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March 09, 2020

Princeton University to students: Stay home after spring break, take classes online to avoid coronavirus risk

New policies also include social distancing practices, limiting gatherings on New Jersey college's campus

Illness Coronavirus
Princeton coronavirus classes Princeton University/Office of Communications

Princeton University's president is telling students to stay home after spring break and take classes online. The move is as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus on the college's New Jersey campus.

Princeton University is encouraging its students to stay home after spring break and take their classes online as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus on campus.

The Ivy League school's spring break begins after classes end Friday, and students had been due back in class on March 23. Princeton president Chris Eisgruber said on Monday the he recommends students no return to the college after spring break to "ensure the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, and to decrease any potential impacts on the larger community."

All classes can be completed online, including lectures and seminars. The remote classes will continue through at least April 5, Princeton officials said.

There have been no cases of coronavirus at Princeton.

"While much remains unknown about COVID-19's epidemiology and impact, our medical advisers tell us that we should proceed on the assumption that the virus will spread more broadly and eventually reach our campus," Eisgruber wrote in the message posted to the college's website. "They also tell us that the best time to put in place policies to slow the spread of the virus is now, before we begin to see cases on our campus, rather than later."

Additionally, for this week leading up to spring break, Princeton is instituting policies social distancing, with the goal of reducing the number times people at the school gather in large croups or spend extended periods of time together in close proximity, Eisgruber said.

While Princeton will continue to support classes and campus activities that require face-to-face contact, it will limit the "number and size of campus gatherings and meetings." 

The school said that it will also restrict University-sponsored travel, and that these new policies will be in place through Sunday, April 5 when the university will then re-evaluate the situation.

"We understand that these and other measures will cause significant disruption and inconvenience to the campus community, but we strongly believe that actions taken now will have the greatest chance of decreasing risk, and that the potential consequences of not acting could far outweigh these short-term disruptions."

As of Monday afternoon, there are more than 540 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, according to the New York Times. There have been 22 deaths so far due. There are at least 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New Jersey and at least seven confirmed COVID-19 patients in Pennsylvania

Globally, there are more than 110,000 cases of the virus and more than 3,800 deaths, with the vast majority occurring in mainland China.

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