Multiple universities in Maryland plan to reopen in time for fall semester

Posted at 5:16 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 12:39:13-04

Notre Dame of Maryland University is the latest college in Baltimore to announce plans to reopen campus for the Fall 2020 semester.

The University hasn't had any face-to-face instruction, since March when it transitioned to remote learning in response to COVID-19.

On Friday the school announced it would reopen campus to its full capacity in August, while following strict social distancing protocol and all local, state and federal restrictions and guidelines.

“The University is moving forward with its plans to reopen while keeping the safety of our NDMU community at the forefront,” says President Marylou Yam. “Due to the uncertainty the COVID-19 virus presents, it was important for the University to include effective and supported scenarios for learning, living and engagement. These plans include various classroom, laboratory and housing configurations as well as accommodations for dining and student activities.”

The news comes just one day after Loyola University said they too plan on reopening campuses in time for the beginning of fall semester, on August 31.

“Over the next few months, we will be implementing plans to help ensure a safe return to campus for our community and continue to provide a high-quality education for those who are not able to be physically present,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, university president. “We hope and intend to offer a residential experience for the full semester, but we will be fully prepared to transition to online-only instruction at any time if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.”

Morgan State was the first major university in the state to announce their intention to reopen by the fall semester.

University President David Wilson released the following statement on Tuesday, explaining his decision.

“Pending any new prohibitive guidance from the State, at this current time, Morgan State University plans to reopen its campus in the fall, resuming full instruction featuring an innovative student choice course delivery model that incorporates face-to-face and remote learning. The University is also preparing an on-campus residential experience for students that will incorporate social distancing protocols as needed. By the end of the month, the University will be issuing more comprehensive details regarding fall operations to further assist returning and prospective students with their planning and decision making. The details will incorporate recommendations from Morgan’s Campus Reopening and Readiness Committee. Student interest in pursuing a Morgan education remains high, and Morgan is evaluating how to best meet that need in a manner that is safe and is implemented in the best interest of the entire Morgan community.”

Mount St. Mary’s University plans to resume face-to-face instruction and on-campus classes in Fall 2020, while following social distancing requirements and other public health guidelines.

“We are fortunate to have a 1,400-acre campus coupled with small class sizes, so we believe we will be able to offer the excellent in-person educational experience for which the Mount is known,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D.

The Mount says they have been planning for many scenarios, and campus leaders are confident that these planning efforts will provide the flexibility needed to respond to the public health situation and ensure the health and safety of students and employees on campus.

Towson University is preparing for a return to in-person classes for fall 2020 one week early, on Aug. 24.

President Kim Schatzel shared the initial framework for a return in conjunction with an announcement from the University System of Maryland (USM).

The Return to TU framework calls for a phased reopening of campus, combining on-campus, in-person instruction with remote learning. Guided by the Return to TU Task Force—appointed by President Schatzel in April—the framework outlines five guiding principles for all decision-making: a commitment to health and safety, a commitment to excellence and shared governance, a commitment to student success, a commitment to inclusion and equity and a commitment to fiscal responsibility.

The framework outlines that classes will start a week early this fall and in-person instruction will end in conjunction with Thanksgiving break. Classes and exams after Thanksgiving will continue in a distance format until the term ends.

Bowie State University is planning a phased in return for the fall semester beginning August 31.

Students will take a mix of in-person and remote classes. Like at Towson University, all Bowie State classes will be delivered remotely after the Thanksgiving break. The university says freshman students will receive priority for in-person classes and on-campus housing to aid in their transition to college life.

Bowie University is trying to soon be able to offer in-person classes for some upper-class students, especially those in programs where virtual learning is more difficult. Some on-campus housing will be available for upper-class students with special circumstances, and efforts are underway to secure additional off-campus housing for those students.

University staff will begin returning to campus in mid-June, starting with faculty researchers. Teleworking may continue in the fall for some employees, especially for those at high-risk, caring for loved ones, or who can effectively work from home to reduce the number of people on campus.

Frostburg State University will begin its fall semester two weeks early and end with Thanksgiving break, all residence hall rooms will be singles and classes will be adjusted to provide more flexibility and distancing options.

“First and foremost, I want to let you know our goal is to be a residential campus this fall ‒ with face-to-face instructional and co-curricular interactions, and events that meet all local, state and CDC health guidelines,” said FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk in a video announcement to the campus community.

  • The semester will begin Monday, Aug. 17, two weeks earlier than planned, and will end two days before Thanksgiving; students will not return to campus until the spring semester.
  • A number of changes will be made to classes. They will be offered through a mix of in-person, online and blended in-person/online formats. The number of students in each class will be adjusted, and classrooms will be reconfigured to provide distancing and other safeguards.
  • All on-campus residence halls will be single rooms only, and access to common areas will be restricted. Students moving into residence halls will do so by appointment to reduce the number of people in hallways and elevators.
  • Pending a vote from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, it is anticipated that tuition, fees and meal plan prices will remain at the 2019-2020 levels. Room rates have been adjusted in the majority of residence halls to help students who live on campus.

McDaniel College will begin fall classes on August 20, with most students moving on to campus between August 14 and 19. The semester will end November 24 with following the exam period. No undergraduate instruction or exams will occur after Thanksgiving. There will be no fall break in October and classes will be held on Labor Day, September 7.

The semester will include two 7-week academic sessions: Session A and Session B. Students will complete the same number of courses, just not across the normal 15-week period. Session A will run August 20 to October 6 and Session B will run October 9 through November 24.

Three types of classes will be offered, traditional in-person classes, hybrid classes, and online classes. As many traditional in-person classes will be offered as possible as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Most 1000-level classes will be held as hybrid classes that are partially in person and partially online. The majority of online classes will be at the 2000 level and above.

Graduate and Professional Study calendars are unchanged since all Graduate course instruction will be online for the fall. Fall Session I dates are August 24 to October 18 and Fall Session II dates are October 19 to December 13.

All McDaniel faculty, staff, students, and visitors will be required to wear facial coverings when inside buildings and residential common areas. Masks will not be required in outdoor spaces as long as physical distancing is maintained.

McDaniel has reserved beds for quarantining and isolating students, if needed.

All students planning to live on campus in the fall will receive a short survey to confirm their housing preference by July 10.

Students will be able to reside in double rooms. No triples or quads will be available for student housing.

Campus dining will undergo changes with fewer students able to be in the dining facilities at one time due to physical distancing requirements. Additional take-out ordering options will be available, including the new Hilltop Pub in the Student Center, and a new app will allow students to reserve a time at their preferred dining location.

Tuition and room and board charges will not change for the 2020–2021 academic year. To provide increased flexibility, all students on a McDaniel College meal plan will receive double the amount of McDaniel Bucks for the fall semester.

The college is also waiving the $75 enrollment fee for McDaniel’s 5-month payment plan for all families effective July 1, 2020, and moving the final payment deadlines for incoming students from July 1 to August 1 and for returning students from July 15 to August 15. No late fees will be issued for the 2020–2021 academic year.

We will update this article as more universities and colleges decide whether to re-open.