As the country enters one year into the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the last 12 months have been filled with drastic changes and a constant air of uncertainty. Many schools and universities like Morgan State University were forced to make the decision to shut down last March, and, one year later they are still trying to recover.
In that time, there have been several dates that substantially changed the Morgan community like March 10, the day President David Wilson cancelled all in person classes for two weeks following Spring Break, and March 17, the day Wilson announced the university would continue remote instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
From Wilson’s initial statement addressing the health crisis to the university’s difficult decision to continue three semesters of remote instruction, The Spokesman has outlined a compiled list of the significant dates for the Morgan community.
Jan. 29, 2020: Morgan State University released their first statement regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in China and the beginning of the spread in the United States. The message informed the community on what the coronavirus was and how to lessen the spread of the virus.
Feb. 29, 2020: Prior to any confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state of Maryland, Wilson announced the University began developing a strategic response in case of a spread of the virus on campus. “Please know that we are committed to being decisive in the protection of our campus community,” Wilson wrote, “Yesterday, in response to the latest developments, I convened my administrative team and unit leaders for an emergency preparedness meeting to discuss the University’s strategic response should a case of the Coronavirus be identified on the Morgan campus.”
March 5, 2020: Wilson suspended all Study Abroad and International student travel for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester as well as the Summer semester, including China, Italy, South Korea, and Iran. “The safety of our students is the most important thing, above all else. At present, the risk of contracting COVID-19 during international travel is not fully known, so we have taken the most prudent action possible,” said President Wilson.
March 10, 2020: After five COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Maryland and students at neighboring universities were exposed to the virus, Wilson cancelled in person class instruction for the remainder of the March 9-13 week and for two weeks following Spring Break. The university planned to move to online instruction and redetermine the state of the emergency after the two-week period.
March 17, 2020: One week after the decision to cancel in person classes for two weeks after spring break, Wilson announced the two-week remote instruction period would be extended for the remainder of the Spring semester, ending all face-to-face instruction. The university also announced the Spring 2020 Commencement would be postponed to a later date.
June 8, 2020: Wilson proposed a campus reopening plan for the Fall 2020 semester including the phase return to campus, the start of fall classes on Sept. 9, and on campus housing capacity. Morgan planned to offer both in-person and remote instruction with some hybrid courses for the upcoming semester. Wilson also announced the university would be reducing the on-campus housing capacity to 31 percent, assigning all rooms as singles to reduce the student population.
June 15, 2020: The university announced there would be a tuition freeze for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Wilson wrote, “Following a decision that was made prior to the conclusion of the 2020 spring semester, Morgan State University will not be increasing its tuition or fees for the 2020/2021 academic year.”
July 21, 2020: Morgan canceled all university sponsored in-person homecoming events including the homecoming concert, parade, football game, and another postponement of the 2020 Spring Commencement.
Aug. 11, 2020: After planning to offer limited in-person and hybrid courses for the fall, Morgan announced the university will only offer remote instruction for the Fall 2020 semester due to a rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Baltimore during the month of August and new data showing the requirements of testing frequency for students.
Aug. 12, 2020: The Office of the Finance and Management, Student Affairs, and Enrollment Management and Student Success released a message regarding a limited number of students living on campus, refunds for housing and meal plans, and a 15 percent reduction towards University fees. The statement said, “Morgan will provide housing on campus for a limited number of students who have “extenuating personal or academic circumstances.”
Sept. 09, 2020: The first day of the Fall 2020 semester began, marking the second semester of virtual and remote instruction. Over the previous Labor Day weekend, 300 students with extenuating circumstances moved onto campus into single room assignments.
Nov. 19, 2020: Wilson held the annual Fall semester town hall to discuss Morgan’s reopening plans for Spring 2021 proposing a hybrid model with approximately 80 percent of remote courses and limited face-to-face instruction. Unlike the fall semester with 300 students on campus, the university planned to house up to 1,000 students prioritizing students with majors that require in person learning.
Nov. 30, 2020: Wilson released an updated reopening plan for Spring 2021 announcing the university is planning to host the postponed Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 commencements, along with the upcoming Spring 2021 commencement, in-person during a special commencement week at the conclusion of the spring semester.
Feb. 01, 2021: The first day of classes for the Spring 2021 semester occurred later than originally scheduled, but the start marked the third semester of remote instruction through the pandemic. After the university planned to welcome 1,000 students back into on campus housing, only 500 students agreed to move back and 400 students reside in off campus housing.
Feb. 03, 2021: Despite another remote semester, Wilson welcomed the Morgan community back with an update on the university noting their plan to fully reopen their campus by Summer 2021. Wilson also listed their plans to assist nearly 6,000 students over the next year with financial assistance, a possible collaboration with the state of Maryland to help people get COVID-19 vaccinations, no proposals for a tuition increase for the 2021-2022 academic year, and the continuation of on campus COVID-19 testing.
March 2, 2021: In the annual spring town hall, Wilson reviewed new plans for reopening the campus in Fall 2021, the possibility of Morgan becoming a vaccination site, construction updates, and recent monetary donations to the university. As of right now, the two structures of operation for the fall are opening the campus with a 90 to 100 percent occupancy or the safe distancing model with 50 percent occupancy.