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UC Berkeley, San Jose State, SCU, SFSU Cancel In-Person Classes Over Coronavirus Fears

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- Several Bay Area colleges are canceling in-person classes and preparing for online delivery over fears of the coronavirus, multiple school officials announced Monday.

Three of region's largest colleges--the University of California, Berkeley, San Jose State University and San Francisco State University--are participating in the precautionary measures.

"This time is to be used for faculty and staff to prepare for the transition from in-person instruction to 'distributed' or 'fully online' instruction," said SJSU President Mary Papazian in a campus-wide email.

Stanford University began its first day of online classes Monday after in-person classes were canceled for the final two weeks before spring break. As a result, many students had left campus after the announcement over the weekend, rendering the mostly vacant campus a "ghost town".

Julian Ochoa, a Stanford mechanical engineering student, said the online courses were not the ideal way to learn, especially if students have questions about the lecture.

"For the time being, I feel like it's a necessary move because there are a lot of older staff and administration on campus. And also because students have family back at home they might be concerned about," said Ochoa.

UC Berkeley will suspend in-person classes beginning March 10, and will remain in place through March 29. Events with more than 150 people will also be canceled or postponed.

"There are no confirmed cases on our campus at this time; however, as local, national, and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, the campus is proactively taking steps that will help to protect the community," wrote Chancellor Carol Christ in a campus-wide email.

"The decision from UC Berkeley to make most classes remote will remain in effect until the end of Spring Break," university officials said in a social media post. "Classes that are remote-learning ready should proceed to go online starting March 10 (Tuesday). The only classes that will continue on-campus will be lab classes, studios, physical education and performing arts."

San Jose State University canceled all in-person classes from March 10-13 as faculty prepares to move to online class distribution, school president Mary A. Papazian said. But the campus will remain open for normal business. In-person classes will move to either distributed or fully online instruction from March 16-27, when a determination will be made and communicated regarding in-person classes.

"Whereas fully online means that all course material is delivered through an online format, a distributed class may include aspects, such as synchronous live lectures delivered from one's office or distributed materials that are returned to the instructor via a variety of modalities," Papazian explained.

San Francisco State University also suspended all face-to-face courses from Tuesday through Sunday, March 10-15, school president Lynn Mahoney said in an email to students. Starting March 16, all instruction will be conducted remotely, but the campus will not be closing.

"During this time of remote instruction and services, all faculty, staff and student employees will continue to be paid," Mahoney said.

Santa Clara University president Kevin F. O'Brien announced that the school will also cancel in-person classes beginning March 10, though they have no known cases of COVID-19 on campus. They will hold classes in a virtual format until Monday, April 13.

The campus will remain open, but all classes will meet online and any final exams and papers for winter quarter will be be offered online, O'Brien said.

Academy of Art University in San Francisco also informed students and faculty that it will hold all of its classes online for two weeks starting March 11.

The City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees had an emergency meeting Monday night and decided to suspend all face-to-face classes after Thursday, March 12. The school's spring break will also be moved up by one week. When students return, all instruction will be be administered via online and modified formats.

"We want to align with what the CDC and SF Public Health are advising," said board member Ivy Lee. "Let's not interrupt the students' studies but let's keep them safe at the same time."

Moving up spring break will give the faculty, staff and administration time to make sure all their programming is "robust and sound so they can continue with classes," Lee said.



The number of Bay Area coronavirus cases grew to over 70 on Monday with five new positive tests reported in San Francisco. Sadly, Santa Clara County announced its first death -- a woman in her 60s -- also on Monday.

Unlike Italy, France, Japan, South Korea, and Iran, US grade schools have not seen widespread closures. The Santa Clara County Department of Public Health is taking on each infection on a case by case basis, and only considering closure if a student or staffer has been confirmed.

At Oak Grove High School in San Jose, the campus underwent a "Level 1" deep cleaning over the weekend, after one student was confirmed to have contact with a family member who had a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

Sophomores Terrell Booker and Reginald Gordon saw cleaning crews at the school over the weekend, and said many of the rooms smelled like bleach and cleaning solution, adding that it makes them feel safer.

"A little bit, yeah. So to just make sure that it's all cleaned out and stuff so I can come to school," said sophomore Terrell Booker.

"It's a safer environment for everybody. So like nobody can catch it and all that," said sophomore Reginald Gordon.

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