PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Grand Canyon University in Phoenix is asking its students “to leave campus as soon as possible,” saying the “ramifications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are changing by the minute.”

Grand Canyon University

“It would be difficult to provide the necessary services and protect large numbers of students living on our campus” such a stay-at-home order be issued here as it has been in other states, including neighboring California. While Arizonans have been encouraged to stay home, it’s not a formal order – yet. GCU say it wants “to ensure we are prepared in the event similar measures are invoked in Arizona in the coming days.”

International students who cannot travel home and those with special circumstances are exempt. GCU officials also said that classes would be transitioning to an online format beginning Monday.

“Students need to be in the safest place possible if any type of stay-at-home order occurs, and we believe that place is their homes,” the university said.

"I think people are just confused who don’t know what is happening right now. I think we are right there with the rest of the world doing what we can do to help slow the spread and we will see what happens,"said Azia Dezkwn, a GCU student.

GCU's statement said students who have already left campus should stay home. If they haven't packed up, they can do so any time before April 23, and should update their personal departure plan in the housing portal.

"It would just be a horrible tragic moment to see anyone here infected with the coronavirus and spreading it," said Jonathan Madrid, another student.

The university, which was on spring break last week, had already announced that  all but a few classes on the Phoenix campus will continue online for the remaining four weeks of the spring semester. Those classes are slated to start Monday.

GCU also said that will be scaling back food services on campus starting Monday "in anticipation of the expected reduced number of students living on campus."

"It doesn’t feel real in a sense because you came here to have a good time, to have the full college experience," said Madrid.

GCU is a private Christian university that has been growing rapidly in recent years. The student population on campus topped 20,000 in 2018, according to the school's news website.

It's not just Arizona's universities that are affected by the coronavirus crisis. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced yesterday that Arizona schools will be closed for two additional weeks-- until April 10.

FULL STATEMENT FROM GCU

"The ramifications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are changing by the minute as cities and states try to cope with the spread of this disease. Neighboring states are issuing stay-at-home orders, and we want to ensure we are prepared in the event similar measures are invoked in Arizona in the coming days.

"It would be difficult to provide the necessary services and protect large numbers of students living on our campus in such a scenario. As such, we find it necessary to further reduce the density of people on campus in order to keep students, faculty and staff as safe as possible as we transition to an online learning environment for our ground campus during final four weeks of the semester.

"We are asking all students -- other than international students who can not travel to their home countries and students who have special circumstances -- to leave campus as soon as possible. Students need to be in the safest place possible if any type of stay-at-home order occurs, and we believe that place is their homes. If students, other than international students, have extenuating circumstances, they can ask for a waiver to remain on campus by inputting that information into the personal departure plan located in their housing portal.

"There will be a significant cutback of food services beginning Monday in anticipation of the expected reduced number of students living on campus. Should a stay-at-home order occur, any remaining students would be restricted to just their rooms, the campus grocery/convenience store and the Health and Wellness Clinic.

"Students who already have left campus should stay home. If they have not yet packed up their belongings, they can return any time before April 23 to collect their things. Those students should update their personal departure plan in the housing portal to indicate their move-out date and receive a pass to access campus.

"This national emergency has created unprecedented times, and we must do our part to slow the spread of this virus. GCU's priorities are to (1) protect the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff, and (2) allow students to successfully complete their coursework this semester.

"Our faculty have worked extremely hard to prepare for the start of online classes on Monday, and we expect that transition to be very smooth. GCU is a leader in online education and has one of the most advanced learning management systems in the country. Our ground students already have log-ins and are familiar with our LoudCloud system. They simply need to log in to their LoudCloud classroom and check in with their instructors during regularly scheduled class times and follow the instructions provided by their professors.

"May we continue to be comforted by our God of grace, peace and hope as we navigate these challenging times."

 

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