The University is moving classes online after spring break for two weeks as cases of COVID-19 multiply in the District.
Officials announced that most classes will meet online starting immediately after spring break until at least April 5, and students must move off campus by March 20 unless they apply for “continuous stay” by March 18 through an application that will be sent out to students March 11, according to an email sent to the GW community Tuesday evening. All student organization activities and events are suspended beginning March 23, according to the email.
“I strongly encourage students who can go home for spring break to do so,” University President Thomas LeBlanc said in the email. “After the break, beginning Monday, March 23, most GW classes will move online, and they will remain online through at least April 5.”
The email states that administrators will inform students by March 27 if classes will continue to be held online beyond April 5.
GW is the third D.C.-area school, after American University and the University of Maryland, College Park, to suspend classes on campus, joining dozens of universities across the country as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
Faculty and staff should maintain regular work schedules, and employees should only meet in “essential gatherings related to academic and professional pursuits” until April 5, the email states. The University will remain “open and operational” during the period, according to the email.
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences faculty were instructed to prepare for the possibility of moving classes online last week.
Four presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified by District officials as of Tuesday, according to data from D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences Sunday. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the first presumptive case of the virus in the District, a Georgetown Episcopal church rector, Saturday.
Bowser said at a press conference Tuesday that a working group of D.C. officials led by Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn has been in contact with universities across the District. She added that the group has not made any specific recommendations about whether or not universities should remain open.
Administrators have suspended all non-essential international travel by faculty, staff and students until July 1 in the wake of the outbreak. Members of the GW community who return from countries deeply affected by the virus – China, Iran, Italy and South Korea – have been required to self-isolate for 14 days away from campus.
“Uncertainty and impacts of this public health situation can be stressful,” LeBlanc said in the email. “These decisions are not being taken lightly. Ensuring the safety of the university community is at the core of every conversation about our next steps.”