The University of New Mexico will close for three weeks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to UNM officials.
Friday's announcement coincides with the tenth confirmed case of COVID-19 in New Mexico and national emergencies. While no cases have been confirmed on Main campus, UNM said the preventive measure was essential for preventing further spread of the disease.
“I can assure you that the well-being of our students and entire campus community is our highest priority when considering the implications of our actions,” a press release from President Garnett Stokes said.
The cancellation extends spring break until April 5.
“We will use this three-week period to plan and prepare for some of the changes this pandemic will necessitate, including for the continued academic success of our students and the health of our entire university community,” the release said.
According to the release, the University will operate as if spring break lasted from March 13 to April 5.
From Fiestas to Popejoy, UNM has shut down piece by piece over the week. The gradual shut down culminated Friday, with this announcement.
Before the closure was announced, UNM told instructors to prepare their classes to be run online.
“If we pursue business as usual, we will not be able to flatten the curve and the mortality rate could be high in those vulnerable populations,” an email sent to all faculty said.
Flatten the curve refers to a public health strategy of containment. The idea is to reduce the number of cases by limiting person-to-person contact in public places. Officials fear a high number of cases could overwhelm hospitals.
Just before UNM closed, New Mexico State University (NMSU) announced they too would be extending spring break. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech) also announced they would close.
Unlike NMSU and NM Tech, UNM closed an extra week, coinciding with Albuquerque Public Schools three week closure.
“Please remain calm, kind and patient with each other as we navigate this situation together,” Stokes said in her release.
It’s unclear if classes will continue online, or at all, after April 5.
Justin Garica is the editor in chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516Garc