David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at [email protected].
The University of Rochester and the State University of New York announced Wednesday that they are moving instruction online for the rest of the academic year, and asking students who reside on campus to return home if possible, becoming the latest institutions of higher learning to all but close their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In announcing the developments at SUNY, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the move is aimed at lowering the density of people in any one area to potentially reduce the spread of the virus.
The move at the largest public college system in the nation comes as the number of coronavirus cases grew to 212 statewide, most of them downstate in Westchester County.
In an email to the UR community, university President Sarah Mangelsdorf noted that the university will continue to provide housing and food for students who remain on campus, although those students will be expected to take their courses online.
About a third of the student body at UR are international students, with more than half of those students — roughly 2,300 — being from China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
“We know that social distancing is effective in slowing down or stopping the spread of a disease,” Mangelsdorf wrote. “The intent of these measures is to limit exposure both to those who may be ill and to those who may be contagious but who are not displaying symptoms. These measures may keep you from getting sick; they will also greatly lower the risk that COVID-19 will be introduced to our campuses and healthcare facilities, so that these measures may also keep others from getting sick.”
Her announcement came as the UR campus was on its spring break. Classes were to resume on Monday, March 16, but have been postponed to Wednesday, March 18, to give students and faculty time to prepare for the transition to distance learning.
Earlier in the week, Cornell University in Ithaca moved classes online. No other Rochester-area school has taken such measures, although some have canceled all school-sponsored international travel.