University of Washington moves all classes online starting Monday

Several colleges making alternative plans in the state

With 79 cases of coronavirus reported in Washington state -- the most in the country -- its leading educational institution took action Friday to limit any potential spread by ending physical classes starting Monday and move all course work online.

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The University of Washington announced Friday that all classes for its 50,000 students and all final exams will switch to virtual classrooms for the remainder of the winter quarter, which ends March 20. While no students have been reported to have the coronavirus, a staff member at Roosevelt Commons East, an off-campus building west of the Seattle campus, has been diagnosed with the disease.

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The campus will remain accessible to students and staff who rely on on-campus services. Campus hospitals, clinics, dining services, residence halls, library services, and recreation and athletics facilities are open and athletic events will press on as scheduled.

Nearby Bellvue College, with an enrollment of 7,150 students, is also moving its classes online. Western Washington University in Bellingham announced Friday it was canceling its winter commencement ceremonies slated for March 21.

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Melynda Huskey, Western Washington University Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services wrote on the school's web site that all of the school's decisions related to the coronavirus have been made "to protect life safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus illness" as well as "to maintain – as much as possible – the continuity of Western’s operations." The school said it would make plans for the winter graduates to attend the spring commencement ceremonies.

Earlier this week Lake Washington Institute of Technology and Everett Community College shut down its on-campus classes.

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This story was updated for information about Western Washington University and Bellvue College