Harvard to students: Move out by Sunday. Don’t come back.

March 10, 2020, 4:08 PM UTC

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Harvard University’s decision Tuesday to shift to an online learning model amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak isn’t unique. Princeton and Fordham have both suspended in-person classes as well. But Harvard is taking things a step further.

The school has given students until March 15—this Sunday—to move out of their houses and first-year dorms. And it’s telling them not to come back for the rest of the semester.

“Students should treat the Sunday move-out like an ordinary May move-out and remove all of their belongings from their suite,” the school said in a FAQ for students.

Harvard has not yet decided if it will offer refunds for the campus housing, saying “the University is still working on the details for what will happen with student charges. Please be patient as this will take some time and the priority is getting students home safely.”

The policy is stricter than Princeton’s plea with students to stay home after spring break. In that case, the evacuation was not mandatory.

A growing number of colleges and universities are cancelling in-person classes because of the coronavirus outbreak. Others include Columbia University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington.

Some of those schools, though, are still holding athletic events and keeping research labs open. And most, if not all, are keeping residences open on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If cases of COVID-19 have not been identified among residents of on-campus community housing, students may be allowed to remain in on-campus housing,” the CDC said. “In this situation, educate housing residents on the precautions they should take to help protect themselves when there is community spread of COVID-19.”

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