Colleges debate closures, switching to online classes due to coronavirus

Across the country, universities and colleges are shutting down campuses and putting classes online.

Purdue University, Indiana University and Princeton are all switching over to online classes for the time being, and there is a mad scramble at Harvard where the university is telling all students to move out in five days.

University of Chicago announced Tuesday a number of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, including canceling all scheduled events and gatherings of more than 100 people. Unlike some universities, it is not going as far as canceling in-person classes, but some students we talked to think that may be inevitable.

“I feel pretty conflicted about it,” Louis Lavin said.

U of C second-year student Louis Lavin says he supports the university's decision to keep "in-person" classes scheduled, at least for the time being.

“I think it's pretty complicated and probably what the university's going to do is waiting and if someone gets sick, then sending everyone home,” Lavin said. “Because they've said that they can switch to virtual classes.”

An advisory went out Tuesday afternoon canceling any gathering of over 100 people through April 15, all faculty-led study abroad programs during spring quarter, and any non-essential travel.

“I think they're doing a fairly reasonable, logical thing. The school is very… They're good for science and medical technology. I think they'll know better than me whether or not we're at risk so I trust them to do their jobs,” said Masters Student Robert Maxwell.

“Given that there's no case in the HP community, I think it's a fair decision that they haven't canceled any in-person classes,” math and economics major Sosuke said.

The students we talked to agreed it is too early to cancel in-person classes.

“Young people suffer a really low mortality rate. So when people are canceling classes, it seems kind of goofy to me,” said 2nd year student Will Madonia.

“I think especially for international students or people who cannot go back home immediately, I think that will be really inconvenient,” Sosuke said.

Northwestern is also holding off on moving to virtual classes, but both campuses say they are equipped to do that, if or when it becomes necessary.