The novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has spread rapidly across the globe and presents a unique public health challenge that is compounded by the uncertainties associated with its spread and severity. In continuing efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our community, yesterday I communicated that Rensselaer would suspend all in-person instruction and move to online and other alternative learning options from March 16, 2020 to March 30, 2020.
Today, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 a global pandemic. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced that, in light of the evolving novel coronavirus situation in New York, the State University of New York and the City University of New York will implement plans to reduce in-person classes and maximize distance learning, beginning March 19, 2020, for the remainder of the spring semester.
The COVID-19 disease, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is easily spread through close human contact. The residential university environment, whether classrooms, living spaces, dining halls, or gatherings at university events, promote such contact and the likelihood of transmitting infections. In the absence of a cure, definitive treatments, or effective interventions, the best mitigation is through social distancing, which epidemiologists indicate is better early, than late.
In an abundance of caution and care for our community members, some of whom may be in high-risk groups, we are extending remote instruction until the end of the spring semester.
Further, and in the important interest of public health, we are requiring all undergraduate students in Rensselaer Residential and Greek Commons to move out of these residences by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020. Rensselaer will review requests from students to remain on campus due to extenuating circumstances that may, for example, relate to their inability to return home due to restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic; such exemptions will be very limited.
We recognize this transition will be disruptive and the Division of Student Life staff will assist our residential students. To facilitate this transition, we will extend Spring Break through March 20, 2020. Spring semester classes will resume with remote instruction on March 23, 2020.
Shortly, we will provide detailed guidance and instructions to assist students with moving out of our Residential and Greek Commons.
Normal Institute business operations will continue.
The university website is the comprehensive source for information and updates from Rensselaer. We will continue to share new information as quickly as we can.
I thank you for your cooperation and support. Please take steps to keep yourselves and our community safe.