The St. Mary’s College of Maryland board of trustees held an emergency teleconference meeting on Friday to pass an action item that would refund students their room and board fees.
“It’s absolutely a privilege to serve as a president of this institution. I am battle tested now and we’re going to be just fine. But it would be great to have one year where we didn’t have a crisis of some sort,” President Tuajuanda Jordan said.
The college has reverted to online instruction since the novel coronavirus outbreak. Since then, students were not allowed to return to campus, unless they were moving out of their dorms, and in-person instruction was dismissed. The board moved to provided refunds “pro rata to all currently enrolled students rather than refunds only to seniors and credits to all returning students,” it’s rationale states. The move would also keep the public liberal arts college aligned with campuses under University System of Maryland. Reimbursements will begin April 30.
Trustee member Gail Harmon suggested to amend the rationale to “include the payments in recognition with the financial hardships different families and students are facing. I would like to see that concept in the formal action item.”
Jordan said she would take care of it.
A letter from Jordan to students said the college will distribute the prorated refunds for the room and board charges they have paid to cover the period of March 23 through the end of the semester. Room fees now cost $7,850 a year and board costs average $5,745.
“Of course, the very few students who were permitted to remain on campus will continue to be charged room rates,” she said. “These few students, as well as any commuter student who paid for a board plan, will receive a prorated refund for any unused portion of their plan. Students with ongoing payment plans for which there is a balance due should continue to make scheduled payments.”
The board also passed temporary revisions to its Family and Medical Leave Act, or FML, that would give employees time to care for family or themselves with COVID-19 between April 1 and Dec. 31.
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Family Medical Leave and Sick Leave Policy provides employees with 12 weeks of job-protected leave for specific COVID-19 related child care reasons and up to 80 hours of paid sick leave benefits for specific COVID-19 health care related reasons,” meeting documents state.
The 12 weeks of FML is not additional weeks of leave. “Rather, it is the inclusion of the closure of a school or care facility as a justifiable reason for the job-protected leave under the traditional FML 12 weeks,” the document states.
At the beginning of the meeting, a trustee member asked Jordan if there would be a hiring freeze.
“No, not officially at all … it’s just too early to tell,” she said.