Northwestern extends Spring Break, moves classes online for first three weeks of Spring Quarter


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

University President Morton Schapiro announced Spring Break will be extended by one week and Spring Quarter classes will be held remotely for at least three weeks.

Austin Benavides and Troy Closson

COVID-19 News

University President Morton Schapiro announced Spring Break will be extended by one week and Spring Quarter classes will be held remotely for at least three weeks in a Wednesday afternoon statement to the Northwestern community as concerns continue to grow over the international outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

“Classes that do not lend themselves to remote instruction will be addressed separately. University leaders will reassess the situation by April 17 and decide then whether to continue remote teaching or to return to in-person instruction by April 27,” the statement read. “We will provide additional guidance on the transition to remote classes in the days to come.”

Schapiro wrote that students who live on campus should plan to depart following their final exams and, if possible, should not return until further notice. For students who need to remain on campus, however, residence halls will remain open, along with dining services with the possibility of reduced hours and locations. Students who need to remain on campus were asked in a Thursday email from interim vice president for student affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier to fill out a form in advance.

For faculty and instructors, Schapiro asked that they “be flexible in how they approach the remaining two weeks of Winter Quarter.”

“While many final assignments will be able to move forward as planned, we strongly encourage you to consider alternative arrangements to a traditional final exam,” the statement read. “Additional guidance for faculty will be coming shortly from the Office of the Provost.”

Payne-Kirchmeier’s email also added that for students who need funding assistance with items related to travel, technology and other expenses, requests can be made on the University’s Funding Request Form. For those who receive financial assistance, she wrote, a delay in the disbursement of aid is not anticipated. Students who are part of programs that cover textbook costs will receive a separate email in the coming days, according to Payne-Kirchmeier’s statement.

Payne-Kirchmeier and Schapiro’s statements did not mention whether partial tuition refunds would be given for room and board, or other fees, due to the change.

Commencement activities in June are still anticipated to be able to proceed as scheduled, and Schapiro wrote that the University is evaluating the coursework required for students who are graduating in the spring to complete their degrees.

He also wrote that for Chicago-campus programs which are in the middle of their terms, classes will be taught remotely starting March 31, if not sooner. For graduate clinical education which requires in-person interactions, clinical activities will continue “so long as they are consistent with other University policies and educational sites remain open,” Schapiro wrote.

[Related: Coronavirus updates – The Daily’s ongoing coverage]

Though there are no reported or confirmed cases impacting the University or Evanston as of Wednesday afternoon, the Northwestern announced new self-isolation policies last week in response to growing concerns. Cook County has had at least eight confirmed COVID-19 cases, with multiple having recovered from the virus.

The Ohio State University was the first school in the Big Ten Conference to cancel in-person classes, with Indiana University and Purdue University following close behind. According to NPR, more than half a million students across the country were affected by the changes as of Tuesday afternoon. Stanford University, Rice University and a number of Ivy League Schools, among at least 90 other institutions, have also announced cancelations in coronavirus-related precautions.

In a Tuesday email to the Northwestern community, Schapiro also asked schools and units to “consider postponing any events or gatherings, either on campus or off, until April 15” and faculty and staff to weigh rescheduling non-essential domestic business travel.

Last week, the University announced Northwestern-sponsored undergraduate and graduate international spring break trips were canceled affecting more than 40 trips, according to NU spokesperson Jon Yates. Schapiro also announced the cancellation of the annual 30-hour Dance Marathon philanthropy event last week, which more than 1,000 students were set to participate in last Friday to Sunday, amid coronavirus concerns.

This story will be updated.

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