On March 12, Eckerd announced in an email that dorms would close at noon on March 17 and classes would move online on March 30. The college also said in the email that students who need help find off-campus housing must fill out a form.
The college sent out updates to students requesting off-campus accommodations on March 16.
The initial email said the college will not be providing housing accommodations after this weekend. The correction said the college will in fact continue to provide off-campus housing accommodations, such as hotel rooms.
At 3:52 p.m. on March 16, Billy Otto, associate director of housing, sent out the initial email.
“At this point please plan on leaving campus completely on Wednesday, March 18th at noon. Eckerd College will work with students on a case to case basis but will not be offering housing accommodations past this weekend,” Otto said.
In a phone interview with The Current, Otto said that this decision was made after an announcement from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman around 3 p.m. on March 16. Kriseman said the city is reducing the occupancy of public venues, such as restaurants and gyms, by 50% and banning all public gatherings of more than 50 people.
Otto said the college could not promise that these hotels would be open in the future, or that students would have enough access to food if supermarkets closed.
At 5:32 p.m., Eckerd’s Housing Office sent out a correction to students requesting accommodations.
“Earlier you received a message regarding emergency housing accommodations that was incorrect,” the correction email from the Housing Office said. “The College will continue to consider any requests to provide emergency housing off-campus as per the petition you previously submitted.”
The email then went into the Eckerd’s plan for the rest of the semester.
“It must be emphasized that no decision regarding the longer-term delivery of courses this semester has been made,” the correction email said. “As previously announced in an Eckerd Alert system email, remote delivery of all courses will commence on March 30 and by that time further information about the College's long-term plan for the remainder of the semester will be available.”