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USM president explains decision to move classes online after break

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings on the switch to online classes, refunding program, and spring sports

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Maine system announced a switch to classes online after students return back from spring break, to prevent coronavirus from making its way to Maine. 

“This is very hard," said the University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings. "Our students love to be here and they love to learn and we are very proud of that. This is, unfortunately, a situation where their health is so much at risk that it takes precedent over the premier opportunity to learn face-to-face.”

About 8,500 students are on USM's campus every week. Cumming says their priority is to transition faculty and students to web-based learning before moving on to commencement concerns. Dorms will be open for students with extenuating circumstances.

“I think this is very unique for college campuses and universities where lots of students will be out in those hot spots during their vacation and we wanted to make sure that we essentially created a quarantine or a step-down period.”

Baseball and softball travel to Florida and South Carolina has been canceled and the UMaine system is working on a refund program, according to Cummings. There is no definitive decision made so far regarding spring sports across-the-board.

"This is an issue of safety. We are trying to protect other students. We are making sure the people in the state of Maine know that we are trying To protect their children and trying to protect our students and that’s the most important thing we can be doing and should be doing.”

Classes are dismissed on March 14 for spring break and will continue remotely on March 23.

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