Coronavirus Fears Rock HBCU Campuses — Here’s How School Officials Are Working to Keep Students Safe

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The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19 (and as many online are calling “The Rona”), has sickened more than 1,200 people across the United States, and that number only stands to grow as the deadly pathogen continues to spread worldwide.

An estimated 32 Americans have already died from the infection, which originated in China late last year, and the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11 declared the outbreak a global pandemic.

Panic over the illness has forced several college campuses to take special precautions to protect its students, faculty and staff amid the crisis. Across the nation, here’s how some historically Black colleges and universities are responding to the outbreak: 


Howard University
Washington, D.C. – October 21: Hundreds dance to music at Howard University as it celebrates its homecoming with the return of YardFestin Washington, DC on October 21, 2016. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Howard University
HU moved to online learning this week amid growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The move was first reported by student-run newspaper The Hilltop, and followed by an official statement from the university.

“Over the period of online instruction, we’ll also assess impacts of the change in instructional methodology, and status of the outbreak locally, during this time,” it read. “A status update will be provided to the campus community by March 25, 2020 to determine if any further extension of the implementation of online instruction will be warranted, as conditions evolve.”

Morehouse College
As of March 3, the all-male institution in Atlanta, Georgia, has canceled all faculty-led study-abroad programs until further notice. It has also nixed a Spring Tour that would’ve taken a group of students to Ghana and Senegal, out of an abundance of caution.

On Thursday, March 12, it was announced that the Atlanta University Center (which includes Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Morris Brown College) would shut down its campuses after an extended spring break and move to online-only instruction. 

“The community’s health and well being is our top priority at Morehouse and this is no exception,” the college said in a statement.

Spelman College
Spelman College is one of three Atlanta, Georgia, HBCUs moving to a virtual learning environment amid coronavirus fears. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 20th Century Fox)

Spelman College
The all-women’s college, also in Atlanta, Georgia, said in a campus news release that it is closely monitoring “this fluid situation daily” and urged students to heed recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Georgia Department of Public Health.

Additionally, it’s requiring students to register their travel plans ahead of spring break, even for trips within the U.S.

Morgan State University
Ahead of the spring break holiday, the Maryland college has decided to cancel classes for the remainder of the week (March 11). 

In a statement posted online, officials added: “Upon return from Spring Break on Monday, March 23 and for a period of at least two weeks, Morgan State will be suspending all in-class instruction and institute remote, online learning protocols for all students. At the end of the two-week period, on or about April 3, the University will reassess the implementation of remote class instruction.”

Florida A&M University
Florida A&M University is requiring a 14-day self -quarantine for those who’ve traveled outside the United States in recent weeks. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Florida A&M University
This week, the university announced that it will shift to remote classroom instruction for two weeks, starting March 23. The institution will remain operational and open for business during this time.

Hampton University
The Virginia college hasn’t moved to online-only instruction just yet, but is mandating that any students, faculty or staff who traveled internationally in the last two weeks self-quarantine for 14-days.

“Academic accommodations will be granted while you are quarantined,” the university said. “You should contact your professors immediately via email to coordinate make up work and assignments. Contact the Health Center via email for medical clearance before you return to campus.”

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