Note: This is an updated version of an earlier story
At UNH, online move comes after confusion
The University of New Hampshire and other state schools are ending in-person classes for the rest of this semester.
The state university system made the decision Wednesday night due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The system initially said classes would be remote for two weeks after this week’s spring break. Now, they’re extending that decision through the end of the spring semester.
At UNH, it means students are asked not to return to campus this spring. All campus events will remain canceled, and dorms must generally empty.
“We made this decision to significantly reduce the population density of our campuses and the towns and cities our campuses are located in, as a preventive measure to enable more social distancing at a time when many new infections and even deaths are being reported daily,” says UNH president James Dean in a letter sent to students.
“While we regret the inconvenience and lack of on-campus life for our students this will cause, the health and safety of our community must come first,” he says.
Graduating seniors like Kayla Lutz, a UNH English major from Massachusetts who lives in Dover, say they understand the need for the change. Still, she says it’s devastating.
"I'm not going to be able to see a lot of friends that I've been seeing at school and I feel like I've kind of lost my social support system,” Lutz says.
Coronavirus is already disrupting seniors' plans to move and take jobs post-college, she says, so it's another blow to lose their final few months of time on campus.
"All of the uncertainty is insane,” Lutz says. “We don't know what anything is going to look like in two months, in terms of post-graduation, and the school also won't be there to help us.”
UNH says students who live on campus can sign up for separate times to move out of their dorms next week. Some housing will remain available for students with extenuating circumstances. Those students are asked to reach out to university housing officials.
The school plans to issue refunds for remaining room and board costs for students who have to leave, with details on those refunds expected by mid-April.
Details for UNH students with ongoing research projects can be found here.
The state hasn't decided yet how the ongoing response to coronavirus will affect spring commencement ceremonies.
“[W]e ask for your understanding as we encounter new questions and work to provide solutions,” the university system says in a press release. “Our leaders do not want to prematurely make some decisions that might be better informed with more time and data.”
Each school has posted its own details on the rest of the semester and other coronavirus issues. Click below for more: