The coronavirus public health emergency has triggered deep, and possibly lasting, changes in many industries and institutions—airlines, cruise ships, public schools, entertainment venues and other places where large numbers of people congregate in limited space. Colleges and universities, especially those with traditional on-campus residential models, are no exception.

The Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued specific guidance for higher education institutions to follow to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC guidance includes advice on updating emergency operation plans, communicating with students and faculty, ensuring safe housing and meal deliveries, and coordinating with public health officials when making decisions to cancel classes or study-abroad programs. The Education Department’s guidance focuses primarily on flexibility in adjusting financial aid for students affected by class and internship cancellations that may reduce their credit load below the minimum level for eligibility.

The American College Health Association has issued guidance for student health centers on planning and responding to coronavirus outbreaks, including stockpiling appropriate medical supplies and informing the campus community.