Officials at St. Mary’s College of Maryland are starting up a task force to prepare for the fall semester.
President Tuajuanda Jordan’s report in the board of trustees meeting documents states the Fall 2020 Planning Task Force has been appointed, though nothing formal has been presented publicly yet.
“Its charge is to develop plans for the college to resume operations in the fall in a manner that is first and foremost as safe as possible and as engaging as a residential campus can be in this new normal,” the report reads. “This effort will require a transparent process as well as collaborative and innovative solutions that engage every stakeholder group along the way. The basic foundation of the plan will be presented during the board meeting.”
Although the task force was not discussed during a trustee meeting held via teleconference on Friday, Michael Bruckler, a spokesperson for the college, later told The Enterprise the group was “being organized now,” including its subcommittees — community health, quarantine and contact tracing, on-campus housing and occupancy, campus-wide workforce management, instruction and learning, athletics and recreation, facilities and dining.
Bruckler said Jordan will report to the campus community when plans are solidified and information becomes available.
“The charge for the task force is to oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures that facilitate the re-opening of SMCM as a residential campus in fall 2020 and are compliant with federal and state COVID-19 guidelines,” he said in an email.
A start date for the fall semester has not yet been determined.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began impacting nearly every aspect of life, the college has taken direction from the University System of Maryland when it comes to pandemic adjustments, though St. Mary’s is not under its umbrella.
A May 8 press release from USM states the higher education system also has a task force, or the Return to Campus Advisory Group, which is examining how in-person instruction will be accomplished in the fall, what state and local conditions will allow students to return and how those conditions will affect the institutions’ academic and administrative operations.
“The advisory group, made up of university-based leaders across the USM, is assessing the feasibility and implications of various return-to-campus scenarios, outlining what’s needed to support each, and recommending an optimal course of action,” the release states.
Jordan called this spring semester “historic” at Friday’s meeting, and thanked the students and faculty for rolling up its sleeves and “doing what’s necessary to push through the end of the finish line.”