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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Colorado Universities And Colleges To Teach Online Courses As Coronavirus Spreads

Metropolitan State University of Denver

As the number of cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, continue to grow in our state, universities and colleges in Northern Colorado are moving to online classes to help prevent the spread of the virus on campuses.

Colorado Edition co-host Henry Zimmerman spoke to KUNC's Stephanie Daniel about responses in higher education to the outbreak.


Henry Zimmerman: Many colleges and universities in the state are moving their classes online, still keeping their campuses open. Metropolitan State University of Denver is one of those schools. What does remote learning look like for college students?

Stephanie Daniel: How online classes will be delivered and faculty and staff expectations are up to each, individual institution. MSU Denver discussed their remote learning system at a town hall meeting Wednesday. Faculty had been instructed to move all their courses online and be ready to teach on March 30. Matt Griswold is the associate vice president of online learning and he spoke to the students:

GRISWOLD: The way that we're training (faculty) to teach online is not best practices in online instruction but it's the minimal needed to make sure your learning experience continues and you get what you need from those classes.

Griswold said the courses can be accessed with a cell phone, no laptop, desktop or tablet will be needed. A cell phone should be enough to complete the courses in which students are already enrolled. MSU Denver is a commuter school so there may be students who don't have internet access at home. This was also addressed at the town hall and the university has a relationship with Comcast and the internet provider has an inexpensive, month to month option that will be available to students.

Not only are some classes hard to translate to online classes but issues around equity also come into play. How are schools handling this?

Good question. The Colorado Community College System recently issued a statement addressing those more hands-on courses such as welding and nursing labs. Those courses will be held at spaces that allow for adequate social distancing.

Turning to the accessibility of online classes, I talked to Rebecca Smith at the University of Northern Colorado. She is the director of the school's Disability Resource Center which serves 10% of the student population. She said the logistics involved with moving programs online that are supported and accessible are significant. All files, like Powerpoints and assessments would need to be readable and videos would need to be closed captioned.

SMITH: It would be a pretty enormous feat to do all of that in a short amount of time.

Smith also said moving classes online would not only affect students who are blind, low vision or deaf but also students with learning disabilities. There are also students who have not disclosed their disability to the office and have created strategies to compensate. This might include choosing a class format that works best for them, which might not be online learning.

UNC will move to online classes on March 23 after students return from spring break.

On Wednesday night, President Trump announced a travel ban from some European countries that will last for 30 days. What does this mean for Colorado university and college students studying abroad?

I posed this question to UNC spokesperson Nate Haas. The university recalled students studying in China, Italy, South Korea and Japan several days ago. But now with this ban, even more students will be coming home. Here's Nate Haas.

HAAS: We've also sent out communication to other students studying abroad, in effect canceling their programs.

UNC and all the other colleges and universities in the state are remaining flexible and updating their policies as needed in response to the rapidly changing coronavirus news.


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