BOSTON (CBS) – University of Massachusetts president Marty Meehan said the UMass Boston student who was the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the state is doing “very well.” Meehan said the case gave the school an early warning that it should make preparations for what was to come.
The student, a man in his 20s who had returned to Boston from Wuhan, China in late January, began feeling sick shortly after. He immediately sought medical attention, which Meehan told WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller was critical.
“He’s doing very, very well. And he did the right thing. He wasn’t feeling well. He went immediately and talked to health experts, immediately left the campus and went into quarantine,” Meehan said.
Since that time, UMass closed all of its campuses and shifted to online learning.
“Who would have thought at that point what was going to happen?” said Meehan, referencing how much has changed since the state’s first test.
Meehan said having such an early case gave the university an opportunity to put plans into action in anticipation that coronavirus could spread quickly.
“That gave us an opportunity to start thinking early about what our options were to make sure we protected our students, kept them safe, kept our faculty safe, and how are we going to get our students, with 75,000 we are the largest university in New England, how are we going to make sure we keep it going for them?” he said.
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Last week, UMass decided it will offer $70 million in refunds to students who made down payments on things like dorms, meal plans and parking.
“We are in process of calculating it, getting it out to students. It’ll be done in a matter of the next week or two,” Meehan said.
When asked about the likelihood of campuses being able to reopen in the fall, Meehan said it is still too early to decide.
“That’s the challenge. In a crisis like this, we take it day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month,” said Meehan. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. Right now, what we’re trying to do is finish the semester, allow our students to graduate, allow our students to move on, and then we’ll take it from there depending on what happens and what the experts say.”