Universities begin to temporarily suspend classes due to coronavirus, UNF yet to announce any suspensions

Christian Ayers

Schools and universities across the United States have started suspending classes on campus as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread. At least a dozen major universities, including Harvard and Ohio State, have decided to cancel or suspend classes temporarily as a precaution to combat further transmission of the disease which has infected over 100,000 people worldwide.

On March 9, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency to gather resources and support from outside the state to prepare for any sort of outbreak from COVID-19. Two deaths linked to COVID-19 in Florida are confirmed so far, and has the governing bodies of Florida scrambling to get ahead of the disease.

Meanwhile, UNF has yet to announce any plans to suspend classes or move to virtual classes, and will follow CDC and city health officials’ guidelines if COVID-19 reaches the UNF community. UNF’s emergency management page doesn’t state official responses concerning suspension of in-person classes, they do however state that if a student imposes self-quarantine, then it is their responsibility to arrange ways to complete their coursework remotely.

UNF’s emergency management site says that extensive efforts have been made to clean and sterilize frequently touched areas, restrooms, and common areas. The university also encourages anyone who have traveled or may have been in close contact with individuals who have traveled abroad recently to consider taking a 14-day self-quarantine.

As for study-abroad programs, many universities have cancelled upcoming travel plans for students in study abroad, as has UNF.

An alert sent out to UNF students and faculty on Tuesday night stated the following:

“All upcoming international university travel by UNF students for Spring and Summer 2020, including but not limited to faculty-led and third-party study abroad programs, exchange programs, conferences and field work, is suspended. The timing of this restriction is out of an abundance of caution and to give students the ability to plan and complete their academic requirements toward a timely graduation through alternate means.”

Many of the universities that are suspending classes are using their respective spring break vacations to handle and further prepare to deal with COVID-19. Amherst College in Massachusetts has told its students to leave campus for spring break and to be prepared to resume classes online when they return.

Washington state has had over 20 deaths as of March 9, and universities in the state are responding appropriately to the crisis. University of Washington officials have stopped classes from meeting in person and moved coursework online until the end of the quarter on March 20. They plan to continue regular class procedures when the next quarter begins on March 30, pending health guidelines or changes.

Some universities in areas less affected by the virus are still taking precautions just in case COVID-19 rears in their community. For example, the University of Southern California is shifting to virtual classes temporarily as a preparedness test to see how they’d handle a full transfer to online courses ahead of any class suspension.

Spinnaker will continue to update with more information concerning UNF’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information visit the CDC website and UNF’s emergency management website.

***Article updated on Tuesday at 10:12 p.m.***


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