The University of New Mexico is sending home nearly all residents of on-campus dorms by March 24, according to an email sent out to dorm residents.

Residents of Alvarado, Coronado, Hokona, Laguna, DeVargas, Redondo Village, Santa Clara, the Student Resource Center (SRC) Apartments and Casas Del Rio were told Thursday they would need to find somewhere else to stay for the rest of the spring semester.

Student housing officials said Lobo Village, Lobo Rainforest and Student Family Housing will remain open as of the publication of this article.



On-campus dorms are the latest UNM function to shutter amid the coronavirus outbreak sweeping across the United States. As of March 19, there are at least 35 positive cases of the COVID-19 disease in New Mexico, according to the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's office. 20 of those cases are in Bernalillo County, including one woman in her 20s.

Residence Life and Student Housing's closure follows Lujan Grisham's order for businesses to operate with skeleton crews or close outright. The goal, according to Lujan Grisham, is to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions in New Mexico and limit the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

"We really do appreciate them and are sad to see them go. This was not an easy decision nor one that we enjoyed making," Residence Life Assistant Director Megan Chibanga told the Daily Lobo.

Thursday's decision reverses course from UNM President Garnett Stokes' communication on March 16 that campus dorms would remain open throughout the extended break. Chibanga said Lujan Grisham's decision to suspend much of New Mexico's commerce forced Residence Life officials to close.

A number of stipulations accompanied Thursday's email to dorm residents.

According to Chibanga, residents who have nowhere else to go will be allowed to stay. While there isn't a ceiling on how many residents will be allowed to stay, Chibanga said Residence Life officials will decide on a case-by-case basis who will be allowed to remain. She said those decisions would be predicated on need and restricted to residents who have nowhere else to go.

Those residents have until 1 p.m. on March 20 to request an exception at the SRC front office.

Everyone else has until March 24 to collect their belongings and move off campus. Chibanga said there could be exceptions to this as well, which will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Chibanga said Residence Life was still determining what to do about summer residents.

Justin Garcia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at editorinchief@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Just516garc