UMD cancels in-person graduation ceremonies, classes this semester

Students move out of Hagerstown Hall on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eric Harkleroad/The Diamondback)

All instruction at the University of Maryland will be online for the rest of the spring semester, university President Wallace Loh announced in a message Thursday.

The announcement follows word from the University System of Maryland that classes for undergraduates would go online for all 12 of its institutions, and a message from Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday morning encouraging the move.

The system has not yet canceled in-person courses for graduate students, according to its chancellor, Jay Perman. But this university’s announcement covers all instruction — for graduates and undergraduates alike, according to a university spokesperson.

The university’s in-person commencement ceremonies in the spring are also canceled, Loh wrote.

“Our graduating students have worked so hard and I know that they, and their families, would want to celebrate this milestone. I invite you to share with me your thoughts on alternative and innovative ways to recognize this occasion, vibrantly and safely,” his statement read.

During a public conference call Thursday, Perman said he has heard discussions of some universities holding virtual ceremonies.

“I’ve encouraged universities to be creative in how they celebrate their graduates,” Perman said.

[Read more: Prince George’s County man is the first person to die of coronavirus in Maryland]

The university system is also working on ways to provide prorated refunds, which would cover any unused costs, to students for room and board and other university costs, Perman said. He said he thinks financial aid packages should not be affected by any refunds.

“The universities are, again, united in their support of refunding room and board on a prorated basis,” Perman said. “We think students and families should be able to know how much money is coming back to them through these refunds, and our campuses are working on how we might do that.”

This university previously announced that there would be online classes held until at least April 10. Remote instruction will begin March 30.

In the conference call, Perman also stressed that students should practice social distancing in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“This isn’t a break. It’s not a respite from the semester. It’s not a party,” Perman said. “I urge students staying in their family homes or in off-campus housing to follow the state and federal guidelines on gatherings.”

This story has been updated.

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