The University of Washington will stop holding classes in person and move all classes online in response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which has sickened at least 100,000 people worldwide and killed thousands, including at least 14 in Washington state.
The announcement came after an employee who works on the main campus in Seattle tested positive for the virus. The employee is now self-quarantined at home and everyone who has been in direct contact with that employee has reportedly been notified.
The on-campus class suspension, which will affect 50,000 students on the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses, will begin Monday, March 9 and will last for the remainder of the winter term, which ends on March 20. The university, at this point, plans on resuming normal operations on March 30, when students return from spring break, but officials will continue to evaluate the situation as it evolves over the coming weeks.
The campuses will not be closed during the suspension. Residence halls, dining rooms, hospitals, and recreation and athletics facilities will remain open, but employees who can work from home are encouraged to do so and people are urged to avoid large gatherings to maintain a safe distance from others.
In an email sent to UW faculty and staff, President Ana Mari Cauce said, "Our focus remains keeping this community healthy as we fulfill our educational, research, and service mission."
Other Seattle universities, including
Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, and Seattle Central College are following CDC guidelines and operating as usual for the time being. This will likely change if any members of those campuses test positive for the disease.
Public health officials in Seattle and Washington have urged those who can work from home to do so to slow the spread of the virus and protect those who are high-risk, including people over 60 and anyone with a compromised immune system.
Get the latest coronavirus updates here.
UPDATE: Seattle U announced Friday that they will also be holding classes online as of March 9th.