California Baptist University responds to COVID-19 pandemic

Austin Romito | Banner | California Baptist closes down school to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

California Baptist University has officially extended spring break an additional week. Spring break will now be March 13-27 and moved all courses online until further notice as the university actively monitors the COVID-19 situation in Riverside County.

To adjust for the extended break, the university has extended the semester until May 2, and Spring Commencement will now take place on August 19-20. The decision to move commencement was made after the Center for Disease Control recommended postponing events with more than 50 people in attendance for the next eight weeks.

The novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has begun affecting the daily life of Americans and many others around the world. As of March 30, COVID-19 has been confirmed in 780,000 individuals and killed over 37,000 people world-wide. As the virus continues to spread, aspects of American life continue to be at a standstill.

As of March 30, Riverside County has 291 residents tested positive with the virus and nine deaths. This includes 29 residents in Riverside city, 23 in Moreno Valley with one death and 17 cases in Corona according to the Press Enterprise. Although no Riverside city residents have died from COVID-19, the university is following guidelines issued by the county’s Public Health Officer, Cameron Kaiser.

“To further prevent the spread throughout the county, effective Monday, March 16, I am ordering a school closure, not a dismissal, of all Riverside County public schools. This order also applies to preschools, charter schools, private schools and all colleges and universities in Riverside County,” Kaiser said in a press release. “We applaud those school districts that have taken proactive choices to close their schools starting Monday, March 16, 2020, in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Riverside County.”

CBU’s Executive Council sent an email to all students and faculty March 14 stating that the university is now closed to the public and that necessary functions such as on-campus dining and Safety Services are still open. Dorms are also still open to students, although the administration recommends students return home if possible.

As part of the closure, the university will continue to operate only through employees critical to the university’s function and many student workers and non-essential staff will not be reporting to work.

“This is uncharted territory for almost all of us,” said CBU President Dr. Ronald L. Ellis in the email. “As we move forward together and adapt to this extremely challenging and fluid situation, I appreciate the cooperation of everyone affected by these decisions.”

Other changes include Chapel services being canceled for the rest of the Spring semester and International Service Projects canceling their overseas trips for the summer. Additionally, all university dining options are being packaged to-go, and in-person dining is prohibited within dining facilities on campus.

As of March 13, the Counseling Center is still open to students during spring break. The center asks students to call and schedule appointments.

“Life as a college student is stressful enough when things are going well. With the potential impact of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and the media’s coverage which makes it nearly impossible to ignore, students may experience even higher levels of stress and anxiety,” the center said in a mass email. “The staff of the CBU Counseling Center, which is open during Spring Break, wants you to know that you are not alone. Anxiety can choose anyone at any time and we are here to help provide relief and understanding, and to get you on the track towards hope and healing.”

Students should continue checking their LancerMail during the break to monitor courses and for any updates from the university. The most up-to-date information can be found at calbaptist.edu/news/cbu_update_coronavirus_1

Editor’s Note: This article was updated March 30, 2020.

About Misty Severi

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