Coronavirus forces more shifts to online education

Stanford, Rice and Columbia among universities closing classrooms

New cases of coronavirus around the country drove several major universities to close classrooms Monday and shift to online education.

Rice University in Houston canceled all in-person classes for the week after an employee tested positive for novel coronavirus COVID-19, according to the school’s website.

“Faculty can provide material that students can complete remotely and does not require group interaction,” the university said. “Research will continue, as it is generally limited to small groups; postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers are asked to consult with their advisers about how to best pursue their scholarship during this period.”

The university, which also canceled all on-campus events of more than 100 people through April 30, said the employee was exposed while visiting a country that was not on the CDC’s restricted travel list.

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In Washington, one of the hardest hit parts of the country, Seattle University canceled all in-person classes for the rest of its winter quarter, which ends March 30.

Though no members of the campus community have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the university said it made the decision to help stop the spread of the infection in the region.

In New Jersy, Princeton University has decided to “virtualize any activities, such as lectures, seminars, and precepts, that can be put online,” President Chris Eisgruber announced.

“Though we recognize that a personal, ‘high touch’ educational environment is one of Princeton’s great strengths, we also recognize that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects us all,” Eisgruber wrote. “For that reason, we are creating, supporting, and mandating alternative ways of meeting our academic and other programmatic requirements in ways consistent with social distancing.”

Columbia University in New York City suspended classes Monday and Tuesday so classes could be moved online for the rest of the week, President Lee Bollinger said on the school’s website.

The decision was made after a member of the university community was quarantined, though the individual had not been diagnosed with coronavirus, Bollinger said.

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Nearby on Long Island, Hofstra University also canceled in-person classes for the rest of this week. A student on Sunday reported having flu-like symptoms after attending an off-campus event where another attendee has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The school has asked non-residential students to stay home, while it will provide regular services for students who live in residence halls.

At other schools that haven’t closed, groups of students have isolated themselves after attending off-campus events where others had later tested positive for coronavirus.

Trinity Univesity in Hartford announced seven students were isolating themselves off-campus for two weeks.

California State University, Long Beach, reported that several of its students had gone into self-quarantine after having attended a large event in Washington, D.C. at which three people subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

Over the weekend, Stanford University announced that all classes would be moved online for the remainder of its winter quarter. The University of Washington made the same decision on Friday.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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