UPDATE: University of Maine students won't return to campus after spring break, classes will be held remotely

Published: Mar. 11, 2020 at 11:50 PM EDT
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University of Maine System officials released an announcement late Wednesday afternoon telling students they would not go back to classrooms after spring break.

The switch to online programming all comes in the wake of the Coronavirus.

Joan Ferrini-Mundy, University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias President, "First and for most, the safety and well-being of our students, our faculty, our staff, our community, is what we care about here."

University of Maine System students hearing Wednesday afternoon they won't be learning in classrooms for the rest of the semester.

"This is like a shock to me."

Concerns over the possible spread of the Coronavirus are driving the decision that impacts all seven schools in the University of Maine System.

The online classes begin on March 23rd.

Gabriella Miller, said, "My colleagues were getting the emails around me. It was pretty crazy. Everyone didn't know it was happening."

Chancellor, University of Maine System, Dannel Malloy, said, "We are taking some proactive actions and really it's to make sure the people of Maine are safe. We have well over 20,000 students who are about to be on spring break going to parts unknown across the country."

President of the University of Maine and the University of Maine at Machias, Joan Ferrini Mundy, says not all their classes are ready to go online.

"We are working over the next few days to help them make some arrangements that will make it possible for students to learn what they need to learn and finish the semester," Mundy explained.

Students currently living in dorms on the campuses are being asked to pack up. "I'm probably going to leave some of my stuff here because I don't have a car. I'm going to come back for it for another time."

Chancellor, University of Maine System, Dannel Malloy, said, "We are urging people to use the time and remaining days before spring break begins and perhaps the next few days after that to vacate."

One question that still lingers - what happens to money students spent on room and board this semester?

Robert Dana is the Vice President of Student Life at the University of Maine. He said, "That's a grave concern for families because money is a real issue in this day and time. The University and the University of Maine System is very interested in this question. They're attending to it at the highest levels and they will get this resolved as quickly as possible."

President Joan Ferrini Mundy, explained, "It's a constant communication opportunity for us really. We need to be sure that people feel they have the chance to hear from us, so we have been sending regular communications for the past several days and we will continue to do that."

School officials say they will be keeping students, staff, and faculty in the loop as they monitor this situation.

Emails, social media and their website are just a few ways to keep up to date.

The campuses will stay open and housing and meal options will be provided to any students who can't leave for extenuating circumstances.