By: Tim Klapac, Senior Editor
Thursday evening, TU President Kim Schatzel announced in an email that the remainder of the spring semester will be conducted online in response to increasing positive cases of Coronavirus in the state.
“There will be no on-campus, face-to-face classes or instruction for the remainder of this semester, and all courses will be completed remotely,” Schatzel said. “This includes all TU campuses and facilities.”
This decision comes after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan urged the University Systems of Maryland (USM) to convert all classes to remote teaching for the rest of the semester in a Thursday morning press conference.
In the email, Schatzel said that students will be receiving emails from various departments regarding the logistics of staying off campus through the spring. Students should expect an email from the Office of Housing and Residence Life “with specific directions for removing their belongings from campus.”
The Division of Student Affairs will be reaching out to students to discuss student services for the remainder of the spring term. Schatzel also said that, under guidance of USM, a uniform policy is under development “regarding prorated refunds for unused room and board, parking and meal plan changes.”
The University announced on March 10, with nine confirmed cases in Maryland, that all remaining classes before spring break would be cancelled and all classes would be handled remotely through April 4. Since that announcement, the number of positive cases in the state has increased to 107, with the first death coming on March 18.
“This is truly one of the most daunting challenges that our state has ever faced,” Hogan said during his March 19 press conference.
In addition to the semester-long transition to online classes, Schatzel said that TU has decided to postpone all May 2020 commencement ceremonies until the fall.
“TU will celebrate the academic achievements of the Class of 2020 graduates with a fitting campus commencement ceremony,” she said. “But at this time, holding such a large gathering in May, as is tradition, conflicts with our priorities around health and safety and the national public health predictions that the virus outbreak could peak at that time.”
Although students are currently on spring break, Schatzel said that faculty and staff “are working tirelessly to support our commitment to all of our students and our greater university community.”
The final day of classes is scheduled for May 12 with the final day of exams set for May 19. Because of the magnitude of this change, Schatzel stressed the need for flexibility and understanding as the University adapts to the outbreak.
“I have been inspired and touched by the efforts of our entire TU community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their families—to support each other,” she said. “This unprecedented situation brings much stress and uncertainty but I have watched our campus community unite in the midst of these challenges and remain steadfast in our commitment to do everything we can to support each other—now and in the months ahead.”
Students can visit towson.edu/coronavirus for information regarding resources for remote classes. Schatzel said that TU has also updated the Coronavirus FAQ page to address “some of the most common questions from our community.”