After careful assessment of the global coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, Duke Kunshan University (DKU) has decided to extend its digital learning strategy for graduate and undergraduate programs until the end of the spring semester. The decision means students will continue receiving online instruction and will not return to campus.
DKU moved classes online on Feb. 24 as part of its response to Covid-19, which also included providing financial support for students to travel home to their families and closing the campus except to essential personnel, to minimize exposure to the disease.
Faculty, administrators and staff at DKU and Duke University worked to convert courses in the graduate and undergraduate programs into purely online offerings in just three weeks.
“At the time of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, DKU was midway through the first of two spring sessions. We initially planned to complete this term online and return students to campus as soon as it was safe. However, after evaluating the situation, we feel this is not now possible,” said Denis Simon, executive vice chancellor of DKU.
DKU has closely followed guidance from the Chinese government and the local Center for Disease Control and Prevention to keep its community safe and has communicated regular updates to students, faculty, parents and staff.
“Considering the time and logistics involved in returning students and faculty from around the world, we believe seeing out the semester online is the best way to minimize disruption to our educational mission and provide the greatest level of protection for our community,” he said.
About 60 students who were unable to return home because of travel restrictions, including several from Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak in China, are now residing on campus. They will remain on campus until the end of the semester.
DKU will help Chinese and international students who are unable to return to campus store or ship their personal belongings.
Graduates and undergraduates will also continue to receive full support from Student Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services, Campus Engagement, Career Services, DKU Library, and other services, as well as enjoy free access to more than 3,800 courses available via the Coursera learning platform.
“Although online classes provide a different experience to in-person learning, the response to our virtual campus strategy has been roundly positive. I’m confident our experienced faculty, many of whom are now based at Duke’s Durham campus, will continue to provide engaging, innovative and effective online instruction to our students,” said Chancellor Youmei Feng.
“I am eternally grateful to everyone who has committed so much time and effort to ensuring our students’ high-quality education stays on track,” she added.