St. Mary’s College of Maryland readjusted its response to the new coronavirus and announced it would continue with online classes for the rest of the spring semester and cancel the upcoming graduation ceremony.
The college first announced its transition to online or remote instruction from March 23 to April 3, after students were to return from spring break. The college's board of trustees scheduled a conference call Thursday afternoon, where most of the board members dialed in to hear the announcement from Lex Birney, board chair.
He read a statement that the college will extend the remote and online instruction through the end of the spring 2020 semester. “This approach and social distancing mitigate spread,” he said.
The college’s coronavirus webpage also said the 2020 graduation ceremony will be canceled.
“We have no choice but to postpone commencement. For how long and what form it will take have yet to be decided. I know this is disappointing to members of the Class of 2020, their families and friends, and to all of the faculty and staff who have been with them throughout their tenure at the college and want to be there with them to celebrate this momentous occasion,” President Tuajuanda Jordan said in a statement on the college's website.
The rest of the statement said the college is still figuring out room, board and fee reimbursements and how to retrieve belongings from dorms.
St. Mary’s public elementary, middle and high schools are also looking to provide online instruction. Resources are already available through software called Clever. Students should already know their log-in information and parents should be asking the children how to access it, according to a release from the public school system.
An email from the school system was sent Wednesday afternoon asking parents to respond to a brief survey about internet access. To take the survey, users can copy and paste the link https://tinyurl.com/SMCPSinternet in the browser.
Birney said with the latest increase in confirmed cases, which stood at 149 cases in Maryland with none in St. Mary’s as of Friday afternoon, more drastic measures have to take place and they now align with other Maryland four-year institutions.
The University System of Maryland announced Thursday that it will continue online and remote instruction for the rest of the semester and cancel commencement ceremonies at public colleges and universities in the state.
“There is no other viable solution if we are to remain committed to keeping the members of the St. Mary’s College community safe while educating our students,” Jordan said in a statement on the college’s website.
Birney complimented Jordan’s leadership while dealing with the virus.
“Extraordinary times … call for extraordinary leadership. We certainly have that,” he said.
“All I would say is I really appreciate everyone’s support these last few weeks communicating. You’ve all really been wonderful,” Jordan said to the board on the phone.
Toward the end of the conference call, Birney told the group a “little piece of information.” He said his doctor told him the day before there was at least a 90% chance he had contracted the coronavirus in January and then recovered.
“Apparently, I got through it,” he said.