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A Timeline of the Coronavirus Response at Merrimack College

Briana Alberghini ‘21

Associate Social Media Director 

Merrimack College, among most other colleges and universities nationwide, has been taking the proper precautions to ensure students, faculty, and staff are safe during the COVID -19 crisis.  

On March 2, 2020, President Hopey announced the formation of a Task Force. The Task Force was put in place to closely follow the developments of the COVID-19 virus prevention, communications and outreach, as well as response planning  and development of policies that ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. At that time, students and faculty who were traveling (domestic or international) were instructed to reach out to the Task Force with their travel plans. 

On March 5, 2020, the Task Force updated students, faculty, and staff with new changes. All were notified that the SEND trip to San Diego would be canceled, the college cancelled the Men’s Baseball trip to Seattle, Washington. The college started monitoring all study abroad programs.

On March 10, 2020, the Task Force told students, faculty, and staff that the college made the decision to extend spring break through Sunday March 22, to delay the return of the students. Communication from the administration stated that there would be no expectation of student learning or coursework during this time. At this time, the college was exploring online remote learning, but it was not definite yet. The college also prohibited all college-sponsored international and domestic travel until further notice. All campus wide events of 50 were  cancelled until April 6 (this includes off campus events). Lastly, athletics started reviewing the remaining spring season schedule with the focus on minimizing team travel in order to protect students and staff. 

On March 11, 2020, the Merrimack College community was sent an email regarding athletics. Student-athletes currently on campus could remain on campus and those in their competitive seasons who are away from campus could return as originally scheduled; all other student-athletes could return to campus at such time that Merrimack’s extended spring break period ends and the remainder of the student body returns to campus. Team travel was limited to ground transportation, and overnight trips will be avoided whenever feasible; best practices for social distancing were  incorporated for traveling teams. Spectators were no longer permitted at any contests hosted on Merrimack’s campus. The streaming of games would continue to provide our families and fans the opportunity to view our contests. All non-traditional season competitions and exhibitions were canceled. Lastly, all conference-wide standards related to COVID-19 were enacted, including the elimination of all post-game handshakes.

On March 13, 2020, President Hopey updated all students, faculty, and staff by stating that the college made the decision to move all classes to remote formats beginning Monday March 23, 2020, continuing this practice through at least April 13, the Monday following Easter Break. 

Due to the fact that this unprecedented global crisis is fluid the college may be forced to alter its plan. The campus will be notified of any changes to the move-in date by no later than April 10, should an additional change be warranted. Hopey also noted that as of Friday, March 13, all non-essential personnel would be working from home. All in-person internal meetings scheduled should be conducted remotely and should be kept on schedule. Video technology is available to those who need it. Any students who have questions about their classes or concerns about remote learning can contact their faculty members or the Task Force directly. Any faculty who have questions may also contact the Task Force or  CETL at cetl@merrimack.edu. 

The most recent update from President Hopey on March 17, 2020, resured all students, faculty, and staff that there are no reported cases of COVID- 19 on campus. Regarding remote learning, the college is open and operating both virtually and also with limited campus staff, which includes the Police Department and Facilities. Other offices are rotating their staff-time between campus and home so the majority of offices have a very limited physical presence emphasizing social distancing. There are no longer any meetings on campus of more than 10 people. In order to be successful going remote, the college has purchased Zoom Enterprise to assist with remote virtual meetings for faculty, staff, and students. This technology will allow departments, college units, athletic teams, student groups, student government, as well as one-on-one advising and even, when appropriate, class lectures to be delivered in a live synchronous format. Students will be receiving an email on how to set up their Zoom accounts. While Zoom is now a resource, it is important to know that Blackboard is still available for all to utilize. 

Merrimack College is here to support the community during this time. If you are a faculty and staff and need assistance you have the following resources available to you:

  • Email the Task Force
  • Visit the Learning Continuity Website
  • Email AskIT or call the 24/7 hotline (978) 837-3500
  • Email your deans or direct supervisors for support and guidance
  • Email the CETL directly for assistance with remote e-learning

If you are an Undergraduate, Graduate and Professional Studies Students you have the following resources available to you:

  • Email the Task Force
  • Email AskIT or call the 24/7 hotline (978) 837-3500
  • Email your Instructor or Program Director
  • Email the Academic Success Center
  • Email the Dean of Students

For those students who have questions about their part-time work on campus, or are concerned about their finances because they, or their parents or guardians, are no longer working due to the COVID-19 virus, please contact the Task Force and the appropriate college administrator will contact you with options for assistance.

For those students that need to gather any belongings due to these circumstances, they must email deanofstudents@merrimack.edu to receive permission to retrieve any items which are essential to your learning or health. If you need to come back to campus you will need to schedule a time to come back and will be escorted to your room. Students will not be granted access to the residential areas without prior approval.

Merrimack College is making special efforts to increase cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surface areas in all academic buildings as well as social common areas. This includes electrostatic spraying, which is a process that involves applying an electric charge to a disinfectant liquid in order to cover surfaces to kill viruses and bacteria. Finally, the college has also deployed extra hand sanitizing stations across campus for the use of all community members. 

 For further updates related to the novel coronavirus and college operations, the Merrimack College community can visit www.merrimack.edu/coronavirus