Amid coronavirus scare, UW to close classrooms to thousands of students

SEATTLE — The University of Washington has made the decision to cancel in-person classes for its more than 50,000 students starting Monday.

Campuses will remain open.

The move comes after a growing number of coronavirus cases in our region.

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Health experts expect additional confirmed novel coronavirus cases to climb as testing has become more readily available in recent days.

UW sent a letter to students and faculty of their decision to minimize risk by conducting classes remotely when possible. That decision comes as students were preparing for final exams.

While the school will officially stop holding in-person classes Monday, the university stresses that its campuses and operations will remain open. That includes university-run hospitals, residence halls, dining halls and athletic facilities.

The initial plan, according to a letter from President Ana Mari Cauce, is for UW to resume normally scheduled classes at the beginning of the spring quarter starting on March 30, pending public health guidance.

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“Today, it’s our turn to take on the challenge of keeping our community safe by listening to public health experts,” writes Cauce. “Remaining calm and doing all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our midst.”

According to the CDC, the most effective efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus has been proper hand washing and social distancing.

As for UW students, there will be concern over how classes will finish. The UW President said that remote learning will be utilized when possible, but also notified staff that in some cases they may need to submit grades based on work.

“Our goal is to make sure that students’ academic work is fairly recognized and that any disruption does not present a disadvantage to their future academic progress,” she wrote.

UW is the first university in the country to cancel in-person classes on its campuses due to coronavirus threats.

Other universities have warned students of potential disruptions. Duke University, for instance, told students that it’s possible that remote learning would be necessary if a student tested positive for COVID-19 while warning them about taking precautions over this year’s spring break.