaining to COVID-19.

University Updates

Please refresh this page to ensure you are getting the most current updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are “a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.” COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, meaning it is a new strand of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Symptoms can also include severe acute respiratory syndrome and pneumonia in more serious cases.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is a communicable disease that can be transferred from person to person by having close contact with someone who has the virus, or from respiratory droplets that are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Who is at the most risk for contracting COVID-19?

Those who have been traveling near areas already impacted by COVID-19, as well as the elderly and people who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk of contracting this virus than others.

What preventative measures can I take?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 infections can be minimalized if the following preventative measures are taken:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect objects frequently.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • The CDC doesn’t recommend people to wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. Those who are showing symptoms can wear a facemask to avoid spreading the disease to others.

How is Methodist University preparing for a potential case?

Methodist University is currently planning and tracking COVID-19, and taking appropriate steps to assure that the campus is well-equipped to help anyone who presents symptoms associated with the virus.

How can MU students, faculty, and staff get assistance if they are presenting symptoms of COVID-19?

Health Services asks that anyone who is presenting symptoms to call prior to visiting the Health Center. If you feel you are presenting symptoms, please consult our medical professionals at 910-630-7164. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to seek out their primary physicians.

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