Clara Longo de Freitas and Matt McDonald

Staff writers

The University System of Maryland is working on a plan to refund students for services they won’t have access to for weeks as coronavirus forces shutdowns across the state.

Last week, the University of Maryland announced it would cancel its post-spring break in-person classes until at least April 10. Students who paid to live in dorms aren’t allowed on the campus unless they requested special permission to stay — meaning thousands also won’t be using their dining plans.

“Our financial officers have top of mind this obligation to compensate students and families for services that are going unused,” said system Chancellor Jay Perman at a special Board of Regents meeting held via conference call Monday. “[Financial officers] will be developing and disseminating models this week … to see what can be done.”

The regents didn’t specify when a refund plan would be ready, or whether it would also cover other student fees — such as those that pay for recreational facilities or athletics games. The university canceled the remainder of its spring sports season last week.

As of Monday, at least 37 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Maryland.

“Our biggest advantage right now in containing the spread of COVID-19 is the fact that most of our students are off campus,” Perman said.

He said the system was being “realistic” that it might be necessary to extend the online learning period beyond the two weeks for which it is currently scheduled.

Perman also announced the suspension of study abroad programs would apply to all 12 of the system’s schools, two days after this university suspended its spring semester study abroad programs and ordered students to return to their home of record “as soon as possible.”

International students should refrain from returning home over spring break, Perman said, to avoid unanticipated travel restrictions.