VCU students to finish semester online, May commencement canceled due to virus outbreak


In this June 20, 2019, photo a student works in the library at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. Those who graduate college with student loans owe close to $30,000 on average, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Several universities in Virginia are moving to online classes because of the coronavirus outbreak. Virginia Commonwealth University joined the list Wednesday, announcing students will finish the spring semester online and commencement has been canceled.

The university allowed those living on campus to come back this week to get anything they might need from their dorms. One VCU freshman, Caleb Barnes, returned to campus Wednesday to pack up his belongings with his family as they make the trip back to Alexandria, Va.

“When we went home for spring break, I was expecting to come back the next week and finish the semester but that’s not how it turned out,” Barnes told our sister-station WRIC before the announcement from the university was made public.

VCU President Michael Rao shared a brief message with students, staff and families about the decision to switch to only online classes and cancel the commencement in May.

We all feel the loss of leading our normal lives for reasons that are beyond anyone’s control. We are in the midst of this unprecedented life-threatening situation, where there are no easy decisions or solutions. Our first obligation is, and will continue to be, to ensure your health and safety as best as we can while providing continuity of our educational mission, even if in an altered state.

Much has happened in the last 24 hours in our country and in our community, including executive orders and guidance from President Trump, Gov. Northam, and federal and state health agencies. These actions, along with your reasonable requests for more information, necessitate that we expedite some decisions so that you can plan and move forward accordingly.

We do not yet have every detail on every decision. But we felt it was important to let you know the decisions we have made and to follow up with more information in the coming days.”



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