Harvard joins universities across the US that are canceling in-person classes due to coronavirus
(CNN) — Universities from California to New York have closed campus classrooms as the novel coronavirus has affected more than 100,000 people worldwide and its spread has transformed into what is being called a pandemic.
The cancellations have been focused in states and areas hardest hit by the virus, including the Seattle area, California and New York. The Ohio State University, which has an enrollment of more than 60,000 students, and Harvard University, the Ivy League institution, are the latest to announce they are closing classrooms.
Schools are also issuing guidance on avoiding travel to China, Italy and South Korea, as many students are on or about to go on spring break. Some are telling students to not return to campus for 14 days after their return, depending on the laws in their state.
One university even told students to leave campus for the time being.
These are the major universities that have canceled or suspended classes so far.
Harvard University will begin transitioning to online classes by March 23, the first day of classes after spring break, due to challenges posed by the novel coronavirus, Harvard’s President Lawrence S. Bacow announced today.
Students are asked not to return to campus after the break in order to protect community health.
“The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly,” Bascow said in a statement. “To our students, especially those of you graduating this year, I know that this is not how you expected your time at Harvard to end. We are doing this not just to protect you but also to protect other members of or community who may be more vulnerable to this disease than you are.”
The Massachusetts school told students to leave campus for spring break by next Monday and to be prepared to work off-campus when they return for March 23 classes.
Amherst canceled classes for Thursday and Friday.
It told students who wanted to stay during the break to fill out an online form.
“We know that many people will travel widely during spring break, no matter how hard we try to discourage it,” a statement from the school’s chancellor, Biddy Martin, reads. “The risk of having hundreds of people return from their travels to the campus is too great.”
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley has suspended most of their in-person classes as a proactive measure.
In a letter sent to the campus community Monday, Chancellor Carol Christ said the changes will begin Tuesday and remain in effect through spring break, which ends March 29.
All lecture courses, seminar instruction and exams will be offered through virtual options. Courses that must meet in person — such as labs, performing arts or physical education — are encouraged to minimize their in-person meetings.
Columbia University and Barnard College
A man walks past Low Library on the Columbia University campus, Monday, March 9, 2020, in New York.
All classes at Columbia University in New York are suspended on March 9 and 10 because a member of the Columbia community was quarantined as a result of exposure to coronavirus.
“This suspension of activities will allow us to prepare to shift to remote classes for the remainder of the week,” President Lee Bollinger said. “I want to emphasize that the individual who has been quarantined has not been diagnosed at this point with the virus.”
Barnard College, the women’s liberal arts college affiliated with Columbia, similarly suspended classes Monday and Tuesday and said to expect classes to resume Thursday as online courses.
Hofstra University, located in New York, announced that it is canceling in-person classes for a week beginning on Monday.
The announcement, made out of “an abundance of caution,” comes after a student contacted the health center reporting flu-like symptoms, Hofstra said.
The student had attended an off-campus conference where an attendee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The student is being tested for coronavirus and is in isolation, the university said. Six people who have been in close contact with the student have been asked to self-isolate pending the student’s test results.
“We want to emphasize that this action is a precaution taken to provide peace of mind to students, faculty, staff and families,” the university said. “There are currently no confirmed cases of Covid-19 associated with the university.”
Ohio State University
Ohio State University has announced it is planning to suspend in-person classes effective immediately through at least March 30, according to a university-wide letter from OSU President Michael V. Drake.
“We are suspending face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings and moving to virtual instruction, effective immediately,” the letter said.
The University has given students the option of completing their courses online from home or remaining on campus with social distancing and other preventative measures in place.
Employees are also able to work from home if their position allows, according to the letter.
Princeton, the Ivy League university located in New Jersey, said all lectures, seminars, and precepts will be moved to virtual instruction starting
on March 23, after spring break, according to Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber.
According to Eisgruber, university medical advisers say that “the best time to put in place policies to slow the spread of the virus is now, before we begin to see cases on our campus, rather than later.” He encouraged students to consider staying home after spring break rather than returning to campus.
The new policies will be in place through April 5 and will be reassessed as that date approaches.
Seattle University, which has a body of 7,200 students, said that classes will no longer be held in person starting Monday and extending until the end of the quarter. Classes in the School of Law, which is on a semester system, will be suspended until further notice, the university added.
The university said there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the campus community.
“We have endeavored to operate in a manner that prioritizes the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while allowing our students full opportunity to continue to engage in their academic studies,” President Stephen V. Sundborg said.
University of Southern California
There are no cases of novel coronavirus at USC, but the university is replacing in-person classes with online lectures and seminars from Wednesday to Friday as part of a preparedness test.
“I emphasize that this is a test of our capabilities. The university is fully functional,” said Charles F. Zukoski, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
University of California San Diego
The University of California San Diego in Southern California announced plans to deliver all lectures and discussions remotely staring in Spring Quarter, which commences on March 25.
“To ensure the health and safety of our campus community given the recent coronavirus developments, all spring quarter courses will be delivered remotely and guidelines have been recommended for campus gatherings,” the university said in a tweet Monday night.
The university is also urging events or meetings that are expected to have more than 100 people to be canceled or postponed.
Courses will continue to meet in person for the last week of winter quarter, but instructors will not be grading based on attendance, the university said.
Stanford University is canceling all in-person classes for the final two weeks of its winter quarter, starting Monday, according to a letter on the university’s website that was sent from Provost Persis Drell.
“To the extent feasible, we will be moving classes to online formats in place of in-person instruction,” Drell said in the letter.
Exams that were scheduled to be taken in-person will be taken in a take-home format, the university said.
Stanford is located in Santa Clara County, which currently has dozens of cases of the coronavirus. California has nearly 90 cases of the virus.
Stanford University is also canceling campus tours and the “Admit Weekend” event for prospective undergraduates that was originally scheduled for the weekend of April 23-26. Visitors will be allowed to take self-guided tours but there will be no group tours or events, according to the letter. The university plans to keep its visitor center open.
University of Washington
Students at the University of Washington are on campus for the last day of in-person classes on March 6, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
The Seattle area has seen the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States so far, and several universities in the region have canceled classes during the outbreak as part of a “social distancing” strategy.
The University of Washington, based in Seattle, said that classes will no longer meet in person starting Monday, and instructors have been asked to conduct classes and/or exams remotely until the end of the quarter March 20.
The university said it plans to resume normal class operations when the spring quarter begins March 30, pending public health guidance.
A growing list of American universities have canceled study abroad programs as the novel coronavirus has spread around the world.
At least seven universities, including Villanova, Elon, Florida International and Syracuse, have suspended programs in Italy, and others have canceled programs in China and South Korea.
The study abroad program Semester at Sea, based on a cruise ship that’s been retrofitted into a floating campus, is rerouting with hundreds of American students on board.
CNN’s Connor Spielmaker, Sarah Moon, Jenn Selva, and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.