Harvard University has moved to virtual classes and asked students to move out of their dorms in five days while others on Spring break have been asked not to return back due to novel coronavirus outbreak.
The university spokeswoman Rachael Dane confirmed the new development to CNN, saying: “Harvard College students have been asked to move out of their Houses and First-Year Dorms by Sunday, March 15, in an effort to de-densify our community,” Dane told CNN in an email, adding that ‘all academic courses will continue to be held remotely, while meetings on campus after March 23 will be virtual.
Harvard President Lawrence Bacow also issued a statement, addressing the new academic plans for students.
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
Like all of you, I have been intently following reports of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and considering the many ways in which its future course might alter my life and the lives of those closest to me. These past few weeks have been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to one another—and how our choices today determine our options tomorrow.
Fortunately, a group of extremely dedicated people has been working literally around the clock to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Our teams are considering every contingency as they undertake their important work on your behalf, and I write today to update you on major near-term changes that will limit exposure to the disease among members of our community:
- We will begin transitioning to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes. Our goal is to have this transition complete by Monday, March 23, which is the first day of scheduled classes following Spring Recess.
- Students are asked not to return to campus after Spring Recess and to meet academic requirements remotely until further notice. Students who need to remain on campus will also receive instruction remotely and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions. All graduate students will transition to remote work wherever possible. Schools will communicate more specific guidance and information, and we encourage everyone to review previous guidance about both international and domestic travel.
- We are transitioning over the course of the next few days to non-essential gatherings of no more than 25 people. Please note this is a change from prior guidance.
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. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are also consistent with similar decisions made by a number of our peer institutions. The campus will remain open and operations will continue with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community.