March 16 Message from President Holton: Mason Moves to Virtual Learning for Entire Semester
This is an extraordinary time for everyone, so I would like to begin this message by expressing my sincere gratitude and admiration to the entire Mason community. I am continually amazed and inspired by the creativity and resilience of our people. When I first heard the phrase Innovation is Our Tradition, I had some understanding of what that means here. I’m beginning to understand deeply just how significant it is. It is a sense of purpose that we bring to every challenge or opportunity, one that I think makes us even better with every new day.
Today the university’s leadership has made some decisions regarding the rest of the semester that will allow us to be successful in our mission during this continued period of uncertainty. These decisions were made based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ongoing increasing cases in our region, along with input from the faculty, our deans and our Board of Visitors. Please remember you can find all our central communications on the university’s coronavirus website.
Online instruction extended
We are extending online instruction for the remainder of the semester. We feel this is the right decision to safeguard the health and safety of our campus community. We recognize that this is not ideal, and we look forward to getting back to our normal routines, including face-to-face-instruction and the robust faculty-student interaction it allows, as soon as we can. We will be in contact with our residential students soon about the implications of this change for them.
Academic calendar and registration
The additional week of spring break will require us to extend the spring semester for a week. The last day of class will be Monday, May 11 and final exams will be held May 13-20. Registration for summer classes will be delayed by one week and time tickets will be adjusted accordingly. This extension does not apply to the law school or classes that are on an eight-week calendar, or online special cohort classes, or other specialty courses whose schedules were not delayed by the extension of spring break.
We expect the summer term to begin on June 1, and summer session adjustments will be made. We expect normal operations to resume in time for fall.
Commencement will be rescheduled
Based on the changes to the academic calendar this semester, we have decided to postpone commencement by at least one week. Therefore, commencement will not be held as scheduled on May 15. Degree celebrations that were scheduled for May 13-16 will also be rescheduled.
We are tentatively looking at rescheduling commencement for May 22, if future developments make large gatherings feasible then. We will provide additional details as soon as possible.
Recruiting goes virtual, acceptance deadline extended
The Office of Admissions has cancelled all on-campus recruitment events until further notice. Admissions is encouraging students to visit the virtual tour, and the team is actively working on video content and virtual options to continue to connect with students and families. Additionally, in order to give students more time to make their decisions about next fall, the Admissions Office has extended the National Candidates Reply date for Freshmen from May 1 to June 1. The Mason Nation is an incredible place, and we look forward to sharing it with an amazing group of new Patriots this fall.
Telework implementation and security
Faculty are working to transition their classes to alternative virtual instruction. ITS has helpful instructions on its Working Remotely page. We appreciate your flexibility and creativity that allow us to continue instruction and provide necessary services to our campus community.
We continue to strongly encourage teleworking options for employees where feasible. Human Resources will soon provide additional information on teleworking to help guide supervisors and employees. Please work with your managers and refer to existing policies and procedures.
We are sensitive to maintaining the safety and security of those who are working on campus. The Card Access Security Office has shared details about opportunities to restrict access to your departments to cardholders.
Health and wellness
If you are not well or at high risk of experiencing serious medical complications as a result of COVID-19 exposure, please do not come to campus. We would like to remind travelers returning from countries designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as level 3 (China, Iran, South Korea, most of Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland) that you are to remain off campus for 14 days, practice social distancing and inform the Benefits team within Human Resources of your travel history. If you have a health concern, please reach out to your health care professional.
Take time to take care of yourself. University Life Vice President Rose Pascarell shared available resources for our community; please take advantage of these and other university resources, and continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and get sufficient rest.
I am so proud to be a part of this community. I appreciate the spirit of teamwork and support that runs through this university, and I look forward to seeing us continue that spirit in the weeks ahead.