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ASHLAND -- Ashland University students will not return to their in-person classes Monday, March 16 after their spring break, according to a press release issued Tuesday evening. 

Ashland University announced it will join a number of other Ohio universities in canceling its face-to-face instruction by moving classes to an online format.

In-person classroom instruction is canceled beginning March 16 -- which was set to be the first day of class following spring break -- and will resume in an online format beginning Wednesday, March 18, according to the press release. Normal face-to-face instruction is targeted to resume on March 30.

Courses normally offered through an online format will continue as scheduled. 

This move comes in response to the recommendation earlier today from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine that colleges and universities go from in-class to remote instruction in light of the emerging novel Coronavirus situation in Ohio, the press release explained. 

This situation is evolving and the University is expected to provide subsequent communication in the coming days, including information regarding access to campus and general University operations. 

"While we understand there are concerns about the continuity of academic programs and our campus operations, these will be addressed as we stay focused on the immediate health and safety of our campus community," the press release said. 

Earlier today, Ashland University had issued another press release, saying a group of Ashland University students may have interacted with someone who tested positive for the novel Coronavirus 19. The students attended the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland from Feb. 26 to 29 and returned to the AU campus the following week before leaving for spring break.

It was later discovered that a person attending that same conference has tested positive for Coronavirus, the press release stated. 

Ashland University Safety and Security was notified of the possible exposure of the AU students and contacted both campus officials and the Ashland County Health Department. The students were notified by the Health Department, and they are said to be cooperating fully with Ohio Department of Health guidance. Ashland University officials are working internally to ensure proper protocols are being followed for students, faculty and staff.

Prior to this, Ashland University had canceled two University-sponsored trips. The University’s spring break trip for 12 students going to Florence, Italy and a student tour planned for South Korea, which would have left in late February were cancelled.

Additionally, an AU student studying in Florence was recalled, in keeping with University policy to not allow University-sponsored travel in countries with a level 3 alert or higher. 

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