Updated: At Least 48 Colleges Have Cancelled In-Person Classes (So Far) Over Coronavirus Fears

16 countries have completely canceled school as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to … [+] the United Nations.

Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

(Updated: 2:22 p.m. EST, March 10 2020)

Topline: Harvard University on Tuesday joined about 48 other American colleges and universities in cancelling some or all in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the earliest and clearest signs yet of American life being significantly disrupted by the virus, as other countries have instituted dramatic quarantines and lockdowns.

Here are the schools that have made changes to their academic schedules:

  • Along with Harvard, other Ivy League schools that have canceled classes or closed include Columbia University (including Barnard College) and Princeton University.
  • Also in California: Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, University of Southern California, University of San Francisco, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University and Palo Alto University. 
  • In Washington State: University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Northeastern University Seattle Campus, Bellevue College, Bellingham Technical College, Cascadia College, Everett Community College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Pacific Lutheran, University of Puget Sound and Washington State University Everett.
  • On the East Coast: New York University, Fordham University, Hofstra University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst College, Syracuse University, American University, Skidmore College, St. John’s University, The New School, Touro College, Yeshiva University, Monmouth University, Rowan University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Sacred Heart University and the University of New Haven.
  • In the South: Rice University, University of Florida and Vanderbilt University.
  • In the Midwest and West: Ohio State University, Grinnell College, University of Nebraska and Midland University of Nebraska.

Chief critics: Some journalists and academics say that colleges asking students to move out of dorms—like Harvard did Tuesday—can place an undue burden on them. University of Birmingham professor Sarah Parcak said on Twitter that parents of college students should consider taking in American and international students who can’t otherwise get home during the closures. 

Crucial quote: “The dorms are cruise ships,” an unnamed Harvard University official told MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell, in reference to the school’s decision asking students to move out of dorms by Sunday. Multiple cruise ships have experienced the spread of coronavirus since the outbreak began, with hundreds of passengers and crew becoming infected and at least seven dying due to the close conditions on board.

Big number: 16 countries. That’s how many have closed all of their schools due to coronavirus, according to the United Nations. And 16 additional countries have also closed some schools in response, the organization said. 

Key background: Spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in the U.S., with over 740 cases and 26 deaths as of Tuesday morning, has prompted schools to take measures to limit the disease’s transmission. The Department of Education issued guidance for colleges to implement distance learning as classes go online, and the Centers for Disease Control released information to help institutions prevent the spread of the disease. K-12 schools across the country have made similar choices by canceling classes or large events, which could similarly impact students who rely on them for meals and care.

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