Harvard suspends in-person classes, moves online in wake of coronavirus

Harvard University announced Tuesday that all classes will be suspended in person and moved online as a result of the coronavirus, following the lead of several other schools.

The Cambridge Ivy League school becomes the second major Massachusetts college to shift to remote teaching, after Amherst College on Monday told students not to return to campus when spring break ends, according to the Boston Globe.

In a statement posted to its website, Harvard explained that it hopes to transition all graduate and undergraduate classes online by March 23, the first day of classes following spring break.

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In this Dec. 13, 2018, file photo, a gate opens to the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass.

In this Dec. 13, 2018, file photo, a gate opens to the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass. (AP)

"Students are asked not to return to campus after spring recess and to meet academic requirements remotely until further notice," the statement read. "Students who need to remain on campus will also receive instruction remotely and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions. All graduate students will transition to remote work wherever possible. Schools will communicate more specific guidance and information, and we encourage everyone to review previous guidance about both international and domestic travel."

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The school also told students that it would offer counseling and mental health services as well as the employee assistance program to help them manage anxiety and stress.

"To our students, I know it will be difficult to leave your friends and your classrooms. We are doing this not just to protect you but also to protect other members of our community who may be more vulnerable to this disease than you are," the statement read.

"To our faculty, I recognize that we are asking you midway through the semester to completely rethink how you teach. We do this because we know that you want to avoid putting your students at risk.

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"To our staff, I understand that we are expecting you to go above and beyond in your efforts to support our important mission of teaching and scholarship. We do this because we know we can rely on your creativity, flexibility and judgment through these challenging times."

Harvard's decision comes after several schools on the West Coast, including Stanford and the University of Washington, informed students they were shutting down in-person classes to move to a remote schedule.

On Monday, Amherst announced the school would move to a remote schedule. Thursday and Friday classes were canceled and all students are expected to leave the campus by March 16, according to instructions on the college website.

As of March 9, the number of confirmed and presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts totaled 41, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Fordham University in New York also announced it was "suspending face-to-face instruction on its campuses, while Princeton in New Jersey said there would be a "mandatory, temporary move for all lectures, seminars and precepts to virtual instruction starting on Monday, March 23."