Mason Makes Changes Amidst COVID-19

FourthEstate/Alexandria McAlpine

University shifts to online courses for the remainder of the semester, closes dorms


Interim President Anne Holton announced in a university-wide email on Monday, March 16, that Mason would move to online learning for the remainder of the spring semester, sparking a number of changes for the Mason community. 

“Please know that it is reasonable to expect some bumps along the way, particularly this first week,” Holton wrote in her latest email from Friday, March 20. “Patience and persistence will be key, as will collaboration and kindness. We will get through this together.  Some students and faculty are new to the online environment, and we will all be learning as we go.”

Newly online courses officially resume on Monday, March 23. The university extended spring break through the week of March 16 to provide faculty the time to switch their courses to an online format. 

According to the email sent by Housing and Residence Life (HRL) on Wednesday, March 18, on-campus students have access to their dorms until March 25. Any student who wishes to stay past this date is required to show special circumstances, such as international students or those who have jobs which demand an on-site presence. 

HRL stated in this email that approvals will be granted within 24-48 hours. This application is different from the form which allowed students to stay over the extended spring break period. 

The formal move-out period for students will begin on April 13. HRL will provide more specific information on the process closer to this date. 

For those who do stay on campus, dining hall and HRL desk services will be limited in terms of hours. Announcements regarding other services will be forthcoming. 

The latest email from Holton on Friday, March 20, stated that commencement will be postponed indefinitely, and that summer study abroad sessions are canceled. Holton also addressed questions which have arisen as a result of various changes. 

“Many of you have asked about refunds,” she wrote. “The university is committed to refunding money to students for housing, dining and parking. We are working out the details and will get more information to you soon.”

Registration for summer and fall 2020 courses have been pushed back a week because of the extended spring break. For undergraduate courses, summer registration will occur April 6-9, and fall registration will occur April 16-24.

Parking services employee Emily Lozanl reiterated that the university is currently discussing options regarding what refunds may be in store for students. Lozanl said that students should anticipate emails from the university for further explanation. 

The university has a specific COVID-19 website with information on the measures taken during this whole process.