St. Thomas University suspends classes, allows students to travel home due to coronavirus

St. Thomas University in Fredericton has announced that as of Friday, all in-person classes will be suspended for the remainder of the teaching year, and any international or domestic student who wishes to travel home can do so.

“The situation is evolving throughout society and the impact on public institutions is starting to be profound and widespread,” Dawn Russell, the university’s president, said in a written statement.

Russell said she arrived at the decision in consultation with the university leadership, faculty and staff.

“Over the past three weeks, we have been taking direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health/Public Health Website and we will continue to look to them for general guidance.”

Russell said all instruction will be cancelled from March 16-18 and will resume on Thursday, March 19 to provide time for students to return home and for faculty to determine alternative ways of delivering their course content and, if necessary, change their course syllabus.

“Professors will communicate any course changes and deliver course material on-line where feasible,” she stated.

The university has also noted that it will continue with the dates set for the term, including the exam period dates.

“This is a decision taken with the best interests of our community in mind and in light of both the public health situation and growing anxiety,” Russell said.

“This will also create time and options so that the term can be completed.”

On Wednesday, New Brunswick health officials announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — in Atlantic Canada.

As of March 12, Canada has seen 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Globally, it has resulted in more than 125,000 infections and more than 4,600 deaths.

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