Morgan State University announced Tuesday that it will hold all classes online for the first semester, saying an uptick in positive cases in Baltimore City and a new study suggesting students would need to be tested frequently combined to persuade leaders to delay in-person instruction.
A limited number of students will be allowed on campus during the fall semester. Morgan will deliver all courses remotely. “To achieve recommended physical distancing on campus, the University will significantly reduce campus density and prompt the vast majority of students to study from home,” Morgan said in a statement.
Morgan is one of a number of local universities and colleges to announce a shift in the past week. Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University Maryland have also reversed earlier decisions. Goucher College will also be all online.
McDaniel College and the University of Maryland System will be offering some face-to-face classes this fall, although College Park will not begin in-person classes until mid-September.
While the campus will remain open, only a small number of students with circumstances that make it difficult for them to stay at home — including international students or those with on-campus research — will be allowed to live on campus.
Those students will be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19 and adhere to health protocols.
Morgan President David K. Wilson said in a statement that the “decision was not made lightly, as we understand what this may mean for the financial well-being of our institution, however, we have an obligation to the safety and best interest of our students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater community.”
University officials cited a study by Yale University that indicated every student should be tested every two to three days for the campus to open safely.
The number of new cases in the city has been rising during the past month, with federal officials warning Baltimore could become a hot spot. According to state data reported Tuesday, the city had the state’s fourth highest seven-day average coronavirus positivity rate at 4.4%. But, that rate is below the 5% health experts set as a goal.