Texas A&M cancels two days of classes to prepare for coronavirus

The Academic Building on the Texas A&M University campus on March 26, 2018. Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Texas A&M University announced Tuesday it will delay classes for two days after spring break “to allow for planning and logistics to ensure the provision of all university services in the most efficient, effective and safest way,” in response to the coronavirus.

Scheduled classes will not meet on March 16th and 17th.

The decision comes as universities across the country have begun canceling classes in response to the novel coronavirus — moving in-person instruction online or switching to take-home exams. But the College Station flagship said "there are no plans to cancel classes."

"Texas A&M is not requiring that all courses move to an online format at this time," the school said in a message from the provost posted online.

Students were expected to return from a week-long spring break next Monday. Normal support services like dining, transportation and counseling will be available then, despite the delay in resuming courses.

“We are doing some testing and training for faculty on a variety of different things, IT and software," said A&M spokesperson Amy Smith. The postponement will "help our faculty prepare for some sort of hybrid, if necessary, of online and in-person" instruction.

"Unlike other universities, at this point, we're not doing [a] dramatic shift to online," Smith added.

There have not been cases of coronavirus reported at A&M and no students are presenting symptoms, according to the university.

Rice University is the only higher education institution in Texas to cancel classes so far, though schools on the east and west coasts, including Harvard University and Stanford University, have already stopped meeting for face-to-face instruction or abruptly sent students home.

Rice announced Sunday that it would cancel in-person classes for a week as the university manages “its own case of the virus in an employee who contracted it during international travel," according to an emergency alert. Faculty at the Houston school were instructed they could “provide material that can be completed remotely and does not require group interaction.” The decision was made "out of an abundance of caution and to allow faculty and staff time to prepare for possible remote instruction this semester," the alert said.

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