Harvard to move online, tells students to go home

Ohio State University suspended all in-person classes through the end of March
By: | March 10, 2020
COVID-19 forces Harvard University to move to online education and ask students to stay home after spring break. (gettyimages.com: marvinh)COVID-19 forces Harvard University to move to online education and ask students to stay home after spring break. (gettyimages.com: marvinh)

Coronavirus has driven Harvard University to tell graduate and undergraduate students not to return to campus after spring break—which begins this Saturday—as it moves to online education.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the university will have students take all courses remotely when the recess ends on March 23, President Lawrence S. Bacow announced on Harvard’s website Tuesday.

Administrators also discouraged the campus community from holding non-essential meetings or events of more than 25 people.

“The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly,” Bacow wrote. “The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls and residential buildings.”


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One of the nation’s largest institutions, Ohio State University, suspended all classes though no COVID-19 cases had been diagnosed on campus.

“We are suspending face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings and moving to virtual instruction, effective immediately and through at least Monday, March 30,” President Michael V. Drake wrote on Ohio State’s website.

“While completing classes virtually, students may choose to return to their permanent place of residence or return to campus, where appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures will be actively encouraged,” Drake added.

The University System of Maryland, which goes on spring break on Saturday, has asked students to stay home for two weeks after the vacation while all instruction is shifted online.

“Given the residential nature of the universities within the system, USM must apply an abundance of caution to ensure that students and employees are protected and safe,” Chancellor Jay A. Perman said on the system’s website.

UC Berekely also suspended most in-person classes on Tuesday and will offer courses online until spring break. Instructors who are not ready to move online can cancel classes for the next two days so they can make the transition and resume teaching remotely on March 12.

The university also canceled all campus-sponsored events with plans for more than 150 attendees.


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The University of Southern California said all classes would be held online, Wednesday through Friday, as a test of the school’s distance learning capacity.

“During spring recess, we will review feedback from faculty, students, and staff to determine how to improve the online experience,” university leaders wrote on USC’s website. “Should the situation erode and we need to take stronger measures, we will be able to smoothly and quickly adapt, having tested our resources for three days.”

And at another major institution, the University of Florida, Provost Joe Glover asked academic deans to encourage instructors to move courses online as soon as possible, according to UF’s website.

Smaller schools are also making changes. Berea College in Kentucky said all instructional activities will stop on Friday, and asked faculty to figure out how courses can be ” be brought to closure in that time.”

Students were asked to move out of dorms on Saturday, and the college also canceled its commencement ceremony and summer travel programs.

“It will not be possible to adequately assure student and employee safety in the circumstance of a case of COVID-19 occurring on campus,” President Lyle D. Roelofs said in a message to the college.

Coronavirus impacts athletics

The Ivy League announced Tuesday that is was canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which would’ve taken place this weekend. Regular season champions, the Princeton women and Yale men, have automatically qualified for their NCAA tournaments.

The league is also implementing “highly-restrictive, in-venue spectator limitations” for all other upcoming campus athletics and canceling out-of-season practices and competitions.

“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Executive Director Robin Harris said on the league’s website. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”