As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the world and the United States, Howard University announced its first direct positive case of the virus and that the school’s 2020 commencement ceremony would be canceled.
In an emailed statement, Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick revealed that an attendee of their Charter Day Dinner on March 7 tested positive for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
“A guest who attended the Howard University Charter Day Dinner has tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus),” the email read. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking all March 7 dinner participants to monitor and report to your doctor if you begin exhibiting flu-like symptoms.”
Frederick also announced in this email that this year’s commencement and all class reunions are canceled.
“On Sunday, the CDC issued recommendations that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” the university said in its email. “Although the CDC states that this does not apply to the day-to-day operations of institutions of higher education, we do not consider commencement a day-to-day operation.
“Given that Howard’s Commencement activities garner crowds of thousands, and the numerous elders and children regularly in attendance, we will cancel the event to avoid the potential for additional virus spread which would be problematic,” the university said.
The email also announced all classes will be online for the remainder of the semester, which is an update from the university only announcing a recommendation of not returning to campus.
“We have consulted with medical and public-health experts and regrettably, our University leadership has arrived at the conclusion that a return to campus for face-to-face instruction will not be possible for the spring, 2020 semester,” the university said.
Residence halls are closing on March 22 at 11:59 p.m. and those who traveled for spring break are advised to contact the Office of Residence Life to get their belongings at a later date.
Over the past week, there have been major updates and legislation regarding COVID-19. Schools all over the country have closed and began implementing remote learning. Many universities have also announced the cancellation and postponements of commencement ceremonies. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, has declared both a state of emergency and a public health emergency, including the closing of all public schools, bars and clubs and restricting all restaurants to takeout or delivery service only.
There are currently over 177,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, including over 7,000 deaths.