Timeline: TU’s COVID-19 Response

A lot has changed since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019. In just a few months, the virus has dramatically altered daily life for those around the world – including students. This timeline chronicles TU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring 2020 semester and includes commentary from several students regarding the changes brought about by the coronavirus at TU. The timeline also includes events of local, national, or international significance that are useful in framing TU’s response. These events are italicized throughout the post. This timeline may be updated throughout the remainder of the semester as COVID-19-related events continue to unfold and impact our campus community.

January 27th

TU sends its first COVID-19 related email to the campus from the TU Health Center. The email reassures the community that there are no confirmed cases in the State of Maryland or at TU. The Health Center encourages anyone who has not received a flu vaccine this season to get one.

January 30th

TU sends an email confirming that a TU professor has been in contact with a family member who is being tested for COVID-19. The email reassures the community that the risk to both the professor and the campus as a whole remains low. TU also suspends all study abroad programs and university-related travel in China.

January 30th

The World Health Organization declares a “global health emergency.”

 February 11th

The coronavirus is named “COVID-19” by the WHO. The acronym stands for “coronavirus disease” and the “-19” refers to 2019, when the virus emerged in Wuhan, China.

February 26th

TU sends out travel recommendations for the upcoming Spring Break from the Health Center. TU also suspends university-related travel to Italy and Japan but does not recall students or faculty studying abroad in these countries at this time.

February 29th

In accordance with new CDC guidelines, TU recalls all students and faculty studying abroad in Italy and requires them to self-quarantine.

            “Everything was really uncertain for me, as I was studying abroad in Italy. It was pretty scary, but I have to give TU credit. They were really accommodating about any decision I made. Ultimately, I decided to come home even before it was mandatory and the first thought on my mind was how are these online classes going to work? It’s certainly been stressful to get everything figured out.”

– Emma Roth, Sophomore, Business Administration Major, Legal Studies Concentration

February 29th 

The U.S. records its first COVID-19 related death in Seattle, Washington. At this point, the United States has 24 cases. Globally, there are nearly 87,000 cases.

March 3rd

TU cancels all study abroad programs for spring break 2020 and summer 2020.

March 5th

Governor Larry Hogan announces the first three positive cases of COVID-19 in Maryland

March 6th

TU suspends all upcoming international university travel for students and faculty.

March 10th

TU cancels classes for the three days prior to Spring Break, beginning on Wednesday, March 11th. During this time, faculty will be preparing for potential remote learning following spring break. Students are asked to “take all essential belongings, medications, and materials” from their residence halls or workspaces before leaving campus for the break.

“I remember feeling very overwhelmed with the impromptu changes and uncertainty surrounding TU’s decision-making prior to spring break. Although I recognize that these are extraordinary circumstances and are not simple decisions that can be planned out widely in advance, I believe that communication regarding the possibility of campus closing should have been extended to students and faculty much sooner than it was, especially for students out-of-state who need time to make accommodations for such circumstances. However, I am grateful that TU made the decision to close early in an effort to prioritize the well-being of their faculty and students.”

– Olivia Bowley, Sophomore, Heath Education & Promotion Major

March 11th

TU announces that the university will transition to distance-learning following spring break on Monday, March 23rd. The university plans to resume face-to-face classes on Monday, April 6th. Students are directed not to return to campus following spring break. All TU-sponsored events are suspended through April 4th.

“I think TU was extremely proactive in their response to the virus outbreak and I firmly believe they did a great job at not only keeping us up to date but also at transitioning us slowly into the online environment.”

– Dante Faison, Junior, English Major, Secondary Education Concentration

March 12th

TU students living in on-campus housing are required to vacate their residences. TU cancels the remainder of the spring athletics season. The Office of the Provost sends out a campus-wide email outlining how professors will continue to teach remotely.

March 13th

In accordance with guidelines from Governor Hogan, President Kim Schatzel announces that all non-essential employees at TU will transition to teleworking.

March 13th

President Donald Trump declares a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak

March 19th

President Kim Schatzel shares the announcement that all University System of Maryland universities, including TU, will transition to distance learning for the remainder of the spring semester. The spring commencement ceremony will be postponed. The Division of Student Affairs emails students with a list of services that will be available virtually for the remainder of the semester. The Office of Technology Services emails students to announce the creation of a “Student Technology Resources for Remote Learning” webpage.

Monday, March 26th

Distance learning classes begin for TU students and faculty.

“I feel like [online] classes are a bit less stressful because I don’t have to wake up as early to get to class on time, with everything being online all I have to do is log on. However, while getting to class is a stress that’s lost, so too is the charm of the physical learning environment. The biggest challenge by far is losing those face to face interactions and discussions that come with the physical classroom.”

– Dante Faison, Junior, English Major, Secondary Education Concentration

March 26th

Just under a month since the first COVID-19 death in the United States, the country now leads the world in coronavirus cases. The country has recorded 81,321 cases at this point.

March 27th

The Office of the Provost announces changes to the grading policy for the spring semester. Students will have “increased ability” to select the pass grading option.

March 30th

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland issues a statewide stay-at-home order.

“Students now have added responsibilities of helping our household stay healthy and safe as well as the added stress of sick family members and friends. I give a lot of credit to the students who are remaining to keep a solid routine and schedule. I also feel for the students who are struggling immensely with keeping up with school and their mental health.”

– Emma Roth, Sophomore, Business Administration Major, Legal Studies Concentration

March 31st

TU students receive an email with a compilation of resources for distance learning.

“My transition to distance learning has been difficult, particularly with my chemistry course. I know many students can relate to the fact that lab sciences are difficult courses to translate completely through technology and virtual learning. Without the first-hand application that I would normally have in my chemistry lab, I believe that my comprehension of the material overall has unfortunately suffered. I’ve always been a very dedicated student who prioritizes my schoolwork and strives for my best, but this transition to distance learning as well as the stress surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly hindered my motivation and excitement for school.”

– Olivia Bowley, Sophomore, Health Education & Promotion Major

April 2nd

The number of COVID-19 cases tops 1,000,000 globally.

At the time of writing this post on April 13th, there are over 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 globally and 555,371 confirmed cases in the United States. The State of Maryland currently has 8,225 cases. As the situation evolves, SCUA will continue to record the way that COVID-19 impacts our campus community. SCUA would also like to thank all of the students – Dante, Olivia, and Emma – who participated in this project.

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