Coronavirus fears prompts Tech to move towards online instruction

Editor’s Note: This article will be updated as new information is received.

In the wake of the spread of coronavirus closing down many schools around the nation, the University System of Georgia announced that all 26 USG schools, including Tech, will suspend instruction for the next two weeks. 

The announcement came after a long day of emails and updates from the Tech administration and state leaders. Starting in the morning, an email was sent out to students participating in various abroad programs informing them that “effective immediately, all Georgia Tech student programs are canceled for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.” Students in those programs are now scrambling to pack up and fly back to the United States or their home countries. 

Students who had plans to study abroad this upcoming summer semester are now going to have to reschedule. In a midday statement released by President Angel Cabrera, the decision to cancel all Tech international programs for the summer was made public. More information regarding the summer program cancelations is set to come out on March 23, according to the message. 

Within the same statement, Cabrera mentioned the original plan USG set forth for the 26 Institutions, which was to remain open and continue with face-to-face instruction. USG stated that the risk of contracting the COVID-19 in Georgia remains low, despite the fact that there are now 12 confirmed cases, 19 presumptive positive cases, and one death from the coronavirus. Three of the confirmed cases are located in Fulton County.

 Cabrera also noted that while an official decision had not been made at that time, students should be prepared to potentially move to distance learning after spring break.

It wasn’t until after 4 p.m. that USG announced that all colleges were to suspend instruction for the next two weeks, starting Monday, March 16. In the email from USG to presidents of the University System, it was asked that students leave campus “by close of business Friday, March 13,” and recommended that students “remain away from campus until March 29.” 

President Cabrera confirms Tech will be moving to online classes after next week.

Around 5 p.m., President Cabrera tweeted out a confirmation that Tech would be moving to online instruction after spring break. Cabrera encouraged students who have the means to leave campus to refrain from coming back until the end of March. He also ensured that students would not have to completely move out of their on-campus housing, which has been an issue at other large private universities such as Harvard and Emory, who forced their students to move out on short notice. 

In a longer statement released on http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus, Cabrera mentioned that students who will need such accommodation should contact the Department of Housing at information@gatech.edu, with the promise that more information for those students in such situations will follow.

The current administrative plan is to cancel all face-to-face instruction until at least March 30. Per the USG announcement, Tech will suspend instruction for the next two weeks, with next week (March 16) being spring break and the week after that (March 23) being a trial run for students and staff to figure out how to use the online instruction programs. According to President Cabrera’s replies on Twitter to concerned students, no formal instruction will occur during this trial period. Online classes are currently scheduled to commence Monday, March 30. 

To stay up to date with coronavirus updates and communications from the Institute, visit http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus. The University System of Georgia is also providing updates at www.usg.edu/coronavirus.

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