The University of Maine administrators are urging students to remain on campus during spring break amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
The university will open dorms and dining halls to students over the break period without additional room and board charges, according to Dan Demeritt, a spokesman for the University of Maine System.
Demeritt said that work is underway to prepare for potentially accommodating thousands of students during the break period.
Spring break runs from March 16 to 22.
“We want to encourage students, faculty, and staff to stay here in Maine to limit their potential exposure to coronavirus and to do our part to help halt the spread of this terrible disease,” University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a statement.
The move comes amid a growing global outbreak of a new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, that started last December in Wuhan, China. So far, the virus has been detected in more than 100 countries, with 423 cases in the U.S., including 19 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No cases have been reported in Maine yet, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevent, based on an initial round of 20 tests. The Maine CDC said Tuesday that it is waiting on results from another five tests. Maine is the only New England state with no reported cases of the new coronavirus, while 41 have been reported in Massachusetts, four in New Hampshire, three in Rhode Island, two in Connecticut and one in Vermont.
The university system already is taking other steps to prevent the spread of the virus on its campuses across the state. It is working with instructors to make sure they can deliver lessons using a variety of online programs and resources, but Demeritt said Monday that figuring out how to remotely offer experiential classes such as science labs has been more of a challenge.
The university system is prohibiting non-essential university-sponsored travel and has urged students, staff and faculty from traveling to areas where the coronavirus has been detected.
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