The University of Chicago is suspending spring quarter study abroad programs in response to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), enrolled students were told this morning by email.
The University is also cancelling all nonessential travel, an email sent later this morning by Provost Ka Yee Lee said.
Study abroad program participants will not be charged the study abroad program fee, and students’ $675 Study Abroad administrative fee will be refunded, the emails said.
Students who had planned to be abroad will be able to pre-register for spring-quarter classes. Pre-registration for those students begins at 12 p.m. today, March 10, and will last until tomorrow at noon.
Students who had planned to study abroad this spring who currently live in University housing will be able to remain in their current housing assignments, unless they decide to take a leave of absence in response to the cancellation of study abroad.
Students living off campus who find themselves in need of housing were told to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Contracts will be extended on a first-come, first-served basis and placements will be made according to space available, though please know that space is not guaranteed,” emails to program participants said.
The emails also said that Mac Properties has agreed to rent to students in need of spring-quarter housing with “pricing comparable to market rates” and flexible length-of-stay leases.
The University is also cancelling all events with more than 100 people through April 15, and asking departments to cancel or postpone all campus visits for prospective students to a later date.
However, the University is not requiring classes to meet virtually as of now, although Lee said that the institution was prepared to do so.
“Should it become necessary, the University has access to virtual platforms that can accommodate many needs, including online classes, virtual events, and telework. We will be in touch with schools, divisions, faculty, and staff managers with further information on related preparations,” the email said.
The provost advised students traveling during spring break that “public health measures could make it difficult to return to campus in a timely way,” and they should bring along any items they may need “if your return to campus is delayed.”
There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on campus, Lee said in the email. A patient at the University of Chicago Medicine suspected of having coronavirus tested negative last week.
Illinois has had 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday morning, according to local officials. Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker issued a “disaster proclamation” Monday to “to unlock additional federal resources and help the state prepare for the potential of further spread,” a news release from the state said.
As the virus continues to spread, some schools in regions containing the greatest numbers of confirmed cases in the U.S., including the University of Washington and Stanford University, have cancelled in-person classes. Harvard University announced Tuesday it would move all classes online after spring break.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.