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coronavirus concerns

Harvard University moves all classes online amid coronavirus fears

Harvard University is telling students to have a nice spring break — and not to bother coming back.

The Massachusetts school is moving classes online amid the coronavirus outbreak, starting March 23, The Harvard Crimson reported Tuesday. Students are to move out of their dorms by Sunday night, and have been instructed not to come back to campus following spring break.

Harvard is taking these latest steps as Massachusetts has hit at least 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Though officials told NBC Boston the risk to the general public remains low, Harvard has moved to cancel classes as the state of the outbreak changes rapidly day-by-day.

The University of Washington also canceled all in-person classes, halting lectures for some 55,000 students after a staffer tested positive for the virus. Stanford University in the Bay Area took similar steps, as has Ohio State University.

Though schools can be breeding grounds for germs amid close quarters, experts told LiveScience it's unclear whether closing schools will help to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, especially since there likely won't be a clear point when it's safe to bring students back to campus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends handling school closures on a case-by-case basis, though it does say if classes are canceled, extracurriculars and group gatherings should be canceled as well. It's unclear whether Harvard's class cancellations will affect upcoming scheduled events like graduation.

Read more at The Harvard Crimson.