The Daily Record: Md. university leaders say twin crises are taking a toll on campuses

By Ellie Heffernan 
June 8, 2020

The twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and racial inequities are taking a toll on Maryland college campuses, leaders of higher education institutions warned June 8.

At a panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee on June 8, college leaders said they are promoting more mental health options and providing forums for participating in the national conversations about racism.

David Wilson, President Morgan State University“Our students are coming back with all kinds of experiences — not just COVID-19-related now, but in terms of the social unrest, the injustices, the racism that they are basically demonstrating against,” said Morgan State University President David Wilson. “And we have a history at Morgan and, what we know, if we don’t really provide the kind of support to students who are having those experiences it is not going to be a good thing.”

About 68 percent of Morgan State University students are African American, a group that has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, Wilson noted. When it became apparent that the pandemic also was exposing the digital divide between the affluent and the less well-off, Morgan shipped free laptops to students who did not have technology access.

Wilson said he enrolled in two online courses to better understand students’ ability to learn in a remote environment, especially in a stressful environment in which students may have family members sick or dying from COVID-19.

“Wow, did I learn a lot – a hell of a lot,” Wilson said. “And I learned that, in that space, everybody who is at home is coming to class. You have all kinds of distractions. I learned how incredibly nurturing are professors – who when they open the class have just 10 minutes of check-in time.”

Javier Miyares president of University of Maryland Global Campus, said the pandemic has highlighted opportunity gaps in society. He said he sees an affordability dichotomy in higher education’s future, rather than an offline versus online one.

Dr. Kim SchatzelKim Schatzel, president of Towson University, said universities need to consider remote learning’s negative impact on students with learning disabilities, particularly ADHD.

Like other Maryland colleges, Towson will take COVID-19’s emotional impact into consideration by being flexible as professors decide whether to hold in-person classes.

“We don’t really know what’s gone on in people’s lives over the past three or four months or what’s going on with them in the next three to four months,” Schatzel said.  “But, they could’ve had family members laid off or they could be dealing with illness within the household itself.”

Although Maryland universities pivoted to online classes in March, several administrators said this is not a long-term option for their institutions.

The University System of Maryland, Loyola University Maryland and Morgan plan for a mix of remote and in-person classes. Towson and Morgan are reducing on-campus capacity and leasing additional off-campus apartments to house students.

Jay A. Perman, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said universities have options when reopening, but they must all provide PPE, practice contact tracing, isolate and quarantine.

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Source: The Daily Record

Also see:


COVID-19: GBC Coverage and Response

COVID-19 Resources and Helpful Websites

Special Update on State and Federal Legislation Related to COVID-19

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