By Josyana Joshua, Howard University News Service
As the World Heath Organization designated the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, Howard University will suspend on-campus classes and transition online.
Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick announced that starting March 23, when students are due back from spring break, classes will transition online. Spring Break runs from March 16-20.
“As of March 23 Howard will transition to online classes,” the statement read. “Students will not be expected to return to campus if they choose to leave until April 6th. Updates regarding whether campus will reopen after this date will be released March 25th.”
Howard University Student Association President Taylor Ellison met with President Dr. Wayne Frederick to discuss the matter of transitioning online.
Despite classes being suspended, the university will continue to stay open during this time. The university is not asking students to leave campus yet and is working with its catering vendor to create a food concierge service to accommodate those staying on campus. They also plan to keep Founders Library and the main computer open to accommodate students who might not have adequate access to technology.
Associate Professor in the Media, Journalism and Film Department, Jennifer C. Thomas said she supports the university’s decision.
“The safety of our students is paramount, and I fully support the university’s decision,” she said in an email.
Professor Thomas also pointed out the importance of responsible reporting and believes this time is important for her students to learn that. “As journalists we also have a responsibility to keep the public informed through responsible reporting, as to not contribute panic.”
The statement from the university continued to discourage international travel by Howard’s students. “All students will be surveyed upon arrival from Spring Break regarding travel and dorm accommodations. The University is not liable for the return of any student who choose to leave the country,” the statement said. Howard suspended travel last Saturday.
There have still been no confirmed cases on Howard’s campus, but there have been multiple confirmed cases in the D.C. area. Many other universities are taking the digital route to slow down the spread of the virus. The main concern is accommodating students who may not be able to leave campus. Other universities gave students little to no time to prepare proper accommodation or plans for leaving campus.
Howard University will continue to update students and faculty as more information becomes available.