Boston University President Robert Brown announced classes will be shifted online until April 13 as a result of the 2019 novel coronavirus in an email sent to the BU community Wednesday. Here’s everything we know about the risk to students on campus and how the switch will work.
Is the BU community at risk?
Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts Tuesday after the number of confirmed cases in the state more than doubled in one day. At least 70 cases can be traced back to employees at the Cambridge company Biogen, according to The Boston Globe.
There are two known cases of the coronavirus tangential to the BU community. One is a parent of a BU Academy student who tested positive for the virus, according to an email sent to all BUA students. The student did not attend any BU classes but did attend several in BUA spaces.
Another is a student who tested positive for the coronavirus while at the Madrid study abroad program. The student is being treated in isolation in a hospital, according to an email sent by BU Study Abroad.
The University has discouraged returning to the campus during this time and will place several restrictions on gatherings in campus buildings, according to the email from President Brown.
What does online learning look like?
All courses will meet remotely at their regular times, according to President Brown’s email. Courses will take place on the Zoom video conference platform, according to a plan released by the University on Monday. Whether the sessions are made available afterward is up to the professor.
Many professors have chosen to schedule lectures or class meetings on Zoom through the end of the semester in case students do not return to campus. As of now, this is mere precaution and the University plans to return to in-person learning in April.
Registration for classes for the Fall 2020 semester will continue as scheduled on April 5 for students with junior or senior standing in the fall, and April 19 for those with sophomore or freshman standing. Advising codes are being distributed remotely, with every academic department developing their own system to give advice and codes, according to various emails sent by BU academic advisors.
What will be open on campus?
No non-academic gatherings will be permitted in campus buildings including residences, where students will not be allowed any guests during the day or overnight, according to an email from BU Housing. Students will have swipe access only to their own residences 24/7 and Warren Towers during dining hall hours, according to the email.
No reduced or changed hours have been announced for any dining halls. Dining Services will be moving to disposable cups, plates and utensils after spring break to limit workers’ contact with germs, according to the email.
FitRec will be closed during this time, according to a Facebook post made by the Fitness and Recreation Center. Mugar Memorial Library will remain open during regular hours, and the Union Court in the George Sherman Union will be open with potentially reduced hours, according to BU Today.
What about study abroad?
President Donald Trump announced a 30-day travel ban for non-U.S. citizens coming from Europe, excluding the United Kingdom. As a result, BU cancelled residential services for students studying in Paris, Geneva, Grenoble, France and Dresden, Germany. Courses will continue online as well.
Students coming from Europe, which is under a “Level 3, Avoid Non Essential Travel” warning from the Centers for Disease Control, are forbidden from campus and suggested to self-quarantine for 14 days, even if they do not feel ill.
Can I come get my things?
Students will have access to their residences during this time and may come to get textbooks or other necessities left on campus over the break, according to the email from President Brown.