The following memo was sent to Maryville College students, faculty and staff this morning.
Tom Bogart, President
TO: Maryville College Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM: Dr. Tom Bogart, President
RE: Campus response to COVID-19
DATE: March 13, 2020
With yesterday’s report of a person in Knox County testing positive for COVID-19, Tennessee’s number of confirmed cases has risen to 18, but as of today, no cases have been confirmed in Blount County, and there are no confirmed or suspected cases on the Maryville College campus.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the closure of colleges and universities in communities where the virus has not been identified; however, we recognize the likelihood of local cases being identified, so our plan is to extend Spring Break one week to give us more time to assess the situation and make appropriate plans. Residence halls will remain closed throughout this time period.
Realizing that residential students will be gone from campus for a longer time than expected, the time and date for vacating the residence halls for students has been extended to noon on Monday, March 16. Students who received approval to stay in the halls during Spring Break should get in touch with Residence Life staff. We will also work, on a case-by-case basis, with students who have no off-campus options for housing or meals.
Again, students should leave campus with essential belongings and those things (electronic devices and chargers, textbooks, notebooks, etc.) that would allow them to fully engage with online instruction. If a decision is made before March 30 to move all instruction to online formats, residence halls will remain closed. We will give students time to get their belongings and make off-campus living arrangements. Here, too, we would work, on a case-by-case basis, with students who have no off-campus options for housing or meals.
The College will not close during these two weeks. Staff and faculty members will be required to report to campus as usual, practicing social distancing, unless they are sick or have sick family members at home. With regard to absences and telecommuting, employees should communicate and coordinate with their supervisors.
We have made the difficult decision to suspend all college-sponsored or affiliated international travel until further notice. This decision is the result of both the US State Department Level 3 Global Health Travel Advisory released on March 11, 2020, the Presidential Proclamation relating to travel from Europe, increasing entry restrictions, and community responses to the outbreak. I know this news will be incredibly disappointing to the almost 200 students who were planning to travel abroad in the coming months, but our students’ health and safety are our primary concern. We are working with our partners to get any recoverable funds we can from the programs. This may take some time since the industry is dealing with a high volume of cancellations at the moment, but we will update impacted students as soon as we can with further details. As per our cancellation policy, students will receive all monies MC is able to recover from our vendors and program providers.
We recommend that MC community members cancel all non-essential international travel over Spring Break. For those who do travel abroad, we request that they self-report their travel information via the College’s Coronavirus Webpage (a form will go up later today) and also self-isolate away from the MC campus for 14 days after return.
Out of an abundance of caution, College-related non-essential travel outside of the Knoxville area also is being prohibited. We have cancelled Spring Break travel related to SOC149: Road to Justice. Cabinet members will need to be consulted about employees’ trips that have already been planned and/or paid for.
A decision about spring sports is expected later today. Already, numerous schools in the USA South have suspended play for the remainder of the semester. We will communicate about athletics and the cancellations of other large-scale, College-sponsored events on the MC website: maryvillecollege.edu and maryvillecollege.edu/coronavirus.
This will be a Spring Break – and possibly a Spring Semester – unlike any other that we have experienced. I and other administrators are committed to making the best decisions we can – with the information we have – for the entire community. Please visit our website for ongoing, updated information. Please be patient with us and with each other, take care of yourself and remain calm throughout the coming days and weeks.