University of Washington Becomes First U.S. College to Cancel Classes Due to Coronavirus

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The University of Washington in Seattle said Friday that it will move all classes online after a university staff member was diagnosed with the coronavirus this week.

Campus services such as dining halls, hospitals and clinics, resident halls, and recreation facilities will remain open but classes for the school’s 50,000 students will be taught remotely starting on Monday. The school plans to resume teaching classes in person on March 30 and in the meantime will work on cleaning its public spaces and facilities.

“With the continued spread of COVID-19 in the region, and in consultation with public health officials regarding social distancing, I write today to announce actions the University of Washington is taking to increase precautionary health measures and ensure the successful conclusion of the quarter for UW students on all of our campuses,” said university president Ana Mari Cauce in an email to students.

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Washington state is currently reeling from an outbreak of the coronavirus, a respiratory illness that originated in China. On Friday, the state had at least 75 cases of people infected, and 13 people in the region have died. Globally, the virus has killed over 3,200 people and infected over 100,000. The U.S. has over 200 cases of people infected across the country.

“The novel coronavirus is not the first challenge this region, or our University, has faced,” the university president said. “It will not be the last. In its 158-year history, the UW has endured two world wars, a depression and other crises that have tested our resilience and our compassion. Generation after generation of Huskies have risen to the challenge, working together to support each other through difficult times.”

Students at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee said one of its students tested positive for the virus, and the University of California, Los Angeles has three students being tested, prompting more universities to put plans in place should they need to shut down.

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