St. John’s is temporarily suspending in-person classes through March 27 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to an alert sent to faculty, staff and students Monday night.
Students who live on campus will have to find their way home by Wednesday March 11 — those with nowhere to go may be allowed to stay while the campus evacuates. Montgoris dining hall will remain open for those who are approved to stay on campus. On March 9, all visitation was suspended in the residence halls, and that will continue.
Classes of any kind will not take place until Mar. 11 and from then on, all classes will be held online until March 27, according to the email. The email also states that, “there are no known cases of COVID-19 at this point in time on any of the St. John’s University campuses or locations.”
In an email obtained by the Torch, Residence Life details an express checkout process. “Students should take with them any items essential to continuing their education from home, such as laptops, textbooks, notebooks, essential papers, etc. Students should also plan to carry home valuables and indispensable items in the event that a sustained period will pass before they are able to retrieve them easily,” the email states.
In addition, “students with a travel hardship can indicate those challenges on the Housing Departure Form, which will be considered and/or approved in writing by the Office of Residence Life.” There is no current indication of what that approved criteria will be during the two-day evaluation period before students leave. When asked how many students will be allowed to stay on campus, University Spokesperson Brian Browne said, “These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.”
The University has also decided to cancel all events, such as the RedHouse Fashion Show and Women’s History Month events, until Mar. 27. All New York campuses will remain open for business operations, however, faculty and staff will be notified by Mar. 12 about whether or not they will be required to work remotely. Students with clinicals or residencies to attend are still required to attend. Other student employees have been excused from their duties or allowed to work remotely. Luana Bowers, a graduate student in the speech-language pathology program says, “It makes me concerned that in-person classes are suspended and students are being asked to leave the residence halls, yet our clinic is still open. Why is the issue serious enough to send everyone home, but we are required to stay?”
The Office of International Education has decided to discontinue all academic programs on the Limerick and Paris campuses for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. The University tells the Torch is working to assist any students in this program with their return travel and any future study abroad programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. According to University Spokesperson Brian Browne, “All of the undergraduate students that were living at our Rome Campus have left Italy and returned to their homes.”
Taffner Field House and the Fitness Center will be closed through Sunday Mar. 15 according to a post on Instagram by Campus Recreation.
As of Mar. 9, there are 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the New York City area according to the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
This story was updated March 10 at 9:16pm to include responses from the University and students.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.