Coronavirus is forcing universities in the US to close their doors

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A number of schools across the country are also canceling athletic events and study abroad programs as the number of COVID-19 cases grows.

A growing number of colleges and universities have begun announcing they will be temporarily suspending classes or other events due to mounting community spread of COVID-19 and the strain of coronavirus that causes it.

Across the country, in states like California, North Carolina, New York, and Texas, school officials have asked that students remain at home as cases of infected individuals grow.

Some universities have also canceled study abroad programs in countries that have experienced aggressive outbreaks of the virus.

California

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Stanford University announced Monday that it would move to online programs for the final two weeks of the winter quarter. At least one faculty member contracted the virus.

Massachusetts

Harvard University in Massachusetts said Friday it would cancel its annual "Visitas" weekend for admitted high school students and would replace it with a series of online videos and events.

New York

On Sunday, Columbia University canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday and announced online classes for the rest of the week after a community member was quarantined following exposure. It said "non-classroom activities, including research," will continue.

Barnard College, an independent but affiliated institution announced a similar plan.

Yeshiva University also canceled classes at two campuses last week until at least March 10.

In a statement Monday, Hofstra University also announced it would be canceling all in-person classes out of "an abundance of caution, through March 14 when spring break begins.

"On Sunday, March 8, a student contacted the Student Health and Counseling Center reporting flu-like symptoms, after attending an off-campus conference where an attendee has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The student is being tested, and is in isolation," the university wrote.

Six others who had contact with the infected student have also been asked to self-quarantine.

New Jersey

On Monday, Princeton University urged students not to return to campus after spring break and announced it would move to virtual-only instruction from March 23 until at least April 5.

"We encourage you to stay home after spring break — the University will make sure you are able to meet your academic requirements remotely," officials tweeted. "... [This] will cause significant disruption and inconvenience, but we strongly believe that actions taken now will help decrease risk, and that the potential consequences of not acting could far outweigh these short-term disruptions."

Texas

Rice University announced Sunday that it would cancel in-person classes for the week after an employee tested positive.

"During the week of March 9-13, faculty can provide material that can be completed remotely and does not require group interaction," the university said in a statement.

According to the Texas Tribune, "research, limited to small groups, will continue on campus, but all events, gatherings and parties of more than 100 people are prohibited through April 30."

Washington

The University of Washington on Friday announced that it would have its students take classes and exams remotely, amid multiple COVID-19 cases in the Seattle area. The school said it will continue to be online-only through at least March 20.

Other Seattle-area schools quickly followed, including Seattle University, Northeastern University's Seattle campus, and Everett Community College. Lake Washington Institute of Technology also announced it would move to "remote operations" until March 20 after a member of the faculty tested positive.

North Carolina

UNC Chapel Hill has not yet canceled its in-person classes but has thus far shuttered a number of planned study abroad and immersion programs, including all of its spring 2020 semester study abroad programs in Italy, which has reported an astounding 5,883 cases of COVID-19 thus far, and at least 234 deaths.

The university has also restricted travel to places like China and South Korea and has advised all students and faculty returning from affected regions of the world to self-quarantine off campus. A planned business school summit in Vancouver originally set for this week was canceled last minute on Thursday.

"Employees in a 14-day self-quarantine protocol should work with their supervisor to determine remote working options, and supervisors are encouraged to be flexible with remote working arrangements and use of sick leave," officials wrote in a statement last week. "This is an evolving and fluid situation."

Other schools across the country have similarly canceled spring break trips, study abroad programs, university-affiliated travel, and large events.

Some colleges have canceled athletic events and the NCAA is considering whether to allow spectators at its upcoming basketball tournaments.

The Trump administration is facing widespread criticism from public health experts over its botched handling of the outbreak. Despite claims from Donald Trump and his team that the virus was a "hoax" and "totally under control," the number of Americans diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as the related death toll, continues to climb.

The administration also fell short of promises to make available 1 million coronavirus test kits last week. Just a few thousand people in the United States have actually been tested.

Stock markets have not responded well. As of Monday morning, the Dow Jones was down more than 1,700 points, likely due to oil prices and fears over the coronavirus.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.