Texas Southern Cancels In-Person Classes, Commencement Due to Coronavirus

By Terrance Turner

This afternoon, I received an email from Interim TSU President Kenneth Huewitt. The email reads, in part: “Although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, this fact does not stop us from taking action now. Texas Southern University is announcing the following decisions:

• In an effort to minimize contact that could spread the COVID-19 virus on our campus, we are extending online instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. No decision has been made yet regarding the summer semesters.

• We are mandating that all residential students now away for Spring Break not return to campus. Given the State’s executive order pertaining to gathering places, recreation centers, eateries, entertainment, etc., it has become evident that this is the best action to take to enhance the safety of our students. Students should check their student email for detailed instructions from Residence Life & Housing regarding how to go about the collection of your belongings from your room.

• Students who are now staying on campus should begin making arrangements with their families/guardians to move out of the residence halls by no later than Saturday, March 28, and return home for the remainder of the semester. Students who are facing special circumstances can put in a request to Residence Life & Housing to have their situations evaluated. These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

• We are cancelling the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremony. All Spring graduates will be allowed to walk at a future Commencement ceremony, and we will provide additional details at a later date.”

The email went on to state that refunds will be addressed in future communications. It also emphasized that essential services at Texas Southern will continue to operate: “TSU is NOT closing,” Huewitt said. He added that the TSU Library and Learning Center will remain open for those who need access to computers and WiFi. The university will also provide free food trucks.

Gov. Abbott Declares State of Disaster Over Coronavirus

By Terrance Turner

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster today over the coronavirus outbreak. Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Abbott said that Texas has 39 confirmed cases of the virus. He added that there are 220 Texans that have been tested, either by a state lab or by the CDC. He added that San Antonio is opening a drive-thru testing center. One will be added in Houston in the coming weeks, Abbott said.

Abbott also said that the state is restricting visitation at nursing homes, daycares, prisons, and juvenile detention centers. He stated that the policy would “prioritize protecting of the most vulnerable populations,” though he added that exceptions will be made for end-of-life visits. Visitors will be screened for illness.

The governor added: “There is absolutely no need to go out and stockpile supplies.” He added that “hoarding is neither necessary nor productive”. Despite the disaster declaration, this isn’t a scenario in which buying water, toilet paper, or other essentials. “This isn’t the type of situation like where we see with an oncoming hurricane,” Abbott told viewers.