Dear Morgan Community,
The situation that our nation now faces with the rising spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is of serious concern. As has been previously expressed, we are in uncharted territory with this pandemic, and necessity dictates that we navigate it in real time. Almost daily, new cases of Marylanders infected with COVID-19 are being reported, and the need for social distancing is imperative. Still, to best support the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and to protect the health of our campus environment, the University must be proactive. To this end, the University must continue to implement campus-wide measures that are consistent with the directives and guidance from federal and state government and public health officials. Although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Morgan campus, this fact does not preclude us from taking action now.
In accordance with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House and the Maryland Governor’s office regarding gatherings of people, in addition to the recommendation of the Maryland Higher Education Commission and our own careful consideration and deliberation, the University has decided to take the following actions:
- We are extending online/remote instruction beyond the previously announced two-week interim period, thus officially ending face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the semester. Our students and faculty will utilize available technology and software to complete the remaining required coursework for the semester.
- We are mandating that all students now away for Spring Break not return to campus. Given the State’s executive order to temporarily shutter businesses, gathering places and entertainment venues off-campus, and the call to minimize large gatherings of people on-campus, it has become evident that this is the best action to take to enhance the safety of our students. Students, you can make arrangements with the Office of Residence Life to schedule a time to collect your belongings from your room.
- Students who are now staying on campus should begin making arrangements with their families/guardians to move out of the residence halls and return home for the remainder of the semester. At this time, there are limited resources available for students on campus. Students for whom relocation to home would cause extreme hardship, and those who are facing other special circumstances, can put in a request to the Division of Student Affairs to have their situations evaluated. These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
- All students who are affected by the closure of on-campus housing will be issued pro-rated refunds for unused housing and meal plan fees. Any refunds will be subject to Federal Aid and Title IV guidelines and may vary depending on unpaid balances or other charges.
- We have implemented temporary telework guidelines for all non-essential staff who are approved to telework.
- Lastly, Spring Commencement, which usually occurs during May, will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date. With so much uncertainty surrounding the current public health crisis, and considering the planning required to make Commencement a success, we deemed it necessary to make the decision to postpone. More information regarding this postponement will be made available in the weeks and months to come. Students scheduled to graduate this May: your degree will be conferred and mailed to you directly, upon the completion of your requirements for graduation.
Please know that these decisions were made with thoughtful consideration of the needs of our students, particularly as it relates to graduation. Commencement is a very special occasion, and a great deal of care went into the recommendation to postpone it for health and safety reasons. Let me be clear — Morgan will have a Commencement for the graduates — though, at this time, again, we don’t see that happening in May.
This is a global crisis, and Morgan is certainly not alone in facing it. Across the nation, many other institutions of higher education are having these same conversations and deliberations on their campuses. None of us are aware of exactly when this all will end and things can go back to normal. However, we do know that Morgan cares about its students, faculty and staff and holds your well-being as a top priority.
We will continue to monitor this situation, and we promise to continue to communicate with our Morgan community.
Please continue to check the University’s COVID-19 update/information webpage.
David K. Wilson, Ed.D.
Morgan State University