While the Catholic colleges of Baltimore are keeping their campuses largely closed for the fall semester, Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg will remain open and has already begun welcoming its largest and most diverse class of freshman students ever.
Many of the approximately 650 first-year students and 40 transfer students arrived on campus Aug. 12 and Aug. 13.
This year’s freshman class represents an increase of more than 100 students from last year’s class. According to an Aug. 13 news release, 42 percent of the newcomers identify as students of color and 30 percent speak more than one language, including Spanish, Hindi, Twi, Sinhalese, Dutch and Urdu. The students hail from 440 high schools in 28 states and 10 countries, according to the release.
Loyola University Maryland and Notre Dame of Maryland University, both in North Baltimore, announced last week that because of the coronavirus pandemic they will hold only remote learning for undergraduate classes and most graduate classes.
Unlike Loyola and Notre Dame, Mount St. Mary’s has a less-densely populated campus that school leaders believe will allow for a safe reopening.
“Our rural location on 1,400 acres in Frederick County, which has a low positivity rate, supports our risk-reduction measures,” said Dr. Timothy Trainor, Mount St. Mary’s president. “Through the Mount Safe Initiative, more than 100 faculty, administrators and staff have devoted thousands of hours to devising and implementing an excellent plan to reopen campus.”
Trainor said the health and safety of the community and student success is at the forefront of the Mount plan.
The university will practice social distancing measures, including hybrid classes in which a portion attend class in person and the rest join remotely. The plan reduces class sizes in half.
Self-quarantine will be employed when needed, informed by daily health surveys for students and employees as well as testing and contact tracing, the university said. Face masks will also be used.
The Mount, which consulted with the Frederick County Health Department in developing the reopening plan, noted that every arriving student and seminarian is being tested for COVID-19 and random tests will be conducted through the semester.
Not all students will be studying on campus, with the university reporting that approximately 12 percent of all undergraduate students have chosen to participate fully remotely from their homes for the fall semester.
Sophomore, junior and senior students will move in Aug.15-16.
Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org
Copyright © 2020 Catholic Review Media