Online classes extended to end of semester

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay user StartupStockPhotos).

On Tuesday afternoon, the McDaniel College Task Force emailed the McDaniel community declaring that all undergraduate and graduate instruction will move to an online learning format for the rest of the spring semester. Online instruction is still set to begin on Monday, March 23.

“We have taken steps to ensure that our students’ education, including access to academic and student support services, is uninterrupted,” the email said.

The move to online instruction applies to students returning from studying abroad as well. According to the College’s COVID-19 webpage, the “College has ordered a mandatory return to the United States of all of our students currently studying abroad, including those at McDaniel Europe in Budapest, Hungary. Budapest study-abroad students will be able to continue their studies online uninterrupted and the College is prepared to assist our other study-abroad students complete their semester remotely in the United States.”

Although residence halls are still closed to all students who have not received approval to be on campus, the Office of Residence Life will email residential students informing them when they can return to campus to remove their belongings from their dorm rooms. “Further information will be forthcoming,” the email said.

Many students and parents are taking to social media and contacting the Office of Residence Life to inquire about refunds for room and board. According to the College’s COVID-19 webpage, a decision has yet to be made.

“McDaniel is currently reviewing options for families who have already paid their room and board charges for the Spring 2020 Semester,” the page said. “We understand the importance of this decision during this period of economic uncertainty, and hope to provide updates as quickly as possible, even as we acknowledge that the college makes financial commitments to our faculty, staff, and service contractors on an annual basis.”

In addition to the cancellation of in-person classes, all on-campus events through the end of the spring semester are now canceled as well.

“These cancellations include cultural events and performances, lectures, and large-format admissions and alumni events,” the email said. “Further information about Athletics will be distributed following decisions being made by the Centennial Conference. No final decision has yet been made about Commencement.”

“Please know that the College remains committed to our students-first mission. We are dedicated to our students and their future. Thank you to our tremendous campus community for your flexibility and adaptability to the sudden changes that have been required during this uncertain time. We are here to support you and look forward to your physical return back to the Hill,” the email closed with.

Although a lot has yet to be decided, President Roger Casey sent an email to the McDaniel community later that evening in an attempt to ease some nerves.

He acknowledged what a difficult situation this has been for everyone, and how no one could have predicted it.

“It’s hard to imagine that our lives would be so inextricably changed because of [COVID-19]. But they certainly have,” Casey wrote.

“Though this difficult decision results in a significant upheaval of expectations about what McDaniel looks and feels like, I want everyone to remember the message I share each year at our first-year convocation…’You are McDaniel College,'” Casey wrote.

Casey especially empathizes with the Class of 2020.

“You got cheated out of eight weeks you thought you had left for friends and celebrations. No one imagined you wouldn’t be able to hang out in a group of more than ten,” Casey wrote.

He promised that the College will celebrate in a “special way” once everything is safe.

Although students will be taking classes online and far away from the Hill, Casey emphasized the importance of unity at this time.

“No virus will ever diminish The Hill. We will Climb Higher. We will See Farther,” Casey wrote.

The College’s COVID-19 webpage will continue to be updated as new information emerges.