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Maryland university system chancellor says campuses will remain open for essential services during coronavirus outbreak

Maryland’s university system of 12 campuses will continue to remain open for essential research and for students who cannot go home, Chancellor Jay Perman said Monday night.
Maryland’s university system of 12 campuses will continue to remain open for essential research and for students who cannot go home, Chancellor Jay Perman said Monday night. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Despite an ever increasing shutdown of businesses, schools and events, Maryland’s university system of 12 campuses will continue to remain open for essential research and for students who cannot go home, Chancellor Jay Perman said Monday night.

About 80% of the staff and faculty in the system — including its flagship College Park campus, Towson and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County — have begun working remotely. Perman said the university system has a responsibility to keep its students, faculty and staff safe, but that it needed to remain open for some functions.

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“We will continue to supply dorms and food service to those without a reasonable way to go home,” he told the Board of Regents during a phone meeting. “We are going to need to maintain our research capabilities” in the interest of national security, he said, although he added that some research could be curtailed.

Staff who clean the facilities and keep the dorms and food service up and running will continue working, although those who are at greater risk for the disease will have the option of taking sick leave or excused absences so they don’t have to work.

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Students are currently on their spring break. They have been told to stay home for two weeks after the break and will take classes online.

"We are realistic that this time frame could be extended,' he said and acknowledged “that large scale long distance learning isn’t how most of our universities operate.”

If most students cannot return to campus, Perman said, parents and students will receive some reimbursement for board and food they paid for this semester. More details about that reimbursement are expected later this week.

The university system is trying to give students who depend on mental health counseling a way to get it even though they are not on campus, Perman said.

International students have been strongly encouraged not to leave the U.S. and all study abroad students are being recalled, no matter what country they are studying in.

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