Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University have decided to move classes online as a result of growing concerns over COVID-19.
In a letter to the campus community Wednesday afternoon, Hood College President Andrea Chapdelaine said the college would extend its current spring break until March 21. No classes will be held until then in order to allow faculty time to prepare for online instruction.
Beginning March 23, all undergraduate and graduate courses at Hood will move online for a week. It is still to be determined if online instruction will continue at Hood for the week of March 30.
“The uncertainty of it all can be frightening, but we are a strong community and we are here to support one another,” Chapdelaine said. “While I realize this decision will immediately raise a large number of questions and concerns, I ask for your patience as we navigate this complex situation. We will communicate additional information in the days ahead for students, faculty and staff.”
Mount St. Mary’s will transition to online instruction beginning Wednesday, March 18 at both the Emmitsburg and Frederick campuses. There will be no classes held until then. The university plans to continue remote instruction until March 30.
The Mount will not only provide courses online but also virtual office hours with professors and remote access to learning and counseling services as well as the writing center, according to a letter from the university’s president, Timothy Trainor.
Laurie Ward, vice president for marketing and communications at Hood, said students who don’t have Wi-Fi or internet access at home may make arrangements with their professors for course work.
Students at both institutions have been asked to leave campus as soon as possible and to not return until further notice.
Students who are unable to leave campus at both Hood and the Mount may complete forms requesting to stay.
“We will make every accommodation necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our students,” Ward said.
Hood students must complete their “Petition to Stay” by noon on Thursday.
Chapdelaine said in the letter that while the decision to extend spring break and move classes online was difficult, she and other campus staff felt it was in the best interest of the Hood community.
“While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Frederick County, the College is committed to doing our part to minimize the spread of the virus, especially as students and faculty are due back on campus after traveling out of the area on spring break,” Chapdelaine said in the letter.
All campus events and non-essential, college-related travel at Hood has also been canceled.
Campus offices at both institutions will remain open in order to support students. At the Mount, university services such as the Student Health Center, dining halls and the library will remain open but may be limited in some cases.
Hood and the Mount are the first Frederick County schools to take such action as a result of the coronavirus.
Caroline Cole, communication coordinator for Frederick Community College, said in an email that since FCC is a non-residential community college, their situation is different. As of now, the college is operating as normal and there is ongoing communication with the Frederick County Health Department.
Frederick County Public Schools also continue to operate as normal despite recently canceling all over-night, out-of-state field trips. At the Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, School Superintendent Terry Alban said any decisions made would come with guidance from health officials.
“We want to keep everyone informed and we do recognize that this is something that changes hourly ... but again, [health officials] are the experts, so we are taking the guidance from them,” Alban said.