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Vermont Colleges Closing Campuses In Response To Coronavirus

Vermont Law School sign on a fall day in October 2012.
Toby Talbot
Associated Press FIle
Vermont Law School is among the colleges that will resume classes online after spring break.

Updated 5:14 p.m. 3/13/2020

More Vermont colleges and universities have announced schedule disruptions to campus-based classes as a precautionary measure over COVID-19. While there are no reported cases thus far on any Vermont campuses, Sterling College, St. Michael's College and Vermont Law School, plus all schools in the Vermont State College system, have joined the list of schools extending spring breaks and moving to all online instruction, at least for the next few weeks.

"After consultation with other schools and state experts, we need to take steps as a community to help limit the spread of the coronavirus," Vermont Law School announced. "Our best opportunity to do so is to reduce the density of our population on our campus, thereby decreasing the risk of community spread."

Vermont Law School will be closing its South Royalton campus on Monday, March 16 and will remain closed at least through the end of March. Classes are cancelled next Monday and Tuesday. Starting Wednesday, March 18 classes will be held online.

At Sterling College, in Craftsbury Common, spring break will start next week – a week earlier than previously scheduled — and last two weeks. Remote instruction will begin Monday, March 30 and classes will continue to be held online through the end of the semester.

St. Michael's College, in Colchester, also starts its spring break next week. On Wednesday the school announced it would extend the break through Tuesday, March 24. Classes will resume online the following day and instruction will remain online through at least April 13.

Landmark College, in Putney, goes on spring break next week as scheduled. The college has announced it will extend spring break to last two weeks. At this point, on campus classes are expected to resume March 30.

Likewise, Marlboro college is on break next week. The school announced Thursday: "Spring break will proceed as normal. The college is actively preparing for the possibility that we may need to ask students to delay their return to campus and to transition to online classes temporarily after spring break. That decision could be made at any time between today and Friday, March 20, should conditions and recommendations from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health change."

Students at Norwich University, in Northfield, are on spring break this week and their break has been extended through next week. Classes will resume online March 23 and all instruction will remain online through the end of the semester. Students may be allowed to return to campus in April, but even if that is the case classes will remain online.

All of the schools in the Vermont State College system will suspend campus-based instruction at the end of the day Friday, March 13. Classes will resume in an online format through at least Friday, April 3. This includes Northern Vermont University, Castleton University, Vermont Technical College and the Community College of Vermont.

On Wednesday, both the University of Vermont and Champlain College, in Burlington, announced classes would resume online after an extended spring break. Both schools are also on spring break this week.

UVM's break will extend through Tuesday, March 17. The following day undergraduate classes will resume online, for an undetermined period of time.

Champlain students have all of next week off, followed by at least three weeks of online instruction.

Middlebury College was the first college in Vermont to announce schedule changes due to concerns over COVID-19. On Tuesday Middlebury announced it would hold all classes online after an extended spring break.

"Middlebury College will begin spring break this Friday, March 13, after classes end, which is one week earlier than scheduled," the school's announcement said. "This will be a two-week break to prepare for classes resuming — remotely — on Monday, March 30. Students who have underlying health issues or who may be immuno-compromised are permitted to leave when they are ready, before Friday."

Middlebury plans to re-evaluate the policy in the first two weeks of April.

Bennington College and The Center for Cartoon Studies say they are monitoring the situation before making any schedule changes.

The School for International training, based in Brattleboro, is also closely monitoring the situation.

President Dr. Sophia Howlett wrote on Wednesday: "As of today, the level of risk in all SIT Study Abroad locations is ranked as 'limited community transmission,' which is the same as the current rating for the U.S. and most of the world. The exceptions include China, where SIT Study Abroad suspended our programming prior to the start of the semester; and Italy, where SIT has cancelled excursions and short-term programming."

Low-residency colleges such as Goddard College and the Vermont College of Fine Arts only have students on campus for short stretches. Goddard College spokesperson Joshua Auerbach says there are no more residencies scheduled on the Plainfield campus this spring. VCFA says it will put all students in single-occupancy rooms for all residencies in Montpelier in April.

The New England Culinary Institute, in Montpelier, could not be reached for comment on this story.

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