Amid the impending risk of coronavirus throughout the DMV, the region’s universities are taking precautionary measures by canceling on-campus classes and planned community events, as well as implementing online platforms for students to continue their academic curriculum from home.
On Wednesday, March 11, the University of Virginia became one of the first schools in the state to officially move all classes online when students return from spring break on Thursday, March 19. According to a statement from President James E. Ryan, UVA will not be holding classes on campus “for the foreseeable future, quite possibly through the end of the semester.” This decision will be reevaluated after Sunday, April 5.
Along with UVA, Northern Virginia Community College decided on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 11 that it would shift to remote learning for students. Students are currently on spring break and upon return, classes will be canceled on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, followed by the introduction of virtual instruction beginning Wednesday, March 18. This will continue until Saturday, April 4.
On March 9, Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke of Virginia Tech University sent a letter to faculty, announcing the entire staff must “accelerate planning necessary” to sustain its academic mission, including the use of online platforms to deliver instruction. As students are currently on spring break, Clarke is urging teachers to become familiar with strategies to continue teaching online, if the school decides to cancel on-campus classes and events.
George Mason University has not canceled or postponed any on-campus classes or events as of press time, however the school is continuously updating an online resource using regulations and announcements from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health as guidance. On the resource document, GMU has said it is “not advising remote telework or distance education” except for those who are considered to be at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
While currently on spring break, students and faculty of William & Mary received an email from Sam Jones, chair of the college’s Emergency Management Team, and Ginger Ambler, vice president for student affairs, on March 9 surrounding COVID-19. The statement soothed the community by mentioning that there are no known cases of the virus on the campus, and that the Emergency Management Team is looking into the potential impacts to instruction, future events and university travel. Leadership is expected to give an update by the end of the day Wednesday, March 11.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of James Madison University Dr. Heather Coltman sent out a letter to JMU’s faculty and staff March 10 asking that they prepare for the possibility of on-campus cancellations. In the statement, she wrote “there is no mandate at present to move courses online,” yet she is encouraging all community members to explore options for alternative modes of instruction, including teaching and testing online. Coltman also noted that fear and anxiety about COVID-19 has led to “social stigma toward people and places,” which she urges the community to be mindful of. JMU has also canceled all of its 2020 spring study abroad programs.
On March 10, Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communication and Marketing for Old Dominion University announced that there are currently no reported cases of the novel coronavirus on its campus. Despite that, the university is taking the following precautions: It is implementing a Public Health Incident Task Force, suspending all university- and research-foundation-sponsored travel to countries with high CDC warning levels, mandating a self-quarantine requirement, canceling all study-abroad trips and employing disinfecting agents such as hand-sanitizer stations throughout the campus.
According to a statement sent out March 10 by Michael Rao, president of Virginia Commonwealth University, the school has “teams from the university and health system working together to plan and respond to emerging coronavirus issues.” While at press time no changes have been made to academic calendars, the school has canceled events in New York surrounding the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which the men’s basketball team is scheduled to play in Thursday.
A student at Longwood University has self-quarantined based on recommendations made by the Department of Health and the CDC. According to a statement sent March 10 by the university, the student was tested the same day and results are not yet available. Despite the one case, the university has not altered academic or social schedules as of press time.
The following public Virginia universities have not yet announced steps being put in place amid the spread of COVID-19.
- Christopher Newport University
- University of Mary Washington
Throughout the DMV, collegiate institutions are making changes to their planned academic curriculum as a result of the virus. Below, find information about the alterations made thus far.
As of March 10, American University has temporarily moved all classes to online platforms following the return of students from spring break. This format will continue form Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, April 3.
The University of Maryland
On March 10, the University of Maryland College Park announced that it will be moving to an online environment starting Monday, March 30 and continuing until at least Friday, April 10. Until then, students are asked to not return from spring break, extending the originally planned one-week vacation to two. The school has canceled all spring and summer 2020 education abroad experiences, and also has suspended abroad programming in China, South Korea and Italy, asking all students to return home from foreign travel.
While spring break is scheduled to begin next week, Towson University has canceled classes from Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13. Upon the return from spring break on Monday, March 23, the university will begin a distance-learning format, continuing through Friday, April 3. Face-to-face classes are scheduled to begin again on Monday, April 6.
Beginning Monday, March 16, Georgetown University will move all classroom instruction for all its schools to an online, virtual-learning program. There is no set end date to this change.
George Washington University
On March 10, George Washington University announced that following spring break, beginning Monday, March 23, all GW classes “that can move online will.” This will tentatively continue through at least Sunday, April 5.
For more updates on how the coronavirus is impacting Northern Virginia, click here.