MC extends Spring Break, cancels travel and athletics amid COVID-19 pandemic

College extends Spring Break, cancels travel and athletics amid COVID-19 pandemic

March 13, 2020

In two memorandums emailed to the Maryville College community on Friday, President Tom Bogart shared that the COVID-19 outbreak had extended Spring Break for the campus, cancelled spring sports and international travel, and was threatening in-person instruction at the school.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend the closure of colleges and universities in communities where the virus has not been identified; however, we recognize the likelihood of local cases being identified, so our plan is to extend Spring Break one week to give us more time to assess the situation and make appropriate plans,” Bogart stated in a memo distributed Friday morning.

As of Friday, Tennessee’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 18, with no cases confirmed in Blount County, and no confirmed or suspected cases on the Maryville College campus.

The College’s Spring Break was originally scheduled for March 14-22. With the announcement of the extension to March 29, students living in residence halls were given until noon on Monday, March 16, to gather up their belongings and make additional Spring arrangements, if needed.

“We will work, on a case-by-case basis, with students who have no off-campus options for housing or meals,” Bogart assured the campus community.

Possibility of instruction moving online

In the Friday morning memo, the president urged students to take with them “essential belongings and those things (electronic devices and chargers, textbooks, notebooks, etc.) that would allow them to fully engage with online instruction,” reiterating a recommendation he made Wednesday in a memo distributed to the campus.

Just as many colleges and universities have decided to operate in the coming weeks, Bogart stated that online instruction could replace, temporarily, in-person lectures and classes in order to minimize individuals’ risk of exposure to COVID-19. In the event of a move to online formats, residence halls would remain closed.

Bogart clarified that the College will remain open for the next two weeks, with employees expected to report to their workplaces.

“Staff and faculty members will be required to report to campus as usual, practicing social distancing, unless they are sick or have sick family members at home,” he wrote. “With regard to absences and telecommuting, employees should communicate and coordinate with their supervisors.”

International travel suspended

Maryville College has suspended all college-sponsored or affiliated international travel until further notice.

“This decision is the result of both the U.S. State Department Level 3 Global Health Travel Advisory released on March 11, 2020, the Presidential Proclamation relating to travel from Europe, increasing entry restrictions, and community responses to the outbreak,” Bogart wrote in the Friday morning memo. “I know this news will be incredibly disappointing to the almost 200 students who were planning to travel abroad in the coming months, but our students’ health and safety are our primary concern.”

The president added that the College is working with partners to get recoverable funds and would, per the College’s travel-study cancellation policy, turn over to students the monies recovered from vendors and program providers.

Discouraging non-essential international travel for MC community members, the president stated in the memo that faculty, staff and students who leave the United States in the coming days should report their travel information through a College web form and also self-isolate away from the MC campus for 14 days after return.

Non-essential travel outside of the Knoxville area is also prohibited, Bogart said, and Cabinet members will need to be consulted about employees’ trips that have already been planned and/or paid for.

Spring sports cancelled

Sharing a decision made by the Presidents Council of the USA South Athletic Conference, Bogart broke the news in a memo to campus late Friday afternoon that the Scots’ remaining spring season – non-conference contests, as well as tournament competitions in all spring sports – was cancelled.

“Most of our spring student-athletes and coaches were notified of the conference’s action in afternoon meetings [Friday],” he stated, offering his condolences to those people impacted. “But as it is stated on the conference website, ‘this decision … keeps the safety of those individuals and their communities at the forefront’ by minimizing individuals’ risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

The Maryville College Scots in the NCAA’s Division III. Spring sports include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s golf.

Uncertainty remains

The viability of College-sponsored events scheduled for the remainder of the semester are still being discussed. Bogart encouraged people to check the College’s website and Coronavirus webpage frequently for updates.

“This will be a Spring Break – and possibly a Spring Semester – unlike any other that we have experienced,” Bogart wrote. “I and other administrators are committed to making the best decisions we can – with the information we have – for the entire community.

“Please be patient with us and with each other, take care of yourself and remain calm throughout the coming days and weeks.”

Written by Karen Beaty Eldridge ’94, Executive Director for Marketing & Communications

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”