COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland system has sent a message to more than 40,000 students that classes will be held online, following at least the first two weeks after spring break. 

Spring break starts this Saturday and runs through March 22 for the University of Maryland system. 

"I strongly urge every university to prepare for students to remain off-campus — for at least two weeks — following the end of spring break," said the University of Maryland's Chancellor, Jay A. Perman.

It is the latest higher education institution to make contingency plans citing mounting fears of coronavirus.

The campuswide communication said that a new website has been created for faculty to hold online classes.

"It is our goal to make sure that students, faculty, and staff have the equipment and connectivity they need to learn and work from home, if necessary," the message said.

Coronavirus cases were first confirmed in Maryland late last week in nearby Montgomery County.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a new case in Prince George's County on Thursday, though the note underscored that there are no positive coronavirus cases at the University of Maryland.

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A University of Maryland spokesperson told WUSA9 the university also discouraged holding nonessential meetings or large gatherings.

"We all play a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and we are taking measures to better protect our students, our staff, and our faculty," the message said.

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Other large universities have taken draconian measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The Ohio State University announced in-person classes have been canceled until March 30. Harvard University administrators told students not to return from spring break and moved classes online.

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