3/16/20 | Message from the President
Dear MMA Community,
I am writing to let you know that on-campus instruction will be discontinued at the end of the academic day on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 and move to remote instruction as of March 30, 2020. This has been a difficult decision, one that none of us could have imagined as we began the 2019-20 academic year. I am concerned for our community and loved ones at this troublesome time and taking this action in order to preserve the health and welfare of our community due to the rapid advance of COVID-19 in the U.S.
As so many of our courses include experiential, hands-on, lab-based instruction and learning, our plan had been to serve the academic needs of our students by conducting as much of the semester as possible here on campus. However, that plan and the goal of protecting the health of our community are no longer compatible.
This decision sets in motion a transition that includes a number of challenges that we will now face together.
And, let me just say that I believe in each and every member of this community to face this. I believe in our ability to collaborate, problem-solve, get creative, and adapt. We have an amazing community that is hard-working, responsible, accountable and smart. We will get through this together.
We will be in session, conducting classes on campus, through this coming Wednesday. This will provide us with time for students to work with faculty to plan for the coming weeks of delivering instruction outside the classroom and for faculty to prepare to support the transition to remote class instruction.
Students are encouraged to depart campus by Thursday of this week, but have through Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. to move out of Curtis Hall or to alternative housing from Curtis Hall and the Commons. Should you have extenuating circumstances that make it difficult to move out by this date, a form to request an exception is available on MyStudentLife. We have a Frequently Asked Questions page online, procedures, and assistance to help with this transition. Please see the FAQ and contact Janice Folk with questions.
Where the class requirements and/or content allow it, we will move to remote instruction as of March 30, 2020. Transitioning to this model on short notice will be a challenge. Impacted faculty members will be working with Canvas and online tools to bring their course materials and communications online. There will be some classes that cannot proceed in this manner and plans to complete this work will be developed in the near future. Students will be managing assignments and collaboration with other students online. Staff will be communicating and conducting meetings and business in new ways. This is new territory for everyone, and we will need to be patient with one another during the transition. It’s going to require that all of us adapt to using different or new methods of communication, instruction, learning, and collaborating.
As mentioned above, I recognize that we will be facing many challenges together as we make this transition to remote instruction, and this will affect all of our staff. At this juncture, we ask that employees review MMA policy 409 – Emergency Preparedness for Communicable Diseases, located here. Only students are being asked to leave campus, but our offices remain open at this time, and all employees should continue to report for work. This reflects Condition II.b. as described in the policy. Further information, as it develops, will be provided to employees and please reach out HR Director Carrie Margrave (email@example.com) with questions.
We recognize that this is a particularly difficult time for our senior class, as you are so close to launching your careers after four years of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate a scenario that keeps seniors on campus. However, we are committed to doing all that we can to make it possible for you to complete your requirements and graduate so that you can follow through with your career plans. We will continue to update you on all of your options based on the requirements of each academic major and truly hope that we can cap the year with a celebration of you and your accomplishments as soon as possible.
As you know, we work with many partners in industry, the Maritime Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, businesses and nonprofit organizations, all of which are planning for contingencies because of the advance of COVID-19 in the U.S. We will be collaborating with those partners as we continue TSSOM Cruise planning which will need to take into account the conditions in the U.S. later this spring.
We will also continue to plan for cadet shipping and co-ops in consultation with host employers.
We have fielded many questions from students and parents over the last week and weekend, and we will continue to provide information and updates as this situation evolves. The planning that has gone into our decision-making—including bringing up important questions for deliberation, the monitoring of national and state guidance and news from health and local officials, and contingency planning in detail—has been significant. I want to thank all of our students, faculty, staff, and members of the Castine community for help in that planning.
Please keep in touch through this transition. Students: please ask questions of staff and faculty as they arise. Staff and faculty: please contact HR with your questions. It is necessary now, more than ever, that we work together and solve problems together. Stay informed, ask questions, and be safe.
Please also continue to monitor your own health. Watch for symptoms and seek guidance if you are feeling sick.
As you know, the welfare of this whole community—students, faculty, staff, our neighbors and our extended family—is of great concern to me. Please stay safe and know that my thoughts will be with you as we address together this incredibly challenging period in the history of Maine Maritime Academy. And, please keep in mind that the history of the Academy is replete with challenges that have been met head-on, successfully, by generations of students and members of the Academy community and I have confidence that we will weather this storm, too.
Dr. William J. Brennan