University temporarily closes in response to COVID-19

Jessica Guerrucci – Managing Editor

Following in the steps of other universities in Connecticut, Southern decided to start spring break early – but when students “return,” they will be working from the comfort of their homes.

According to a campus-wide email, President Joe Bertolino said due to the novel coronavirus, the university would be closed Wednesday, March 11 before transitioning into spring break. When “returning” on March 23, classes will switch to an online format until at least April 5.

The news came after the university was informed that a student recently had attended a meeting in another state where another participant subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The student has self-quarantined at home and is showing no signs of illness after 10 days,” said Bertolino in an email. “This was a secondary contact that presents a low risk of infection, and after consultation with the New Haven Department of Health, we feel confident that there is no identifiable risk, as per CDC guidelines.”

For the next five days, Bertolino said the university would be closed “to allow all buildings to be deep cleaned and disinfected, according to state and federal guidelines.”

As for on-campus students, resident halls will be closing on March 11. According to the email, students must vacate the residence halls by noon.

Prior to the closing of the university, on March 10 at 1:00 p.m., Bertolino held a live stream question and answer session with students where they could voice their concerns about the virus.

During the livestream, Bertolino said before the decision to move online was made that everyone would receive the necessary instructions for online learning, and no one will be penalized.

He also said that online learning was something the university has been preparing for.

As for students engaged in off-campus clinics, internships and similar experiential activities, Bertolino said students should continue to attend them if their respective facility remains open.

The measures were taken out of “an abundance of caution” according to Bertolino and as the university transitions into spring break, he said students should keep their health in mind.

“While you are away from campus,” said Bertolino in an email, “please continue to practice personal hygiene measures to help ensure the health of yourself, your friends and family.”

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