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- Novel Corona Virus, COVID-19
Newsletter > February 2020 > "Novel Corona Virus, COVID-19"
Novel Corona Virus, COVID-19
Tim Burke, Fraternal Law Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
You think you’ve heard enough? No doubt in the days and weeks ahead you will hear a great deal more about the efforts to stop the spread of the disease, the effects of which are now significantly impacting American universities.
It started with the wholesale cancellation of the spring break international study abroad trips. Many colleges called back students who were already overseas. When the State of Washington became the epicenter of COVID-19 American deaths, it was not surprising that universities there would largely shut down.
But that was only the beginning. Day after day universities are announcing they are suspending classroom instruction. Harvard has instructed its students not to return to campus after Spring break ends and instead be prepared to do course work on line. On March 9, Ohio State announced they were “suspending face-to-face instruction in lectures, discussion sections, seminars and other similar classroom settings and moving to virtual instruction, effective immediately and through at least Monday, March 30.”
Joining a growing list that already included Berkley, Fordham and Princeton, on the same day, Vanderbilt announced a similar suspension of classroom teaching and went on to add in a University directive: “In addition, effective immediately and until further notice, we are suspending all University-sponsored non-athletics events and gatherings including events sponsored by any registered student organizations, through April 30.” These are only examples, but clearly demonstrate that the impact of COVID-19 extends to fraternity life.
Fraternities and sororities may face difficult choices in the coming weeks with regard to activities planned for the closing weeks of this spring semester. Just as universities are taking an appropriate, conservative approach to protect the health and lives of their students, so too should fraternity chapters with regards to their members. The spring formal may need to be reconsidered. The contract with the hotel may have a force majeureclause, which could possibly allow its cancellation without a major financial consequence. That extra cleaning and sanitizing of everything, which is being urged by many physicians, cannot become an excuse for ordering additional cleaning by new members. That is still hazing. And be prepared to act quickly if a member is exposed to or diagnosed with the disease.
Young people may be in less danger from COVID-19 than older adults, but they can certainly spread the virus to those more vulnerable. That is really what the school closures are all about, protecting the public health by helping to control the spread of the virus.
There surely will be more news on this topic as the fraternity world, American higher education, and indeed the entire world, faces a quickening health crisis in ways never before envisioned.