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George Washington University going online, closing residence halls due to coronavirus concerns

From March 23 through at least April 5, most classes at GWU will be held online, and on-campus housing will be temporarily closed.

WASHINGTON — George Washington University announced Tuesday that they'd be moving most classes to an online platform after the school's scheduled spring break from March 16-March 21.

GWU President Thomas LeBlance sent a letter informing students and faculty that beginning March 23 through at least April 5, "most GW classes will move online."

"The university will remain open and operational during this period, and all faculty and staff should maintain their regular work schedules," the letter continued. "We will update you by March 27, if we will continue with remotely held classes beyond April 5." 

LeBlanc's letter encouraged students to leave campus during spring break, but noted that the residence halls would remain open as previously scheduled for students staying on campus. However, after March 21, all residence halls will close until regular class schedules resume. Any student wishing to continue living in on-campus housing will need to submit an application by March 18.

"Students who do not apply to remain on campus will not have access to the residence halls after 5 p.m. on March 20," LeBlanc's letter said. 

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RELATED: American University going online due to coronavirus concerns

American University and University of Maryland also announced Tuesday that they'd be moving classes online after spring break. 

UMD sent a message to more than 40,000 students saying classes would be held online for at least two weeks after spring break, which runs from March 14-March 22. 

"I strongly urge every university to prepare for students to remain off-campus — for at least two weeks — following the end of spring break," said the University of Maryland's Chancellor, Jay A. Perman.

American University announced that all classes would temporarily move to online platforms effective Wednesday, March 18 through Friday April 3. AU extended spring break by two days, through March 17, and canceled classes for March 16 and 17. 

"During this time, our campus will remain open and operational," AU President Sylvia M. Burwell said in a letter to students and faculty. "Core functions and services for our students, such as the Counseling Center and academic advising, will remain available and will also be accessible remotely."

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See the full letter from GWU President Thomas LeBlanc below: 

"To the George Washington University Community:

This week, we have continued to closely monitor the increase in COVID-19 cases. I know that the rapidly changing situation around COVID-19 is stressful for all of us. I am comforted, and I hope you are, by the healthcare and safety professionals who are a part of our GW family. They have been working around the clock to ensure our safety and provide the most up-to-date information. Following their guidance, we have determined that it is prudent to take additional proactive steps to protect your health.

I strongly encourage students who can go home for spring break to do so. After the break, beginning Monday, March 23, most GW classes will move online, and they will remain online through at least April 5. The university will remain open and operational during  this period,  and all faculty and staff should maintain their regular work schedules. We will update you by March 27, if we will continue with remotely held classes beyond April 5.

We know that these decisions, and other steps we are taking, have many implications for all of our students, faculty and staff, and we have provided detailed guidance for you below. I would ask that you please review this information carefully.

Campus Operations

In certain instances, an employee may need to work remotely. Staff should complete the “Telecommuting Assessment and Agreement for COVID-19” form and submit it to their managers. The libraries will maintain their regular hours this week and their spring break hours the following week. They will also remain open during this period of instructional continuity.

Faculty and staff should only engage in essential gatherings related to academic and professional pursuits during the period of instructional continuity. We expect that faculty and staff will exercise good judgment to maintain the health and safety of our GW community.

Clinical, Research and Laboratory Facilities

Some laboratory and studio classes may postpone activities. There may be some instances in which specific schools’ instructions regarding research and laboratory activities will vary from the guidance provided here. Faculty researchers have been asked to develop plans for instructional continuity. Your school deans will reach out to you with any variations in the instructional continuity plans. Please follow the specific guidance from your school or research leaders and contact them should additional accommodations be necessary.

Student Organizations, Activities and Events

Beginning Monday, March 23, and through the duration of instructional continuity, all in-person, student organization activities and events are suspended. Student organization advisors and Student Life staff will work with student organizations that need support canceling or rescheduling events.

Residence Halls

Residence halls will remain open as previously scheduled for students planning to remain during the spring break period. After spring break, all residential students are expected to no longer be living in student housing as of March 21 until the end of the instructional continuity period. Students must apply to remain in their on-campus housing during the instructional continuity period. Current on-campus residents will receive an application from Campus Living and Residential Education on March 11 and must submit their application for continuous stay by March 18. Students who do not apply to remain on campus will not have access to the residence halls after 5 p.m. on March 20.

Spring Break Preparations

Students should plan to take all items that are essential to carry on their academic coursework remotely following spring break (e.g., laptops, textbooks, notebooks, essential papers). In addition, students should pack personal necessities (e.g., medications, travel documents, clothing) in the event that they do not or are unable to return to campus for a substantial period of time.

Uncertainty and impacts of this public health situation can be stressful. These decisions are not being taken lightly. Ensuring the safety of the university community is at the core of every conversation about our next steps. 

I encourage you to continue to reference reliable sources for updates as our knowledge about COVID-19 develops. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on travel and the virus’s spread. The GW COVID-19 website is also being updated regularly to include evolving guidance for the university community.

I want to thank you, once again, for your patience, understanding and, above all, your care for one another as we navigate this challenge together." 


Thomas LeBlanc


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