By Katie Ward
University President John Garvey announced on Wednesday, March 18 that classes would continue to be taught online through the remainder of the semester, and residence halls would remain closed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campus was closed, and all athletics events, team practices, recreational activities, and student organization events planned for the spring were cancelled. A broad permission for employees to work from home was given by the university, following the CDC’s recommendation for all non-essential workers to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. Students who lived on campus with belongings left in the residence halls were asked on March 19 not to return to their dorms to pack up until at least after Easter.
The move preceded the United States’ surpassing of China in number of confirmed coronavirus cases – the over 93,000 cases at the writing of this article moving it to the country with the highest number of known cases in the world, according to the New York Times. There have been 267 confirmed cases in D.C. and three deaths.
At the time of President Garvey’s March 11 email moving classes to online for two weeks following spring break, about 1,100 Americans had tested positive for coronavirus, and 32 had died, showing how exponentially the virus has spread through the country.
President Garvey announced on March 13 that he had been tested for coronavirus after returning from the United Kingdom on university business, and announced on March 19 that he had tested positive, and was continuing his self-quarantine.
The move to online classes has been difficult for many students, which prompted a push for the university to offer a pass/fail option for any undergraduate class as many other universities have done.
After students asked about the issue of reimbursements, President Garvey announced on Friday, March 27 that the university “will provide a pro rata credit to student accounts for room, board, and parking charges,” but that credit would not be offered for tuition as classes were still being held virtually. According to the email, room and board will be credited for the final eight weeks of the spring 2020 semester. Student parking charges will be credited for the period April through August 2020.” All credits should be reflected in Cardinal Station by April 16.
No announcement has been made yet regarding commencement, leading many seniors to wonder if they will have a graduation ceremony. In the same March 27 email, President Garvey asked seniors to fill out a survey regarding commencement that would be sent soon.
President Garvey originally announced on Wednesday, March 11 over email that the university would only hold classes online for at least two weeks following spring break. The next day, Dean Johnathan Sawyer emailed students that residence halls would close on Monday, March 16 at noon.
The university was one of the last in D.C. to cancel in-person classes, after American University, the University of Maryland, and George Washington announced a move to online classes the day before, and Georgetown eight hours before Catholic.