Timeline: TU’s COVID-19 Response

Updates from the Fall of 2020 to the present day were contributed by Ani Allen, student worker, Fall 2023.

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.

The school year of Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 required all students to do distance learning.

February 21, 2021

The recorded COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpasses 500,000 (CDC, 2023).

March 7, 2021

According to Sophia Naughton, an editor for the Towerlight (2021), Uptown businesses face students breaking COVID-19 protocols. Although uptown businesses are very grateful for Towson students’ part in their business being successful, there are too many instances where students are not wearing masks in uptown restaurants. This breaks COVID protocols and could cause an outbreak.

April 21, 2021

More than 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. (CDC, 2023).

May 17, 2021

An estimated 5.1 million women left the workforce when COVID-19 closed schools and child-care centers in 2020 as of today (CDC, 2023).

July 20, 2021

Towson University’s President and Executive Vice President announce that they are working to ensure a low positivity rate for Towson. COVID-19 vaccines are mandatory for all students and staff returning to campus.

December 29, 2021

The University continues to monitor COVID-19 cases to make sure students, faculty, and staff are safe for the Spring semester of 2022. The University is set to require a negative COVID test and the use of masks covering the nose and mouth completely for all upon arrival.

October 7, 2021

CDC adds mental health conditions to their risk factors associated with severe illness from COVID-19 (CDC, 2023).

December 29, 2021

According to Towson’s COVID Response Leadership Team, the University continues to monitor COVID-19 cases to make sure students, faculty, and staff are safe for the Spring 2022 semester. The University is set to require a negative COVID test and the use of masks covering the nose and mouth completely for all upon arrival to campus.

January 15, 2022 

COVID-19 cases spiked in Baltimore. COVID patients are taking up 33% of all inpatient beds. Anything more than 15% is considered critical and high. 

January 31, 2022

According to Towson’s COVID Response Leadership Team, the Spring semester begins with common COVID-19 protocols and a full offering of campus life.

March 1, 2022

Step down measures were implemented at Towson University. In alignment with Baltimore County, the State of Maryland and University System of Maryland, institutions will no longer require masks to be worn by students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors inside TU buildings and facilities. However, masks will continue to be required in all campus medical settings, including the University Health Center and West Village Test Center, as well as settings with preschool aged children including the TU Childcare Center (Perreault, Hurte & Jones, 2022).

April 22, 2022

For the second year in a row, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S, following heart disease and cancer (CDC, 2023).

June 1, 2022

The U.S has recorded a total of 84.1 billion COVID-19 infections and over 1 million deaths from COVID-19 (CDC, 2023).

August 19, 2022

According to Towson University’s website, TU continues to monitor the presence of COVID and has maintained an isolation space on campus in the event it is needed to help those who do test positive and are unable to isolate at home. Monkeypox is also a concern and will be closely monitored. Guidance for updated health information will be on the CDC website and through the Baltimore County Health Department (Perreault, Hurte & Jones, 2022).

September 9, 2022

TU vaccine clinics are set up in West Village Garage to administer the updated COVID-19 booster shot.. Despite previous mandates, the University no longer requires faculty, staff or students to get the COVID-19 vaccine (Hudson, 2022).

COVID cases have been relatively low since it s containment. There are individuals who are still affected by COVID but it is not directly affecting the whole population as of today.

September 29, 2023

COVID is being closely monitored during cold and flu season. Those affected by COVID should be mindful of people who they have come into contact with and continue to practice sanitization, social distancing, and wearing a mask. More information can be found on Towson’s COVID Resources page.

As the situation evolves, SCUA will continue to record the way that COVID-19 impacts our campus community. SCUA would also like to thank the students – Dante, Olivia, and Emma – who participated in this project.

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