University of Virginia moves classes online amid coronavirus fears

National

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — The University of Virginia is moving all its classes to an online format amid fears of coronavirus.

In a statement, UVA President James Ryan said the university would reasses its decision to not hold in-person classes after April 5 at the earliest. Online classes, he added, begin March 19.

Ryan also said university events with more than 100 people are prohibited for the foreseeable future.

“These are obviously significant steps that will cause disruption and disappointment, which we all regret. We nonetheless feel compelled to take these steps in light of the most recent evidence. The virus continues to spread nationally and in Virginia. We still do not yet have a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Grounds or in the greater Charlottesville community, so our risk remains relatively low. Given that fact, the easiest and least disruptive option would have been to bring all students back to Grounds as planned and hope to make it through the rest of the semester without a confirmed case. We also considered bringing students back and moving only large classes online.

After talking more with medical experts, however, and as the evidence of the spread here and abroad mounts, we believe that these approaches would not be sufficient and would create too much risk, especially for our health system and the medical center, which is a Level 1 trauma center and may be stretched to the limits in the coming weeks and months. Experts have also told us that the best time to take steps to prevent that spread is now, before the first case arrives.

Our approach here is guided by three goals: (1) to protect the health of our students, faculty, staff, and Charlottesville neighbors; (2) to help slow the spread of the virus in Virginia and the nation; (3) to ensure the continuity of our teaching, research, and clinical care. All of those goals are advanced by reducing the number of people who are living and meeting on Grounds. We cannot eliminate all risks, of course, but we believe at this time these steps will help mitigate the risks we face.”

UVA President James Ryan

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