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Hofstra cancels campus classes for week over coronavirus concerns

Doctors discussed precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Credit: Newsday / Cecilia Dowd, Chris Ware; Howard Schnapp

Hofstra University officials announced late Sunday night that all campus classes have been canceled for the week after a student who attended an event with someone infected with the coronavirus then reported developing flu-like symptoms.

According to a statement posted on the university’s website, Hofstra was canceling classes starting Monday. Spring break starts for students on March 14.

“On Sunday, March 8, a student contacted the Student Health and Counseling Center reporting flu-like symptoms, after attending a conference where an attendee has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The student is being tested, and is in isolation. In keeping with current state Department of Health directives, six individuals who have been in close contact with this student have also been asked to self-isolate pending the student’s test results,” read the statement.

Hofstra officials said that all class work will be made up and a new schedule announced soon.

“In the meanwhile, all nonresidential students should remain at home. For residential students, all regular services will be made available,” the statement read.

Administrative offices will remain open but any employee experiencing flu-like symptoms should remain at home and not report to work, the university advised. The university in Hempstead has enhanced its disinfecting and cleaning protocols, the statement said.

Residence halls, dining and other student services will remain open.

“Hofstra continues to work closely with local, state, and federal health agencies, and we will update the campus community as additional information becomes available,” read the statement. “We want to emphasize that this action is a precaution taken to provide peace of mind to students, faculty, staff and families. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with the university. We will keep you updated and informed as more information becomes available.”

Columbia University has also suspended classes, it announced Sunday. In a letter from Columbia's president Lee C. Bollinger, posted on the university's website, he says classes are suspended Monday and Tuesday "because a member of our community has been quarantined as a result of exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)." 

Bollinger says the suspension of activities "will allow us to prepare to shift to remote classes for the remainder of the week. I want to emphasize that the individual who has been quarantined has not been diagnosed at this point with the virus." 

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