University Prepares for Coronavirus Outbreak After First NYC Case

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JESSICA HANLEY

Fordham administration has started to prepare faculty for remote teaching in the event of school closures after the first coronavirus case was reported in New York City on March 1.

By SOPHIE PARTRIDGE-HICKS, News Editor

University Provost Dennis Jacobs emailed all Fordham faculty at 9:40 a.m. on March 2 asking them to prepare a continuity plan in case the COVID-19 outbreak forces Fordham University to suspend all campus activities. 

The email was sent a day after the first case of coronavirus was reported in Manhattan. The World Health Organization raised the global risk of the virus to the highest level on Feb. 28. 

“With the imperative of protecting the health and safety of every member of our community, we are developing plans on how Fordham could respond to various potential outbreak scenarios while minimizing disruption of the academic enterprise,” Jacobs wrote in the email. 

Jacobs asked all Fordham instructors to begin developing a “course-continuity plan” for the rest of the semester if the university is forced to close and professors and students are not able to meet. 

The Office of Online Learning and the IT Faculty Technology Center are working to identify resources that professors could use to teach their classes remotely, Jacobs wrote in the email. The email also included links to training workshops and technical support to introduce professors to online learning platforms. 

Jacobs also asked Fordham faculty to be aware of students who would need extra support, including students who have returned to campus after their study abroad programs were canceled. 

At an Office of Emergency Management conference on March 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We said early on, it wasn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ This is New York, we’re a gateway to the world. You see these cases around the world, around the country — of course we’re going to have it here.” 

De Blasio encouraged all New Yorkers to get tested if they exhibit symptoms, regardless of immigration or financial status. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet that “there is no reason for undue anxiety. The general risk remains low in NY. We are diligently managing this situation &will provide info as it becomes available.”

Jacobs wrote in his email that Fordham will continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to update the Fordham community as needed. 

Public Safety also emailed the entire Fordham community on March 2 to confirm there are currently no cases of the virus at Fordham University.