University of Washington Cancels In-Person Classes as Coronavirus Continues to Spread

The University of Washington has joined a growing number of schools that have canceled in-person classes for the time being as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The university announced Friday that beginning on Monday, all classes and finals will be held remotely through March 20 in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far sickened more than 101,000 people worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.

The school’s campuses will stay open, as will services like hospitals, residence halls, dining, recreation and athletics facilities, but students will take their courses and finals remotely.

Classes will resume as normal on March 30, the start of the spring quarter, “pending public health guidance,” according to the announcement.

The university has 50,000 students across three different campuses in the Seattle region, according to The New York Times, an area that has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak.

The decision comes the same day the University of Washington announced that a staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus, and is in self-isolation at his home.

The building where the staffer worked is closed for cleaning until further notice, and he was last in the building on Feb. 24, 27 and 28, though he is thought to have had limited contact with anyone outside of his immediate office floor.

“Our common humanity calls on us now to offer support, empathy and understanding to those most affected by this virus,” President Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement. “All of us, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for treating each other with kindness and empathy. We are best equipped to deal with any threat to health when we work together.”

The University of Washington’s decision to cancel classes comes two days after Yeshiva University did the same, halting courses at its Washington Heights and Midtown campuses until March 10.

The school said the closure was prompted by a student who tested positive for the virus.

The coronavirus — now known as COVID-2019 — originated in Wuhan, China in late December, and has since spread worldwide, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.

There are currently 241 confirmed cases in the United States, and the very first one was found in Everett, Washington in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan.

Fourteen people have died from the virus in the U.S., including 12 people in King County, Washington and one person in Snohomish County.

A man in his 70s with underlying health issues who was living at a long-term nursing facility outside of Seattle was among the victims. As of earlier this week, more than 50 people who live or work in the nursing home were showing symptoms and would be tested. Four of those people have confirmed cases.

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