Coronavirus planning: Schools close, change schedules, extend breaks

As of 11:49 p.m. March 12, WTOP has moved all school closings, including long-term closings, onto its Closings & Delays page. The story below will no longer be updated.

Public school systems and universities around the D.C. region are sharing their plans as concerns about the new coronavirus grip the U.S. and the world.

Some schools have canceled classes and are moving toward remote learning. Others have not yet canceled courses, but are closely monitoring news and await guidance from state health officials.

A number of other universities across the country have announced plans to cancel in-person classes, including Ohio State and Harvard.

Here’s the latest in the region:

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Public schools

  • All Maryland public schools will be closed from March 16 to March 27. School-sanctioned travel for students and staff will also be canceled, effective immediately. Read the statement from state Superintendent Karen Salmon here.

Other schools

  • Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools: From March 16 to March 27, all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington will be closed.

Colleges and universities

  • University of Maryland, College Park: Spring break is starting early, with no classes on March 13. Starting March 30 and continuing to at least April 10, all classroom instruction will be conducted virtually. UMD also said that for functions that can be performed remotely, supervisors are encouraged to offer employees the option to telework. Students should plan to leave for spring break and not return to campus until at least April 10. Faculty training to prepare for online instruction is already underway. Starting on March 23, the university will have reduced operations. Classes are canceled March 23-29, but the university will remain open. The university also canceled Maryland Day celebrations scheduled for April 25. The popular event typically attracts thousands to the Maryland campus. A decision on spring commencement is pending.
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County: Classes are canceled the rest of this week. The campus will remain open, but on-campus events are canceled through April 6.
  • Bowie State University: Classes are canceled the rest of this week to prepare for remote teaching of all classes. Students should not plan to return to campus after spring break until April 6. The university will be open after spring break, and all administrative and academic offices are preparing for telework. The university earlier suspended all international travel until further notice.
  • Johns Hopkins University: Undergrad classes were canceled the rest of this week. Classes will resume online on March 23. This will be in effect through at least April 12, and will be reevaluated on a regular basis. Undergrads are encouraged to leave campus and not return following spring break. In-person graduate classes were also canceled this week. Graduate classes will resume as remote classes taught online as soon as possible, the university said. Those in a clinical-based program, practicums, in-lab trainings/research or equivalent will continue without change.
  • Loyola University Maryland: Beginning with the start of classes on March 18, faculty will teach their classes online or electronically. The university said it plans to resume on-campus classes on April 1. Large-scale events (50 or more attendees) are canceled until April 1.
  • Morgan State University: A spokesman for the university said that after spring break, which starts March 16, students will have two weeks of online instruction.
  • Towson University: Classes are canceled for the rest of the week on all campuses, including TUNE, Shady Grove, College of Southern Maryland and Hagerstown. The school is preparing for possible remote teaching, learning and working after spring break. Students are being asked to take all essential belongings from their on-campus residences just in case the school finds it necessary to restrict campus access for at least two weeks. Since last week, the university suspended all upcoming international school travel for students, faculty and staff until further notice. It also suspended nonessential out-of-state travel — including to D.C. — for students, staff and faculty. Travel for athletics is excluded. Faculty, staff and students who are currently abroad have been recalled. University-sponsored events and gatherings are suspended through March 22. Get the latest from Towson here.
  • University of Baltimore: All in-person instruction will move to a virtual environment as early as March 23 and continue for at least a two-week period, the school announced.
  • Howard Community College: Classes are canceled the rest of this week to prepare for the possibility of moving classes online. The college will remain open, with all operations and services available. Faculty will be preparing to move classes online, if needed. Student guidance for learning remotely is available online.
  • Notre Dame of Maryland University: Face-to-face classes were canceled this week. After spring break, classes will resume by way of remote instruction through at least April 5, with the exception of programmatic clinical, practicums and internships. While subject to change, face-to-face classes are currently scheduled to resume on April 6.
  • Anne Arundel Community College: Spring break is extended by another week and moving to online classes after.
  • Montgomery College: Classes are canceled the rest of this week in order to prepare for a shift to emergency remote teaching and remote working. From March 23 to April 3, classes will take place remotely. The college is not closing and will continue to provide instruction, including counseling and support services, but remotely.
  • U.S. Naval Academy: Reform of the Brigade will be delayed for 14 days to the weekend of March 28. This will give faculty extra time to prepare for future online or remote instruction.


