SUNY and CUNY suspend in-person classes amid coronavirus fears

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People walk by a CUNY campus in the city. (Courtesy of CUNY)

Starting next week, SUNY and CUNY will hold classes online for the rest of the semester to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Governor Cuomo announced on Tuesday, March 11. 

The state and city public school systems have 90 campuses combined and account for almost 900,000 students. Beginning on March 12, CUNY and SUNY classes will be suspended as the institutions take the week to prepare for the transition from onsite to online learning. 

“That’ll be a way to reduce density and that is a good thing,” said Governor Cuomo. 

Campuses will not be entirely closed, food services will remain open and students will not be forced to leave dormitories. Not all classes will be held online either. Science lab classes could still be held in classrooms. According to Politico, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRossa said that spring graduation ceremonies could be affected with many possibly not taking place in person. 

The decision comes after calls on the governor and CUNY Chancellor to close the school system in light of coronavirus. Chairperson of the CUNY University Student Senate Timothy Hunter sent a letter calling on campuses to be closed immediately for all classes to be transitioned online. A petition  called  “Save the CUNY students”  received over signatures online and before classes were suspended the Professional Staff Congress, a union representing professors and CUNY staff, sent a letter of demands to the Chancellor Felix Matos-Rodriguez. 

Pressure to close all CUNY campuses when John Jay College of Criminal Justice closed its doors after a student tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, March. 10. There are 56 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the New York City and 212 across the state.