By: Meghan Hudson, Editor-in-Chief
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
University Systems of Maryland Chancellor, Jay Perman, announced in a statement this past Monday that USM affiliated universities are preparing to re-open partially in the fall.
“I want to make clear that the University System is planning to resume at least some in-person teaching and learning this fall, though our delivery of instruction will include a variety of approaches, both online and face-to-face,” said Perman. “Of course, our primary consideration as we undertake this planning is the health and safety of the USM’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as our university neighbors.”
Towson University President, Kim Schatzel, shared that the University’s “ReTUrn to TU Task Force” is developing a plan towards a successful return to campus for TU in the fall.
“There’s two separate committees,” said Schatzel. “One is looking at a return to campus, and what that means is that probably in the summer time, as the state directives get shifted, based on Governor Hogan’s guidelines, we’ll start having faculty and staff return to campus, and how do we manage that process, in terms of cleaning campus, what about [personal protective equipment] that we have to be able to give, what about social distancing, etc.”
The second committee is exploring options for the University’s return to in-person instruction.
“And then we’re also looking at a return to classes in the fall, and what would happen with that with social distancing, with the residence halls, and various things like that,” said Schatzel. “So there’s nothing completed as of yet, we’re looking at the fact that the beginning of June is when I’m anticipating a deadline that we be able to start coming into the final phase, to be able to start sharing [the plan].”
According to Schatzel, the University is also taking into consideration how students may be personally affected by a return to campus.
“After the plan is created, is the move to implementation,” said Schatzel. “It’s everything from health and safety issues, to social distancing, to how do we manage folks that come back to campus that might have concerns about being exposed to the virus, either because of their own health issues, health issues at home or anxiety. It’s asking for all those templates that we have to be able to consider as we’re doing it.”
As far as enrollment for next semester goes, students seem to be eager to return to normal instruction.
“We actually have more [housing] deposits this year than last year at this same time,” said Schatzel. “I’m really excited that we’ve had so many students signing up to be in the residence halls looking forward to being back on campus itself, so that’s wonderful to be able to say that- to say that it exceeds last year.”
Students have taken to social media to express their want for in-person instruction in the fall.
“Still pray every day that we’ll be back at Towson in the fall :(“ tweeted student Sami Morris.
Others don’t seem to mind attending courses online.
“Whether campuses are closed or opened, best believe im gonna be back at Towson in the fall,” tweeted student Jackson Taylor.
Schatzel added that, although it may take time, it’s important to remember that things will go back to normal eventually.
“We have to be aware of health and safety, but we’re going to get through this, we’re going to get on the other side of this, and there will be a return to what we had before,” said Schatzel.