Classes move online for spring; graduation postponed
For the first time in its 147-year history, there were no students in classrooms on the Drury University campus this spring. Following federal guidelines and state and local mandatory shelter-in-place orders, the university moved all classes online following spring break and fully shuttered campus to faculty and staff.
“Drury University is fortunate to have long-standing success in delivering online classes through our evening and online programs,” President Dr. Tim Cloyd told students via email. “This is not new to us and so we make this transition with the confidence of knowing you will continue to experience a high-quality educational experience. We understand this is a difficult moment for us all. We are a university built on personalized education; an institution where we build relationships that last a lifetime. At the same time, your safety is and always has been our No. 1 priority.”
The same day, the university also postponed all graduation ceremonies originally slated for early May until Aug. 14 and 15. In the following weeks, all seniors received a graduation kit to celebrate their big day with families, including their regalia, confetti and a custom T-shirt to wear for a group photo in August.
“It is a particularly tough time for seniors who had hoped to finish out the year with their friends and campus community,” Cloyd wrote. “Those connections will remain even if you aren’t able to congratulate and share in the camaraderie that would have happened on campus. A Drury education is about learning, growing and connecting. I encourage you to treasure and nourish your Drury connections if only virtually for the time being.”
Multiple efforts launched to help students financially
Drury University set up a three-pronged effort to help stu-dents financially as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, including sending direct stimulus payments to most students.
Two of the efforts are the direct result of swift action by the institution to secure approximately $1.2 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding from the federal government, which is intended to be used as emergency aid for students. The third effort will be propelled by the generosity of Drury donors and alumni.
CARES Act funding
The Drury CARES Emergency Fund was established with
a portion of the $1.2 million in federal money. It is intended to help students who find it difficult to make ends meet and need one-time financial support to help with tuition or other costs associated with education. All current Drury students who meet Department of Education guidelines are eligible to apply to receive help from this fund, regardless if they are residential undergraduates, evening and online students, or graduate students.
In April, Drury also distributed a portion of the emergency aid in direct payments to students – with no strings attached and no application process.
“Students can use the money to help cover any expense related to education, whether that be tuition, food and housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare, travel expenses or a variety of other necessities,” says President Dr. Tim Cloyd. “We know many are struggling to make ends meet,and while this may not solve all of their financial challenges, we hope it will provide some immediate relief.”
Many students received a check – between $600 and $1,000 based on their financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
COVID-19 Student Support Fund
This new donor-supported fund will help students bridge financial gaps through May 2021 in order to ensure they can continue their studies and persist to graduation.
“As a private institution, Drury has a deep tradition of supporting student success through the generosity of caring donors,” says Wayne Chipman, executive vice president of university advancement. “The Annual Drury Experience Fund has long been the primary way donors can directly support student scholarships and financial aid. The new COVID-19 Student Support
Fund provides an additional, highly targeted way for donors to support Drury students in unprecedented times.”
Any current Drury student may apply regardless of if they are residential undergraduates, evening and online students, or graduate students.
To donate to the COVID-19 Student Support Fund, visit drury.edu/givenow.
Sports seasons end abruptly
On March 11, the NCAA announced it would conduct all upcoming championship events with limited attendance. Just one day later, the athletic association officially canceled all winter and spring sports for the remainder of the season.
“This was devastating,” said Corey Bray, Drury vice president and director of athletics. “This was terrible news for Drury, our fans and our student-athletes. I understand why the decisions were made, but it was a difficult day for our coaches, department and everyone associated with Drury Athletics.
“I especially feel for our seniors and the impact this has on them in regards to lost opportunities, the uncertainty of their future as student-athletes or the end of their athletic careers. I’m proud of what they achieved, appreciative of their hard work and wish their experience could have had a better conclusion.”
It was a particularly hard blow for the Lady Panthers basketball team, which had thus far completed an undefeated season. The team was set to enter and host the Midwest Regional Tournament ranked No. 1.
After six seasons leading the program, head coach Molly Miller accepted a position at Grand Canyon University, an NCAA Division I program in Phoenix, Arizona. The university announced assistant coach Amy Eagan would step up to the leadership role.
“Words cannot express my sincere gratitude and excitement to lead this storied program into the future,” Eagan said. “I am blessed to become a part of the rich tradition of the Drury Lady Panther basketball program.”
A timeline of response
In late December 2019, the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Wuhan,
China. Over the following months, Drury University officials began monitoring the situation as the virus crept toward the United States and, eventually, pushed the country into lockdown. The following is a timeline of the university’s public response:
TASK FORCE ASSEMBLES
Drury University’s senior leadership team and other key staff began monitoring the situation in an official capacity; establishes Coronavirus Task Force to begin reviewing pandemic and business continuity plans.
