University of Delaware cancels on-campus classes, closes student housing for the semester

NEWARK — The University of Delaware has suspended on-campus classes and closed student housing for the duration of the semester due to COVID-19, officials announced Friday.

“This was not an easy decision by any means. I know I speak for the entire administration and our trustees when I say that everyone wishes that the situation could be otherwise, but we believe this is the most responsible decision for everyone’s well-being,” said President Dennis Assanis in an email released Friday afternoon.

The decision to close comes after the university accelerated spring break this week and after the first reported cases of COVID-19 came from UD.

The first case was confirmed this week, with the Delaware Division of Public Health announcing a New Castle County man over age 50 “who is associated with the University of Delaware community” was positively diagnosed.

The three new cases announced Thursday all involve University of Delaware students — two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher — who had contact with the first individual at an off-campus social event in February. The initial positive test result comes from a faculty member over age 50 who was exposed to a confirmed case of the virus in another state.

At the university, classes will continue online and via remote learning beginning March 23 and will continue through the end of the semester, President Assanis said in his letter.

Campus housing will be closed, he said. 

Students who previously arranged to remain on campus during spring break “should begin moving out as soon as they are able and must vacate by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17,” the letter states. Other students must move out by 10 p.m. Sunday, March 22.  

The university will make accommodations for students who cannot return home due to international travel restrictions or serious personal reasons.

Students will be issued refunded for housing and dining fees at the conclusion of the semester, he added. 

“At UD we have a large and diverse community of people, of all ages and health conditions,” said President Assanis. “These steps are essential to protect the health and well-being of the UD and surrounding communities, including those who may be among the more vulnerable to this disease. As of today, four people connected to the University have tested positive for COVID-19; all cases are linked to an off-campus social event in February. We continue to keep all of them in our thoughts.”

President Assanis added that he hopes the situation changes as the university approaches graduation. 

“We are committed to ensuring all of our students, especially our graduating seniors, can meet their academic requirements,” he said. “We will continue to keep everyone informed as we learn more about the spread of the virus in the coming days.”

Other universities are also responding with temporary closures. Delaware State University asked students who are currently on spring break to refrain from returning to campus until Sunday, April 5. Delaware Tech extended spring break through March 22. Wilmington University moved all in-person classes to online beginning on March 16, though university offices and services remain open. In a letter released to the campus community Thursday, Wesley College announced it will continue normal operations and “follow our academic and athletic schedules as posted, but the [Coronavirus Action Group] and Cabinet, will review potential contingency plans that may need to be implemented when the situation warrants.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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