Students should expect to get their stuff back, eventually, after months of abandonment at St. Mary’s College of Maryland after the campus abruptly shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. They should also expect a refund check for room and board in the near future after a short delay.
Students were instructed to leave campus and resort to online learning back in mid-March due to the coronavirus. Initially, the college announced remote instruction would take place March 23 to April 3, but later extended the closure for the rest of the spring semester.
On March 23, the college released a schedule for students to pick up their belongings and move out between March 27 and March 30.
However, they postponed the move-out after the governor announced his stay-at-home order and the closure of nonessential businesses.
Leonard Brown Jr., the dean of students, told The Enterprise the move-out process will start next Wednesday “and we structured it to be spread out so that we’re in compliance with all the governor’s executive orders.”
He said he anticipates it will run for two or three weeks and will extend if necessary. The idea is for students to sign up for a time slot to guarantee the dorms do not exceed 10 people. Only three students will be allowed in the dorm at a time and each student can bring up to two others to help them.
“We did work with the [county] health department and shared our plan with them. They’ve been a great partner to us in general with this whole thing,” he said, adding that the college has worked with them on everything they do.
A message to students from President Tuajuanda Jordan on April 10 said the college was on track to send refunds to cover the charges for room, board, mandatory fees and parking during the time the campus was closed. She said the checks would be mailed by the end of April.
However, a delay pushed the mailing date back to May 4 “because it took time for the college to check each one for accuracy,” Michael Bruckler, spokesperson for the college, said this week in an email.
Jordan’s message to students said the refund information was prematurely posted on the student portal and they are continuing to refine the refund formula.
“The formula addresses a number of factors including the amount a student paid to SMCM, the various room and dining plan charges, and student grants and scholarships,” Bruckler said.
An example on the school’s website showed what students should expect in return in each category. If a student was living in a residence hall double, the charge for the semester would be $3,925. If the student left when online learning started, the charge is lowered to $1,771. A student with a platinum dining plan, for example, with 200 unused dining dollars who left at the beginning of the online learning period, would receive a refund of $1,385.
For more information on how money will be refunded, visit www.smcm.edu/covid-19/students/.
As the college is sending money out, they’re hoping others will send some in through its recovery fund.
“The personal, professional, and financial strains on individuals and the college caused by this pandemic have been enormous. That is why we are reaching out to you during this very rough time,” Jordan said in a message to the college community.
She added the recovery fund will help with students’ expenses who were forced to move out early and to help pay for tuition in the fall.
When asked about what plans are being made for the fall semester at St. Mary’s College, Bruckler said, “the start date of the fall semester hasn’t been determined yet.”