Tulane cancels in-person classes for remainder of spring semester; online courses start March 23

Josh Axelrod, Senior Staff Reporter

Tulane is moving to online courses from March 23 to the end of the spring semester to lower the risk of coronavirus spreading among the student body. Louisiana now has 13 presumptive cases of the virus following the state’s announcement of its first confirmed case just two days ago.

Students who live on campus are being asked to leave residence halls for the rest of the semester. Exceptions will be made for international students, in-season athletes and others who submit an online application.

Friday will be the last day of in-person classes for the semester. Class will be cancelled between March 14-22 to allow faculty to make the transition to online instruction. Spring Break will remain as scheduled with make-up classes scheduled to compensate for the lost class time next week.

Faculty have been asked to prepare to move to online instruction — some professors have already held class sessions on how to use online learning platforms like Canvas and Zoom. Graduate and professional students will also transition to online instruction, except for students in clinical-based programs, practicums, medical rotations and in-lab research.

“In keeping with the recommendations of public health officials worldwide, we are acting to reduce the concentration of people on campus and the number of gatherings,” President Mike Fitts wrote in an email to the student body. “These efforts include, as outlined in this letter, conducting classes online, reducing the number of students on campus, cancelling major events and eliminating non-essential travel. However, our campuses will remain open during this period as we continue to support the academic and research mission of Tulane.”

Fitts said that he hoped commencement could still be held in May but that it is subject to change.

Tulane will cancel all events with more than 50 individuals, including the New Orleans Book Festival, Crawfest, and New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

All faculty and staff are still being asked to report to work. All non-essential university travel, both domestic and international, is suspended.

The decision comes after weeks of speculation and similar announcements from other universities. On Wednesday, Loyola University, the University of New Orleans and Dillard University canceled in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester.

“As we all work together to confront this pandemic, we should keep our motto ‘Not for oneself but for one’s own’ in the forefront of our thoughts,” Fitts wrote. “This is a stressful and disruptive time for our community, but I know that together we will triumph through this difficult period and emerge stronger, better, and more united as a Tulane family.”

The Tulane study abroad program in South Korea was canceled preemptively before the semester began due to the virus. Students that were studying abroad in China and Italy have been evacuated from the countries.

One of the state’s 13 patients is currently being treated at Tulane Medical Center, and 10 of the 13 are residents of Orleans Parish. Tulane’s announcement coincided with the World Health Declaration of the coronavirus crisis as a pandemic and a state declaration of a public health emergency.

This is a developing story.

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