The week of March 9th to 13th saw significant changes to higher education’s response to the continued spread of COVID-19 across the United States. Many institutions are scrambling to prepare for the tough reality: the remainder of the semester will bring unprecedented challenges.
The number of schools taking action by cancelling physical classes has increased drastically, going from under 30 to over 200 in a matter of a few days. For many, spring break falls at a convenient time. With most students already off-campus or getting ready to depart, some institutions have opted to extend the break by an additional week giving professors time to move traditionally in-person classes to an online format. Other institutions have asked students to go home or remain home after spring break concludes. One institution has chosen to halt the semester altogether, acknowledging that not all students have the resources to continue their academics virtually and ending instruction on March 13th.
Most institutional closures or shifts to online instruction have come from the Northeast, where the majority of confirmed cases of the virus have been reported outside of the state of Washington.
New York has cancelled in-person classes at the most universities so far, following Governor Cuomo’s announcement that all SUNY and CUNY schools will become virtual for the semester beginning on March 19th. Public institutions across the country have been first to react to the spread of the virus, making up over half of those who have moved online or closed.
While the most attention has been given to closures in the United States, institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom have also begun to explore remote instruction options. We anticipate the number of institutions that have cancelled in-person classes to rise significantly in the coming week.
As more cases emerge in the coming days, institutions in less-impacted areas have the opportunity to learn from their peers that are dealing with the disease directly. Visit EAB’s COVID-19 resource center for example communications, policies, and other resources for navigating through this pandemic.