Every year, for at least a few days, thousands crowd the University of Washington quad to gaze up at the lush canopy of cherry blossoms. It’s a sign that spring has come to Seattle.

This year, though, the University of Washington wants you to stay home, in an effort to maintain social distancing and slow the spread of the new coronavirus. It’s part of the UW’s overall changes, which include moving all courses online.

“Cherry blossom enthusiasts should avoid coming to the University of Washington campus this spring to see the trees and instead enjoy a virtual viewing experience at home,” the UW’s Michelle Ma said in a statement. “The university’s order is in compliance with state and local public health proclamations that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

As of Friday, the University said 22 community members of its Seattle campus had tested positive for COVID-19.

Ma added that the school has “discouraged” parking on campus to see the trees. 

But it’s possible to watch the bloom from home, thanks to the UW Quad’s webcam. For UW cherry blossom diehards, there’s even a Twitter account devoted to their progress: @uwcherryblossom.

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