UM system goes to online classes

PRINCESS ANNE — University of Maryland Eastern Shore students won’t be coming back to attend class this semester and instead will complete their coursework by phone conferences and online. Seniors will receive their degrees but not in a typical commencement ceremony — something that is still being worked out.

“These are unprecedented times,” stated UMES President Dr. Heidi M. Anderson, but due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus all University System of Maryland schools will be utilizing distance education methods for the rest of the spring semester.

Spring break from March 16-20 was previously extended to April 3 but it was decided Thursday, March 19 to resume the semester Monday, March 30.

“It means your instructors will continue to teach your classes utilizing other means than in-person teaching. It may involve phone conferences, Blackboard assignments, Blackboard Collaborate, emails and other online methods to complete your coursework,” Dr. Anderson said.

An orderly reservation process to maintain social distancing is being established so on-campus students can gather personal belongings. Campus services such as the library, writing center and tutoring will be available virtually.

USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman stated that all of the universities in the system are recommending prorated refunds of various fees and costs associated with room and board. How much is to be determined, but campus officials “are working on how we might do that.”

“We have good guidance from the federal government that financial aid packages will not be affected by a refund on room and board,” Dr. Perman added. “This means that students receiving financial aid should not have that aid reduced or clawed back because of these refunds.”

And looking ahead to the fall semester, Dr. Perman said there is consensus to push back tuition and housing deposit deadlines. Meanwhile Dr. Anderson stated, “We are all in this together [and] we will continue to learn and grow together.

“In 2035, I fully expect we will look back on this and all have learned a multitude of lessons about ourselves — our resilience, our strength, and our flexibility, as a campus community and as individuals.”

Currently some research by universities in the Maryland system is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Dr. Perman expressed his pride that the UMS has such a significant role in finding a biologic and clinical solution to this crisis.
All activities at Salisbury University have also been canceled until further notice, and campus buildings are closed to the public.