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COVID-19 Update 3/11/2020

Dear campus community,

Spring Reading Days will be extended for undergraduate in-person, on-campus courses until March 20th. Beginning March 23rd, undergraduate in-person, on-campus courses will be delivered via Zoom until at least March 27th. The university will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and provide updates if the period for remote learning needs to be extended. Asynchronous classes are continuing as planned and Live Online classes will resume as scheduled on Monday, March 16th. More detailed information follows this letter.

I wanted to share some of the rationale for the university taking this action. It appears COVID-19 is less severe, causes less critical illness, and has a much lower mortality rate in those under 40. The risks go up for those over 40, especially those with underlying conditions and the risk is most severe for those over 80. The rate of transmission and mortality is a community concern because the number of critical care beds is a limited resource. Should COVID-19 spread unabated, there is a real concern that hospitals will not have the resources to serve the critically ill who may have COVID-19, or are suffering from other immediate health concerns such as heart attacks, strokes, or traumatic injuries from an accident. At that point the situation would be critical for everyone, not just those at risk for critical illness from COVID-19.

Health care experts, such as the CDC, say the way to prevent overwhelming the medical systems' capacity is to slow the spread among everyone through social distancing. We have considered if classes could be offered on campus in a way where social distancing is feasible, regrettably it is not achievable to create a space of 6 feet between students in every class while maintaining the high instructional standards by which Capitol abides. Therefore, moving in-person classes to online instruction for all students is the best way to continue courses with the least disruption while still achieving social distancing. Additionally, the density of students in the residence hall is not conducive to social distancing. The university encourages students to return or stay home while participating in classes online, however the dorms will remain open to students who cannot travel home or do not have the necessary resources to participate in online classes from their off-campus dwelling.

Those of you who have chosen in-person classes choose that modality for a reason, which we respect. Our intention is to resume in person classes as soon as it is safely possible and until then to provide a quality online learning experience. More information about the status of labs, student work, and residential living follow this letter.

Please make smart choices to protect yourself, your loved ones, and our community.

To read all past and future university updates on this evolving situation, please click here to visit MyCapitol.

Thank you,
Melinda A. Bunnell-Rhyne
Chair, Emergency Response Team

More information:

  • Undergraduate in person on campus courses are canceled from Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, students should check Learn@ (Canvas) for assignments and faculty announcements.
  • Undergraduate in person on campus courses will resume via Zoom on Monday, March 23 and continue on Zoom until at least Friday, March 27.
  • All labs will remain closed until Friday, March 20 and information about lab usage will be posted on Monday, March 23.
  • All service offices will remain open. Students are advised to conduct business by phone or Zoom when able. If an in person meeting is necessary, students are advised to make an appointment as staffing patterns may be altered.
  • Innovators Hall will remain open. Residents are advised to avoid gathering in large groups, regularly disinfect high touch surfaces within their apartments, and to limit guests.
  • The Megabyte Cafe will resume operations on Monday, March 16th· Faculty and staff are encouraged to choose this service over restaurants in the area.
  • Those students who have the resources to continue their studies from home are encouraged to do so.
  • Resident students who rely on campus resources to engage in online learning will have access to those resources.
  • Student workers should contact their direct supervisor to discuss work arrangements. Where possible student workers will have the option to continue working using social distancing practices and with supplies to maintain cleanliness of their work space.
  • Faculty who teach undergraduate in person on campus courses are expected to report at their normal class time to meet with Online Learning and/or their Department Chair to plan for initiating instruction via Zoom on Monday, March 23rd Specific information will be emailed to the impacted faculty.
  • Enhanced cleaning practices have been implemented across campus.
  • Supplies to disinfect common areas have been provided.
  • Hand sanitizer is provided in high traffic areas.
  • Social distancing has been implemented in faculty and administrative offices.
  • Students who are absent no more than 2 class sessions of the same class in a row will be given time to complete assignments, take exams, and participate in labs. Emphasis will be reduced on grading practices which require attendance.
  • Anyone who comes to campus displaying flu like symptoms will be asked to leave for the protection of the individual and campus community.
  • Anyone who has been asked to voluntarily quarantine is asked to stay away from campus. Faculty or staff asked to voluntarily quarantine are asked to contact Human Resources ( and students asked to voluntarily quarantine are asked to contact Student Life (
  • The Emergency Response Team is in contact with Prince George's County Emergency Operations for information and resource sharing.

To reduce personal risk and the broader community risk, campus community members can:

  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer when necessary.
  • Faculty and staff can contact their immediate supervisor and students can contact Student Life ( if they have an underlying health condition and would like to discuss additional accommodations.
  • Contact your doctor if you have a fever (over 100 degrees), cough, body aches, or other flu like symptoms.
  • Limit physical contact with others and respect the personal space of others.
  • Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, not your hand.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with those who are ill.
  • If you have been in contact with someone with flu like symptoms contact your doctor.