LA PLATA, Md. (April 22, 2020)—The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) announces that it has taken a number of actions that will affect college personnel as it continues to address the operating environment and financial impact caused by COVID-19. In addition, CSM will freeze tuition for the fall semester, and waive summer and fall semester course fees to help current, returning and new students impacted by the pandemic.
On Thursday, April 16, 2020, college leadership informed faculty and staff that it will keep campuses closed and operating in a remote, or restricted, working environment with online learning through Aug. 16. The decision, according to CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy, "ensures the safety and welfare of our communities, with a goal of ultimately getting us back to our campuses. CSM employees have done an exemplary job helping us get quickly to where we are now; however, the impact of this virus is lingering longer than we'd first hoped."
"Many college operations will also have to be suspended or temporarily reduced until it is safe for us to reopen fully," she told faculty and staff, via video. "The college must now take steps to reshape our workforce for this current environment. By reshaping our work, we will be able to respond more nimbly to the virus and its impact."
Three of the steps the college is taking to facilitate the changes include a soft hiring freeze; offering employees with 20 years or more of service a voluntary separation incentive; and offering all employees a voluntary workload reduction.
"This is very difficult for everyone," Murphy said. "We are a family, and families care for each other, especially during hard times. However, we also have to be honest and transparent and recognize that the future workforce of the college and the larger society will look different on the other side of this pandemic. And while these times are true hardships, I have never been more certain—convinced even—that the CSM team is the strongest strategic partner to help lift our communities and rebuild our economy. The steps we are taking today will help us remain a critical part of the solution."
Fall Tuition Freeze, Putting Students First
Every step that CSM has taken since the news that the COVID-19 pandemic had reached the United States, has been to ensure the health and welfare of students, faculty and staff—while maintaining the continuity of learning.
Recognizing that registration for the fall registration opened Monday, April 20, CSM leadership decided last weekend to freeze tuition for the fall semester. Tuition is set by the CSM Board of Trustees.
"CSM leadership, faculty, and staff have shown amazing commitment to our students in these unprecedented times," said CSM Board of Trustee Chair Ted Harwood. "Their collective, and ongoing, response to this pandemic shines a light on their compassion, resiliency, and commitment to our learners and our community. The CSM team are forward-thinkers and they have the Board's full support, respect, and gratitude."
In addition to the tuition freeze, CSM has taken numerous steps to put students first, including moving instruction to a virtual environment March 16; closing campuses to the public March 17; reaching out to personally contact nearly 600 students who expressed they needed help—to connect them with resources; and loaning students CSM "loaner laptops."
On April 15, CSM announced it would waive the $20 per credit online course fee for its 2020 Summer Sessions. The waiver has been extended to the fall semester to help further ease the pressure associated with transitioning to an online learning environment and recover from the economic downfall.
The CSM Foundation has also provided more than $25,000 in student emergency aid including funds for 125 students who identified food insecurity as an issue. The CSM Foundation continues to work hard—raising more than $50,000—to support students with food and living incidentals, education supplies; transportation; and tuition assistance.
CSM will maintain a virtual learning environment for its students, and faculty and staff will continue to operate remotely, or in restricted mode, through Aug. 16, 2020. CSM's campuses remain restricted to pre-approved and authorized personnel. This date may again be extended as CSM stands united with the nation in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Along with limiting public access to campuses, CSM has made several operational changes that can be tracked at ready.csmd.edu/covid-19/. Please visit the website often for resources and updates.
Students should make sure they are monitoring their CSM student email accounts, as well as the MyLearning course shells for their individual courses, and stay in close contact with their professors if they have any questions about their courses.
CSM remains in contact with local, state and federal authorities, and will share information as quickly as possible when and if these new operating conditions change.