Covid19 News

Latest news on coronavirus and higher education

New Haven Mayor Says Yale Refused Request for Help

March 28, 11:07 a.m. Justin Elicker, the mayor of New Haven, Conn., said Yale University declined a request from the city for the use of a residence hall by asymptomatic city police officers and firefighters, the New Haven Register reported

The city wanted the Yale residence hall for police officers and firefighters who had been exposed to the coronavirus or have family members who were exposed. Elicker said Friday in a virtual news conference that Peter Salovey, Yale’s president, said no to the request. Elicker then called Steve Kaplan, president of the University of New Haven, who he said granted the request within five minutes.

“UNH has rolled out the red carpet for us. They have worked to quickly get students’ belongings out of the dorms and they are working with us to address other logistical and liability hurdles,” Elicker said. “We are quite close to finalizing an agreement with them so that our police officers and firefighters can begin moving into the space in the coming days.”

A Yale spokeswoman told the newspaper several ways the university is trying to help its local community, including the distribution of university funds, suspension of rent payments on Yale-owned properties, donated food and continuing to pay salaries of 6,000 New Haven residents who work for the university, among other local efforts.

“We recognize that the pandemic is evolving rapidly, and we will continue to consult with public health and medical experts and local and federal officials as we adapt our response plans and strategies,” the spokeswoman said. “Our priorities will remain centered on the well-being of our campus and home communities.”

— Paul Fain

24-Hour Curfew in Alabama College Town

March 27, 4:15 p.m. Tuscaloosa’s mayor has issued an executive order extending a public safety curfew to 24 hours a day.

The curfew will start on Sunday at 10 p.m. and last through April 11, at which point the city will re-evaluate the curfew. Walt Maddox, the mayor, said briefings with doctors and researchers showed an “imminent threat” to the city’s health-care system, according to

The curfew in the college town that’s home to the University of Alabama prohibits residents from leaving their homes except to go to work at essential businesses, buy groceries, visit pharmacies, exercise, pick up food or go to the doctor.

The university already had extended its spring break and asked students not to return to campus as the coronavirus spread.

March 27, 3:00 p.m. The Association of Research Libraries on Friday urged publishers to “maximize access to digital content during the emergency conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Earlier this week, the association signed a statement by the International Coalition of Library Consortia asking publishers to ease any simultaneous usage and interlibrary loan restrictions on subscription-based content. In a separate statement, the ARL said that opening up academic resources ensures students can continue their studies, and “scholars can continue their research and work to end the pandemic. As research library leaders, our member representatives understand that innovation, particularly in emergencies at a global scale, often happens at disciplinary intersections.” 

As to research on COVID-19, the association pushed publishers to adopt an “expansive view” of research materials — think articles, book chapters, multimedia and data — “as they temporarily remove paywalls and create open resource portals related to the virus.” Topic-wise, the ARL advised opening up research on respiration, crisis and disaster management and response, clinical psychology, and other areas. More generally, 50 university presses already opened content on Johns Hopkins University Press’s Project MUSE for the rest of the academic year.

ARL remains concerned about educational equity in terms of access to research tools and broadband, not just content, it also said. Member libraries are partnering within their institutions to lend networked devices and Wi-Fi hotspots to students, “and to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the resources they need in the format they need them.” To those ends, the ARL further called on publishers “to use this crisis to ensure they meet W3C Web Accessibility Initiative standards in digital content and platforms as they expand access to educational materials now, and to work as allies with broadband providers to ensure access for all.”

— Colleen Flaherty

Arizona Universities Face Lawsuit Over Fees

March 27, 2:40 p.m. Students have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents, according to a press release from DiCello Levitt Gutzler, the law office handling the suit.

The lawsuit alleges that the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have…

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