An email from the campus community on March 11, 2020, informed students that courses will be held online only for two weeks starting March 16. Students were told to remain at home during this time. (Emily Hu/B&W Staff)

Lehigh moves to online classes for next two weeks in wake of coronavirus

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All courses will be held online for two weeks beginning March 16 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, President John Simon announced in an email today to the Lehigh community.

Students are expected to go back home or remain at home to continue their coursework, in keeping with the “social distancing” methods recommended by health professionals.

“We are taking this extraordinary step in an effort to protect the health and safety of our community and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the email said. 

Simon confirmed in the email that there are no suspected or confirmed cases on campus at this time. The university will remain open “to continue to deliver on our educational and research mission during this time.”

“Given the uncertainties about the spread of the virus, medical professionals have advised us that it is prudent to take precautions and act on the assumption that the virus will reach our campus,” the email said. 

At this time, students who live in residential communities will have access to their residences until 5 p.m. on March 16 in order to retrieve any necessary items. 

Residential students who are unable to return home due to extreme circumstances should submit a COVID-19 Housing Exception Request through the Housing and Dining Services to remain on campus, according to the email.

“Students currently residing off-campus are also strongly encouraged to return to their permanent homes,” the email said. “For students living in off-campus housing, access to campus and university resources such as the libraries, dining, and the recreation/fitness center will be extremely limited.” 

Students will be notified of coursework to be completed remotely. The spread of coronavirus has prompted students to adjust spring break plans and to return home from semesters abroad.

This decision follows the closure of other majors universities such as Bucknell University, Harvard University and Cornell University. States such as New Jersey and New York have declared “state of emergency” status.

Latest estimates show the United States now has more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus, with more than two dozen deaths. Lehigh canceled all study abroad programs to China and South Korea earlier this semester.

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