All in-person classes at the University of Minnesota have been suspended as the institution attempts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which on Wednesday was officially deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
"We are suspending in-person instruction, including field experiences and clinicals, across our five campuses and are moving to online, or alternative, instruction," University President Joan Gabel said.
The in-person ban includes all courses at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and its partner campuses in Duluth, Rochester, Crookston and Morris.
From a timing standpoint, spring break has been extended at Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities campuses through next Wednesday, with online courses resuming March 18. The Crookston and Morris campuses will be on spring break next week, and classes will be online-only when students return through at least Wednesday, April 1.
It's possible that the online-only rules will be extended beyond April 1.
"For classes that cannot be taught online, the instructor will contact students with further information," Gabel wrote.
Resident halls, dining services and other student services will remain open for now.
"Due to COVID-19, we find ourselves responding to unique challenges that require innovative solutions," wrote Gabel. "I recognize that our responsive actions, including those I’m announcing today, may raise questions for many of you. While we do not have all of the answers at this moment, please know that we are working around the clock to find answers and solutions."
There are five confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Minnesota: 2 in Ramsey County and one each in Anoka, Carver and Olmsted counties.