Dear campus community,
Changes to our lives and how our University functions are rapidly evolving. Each day brings new challenges. It is an unsettling time, so I am enacting policy changes that will set our course for the remainder of the semester. This is not how anyone envisioned our academic year ending, but we must remain committed to fulfilling our mission as normally and safely as possible.
We continue to aid the greater effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by promoting social distancing. Our actions so far have kept the risk of infection on our campus low and there have been no cases of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at UMass Dartmouth. Every decision we have made was carefully considered under recommendations from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health that are based on science and caution.
I cannot stress how difficult these decisions are because of their effect on each member of our campus. With that said, we will always act to safeguard our community.
Please review the following policy changes, effective immediately:
- Starting on March 23, UMass Dartmouth will deliver all face-to-face courses online for the remainder of the semester.
- Residence Halls will not admit students without prior written approval for the remainder of the semester.
- Employees who have jobs that are suitable for working remotely are encouraged to work from home for the remainder of the semester; supervisors will be contacting staff members to discuss remote work arrangements as soon as possible.
- UMass Dartmouth will cancel all events through May 31.
A few additional items need consideration as well.
Today at 5 p.m., students who are not currently in our residence halls will be able to log in to the Housing Portal to sign up for a move-out appointment time. All students need to sign up in the Housing Portal for a 2-hour move-out appointment. Your ID card will only give you access to your residence hall during this appointment window. All access to the residence halls will remain off until your appointment. We recognize that this may be challenging and we are attempting to do everything we can to make this process run as safely and smoothly as possible.
Many of you are wondering about refunds. Over the past few weeks, the University was fully focused on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff and helping our students transition to remote learning so they can successfully complete their semester. Please know that room and meal plan accounts will be adjusted and will take into consideration financial aid guidelines. We are working through the process in coordination with other UMass campuses. Additional information on account adjustments will be forthcoming once next steps are determined.
As for Commencement, we will postpone ceremonies for Undergraduates that were scheduled on May 8, 2020, and for Law and Graduate students that were scheduled on May 11, 2020. We are exploring all options to ensure that we send our graduating students off with the recognition they deserve for all their hard work. The deadline of April 1 to file for graduation will still apply.
You will receive additional guidance on all of these issues later today and visit our Coronavirus Updates page for more information. For more information on remote teaching, learning, and working please visit the CITS Service Center page.
I know this is not easy, but we must put the safety of our community over normality. These extraordinary times require all of us to act in extraordinary ways to make sure that the education of the next generation continues.
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.