The cross-functional team began holding daily meetings to assess the rapidly evolving situation. The Coronavirus Task Force is in contact with CoxHealth and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Increased sanitation efforts were implemented across campus.
March 4, 2020
FIRST PUBLIC UPDATE
The CDC issued a Level 3 travel advisory for four countries, recommending Americans cease all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. Drury’s international team immediately began efforts to bring students home from South Korea.
March 9, 2020
Drury designated any countries a Level 3 or higher travel risk restricted for faculty, staff and students until further notice; all university travel is suspended to areas with states of emergency. Students who must travel through restricted areas and exhibit symptoms are advised to visit the Panther Clinic upon return.
March 11, 2020
Drury advised students to prepare for potential online classes following spring break. If students visited a known infected area during break and experience symptoms, they were advised to call the Panther Clinic and self-report. The NCAA announced it will conduct all championship games without an audience, including the Midwest Regional Tournament slated that weekend.
March 12, 2020
SPRING BREAK EXTENDED
The university extended spring break by one week, with plans to resume seated classes March 30. The campus remains open for business; staff reported to work normally. The NCAA canceled all remaining championships; Drury suspended athletic travel to regular or off-season competition.
March 13, 2020
250 OR MORE RULE
First presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Greene County. Drury canceled all events expecting 250 or more people through March 30. Drury’s main campus remains open; the university increased sanitation and employs social distancing as much as possible.
March 17, 2020
RESIDENCE HALLS CLOSE
All on-campus events of 50 people or more are canceled until May 11. All residence halls close until April 17; Barber Fitness Center and Breech Pool are closed indefinitely. A modified food service continues. The blackbear pop concert will be rescheduled. The campus remains open for business, immunocompromised staff told to contact HR.
March 18, 2020
CLASSES MOVE ONLINE AFTER BREAK
All on-campus events or gatherings of 10 people or more were prohibited. Online classes continued through April 17. Modified food service for take-out only began. A temporary remote work policy for faculty and staff is discussed.
March 19, 2020
WORK FROM HOME BEGINS
Drury implemented a temporary telecommuting policy; eligible staff could request permission. The university’s main campus remains open.
March 20, 2020
Dr. Tim Cloyd recorded a video message update to the Drury community. Drury issued online resources for faculty and students. The CX closed.
Students returning from spring break were asked to self-quarantine and not return to campus. Guests are no longer permitted in campus apartments. All academic buildings are closed.
March 23, 2020
CLASSES MOVE ONLINE FOR THE SEMESTER
Seated class won’t return this spring; campus housing is closed until further notice and the campus move-out process began.
March 24, 2020
CITY ISSUES STAY-AT-HOME ORDER
All of campus is officially closed. The order is effective 12:01 a.m., March 26 and will last 30 days. Campus move-out schedule is suspended.
March 27, 2020
LIMITED FOOD SERVICE BEGINS
Hot lunch service is available every day for a small number of students who remained on campus.
March 31, 2020
PANTHER CLINIC CLOSES
CoxHealth asked the clinic to close so health care workers could be redeployed to assist with those who had been most severely impacted by the pandemic.
April 3, 2020
MISSOURI ISSUES STAY AT HOME ORDER
Effective starting at 12:01 a.m. on April 6 until April 24, the order shuttered all nonessential businesses.
April 6, 2020
BLACKBEAR IS RESCHEDULED
The concert will take place Sept. 19. The Hillsong Worship concert is cancelled.
April 9, 2020
In-person ceremonies will be held in August. Graduates will receive a celebration kit in the mail; campus celebrated virtually May 11-15.
April 10, 2020
Drury amended its current policy for the spring 2020 semester to permit course optional evaluation on a satisfactory or unsatisfactory for all undergraduate students.
April 14, 2020
ROOM AND BOARD REIMBURSEMENT
Housing and meal plan reimbursement credits were issued to student accounts by April 30. Students received 40 percent return.
April 16, 2020
STATE ORDER EXTENDED
The stay-at-home precautions were extended through May 3.
April 22, 2020
CITY TAKES “HALF-STEP” TO REOPEN
Springfield extended its stay-at-home order to match the state’s; allowed all businesses to function through drivethru or curbside only.
April 24, 2020
STUDENT RELIEF FUNDS
The university launched a three-pronged effort to help students financially, including direct stimulus payments. Two of the efforts are the direct result of $1.2 million in CARES Act funding.
April 29, 2020
Drury announced it plans to hold classes on campus this fall; a team is in place to closely examine the issues surrounding re-opening.
April 30, 2020
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Springfield and Greene County announced plans to gradually re-open business through May 31, with limitations on occupancy; social gatherings are limited to 15 people or fewer, in contrast with less restrictive state orders issued days before.
May 4, 2020
BACK TO BUSINESS
Drury staff returned to work on campus in staggered shifts and with strict social distancing and masking guidelines.