In a statement the president of the University, Wayne A. I. Frederick, said:
“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. 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.”
According to the president, a guest who attended the Howard University Charter Day Dinner tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Due to the positive test, Frederick suggested all dinner participants “monitor and report to your doctor if you begin exhibiting flu-like symptoms” and he said the DC Department of Health is investigating the situation.
Along with canceling senior’s commencement, the president also explained that all in-person classes are canceled and school will continue online for the remainder of the semester. “We will not return to face-to-face instruction of courses at Howard University for the remainder of the Spring, 2020 semester and courses will continue to transition to remote and online instruction following the scheduled Spring Break,” Frederick explained.
Residence halls are to be closed on Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. “We are working with our various institutional partners in consideration of any pro-rated refunds of room and board charges,” Frederick explained. “Any potential refund amounts will vary based on application of Federal Aid and Title IV guidelines, current unpaid balances and the specific original room and board charges applicable to each student.”
Frederick continued, “Students who left for destinations other than home for spring break should not return to campus, but instead reach out to the Office of Resident Life to schedule a move out of your room at a later time.”
In D.C. alone, Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency and a public health emergency, leading to the cancelation of large non-essential gatherings. Public schools in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have also closed due to the coronavirus, according to DCist.
Frederick finished his announcement to Howard University students by saying, “We will continue to share relevant updates for our community as the situation unfolds. As you leave campus, please continue to practice social distancing, self-isolate if you are not feeling well, continue checking the university’s COVID-19 page for updates and heeding counsel from DC Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”