Oklahoma universities delay spring classes due to virus

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe Gov. Reggie Wassana on September 15, 2020. (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Executive Office via Facebook)

The Associated Press

The universities also cancel their spring breaks to slow the spread of COVID-19

Ken Miller
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's two largest universities on Tuesday announced that they were delaying the start of the spring semester by a week and were canceling spring break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spring classes will begin Jan. 19 at Oklahoma State University and on Jan. 25 at the University of Oklahoma, and both schools canceled their spring breaks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"This has been a challenging time but we have worked together diligently to deliver both in-person and online classes successfully," OSU President Burns Hargis said in a statement. "In the weeks and months ahead, we must remain mindful of the responsibility each of us has to our greater campus community to keep everyone well and safe."

The university offers online and in-person instruction options for students and professors, according to spokesperson Monica Roberts.

"The vast majority of classes are hybrid" and blend in-person and online instruction at OSU, Roberts said, noting that all students can opt for online-only instruction if they have health concerns.

At OU, all classes will be held online following the Thanksgiving holiday. 

"This is especially important as the seasons change, and the combined impact of influenza and COVID-19 spread could be incredibly detrimental to our campus and the surrounding community," said Dr, Dale Bratzler, the university's COVID officer.

TRIBAL LEADER INFECTED

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe Gov. Reggie Wassana announced Monday that he tested positive for the virus. 

"Currently, I feel fine and am trying to resume a normal life without going anywhere but its tough," Wassana said in a a statement on the tribe's website. "Symptoms are a mild headache and runny nose, but no fever."

Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 across the U.S., with major outbreaks from Arizona to South Dakota triggering lockdowns at some reservations.

CORONAVIRUS CASES

The state health department on Tuesday reported 1,364 new confirmed cases and 11 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the overall totals since the pandemic started to 93,346 cases and 1,066 deaths. 

It also reported a one-day record high of 699 people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 or a possible case of the disease, which marked an increase of 44 from Monday and 81 more than one week ago.

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