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Students in dorms asked to leave; UNM instruction to continue online

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Rusty Ludwigsen, a University of New Mexico freshman, packs up Thursday after he and the other residents of the school’s dorms were asked to leave due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Students are being asked to move out of dorm rooms, and academics at the state’s flagship university will be conducted remotely for the rest of the semester, school officials said Thursday.

The University of New Mexico, where students are off this week for spring break, outlined what to expect for the rest of the school year in a string of messages to students from university administrators on Thursday.

“We are committed to ensuring that every student approaching graduation will graduate, and we are committed to ensuring that any courses that must be truncated will receive academic credit,” UNM President Garnett Stokes wrote to students.

Students who live on campus received an email with move-out instructions. The email directed them to move out of their dorms and other campus housing by Tuesday, March 24.

The email said students who believe that staying at UNM is their safest option during the spread of COVID-19 can apply for a limited exemption by 1 p.m. Friday. Students will be told that evening whether they can stay on campus for the rest of the semester.

There were 2,286 students living in on-campus housing who received the email directing them to move, said Cinnamon Blair, a spokeswoman for UNM. She said university officials had not decided how many of them will be allowed to stay.

Students who live at Lobo Rainforest in Downtown and in family housing are not being told to move, Blair said. But student dormitories have many shared spaces, including bathrooms, which make it difficult to self-isolate if needed.

Blair said university officials are talking with the three sororities and two fraternities on campus about what they will do for the rest of the semester.

The university said it was reducing the number of people living on campus for safety. The email said students will receive prorated refunds for housing and meal plans.

Students who remain on campus can get takeout from La Posada Dining Hall and a market on campus.

Not much else will be open.

Provost James Holloway also wrote to students Thursday, saying that classrooms, the recreation center, the Student Union Building, the libraries and other buildings will be closed to all but a limited number of employees for the foreseeable future.

But school officials stressed that UNM is open for business and that students should plan to continue their studies. Beginning next week, professors will be contacting students about how to finish their courses.

“We recommend that you do not change your enrollment status, because changes made now may impact your financial aid,” Holloway wrote.

At the UNM Health Sciences Center, Dr. Paul Roth, the chancellor, has canceled clerkships for students in the School of Medicine. Students in HSC colleges will be receiving messages about their instruction for the rest of the year, he said in a letter to that segment of the UNM campus Wednesday.

UNM Hospitals, Sandoval Regional Medical Center and the UNM Medical Group are each working on their own plans, Roth said.

For those who do continue to report to work, Roth said, the university is studying ways to enhance social distancing.

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