Texas A&M University officials announced Tuesday that they are delaying the return of classes after this week’s spring break in response to COVID-19. Classes were set to resume Monday, but students now will not need to return to campus until March 18, according to an update posted on the university’s website.
Blinn College District plans to return from classes next Monday as scheduled following the end of its spring break, according to director of communications Richard Bray.
The delay at Texas A&M will “allow for planning and logistics to ensure the provision of all university services in the most efficient, effective and safest way” in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, the announcement said.
“Texas A&M is not requiring that all courses move to an online format at this time,” a post on the university’s website said.
Professors will be able to decide if it’s appropriate to take classes online, officials said.
Dining, transportation, health, counseling and other services will be available on a normal schedule Monday and Tuesday, according to the update.
At Blinn, according to Bray, school leaders will conduct training with faculty next week in preparation for the possibility of taking all of its classes online. It will hold classes as scheduled beginning Monday. Blinn is on spring break this week.
There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus strain at Texas A&M or in the Bryan-College Station area. The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday evening that there have been 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas, including 11 at a federal quarantine site at Lackland Air Force Base. One case announced Tuesday is in Montgomery County, the county immediately north of Houston.
Texas A&M University Provost and Executive Vice President Carol A. Fierke wrote in a message to university stakeholders that no students are presenting any symptoms.
“There are no plans at this time to cancel future classes beyond March 17,” Fierke wrote. “The university will continue to keep faculty, staff and students updated. Faculty will communicate with their students on changes. In addition, please check the university’s COVID-19 website for updates.”
The decision follows an announcement Monday that all university-sponsored travel outside the United States has been canceled through May 1.
There have been more than 950 confirmed cases in the United States, and 29 people have died in the U.S. due to the virus strain. Worldwide, More than 110,000 people have been infected and approximately 4,000 people have died.
A panel discussion on human rights and racial profiling featuring A&M President Michael K. Young and Prairie View A&M President Ruth J. Simmons that had been scheduled for March 17 has been postponed indefinitely.
Rice University in Houston is among dozens of universities nationwide who have canceled classes for some length of time. According to reporting from the Houston Chronicle, Rice canceled in-person classes and labs for the week of March 9 after one university employee tested positive last week for COVID-19. The employee had traveled to Egypt, the Chronicle reported, which is not on the Centers for Disease Control’s restricted travel list.