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You asked, we answered: UMBC administration responds to COVID-19 pandemic

You asked the questions, we got (some) answers.
This is a developing story.

UMBC is dealing with the unprecedented logistical issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic has led Chancellor Jay Perman to speak on behalf of the University System of Maryland, encouraging students to depart from residential halls for the two weeks following spring break. In order to fight disinformation, we asked you to ask us your most pressing questions. We met with Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Nancy Young, Chief of Staff Candace Dodson-Reed, Community Engagement Director Marie Lilly and Chief of Police Paul Dillon to find some answers. This is a developing story and new information is continually being released.

  • Classes are canceled Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13, but campus is not closing after spring break. 
  • Though campus will remain open, nearly all students will be required to depart from residential halls by noon on Saturday, March 14. 
  • Those with extenuating circumstances (such as student athletes, international or out-of-state students, and students with unsafe or uncertain access to housing) should fill out the form provided by Residential Life titled “Application for Late Stay, COVID-19 Spring 2020” on the housing portal. 
  • There are five levels to UMBC’s Pandemic Plan, beginning at “Pre-Level 1.” We are currently at Level 1. According to UMBC’s Pandemic Plan, Level 1 is when the “Novel virus demonstrates sustained person-to-person transmission and causes multiple cases in the same geographic region.”
  • Administration is currently discussing the possibility of travel reimbursement for students. There is no information available yet about refunding student housing or meal plans.
  • Commons’ Outtakes, 2Mato and the Admin Coffee Shop will remain open on March 12 and 13 with limited hours. True Grits will also be providing boxed lunches.
  • According to Lilly, DoIT has been working with the Office of the Provost and faculty members to encourage academic continuity. This includes tutoring professors face-to-face on how to move classes online. Though Paul Dillon predicts some glitches, he affirms that “we have the key people in place to help solve those problems.”
  • As of now, academic buildings will remain open after spring break. The Retriever has reached out to Director of Residential Life John Fox to learn about the possible effects on dorms and apartments. 
  • Both essential personnel and non-essential employees will be working on campus. Other staff and employees will be encouraged to telecommute, depending on their job description.
  • Public areas on campus, as well as common areas within residence halls, are under elevated cleaning protocol. We are currently investigating what this means.
  • University Health Services will remain open under a modified structure. Students are encouraged to call in advance and assess symptoms over the phone if they believe they might have contracted COVID-19. UHS employees will determine the student’s risk level and provide guidance on how to proceed. Dr. Young is working with local facilities to ensure that any late-stay students lacking transportation to healthcare facilities are assisted during this time.
  • Regarding those who plan to graduate in the spring, Lilly states that administrative academic teams are currently in communications. “We have a mandate and a commitment to work with and help those students,” she says. Students should expect guidance from academic leaders to come.
  • According to Lilly, UMBC announced the plan to students as quickly as possible to ensure that faculty had as much time as possible to prepare. “Instead of waiting to hammer out every detail we decided to just announce what we knew,” she said.

This is an ongoing story and we plan to release updates as we get them. Please send any questions to theretriever.umbc@gmail.com and we will continue to get them answered. Breaking news updates can be found on our Twitter, @retrieverumbc.

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