University System of Maryland chancellor describes rationale for fall plans

Since May, the University System of Maryland has said that remote learning and in-person classes will return in the fall. It recently explained why it is sticking with that model.

“Opting for a hybrid model — combining in-person and remote learning — is, by no stretch, an easy out. It doesn’t save us money, it doesn’t save us time, it doesn’t save us planning. It’s a high-cost, high-effort undertaking,” Chancellor Jay A. Perman said in a statement.

However, it is choosing the model because he said there are students who need the campus environment.

“(S)tudents in stressful situations; students with nowhere else to go; students whose safety is jeopardized, whose finances are precarious; students who need the on-campus academic and emotional support we provide them, the support that helps them stay in school and succeed. This support is especially vital to low-income and first-generation students, students of color — the very students we fear losing most if we pivot to online-only education. To me, this is actually part of our work to dismantle structural racism,” Perman said.

The University System of Maryland has 12 affiliate institutions, including the University of Maryland College Park.

Classes will not utilize the traditional face-to-face format, and the decision does not mean in-person all the time.

Some of the options Perman described included remote or online, hybrid with face-to-face sessions supplemented by online work and students on campus taking online classes.

“Some students will be on campus with a largely online course load. And that’s because the campus itself — the support, the connection, the camaraderie — is important,” and what can be done effectively remotely will be done remotely, Perman said.

Students returning to campus will be required to wear face masks; and there will be reduced density in housing accommodations, dining halls and classrooms, The Baltimore Sun reported. They will also have to take their temperatures daily and log their symptoms on a portal.

However, Perman said that the university system has an “exit ramp” and is ready to switch to remote instruction if the coronavirus pandemic changes in Maryland or if the hybrid model is not working as planned.

“If it’s not safe to return — if it becomes unsafe at any point — we will transition, immediately, to remote learning,” Perman said.

Universities across the U.S. are announcing how they will conduct classes this fall. University of Virginia students may return to campus, with large classes taught entirely online and an option to take online classes if they do not wish to return to campus.

Earlier this month, Harvard University announced that its freshman class will be invited to live on campus this fall, while most other undergraduates will be required to learn remotely from home.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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