A member of the Arizona State University community tested positive for the novel coronavirus. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

“University officials in the United States are scrambling to prepare for the potential arrival of the novel coronavirus on their campuses, even as the health crisis already affects research, travel and, in a few cases, daily life.

At Arizona State University, where a member of the community has tested positive for the virus, a petition calling on the school to cancel classes or do more to protect the community’s health had garnered more than 21,000 online signatures by Wednesday afternoon.

The student who created the petition wrote, “The students of ASU do not feel comfortable attending classes due to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus. Until proper precautions have been taken to ensure the wellbeing of the students, such as disinfecting areas the student with Novel Coronavirus was present, ASU students want their classes canceled.”

The State Press, a campus newspaper, reported that nearby stores were running out of face masks and published photos of students wearing masks to try to prevent infection.

School officials declined to say whether the infected person was a student or staff member, or to provide information beyond campus announcements emphasizing the risk was low and that university operations were continuing as normal. The infected person in Tempe does not live in university housing and is in isolation, officials said.

On Tuesday, the school’s president, Michael Crow, announced a restriction on travel to China following advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s not surprising that coronavirus fears have arrived at U.S. universities, said Lauren Gardner, an associate professor and co-director of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

“Cities with big universities are definitely at risk, because there’s a huge population of Chinese students that are studying abroad,” Gardner said.

The public health challenge in China also has forced two U.S. universities with substantial operations in and near Shanghai to delay the start of their spring semesters.

New York University in Shanghai and nearby Duke Kunshan University, which is a joint venture of Duke and Wuhan universities, serve students from China, the United States and elsewhere. The schools announced their terms will begin Feb. 17, two weeks later than planned. Currently, students are on break for the Lunar New Year.

NYU Shanghai officials said they are working to put as many classes online as possible to enable students to make progress toward their degrees from remote locations.”

Read the full article on WashingtonPost.com.

Recent Tweets