March 12th, 2020
Garrett College announces coronavirus plan
Spring break extended, followed by transition to online course delivery
Garrett College is extending its spring break through March 29th followed by a transition to online course delivery as part of a coronavirus strategy announced Thursday night by college officials.
Spring break, which was to conclude March 22nd, has been extended for a week to allow Garrett College's faculty to prepare for the transition to online courses. Courses with field components – such as Natural Resources & Wildlife Technology, Adventure Sports and Addictions Counseling – will be allowed to continue those field components after the extended spring break.
"COVID-19 [novel coronavirus] has now officially been designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president, in announcing the decision. "The situation presents a wide range of challenges for our society, including higher education.
"Garrett College's highest priority –and its guiding principle in making coronavirus-related decisions – is the health and safety of our faculty, staff, students and community," added Dr. Midcap.
Garrett College's administration has been in regular communication with the Maryland Department of Health and Hygiene, Garrett County Health Department, Maryland Higher Education Commission and Maryland Association of Community Colleges to develop strategies based on the most current information about the coronavirus.
Beginning Monday, March 30, Garrett College will shift credit class instruction to an online format using Blackboard, the college's Learning Management System (LMS). Faculty will prepare initially for up to two weeks of online instruction and are encouraged to plan for the possibility that online instruction may need to continue for the duration of the spring semester. Faculty will return to work as originally scheduled on Monday, March 23, according to GC Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Qing Yuan.
"The faculty will use the extended spring break to prepare course materials for online learning on Blackboard and for professional development aimed at making this transition as seamless as possible," said Dr. Yuan. "During spring break, students will receive instructions via their official Garrett College email from their faculty on how to access instruction remotely following Spring Break."
In addition, the College announced that students in classes with lab components – primarily in science courses – will receive further information about how this requirement will be addressed.
Residential students may return to the residence halls on Sunday, March 29, even though courses are to be offered online, according to Dean of Student Affairs JR Kerns.
"If a student decides to return, they must notify Residence Life staff prior to their return," said Dean Kerns. "We have informed students living in a residence hall that if they would like to remain through spring break and beyond, they should contact Rich Schofield, our director of student development."
Dr. Midcap said the college will "remain open and operational."
"Additional information will be sent to faculty and staff within the next few days. Reducing in-person meetings and making use of social distancing is encouraged," he said. "We are also asking that community members who wish to come to campus self-monitor their physical health and only come to campus if healthy."
The college also announced that all college events, as well as events that were to be held at the college, with more than 50 participants will be cancelled through Sunday, May 3rd. The college will make every effort to work with event organizers to schedule their events at a later date, according to Dr. Midcap.
Non-credit classes through Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD) will continue as scheduled at this time, but are bound by the 50-participant limit. That decision to continue offering in-person CEWD classes is subject to change as necessary, according to Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Julie Yoder.
The Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex continues to operate on a regular schedule at this time. CARC staff will enforce the 50-person limit on events, according to Dean Yoder.
For current coronavirus information, college officials recommended that the public go to its coronavirus webpage. Garrett College's COVID-19 webpage (https://www.garrettcollege.edu/corona-virus.php) includes links to the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019, Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Disease 2019, and Garrett County Health Department websites.
The college's emergency notification service will be utilized for any significant operational changes, in addition to other means of communication. To enroll in "GCCAlerts", visit the Regroup Sign-up Page or Text "Join GCCAlerts" to 30890.