The Drury Lady Panthers will play before a sparse crowd this weekend when they host the opening round of the NCAA Division-II national tournament.

Only essential staff and family members will be allowed to watch to guard against the coronavirus.

The Missouri Lady Bears will have fans for the conference tournament, but not March Madness.

All NCAA Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournament games will be closed to the public.

Here’s a letter that went out Drury University students, faculty and staff from the Drury University Coronavirus Task Force:

March 11, 2020

To: All DU faculty, staff, students

Dear Drury Community,

We are continuing to meet and monitor the spread of coronavirus in the United States and around the world.  As you know, the situation is changing rapidly and so our taskforce is evaluating the situation, real-time, to determine how we should best prepare to keep our campus community safe in the days, weeks and months ahead.

We met this afternoon to discuss the latest developments and we want to provide two important updates about academics and athletics events.

Academics

Fortunately, thus far we have not seen any cases of the virus in our community or here on campus.  And there are no signs at this time of community spread.  While we are hopeful that this will continue to be the case, we know that this situation can change quickly and so we need to be prepared.

As of today, we plan to resume classes as scheduled following spring break.  However, we suggest that all students take their books and classwork with them, in the event that we need to move to online instruction. We are fully prepared to make such a transition if that is determined to be in the best interest of campus health and safety. We also ask that you stay connected to email so that we can provide updates as circumstances change. We will continue to provide regular updates as the situation evolves. You also are encouraged to go to our coronavirus web page for Drury updates.

As you get ready to head out on spring break, we would ask that if you have plans to travel to any place where cases have been confirmed, and you experience any of the following symptoms – shortness of breath, coughing or fever – then we are asking you to call your healthcare provider or the Panther Clinic and self-report rather than going there in person. This is a precaution to reduce the potential for community spread of the virus.

We are working closely with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, which has jurisdiction in these matters, to set up clear lines of communication and set up best practices as part of ongoing preparations. As always, we will defer to the latest guidelines and directives from local, state and federal officials as the situation moves forward.

Athletics

This afternoon we learned that the NCAA has made the decision, on a national level, to conduct upcoming championship events, including all men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance. This includes the Midwest Regional tournament for women’s basketball to be held on our campus this weekend. This is an NCAA event, not a Drury event, and as such, it is their decision to make.

Therefore, there will be no public access to the Midwest Regional basketball games this weekend. From a fan and gameday standpoint, we are obviously extremely disappointed. But from a public health and safety standpoint, we understand why this decision was made. The health and safety of our fans, student-athletes, campus community and Springfield community are the most important consideration at this time.

We are currently working with the NCAA on how to address ticket refunds. Again, this is an NCAA event, not a Drury event. We are also determining information about live streams and radio broadcasts of the games. We will update you as soon as we know more about how the NCAA is proceeding with all of these details.

This situation is evolving rapidly and my pledge to you is that we will inform you of what we know as soon as we are able to do so. Please stay tuned to www.drury.edu and Drury’s social media channels for the latest updates directly from us, and use this the coronavirus@drury.edu email address to ask any questions you may have. We will respond as quickly as we are able.

Drury University Coronavirus Task Force