Following multiple semesters of modified instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marymount University is pleased to announce its plans to reinstate a fully in-person academic delivery model starting in August for the upcoming fall semester, along with a return to a more “normal” college experience for students in regards to resident life, athletics, campus activities and more.
This announcement takes place during a time of extended success mitigating the spread of the virus among Marymount community members. There have been zero active cases on campus dating back to February 17, and the total University positivity rate over the course of the spring semester is currently less than one percent.
For both the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, Marymount has operated through a hybrid model that has allowed students to learn and live on campus, with remote course delivery options also utilized to achieve a safe and optimal learning environment. No positive COVID-19 cases at Marymount have been traced back to classroom settings, and there have been no disruptions to University operations from any COVID-related impacts. Recently, student athletes resumed competition with other colleges and universities as well.
With continued adherence to health and safety protocols and expected progress in the vaccination of faculty, staff and students during the next few months, University officials are confident for what lies ahead.
“It’s been about exactly one year since Marymount responded with urgency to the escalating crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic was creating around the world last March,” reflected President Irma Becerra in her letter to the Marymount University community on Wednesday morning. “Since those times, we have done everything possible to keep our students and employees safe while still offering our Saints an interactive and high-quality educational experience. Reaching this point where we can make a full return to in-person learning and living is thanks to our community members as a whole, who have all played a part in our collective success.”
As part of Marymount’s “Saints Reunite” Return to Campus Plan, which was rolled out in preparation for the Fall 2020 semester, strict social distancing and face covering rules were implemented, while physical spaces such as residential living areas and classrooms were restructured to accommodate for physical distancing guidelines. Marymount’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts also emphasized rapid testing and proactive contact tracing in order to stem the spread and isolate any clusters of cases that could appear.
These guidelines, like the hybrid academic model, continued into the Spring 2021 semester. In January, all student residents, student athletes, commuters registered for in-person classes, faculty who teach in-person classes and identified staff members were tested for COVID-19 prior to the start of classes. In addition, Marymount recently joined other DC-area universities in the rollout of an innovative saliva-based COVID-19 testing system, Shield T3, with a mobile laboratory located at Gallaudet University. Marymount is currently processing about 5,000 tests per week through the Shield T3 lab to monitor student athletes and conduct enhanced surveillance testing for asymptomatic community members across the University.
Marymount is also working on a campus plan for vaccination for when it becomes available to colleges and universities. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, essential workers at higher education institutions are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1C.
“The pandemic has demanded so much from our faculty, students and staff as we’ve adapted to the circumstances and offered multiple modes of learning, and everyone has risen to the challenge,” explained Dr. Hesham El-Rewini, Provost at Marymount University. “What we’ve gone through during the past year has been unprecedented in higher education, and it will make us better educators as we take the lessons we’ve learned throughout this process to improve how we fulfill our mission at Marymount in the future.”
“After last spring and the beginning of the pandemic, it was so rewarding for us to have our students come back to campus this past fall and see our campus regain its vibrancy and activity,” added Dr. William Bisset, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Marymount University. “We’re looking forward to providing even more of our Saints the traditional college experience that they have missed for so long during the formative years of their lives.”
Many of the health and safety protocols that have been in place since last year will likely remain in effect for Fall 2021, and will be based on guidance received from health agencies and governments at the county, state and federal levels. Students with unique circumstances may be allowed to opt out of fully in-person instruction and participate in either a hybrid or remote format this fall. More details will be announced at a later date.