Spring Semester goes online, Coronavirus | Earlham College
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Coronavirus Information

March 18, 2020

Accelerated timeline announced for vacating campus housing 

With Wayne County on a Level II travel alert (only essential travel permitted) and additional travel restrictions highly likely in the coming days, Earlham College has notified students who could not vacate campus last week due to extenuating circumstances, to find alternative housing arrangements by Sunday evening, March 22. 

  • All domestic students previously approved to stay now need to make arrangements to go home or find accommodations outside the college. Domestic students should be checked out of college housing by 5 pm Sunday, March 22. 
  • International students who can go home or who have a place to stay off campus should also relocate.

The College announced March 12 that students were being sent home and would complete their coursework online for the duration of the Spring Term to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Most students immediately began packing and returning home; however, some were unable to do so for various reasons, and the College began making preparations to accommodate them.  In the ensuing days, the local travel restriction and other developments caused the College to reevaluate the situation. 

“If we are mandated to close the campus, we are concerned that we will not be able to provide resources necessary to support you,” Vice President for Student Life Bonita Washington-Lacey said in an email to students. “At this time, if we are mandated to close, all employees will be sent home as has occurred at other campuses this week. If airports are directed to close, you will not have access to travel home if you must fly. Please note that this is a difficult situation, but we are trying to respond as proactively as possible to enable options for you and your safety.

“We could have never imagined being in this position as you are always our first priority in our effort to manage this situation,” she noted. “As such, we seek your patience and continued commitment and partnership toward keeping all of our community safe even as we are inconvenienced.”

The college will be issuing refunds for room and board charges, prorated based on date of departure from campus housing. Students concerned about having access to an appropriate computer for remote learning were instructed to contact Information Technology Services at helpdesk@earlham.edu prior to leaving campus to discuss availability of a laptop to borrow. 

The new Level II Travel Advisory for Wayne County and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our region warrant a re-evaluation of on-campus staffing and reduction in personnel on site. Should a closure be mandated by the state or federal government, the College would not have enough personnel on site to provide basic food or support service to the number of students currently on campus. 

International students unable to return home or without alternative housing locally will be provided meals from a central location for as long as advised. If it becomes necessary for those students to remain in their living space without permission to leave, meals will be delivered to each occupied facility for distribution by available Residence Life and Student Life staff. However, students were advised that a government mandate preventing personnel living off campus from reporting to work could prevent meal distribution altogether. In that circumstance, the College will provide a stock of food to be distributed among those remaining on campus, but will not have the employees from off-campus available to help prepare or distribute.  

For the health and safety of students remaining on campus, residents are being assigned to select buildings where resident assistants and their live-in supervisors are available. The following halls will remain open only for students unable to leave campus: Barrett, Mills, Warren, and Wilson Halls. Residents approved to remain for the semester who are already assigned to those facilities will likely stay in their currently assigned space, unless there are two residents of the space. Double occupants will be split up, as only one person is now allowed per room. 

The Campus Village apartments are being prepared to serve as quarantine space should it be needed. 


March 12, 2020

Initial announcement of shift to remote learning

In response to concerns within the Earlham College community relating to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, President Anne Houtman announced today that students will be sent home and all undergraduate classes will be conducted online for the duration of the spring semester. Earlham also is suspending the Athletics spring schedules and all college-sponsored student travel through the end of the spring term. Face-to-face classes will end this week.

Decisions about Commencement, May Term and summer travel will be made later. For the time being, Earlham's graduate programs in education will continue as scheduled. The Earlham School of Religion is moving to online course delivery.

Although there are no known cases or known exposure on campus or in Richmond, Houtman said she made this decision to keep the Earlham community safe and to aid in efforts to prevent the spread of disease.  Earlham recruits students from all 50 states and around 70 countries, and has extensive study abroad programs.  Though some colleges are moving classes online for just two weeks after their spring break, Houtman felt it was necessary to consider the uncertainties and challenges a temporary closure might pose for students, particularly Earlham's international students who cannot go home for two weeks and return later. And given the current spread of COVID-19, it is unlikely the situation will improve sufficiently to allow Earlham to return to its regular course delivery at the end of March, she explained.

Earlham expects students who are preparing to leave campus for the spring break to pack before leaving, following end-of-year protocol, and return to their homes, if possible. Students who notified the College of their need to remain on campus during the break were instructed to begin making plans to depart by early next week. Students with extenuating circumstances affecting their return home have been advised to consult with the Office of Residence Life. Every effort will be made to work with Earlham's students.

Earlham faculty are being asked to prepare to resume classes online by the Wednesday following spring break — March 25. 

Administrative faculty and staff were instructed to report to work as usual while administration continues to monitor the situation and make any adjustments necessary for health and safety.

Earlham has established a call center to receive questions from parents and members of the public. The call center number is 765-983-1870. The College also has established an email for questions: earlhamcollege@earlham.edu.

Update - March 17, 2020: There has been a case of coronavirus reported in Wayne County, a person from Franklin County who sought treatment at Reid Hospital here in Richmond. For further updates on the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 in Indiana, including cases by county of residence, please visit the State of Indiana's Coronavirus Response page. Earlham is located in Wayne County.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.