MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Board of Governors for the State University System is directing all universities to move classes on-line for a two-week period due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure, effective immediately, was announced in a statement released by the board on Wednesday afternoon.

Each university will determine the timing of the plan.

A statement by the Florida Board of Governors reads: First and foremost, the health and safety of students within the State University System is our top priority. As we have continued to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus it has become clear that to protect the students and the residents of our state, proactive rather than reactive guidance to universities is necessary. To be clear, campuses will remain open, and operations will continue, although some adjustments may be made as determined by each university.

In addition to the implementation of remote instruction, the Board laid out other guidance.

UNIVERSITIES WITH STUDENTS CURRENTLY ON CAMPUS: State universities with students who have returned from spring break, which includes Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida Polytechnic University, and the University of Florida, should implement a process to transition to remote instruction immediately and encourage students to return home for at least 2 weeks. Each university will provide detailed information to their students, faculty, and staff at the earliest possible time regarding this transition.

UNIVERSITIES WITH STUDENTS ON OR GOING ON SPRING BREAK: State universities with students who are currently on spring break or about to be on break should direct their students to NOT return to campus for at least 2 weeks following the conclusion of spring break. This includes students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, the University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, and the University of West Florida. Each university will provide detailed information to their students, faculty, and staff at the earliest possible time regarding this transition.

ESSENTIAL SERVICES: All universities will continue to provide essential services, such as dining, counseling, health services, library services, etc., potentially on a limited basis or remotely. Each university with clinical and other non-classroom based programs will communicate directly with those students.

RESIDENTIAL HOUSING: While students are encouraged to remain off-campus, each university should develop a plan for providing residential accommodations for students who need assistance or must remain in place.

The State University System of Florida will continue to monitor guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and will provide expanded guidance should it be deemed necessary. This directive will be reevaluated as the situation continues to develop. University information about COVID-19 is available on the Board of Governor’s website at www.flbog.edu.

Meantime in Miami-Dade, the University of Miami and Miami-Dade College are also taking action to mitigate the potential risk of infection.

UM says classes will resume on University campuses on Monday, March 16, but they are preparing to move classes on-line if necessary.

Starting Sunday, March 15th, through March 31st, all UM campus events or meetings with 50 or more attendees, including external events, are canceled. There are two exceptions, however. University athletics events will follow NCAA, ACC, and State of Florida guidelines. At this time no changes have been made to scheduled athletics events. Also, election polling on campus for the Florida primary will proceed on March 17th.

Commencement activities to be held May 7th, 8th, and 9th, will proceed as scheduled. Any changes to that schedule will be announced by April 15th.

“We are working with deans and faculty members to prepare for the possibility of remote and virtual instruction for some (or possibly all) courses. As the spread of the virus is fast-changing, we will update the community with more definitive guidance as needed,” the university said in a statement.

The university has also asked employees on the Coral Gables and Marine campuses (who are not part of the UHealth system) to work from home on Friday, March 13, as part of a practice test for staff to work remotely.

At Miami-Dade College, classes continue as normal. The State University System’s directive to immediately begin online classes instead of in-person does not include state colleges. In a statement, MDC says “Per the Florida Commissioner of Education, the COVID-19 risk to students and employees at our State Colleges and K-12 institutions remains low. Upon the recommendation of the Florida Department of Education, Miami Dade College and the other 27 state colleges remain open. We have taken several precautions which we have communicated to the college community via email, social media and on our dedicated website, www.mdc.edu/coronavirus. In the event the status of MDC classes and operations changes, we will immediately communicate it to employees and students, and will provide instructions for the continuation of the spring semester through alternative instructional methods, including online. We appreciate the patience and understanding of all students and employees. Their safety remains our top priority.”

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Other universities which have already started canceling in-person classes replacing them with on-line classes include the University of Washington, Stanford University, Vanderbilt, and three New York universities, including Columbia, Hofstra,  and Yeshiva.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Classes on campus are suspended, where possible. The school plans to hold online classes through April 10, the end of the second week of spring quarter.  The school is moving to cancel nonessential gatherings of more than 100 people. Other system schools, including UC DavisUC Riverside, and UC Santa Barbara are taking steps to mitigate possible impact.

Duke University:  The university in Durham, North Carolina, suspended in-person classes immediately, officials said in a notice sent to students Tuesday night. Spring break for undergraduates has been extended until March 22 so people can prepare for online classes. Those who are out of town for spring break have been told they should not return to campus.

Purdue University: Online classes will begin March 23 and could stay in that format to the end of the semester, officials said. Students who left campus for spring break will be allowed to return.

Harvard University: Harvard University will begin transitioning to online classes by March 23, the first day of classes after spring break, due to challenges posed by the novel coronavirus, President Lawrence S. Bacow announced. Students are asked not to return to campus after the break in order to protect community health.

Amherst College: The Massachusetts school told students to leave campus for spring break by next Monday and to be prepared to work off-campus when they return for March 23 classes. Amherst canceled classes for Thursday and Friday.

University of California, Berkeley: The University of California, Berkeley has suspended most of their in-person classes as a proactive measure. In a letter sent to the campus community Monday, Chancellor Carol Christ said the changes will begin Tuesday and remain in effect through spring break, which ends March 29.  All lecture courses, seminar instruction and exams will be offered through virtual options. Courses that must meet in person — such as labs, performing arts or physical education — are encouraged to minimize their in-person meetings.

Ohio State University has announced it is planning to suspend in-person classes effective immediately through at least March 30, according to a university-wide letter from OSU President Michael V. Drake. The University has given students the option of completing their courses online from home or remaining on campus with social distancing and other preventative measures in place.

Princeton University: Princeton, the Ivy League university located in New Jersey, said all lectures, seminars, and precepts will be moved to virtual instruction starting on March 23, after spring break, according to Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber. He encouraged students to consider staying home after spring break rather than returning to campus. The new policies will be in place through April 5 and will be reassessed as that date approaches.

Seattle University, which has a body of 7,200 students, said that classes will no longer be held in person starting Monday and extending until the end of the quarter. Classes in the School of Law, which is on a semester system, will be suspended until further notice, the university added.

University of Southern California  is replacing in-person classes with online lectures and seminars from Wednesday to Friday as part of a preparedness test. “I emphasize that this is a test of our capabilities. The university is fully functional,” said Charles F. Zukoski, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

The University of California, San Diego announced plans to deliver all lectures and discussions remotely staring in Spring Quarter, which commences on March 25. The university is also urging events or meetings that are expected to have more than 100 people to be canceled or postponed.  Courses will continue to meet in person for the last week of winter quarter, but instructors will not be grading based on attendance, the university said.

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