The University of Manchester has announced that it will suspend all face-to-face teaching and close most buildings on campus from 5pm this evening due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Libraries are among the buildings to close, but all halls of residence will remain open.
In an email sent to students, vice-chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell called the arrangements “challenging” and “unprecedented”, but that she was “very proud of the way our University community is rallying together in these difficult circumstances.”
The measures follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday that all Brits should minimise non-essential social contact and travel, and work from home if they can.
The full email reads: “In line with the UK Government’s latest advice about coronavirus and in common with many other universities, the University will be suspending all physical face to face teaching (including laboratories, seminars and tutorials) and will be closing all of our non-essential sites from 5pm this evening (Tuesday 17 March). Our libraries, Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery and Jodrell Bank, as well as most of our teaching and research buildings, will be closed for physical access. Certain essential services and facilities and halls of residence will remain open.
“I appreciate this is a very worrying time and this decision has been taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our students and staff, which is our primary concern.
“Students can now return home if they are able to, but we realise that for some of you that may not be possible or that Manchester is your home. For that reason, our halls of residence will remain open and essential student support services will continue to be available. Students remaining in Manchester in private accommodation will also be able to access support services and advice.
“I understand that many of you will be worried about your studies, exams and placements and we are moving as quickly as possible to alternative on-line provision. You should stay in regular on-line contact with your school and your tutors for further details of future sessions, assessments and graduation arrangements. Further communications will follow in the coming days.
“A set of frequently asked questions for students is available on My Manchester news and we will make sure that these are updated at regular intervals.
“Please rest assured that we are also working closely with the relevant authorities at a local and national level to monitor the wider situation and minimise any further impact arising from the coronavirus outbreak. We will let you know when buildings and other facilities will reopen and we will resume physical face to face teaching.
“These are challenging times and unprecedented arrangements, but we are all working very hard to make sure that you can stay safe and well, and continue to complete your course of study. I am very proud of the way our University community is rallying together in these difficult circumstances.
“I would urge you all to follow the latest expert advice from the National Health Service and Public Health England. Our University also has extensive support services in place for our students and staff.
“The most important thing we can do over the coming weeks and months is to support each other.”