TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Arizona State University and University of Arizona will be switching to online classes when students get back from spring break due to the coronavirus threat.
Arizona's Family has confirmed that starting Monday, March 16, all ASU classes will be held online, if possible, for at least the next two weeks. The university will remain open and school resources will still be available. But classes will be taught remotely.
UArizona's president, Robert C. Robbins, sent out a letter saying the school will delay the return from spring break until Wednesday, March 18, and move to online classes wherever possible. Robbins said residence halls, recreational facilities, food services and Campus Health will remain open. The classes will remain online until April 6 and that's when the university will reassess the situation. All public events will continue except for the Bear Down Music Fest. There's more info on their website.
As for the state's other public university, Northern Arizona University, they will hold classes as scheduled for the remainder of the week and move to online instruction on March 23. Grand Canyon University will almost move to digital classes on March 23.
ASU president Michael Crow sent out the following letter:
Dear ASU community:
As you know from previous communications, university leadership has been closely following events and public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The university has been busy planning and preparing for the possibility of transitioning to an online teaching and learning environment to help manage the potential spread of COVID-19.
Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at ASU at this time, we know that many members of the ASU community have been traveling this week during spring break to parts of the country and world where there may be community spread of COVID-19. As a precaution, we have made the decision to transition in-person classes to online instruction wherever possible.
Effective Monday, March 16, the following changes will occur:
All in-person classes wherever possible will transition to online instruction. Classes will continue in this mode for two weeks, at which time the university will assess where things stand with COVID-19. Additional information will follow shortly with specific instruction for faculty and students on how to transition to online instruction.
The university remains open. University housing, computer labs, food service, health clinics, counseling services, research labs and all other aspects of the university remain open.
All public events will continue unless otherwise announced.
We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution. Public health officials have not yet made this a requirement for public institutions. Nevertheless, given all that we know and what we can anticipate based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe this is the most prudent course of action at the current time.
ASU’s COVID-19 webpage will continue to be our primary source of information and updates related to university operations. We will communicate changes across as many channels as possible, and we have teams of individuals across the university ready to assist faculty and students with the transition to online instruction.
The spread of COVID-19 may necessitate changes in the way we interact, but it does not change what we do. ASU will continue to operate and will continue to deliver the highest-quality education possible to the students we serve, and ASU employees will continue to perform their duties.
This is a new challenge not only for our community at ASU, but for the broader community in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, and the country. We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation with local, state and federal public health officials.
In the meantime, please carry on with your work and your studies. Do so with care for yourself and for those around you and continue to adhere to the preventative measures as recommended by public health officials, but do not retreat from your commitment to your education and to the important work you do every day. And again, additional information will follow shortly with specific instruction for faculty and students about this transition.
Michael M. Crow
Arizona State University
Below is the letter Robbins sent out on Wednesday:
The University of Arizona's top priority is the health and safety of our students, our employees and our community. At this time, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tucson is low, and there are no confirmed cases on any domestic University of Arizona campus.
Nonetheless, like all U.S. universities, the University of Arizona is rapidly ramping up coronavirus mitigation efforts to keep our community as safe as possible.
Accordingly, we are delaying the start of classes to Wednesday, March 18, and moving from in-person instruction to online instruction wherever possible.
• Residence halls, recreational facilities, food services and Campus Health are open now and will remain open.
• Classes will continue in online mode until Monday, April 6, at which time the University will assess its operational status.
• All public events will continue, with the exception of the Bear Down Music Fest, unless otherwise announced.
Additional information will follow shortly with specific details for faculty, staff and students. To stay up-to-date, please visit our main COVID-19 page.
There is no doubt these policies will disrupt and inconvenience our campus community. However, I strongly believe these short-term disruptions will greatly reduce the risk of significant long-term negative consequences.
Please remember that we are all responsible for our community’s well-being. Be sure that you are taking care of yourself and looking out for your friends and other campus community members. Please also see CDC guidance.
Thank you for your patience and support through this evolving situation.
Robert C. Robbins, M.D.
The University of Arizona
Back in January, a person with ties to ASU was named the first coronavirus case in Maricopa County. That patient had recently returned from travel to Wuhan, China. The patient was said to be a member of the Arizona State University community, and lives in Tempe, but does not live in university housing.
Now, some students who were studying overseas have been forced to return the states amid coronavirus fears. Maggie Zheng had been in China, finishing up her study abroad program. But she was forced to come right home when the coronavirus started to spread. "When we got the email that the program was canceled. We had about five days to get out of the country," said Zheng.
Zheng and some other ASU students had been in the city of Nanjing, about 500 miles from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. She remembers not being really worried about the virus because they were so far away. But then, things started to change. "No one was out on the streets," said Zheng. "We were just watching the news as it was getting progressively worse. People were being quarantined."