Coronavirus threat cancels classes at two major U.S. universities, with more expected to follow

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Class is out because of the coronavirus.

Major universities in two areas of high risk, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, were shut down Friday — the first of what is expected to be a wave of campus closures in coming weeks.

Late Friday, Stanford University canceled classes for the last two weeks of the winter quarter, starting Monday. “To the extent feasible,” classes will be moved to “online formats in place of in-person instruction,” Provost Persis Drell said. Stanford, with about 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students, confirmed a doctor in the medical school had the disease.

Earlier Friday, the University of Washington told its 50,000 students that courses would move online on Monday after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. Seattle University, with 7,300 students, and Northeastern University’s Seattle campus have also moved to online courses amid the outbreak. Washington state was the first to report a U.S. coronavirus case on Jan. 21. More than 84 people there are now infected, and 14 have died.

Meanwhile, another layer of schools with no reported coronavirus cases are testing online classes next week or warning students to be prepared for similar actions if they become necessary.

University of Southern California on Friday said it would conduct lectures and seminars online rather than in classrooms March 11-13 among “precautionary measures to ensure that we are prepared for any potential disruptions to teaching and learning at USC.”

Duke University issued a campus-wide alert Thursday with guidance for students leaving for spring break, advising them to avoid unnecessary travel and to avoid heavily-populated events or venues.

Duke, the University of Chicago, and New York University are asking students and faculty to register their travel plans, even locally.

Other schools are urging students to avoid leaving the country for spring break. Cornell University on Thursday urged “anyone who is planning to travel internationally for personal reasons to refrain from doing so.” The university said visitors from hard-hit countries, including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan would not be allowed on its various campuses including one in Ithaca, N.Y.

Columbia University, which is also warning against international travel during spring break, is cancelling spring campus tours for undergraduate admissions and programming for incoming, admitted students.

“Our campus does remain open. However, we are taking this temporary action to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire Columbia community and campus visitors,” the university said.

New York Law School temporarily closed its doors three days this past week, based on concerns a student had come in contact with a lawyer who contracted COVID-19. The student in the Manhattan-based school tested negative, according to a Friday announcement. The campus has now reopened, a spokeswoman said.

See also: Stanford and the University of Washington cancel classes amid coronavirus outbreak

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