New York City’s top two fashion design schools have decided to cancel classes and move to remote instruction in light of the growing coronavirus pandemic. Both the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design are increasing measures to avoid outbreaks on campus.
Late Wednesday afternoon, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all state and New York City government-affiliated universities would move toward remote instruction beginning March 19 in an effort to promote “distance learning” and reduce “campus density,” throughout the remainder of this spring semester. The Fashion Institute of Technology, which is a SUNY school, is included in this mandate and has suspended classes from March 16 to 22 so that professors can “prepare for potential online class instruction and for employees to prepare to work remotely.”
FIT president Joyce Brown issued a memo to students this afternoon noting, “Beginning March 16, all classes will be suspended for a week to allow faculty to prepare for potential online class instruction and for staff and administration to prepare contingency plans for working remotely or implementing alternative scheduling in the event the campus is required to close or there is a determination to reduce the population density of the campus. This will be a regular work week for all faculty, staff and administration.”
Students are allowed to remain on campus while classes are suspended and maintain their dorm residencies, as dining halls, libraries, medical services and technology labs will remain open. It remains unclear how students will submit the garments and art work required of their curriculums through online instruction.
Beginning March 16, all travel will need to be registered by students, faculty and staff through an online portal. The school has canceled all large-scale events through March and April. FIT maintains that no cases of COVID-19 have been detected within the school’s community.
Parsons School of Design-affiliated university, The New School, also announced on Wednesday that classes are expected to be conducted remotely until April 12. Classes have been canceled from March 23 to 27, when teachers will “transition and prepare for remote instruction,” according to a memo posted on the school’s website. FIT will undergo a cleaning and “sanitizing initiative.”
Studios, laboratories, libraries and other facilities are expected to remain open, though hours and availability may be limited. The school expects residence halls to also remain open. Remote classes will be held from March 30 to April 12.
The spring semester is particularly critical for fashion design students in their senior year, who create thesis garments or collections that are shown at graduate fashion shows. Both FIT and Parsons have not made announcements about the future of these events during the COVID-19 outbreak, and both schools did not immediately respond to requests for additional comments.
Pratt Institute canceled in-person classes on its Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses at least until March 30. Students have been encouraged to take all of their personal belongings with the before Spring Break. The Pratt community – 4,875 undergraduate and graduate students and 1,155 part-time and full-time faculty – been strongly urged to reconsider any travel plans during Spring Break, according to a school spokeswoman. When classes resume, they will be conducted online.
The Rhode School of Design will cancel all in-person gatherings of 100 people or more starting March 16 and will do so through the end of the semester. As of March 22, campus housing will close and school administrators will work with students, who need alternate accommodations. Following Spring Break, classes will only be conducted online.
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