Coronavirus message from President Murray, March 16, 2020
I am writing today to let you know that we have made the difficult decision to move all of the College’s classes online for the remainder of the spring semester. This move was guided by the best advice of healthcare professionals and recommendations from New York State and local government officials. Since we extended Marist’s spring break by one week, classes will resume online on Monday, March 30.
On Friday, March 20, you can expect to receive a detailed email communication from the Vice President for Academic Affairs explaining this transition, as well as information to help you make the most of your online learning experience. As we move instruction online, we are providing pedagogical and technical support to our faculty members in order to ensure that the quality of instruction remains high. We are in the process of scaling up our information technology Help Desk to assist you with technical or other issues you may experience.
We have also made the decision to close all of Marist’s residence halls for the rest of the semester. Again, this is in keeping with the recommendations of healthcare professionals and government officials to avoid having large groups of people in close proximity. There will be some limited exceptions to this policy, e.g., any international students who cannot return home or students with specific academic obligations that require residency at the College. All exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis and any remaining students will be housed in a manner consistent with social distancing.
By tomorrow, March 17, resident students will receive a communication from the Dean of Students outlining the options for picking up their belongings from campus. This will not be a rushed process - we realize that this may cause disruption and inconvenience to you and your families, and we will make sure that the time frame is reasonable and flexible.
We have not made these decisions lightly, and this is certainly not the outcome we had hoped for when the coronavirus crisis began. The Marist community thrives on personal interaction, engagement, friendships, and mutual support, and those are made more challenging by these decisions. I know that this transition will be difficult for all students, but I am particularly disappointed for our seniors, because the last few months of a senior year have many special moments and occasions. I am keeping open the possibility that we will be able to do something special for our seniors later in the semester, but clearly this will be dictated by the changing public health conditions we face.
We find ourselves in an unprecedented global health crisis, and the safety of all members of the Marist community must be paramount. We are committed not only to ensuring everyone’s safety, but to ensuring that all students have the best possible academic experience under these difficult circumstances. Like you, I am saddened that it has come to this, but I hope you understand that these actions have become necessary. Despite the current challenges, Marist remains a tight-knit community, and I know we will all continue to support one another as we weather this storm.
Dennis J. Murray