Public schools

  • Loudoun County Public Schools: Schools are closed March 12 through March 20. All activities are canceled. Schools will reopen March 23. The school system canceled all in-state and out-of-state overnight field trips scheduled through April 30, and any trips to New York state, including day trips. All other day trips will continue as scheduled, though LCPS said participation in field trips is optional.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools: One of the largest public school systems in the D.C. region announced, Fairfax County announced Thursday that schools will be closed on Friday, March 13.
    On Monday, March 16, the school system said it is designating the day as a “staff development day/student holiday,” so that staff members can “prepare for the possibility of distance learning in the event of a school(s) closure.” All overnight field trips in state and out of state are canceled, effective immediately. Any overnight trips scheduled on or after March 11 are canceled, and this cancellation notice is effective through April 12. Any trips scheduled to New York state are also canceled, including day trips. All other day trips will proceed as scheduled. Virginia High School League basketball games scheduled for Thursday will proceed as planned, while Friday’s and Saturday’s games will be played with a limited attendance.
  • Alexandria City Public Schools: Substitute teachers will be brought in on March 13 and March 16 to allow teachers to take time off to develop plans for online learning.
  • Prince William County Public Schools: March 16 is a day off for students. During that time, teacher and staff will prepare for possible remote instruction. March 17 is a virtual workday. Students will return to school March 18. Extracurriculars are canceled until further notice. Field trips, out-of-state trips, team practices and a number of other events are also canceled. Here’s the latest.
  • Arlington County Public Schools: Nonessential school events are canceled, effective immediately. All overnight field trips are also canceled.
  • Fredericksburg City Public Schools: Schools will be closed from March 13 through March 22. Administrative offices will also be closed through March 22.

Colleges and universities

  • George Mason University: GMU is extending spring break by an additional week through March 20. When spring break ends, most classes will be conducted through “virtual alternative instruction,” from March 23 through April 3. The school is encouraging students to stay home, but residence halls are open for students who cannot go home. All university-authorized travel for students, faculty and staff is suspended, effective March 16 through “at least” April 10. Earlier, all international university-sponsored and university-related student travel was suspended effective March 6 through May 15.
  • Marymount University: The school has canceled all 2020 Global Classroom Programs and short-term faculty-led programs during spring break. The university said that it is exploring how the outbreak may affect classes after March 16.
  • Northern Virginia Community College: It’s moving classes online. Classes will be canceled Monday and Tuesday to allow for the transition. All classroom instruction will be conducted virtually from March 18 until April 4. NOVA has also posted a travel advisory urging faculty staff and students who have personal or professional plans to travel either internationally or to affected areas in the U.S. to reconsider this travel. “If you do travel, we ask you to plan for the possibility of travel delays, future quarantines, or prolonged self-isolation when returning to the NOVA and Northern Virginia communities,” the advisory said.
  • Virginia Tech: This week is Virginia Tech’s spring break, and a number of academic spring break programs happening overseas are going as planned. For the latest, visit the school’s COVID-19 page. “Given this is a very fluid situation, we have plans for a wide range of potential scenarios, including delivering classroom instruction in an alternative format,” said Virginia Tech’s Mark Owczarski.
  • University of Virginia: Classes are being moved online starting Thursday, March 19. Students away on spring break are encouraged to return home or remain home. “We will not be holding classes on grounds for the foreseeable future, quite possibly through the end of the semester. We will reassess after April 5 at the earliest and periodically after that date,” university President James Ryan said in an update. The university will remain open.
  • James Madison University: There are currently no cases at JMU. The school says it is monitoring the situation closely. It also increased the frequency of cleaning and are canceling or postponing all events hosted at JMU’s facilities, including the Forbes Center, between Monday and at least Sunday, April 5.
  • William & Mary University: All in-person classes have been suspended. University President Katherine Rowe told the campus community in a letter that online lectures will begin Monday, March 23.


Public schools

D.C. Public Schools: All schools closed for students on Monday, March 16, with classes resuming for the rest of the week. Teachers and administrators will use the day to make contingency plans for possible future school closures due to the coronavirus.

Other schools

  • The three schools around the Washington National Cathedral — the National Cathedral School, Beauvoir School and St. Albans School — entered an earlier spring break with closures this week. 
  • Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools: From March 16 to March 27, all Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington will be closed.

Colleges and universities

  • American University: The university is mandating online classes for the rest of the spring semester. “There will be no on-campus instruction for the remainder of this semester, and courses will be completed remotely,” the university said in a statement Thursday. Students are required to leave on-campus housing by Monday, March 23. The school is expanding its online services this coming Monday and will continue through Sunday, April 5. Visit the university’s website for more information.
  • Catholic University of America: Classes are canceled Monday and Tuesday, and are being moved online until at least March 30. The school will reassess no later than March 25. The university has decided to bring home all students studying abroad. It has also canceled spring break trips out of the country.
  • Georgetown University: Starting March 16, the university will hold all classes online. The administration has suspended all in-person and on-campus classes. No end date for this precaution was announced. The campus will remain open and essential services will continue, but undergrads are encouraged to stay at their permanent address.
  • George Washington University: The school has already canceled all affiliated international travel for students, faculty and staff. It said most classes will move online March 23 and remain online through at least April 5. An announcement on the status of classes beyond April 5 is planned for March 27. GW will post updated information here.
  • Galluadet University: All classes are being moved online from March 23 to May 4. For further updates and cancellations at the university, click here.
  • Howard University: Transitioning to online classes starting March 23. Founders and iLab to remain open with adjusted hours. Students are not expected to return to campus until April 6.

WTOP’s Rob Woodfork, Abigail Constantino and Will Vitka contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report. 

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is a Digital Editor at WTOP. Teta's interest in journalism started in music and moved to digital media.

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