This article was originally published in BU Today on March 11, 2020. By Doug Most
Boston University, reacting to the fast-spreading coronavirus, announced on Wednesday, March 11, that it is moving all classes to online only. Students who are away for spring break are advised not to return to campus after break ends Sunday—but residence and dining halls will remain open for those who need to remain on campus because of particular challenges, according to BU’s leadership.
In a letter to all students, faculty, and staff, Robert A. Brown, University president, and Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer, outlined the reasoning behind various decisions related to COVID-19 and explained how the changes would be implemented.
The changes, effective Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 13, do not impact BU’s day-to-day routine staff business or University research, but employees who are uncomfortable being on campus are encouraged to speak with their managers about working from home. Officials plan to revisit the situation and update the community around April 1.
“Our first priority is to ensure the health and well-being of our community, while also making sure that our students are able to complete their courses, advancing their progress toward graduation, while preparing contingencies to ensure the functioning of our campus operations,” the letter says. “Discontinuing in-person instruction is a difficult decision, as it interrupts an essential element of our learning community, the interactions that occur in our classrooms, laboratories, and studios. We recognize that this will cause significant disappointment to many students, faculty, and staff. However, our first priority must be to keep the members of our community as safe as possible.”
BU’s decision came a day after Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, as coronavirus cases in the state surged to 92 (70 of them tied to a single Biogen conference held in Boston), and passed 1,000 in the United States, across more than 30 states. BU joins a number of other Massachusetts colleges and universities, including Amherst College, Harvard, MIT, Emerson, Tufts, and Suffolk, that have just decided to move courses online in reaction to the virus.