The University System of Maryland is preventing students from retrieving belongings in dorms at its 12 campuses after Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order Monday.
Chancellor Jay A. Perman told the Board of Regents that students would not be able to continue moving out of their dorms after 8 p.m. Monday night. The decision is one of many related to the coronavirus outbreak, including conducting classes online for the remainder of the semester.
The order leaves a significant percentage of students who were living in dorms this semester unable to move out, although they will not be back to campus for classes. All classes went online after spring break which began March 15. At the time students did not know they would finish the semester online after the break.
At some campuses, students were able to return in small numbers to pick up their belongings while maintaining the recommended 6 feet of distance, and about 60% of students were able to complete the process. At other campuses, the move out process had not yet begun.
Perman told the board that students with a pressing need to get into their dorm might be allowed in to pick up items, but otherwise students may have to wait until Hogan lifts the order before they can get into the dorms they left in mid-March.
“I greatly sympathize with students who want to retrieve items,” he said, adding that they have no date when the move out will resume.
The university system is refunding students their room and board fees on a prorated basis.
About 1,000 students continue to live in the dorms at the 12 campuses. They are either international students — about 300 — or they don’t have a place to go home to currently, Perman said. Some American students on study abroad programs decided to remain in their host countries, he said, although some had difficulty.
Seven members of the Salisbury State University rugby team only recently returned from Lima, Peru, after interventions by Maryland’s congressman and others, Perman said. The group was stranded in Peru after international flights out of the country were canceled. A U.S. military evacuation brought them home last weekend.
All of the campuses have decided to offer students the option of taking their courses pass/fail this semester, Perman also reported. The decision was made after administrators feared that some students would not adapt well to online learning which began in most campuses last week or this week.
“Some students will simply have more difficulty thriving in an isolated environment, away from their professors and classmates, away from the interactive atmosphere of the classroom or lab,” Perman said.
The system is working with Maryland’s community colleges to “ensure that implementation of a flexible pass/fail policy at the two-year college level doesn’t result in students underprepared to transition” into the individual universities.