March 27: A Message from President Hopey to All Students
Dear Merrimack College Students,
I want to start today’s message with a big “thank you” to all of our faculty and staff, who have worked so hard to get 100% of our classes online with very few hiccups. I am very grateful for their dedication and commitment to our students.
I also want to say to all of our students that I am again so sorry that the Coronavirus has altered your daily lives so quickly and dramatically. I am impressed with your fortitude, passion and resilience during this unprecedented public health crisis. Who could have imagined Merrimack College in late March, eerily empty and quiet on a Friday afternoon.
The activities of the past few weeks on Merrimack’s campus and around the globe have been unprecedented, and there is no doubt that this crisis has changed everything in how we go about our daily lives.
In the last few weeks, the decisions Merrimack has made were to do our part in social distancing and decreasing social density, with our main priority being the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
With the first full week of remote learning coming to an end, I wanted to connect with all students to see how everyone is feeling. The move to remote learning was a big transition, but I am confident that the tools we have put in place for you made your first week of online learning probably better than most had anticipated.
However, there may be improvements we can still make to ensure your remote learning experience is positive. If changes need to be made, we can’t make them unless we are given feedback to do so. I invite you to provide feedback to the College about this transition, how remote learning is going for you, as well as how your experience has been. I encourage you to share your feedback by emailing the Task Force. We are all learning as we go and are relying on your feedback to help Merrimack continue to deliver the quality of education that Merrimack is known for.
In this time of uncertainty and anxiousness, now more than ever it is important to reach out and connect with one another. I hope that you will reach out to classmates, peers, instructors, staff, and others with an encouraging phone call, text or email. These seemingly small acts can make a big difference. In the days ahead, as we settle into the new rhythm and realities of remote learning and virtual interactions, it will be vitally important that we maintain our connectedness.
I also want to address the growing rumors regarding what Merrimack will do next in regard to remote learning and the rest of the semester.
Although I have no answers for you this evening, I am comfortable letting you know that many things have changed since we announced we were going to remote learning for 30 days and then returning on April 14th. That announcement on March 13th seems like a lifetime ago.
Since the March 13th announcement, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts instituted a stay-at-home advisory until April 7th. The Governor also announced he was extending the close of K-12 schools from April 7th to May 4th. We have gone from less than 120+ Coronavirus cases in Massachusetts to more than 3,200+ in two weeks. These announcements, combined with the ever-present growing public threat of Coronavirus, is altering our decision timelines since we follow the advice and directives of the local and state government.
Directives, advisories and mandates are changing almost daily as the public threat grows and our decision not to rush to any judgments is and remains prudent. At the same time, we need to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, which is our #1 priority.
That being said, I will be back in touch next week to talk about the rest of the semester and remote learning and to provide further information on reimbursements/credits for housing and other details about the rest of the semester, including plans for senior week and graduation.
We ask for your patience and prayers as we make these decisions in a methodical, deliberative and cautious way so all of our community members stay safe, are healthy and are being supported.
As President, I am thankful for your patience and support during this time. The decisions we have made were not easy, and I know that many questions still remain. As we go through the next few weeks I will continue to communicate through email and virtual Town Halls to answer all your concerns and questions.
Finally, do not forget that Merrimack College is here for you and you are not alone. I have outlined a list of resources below that can help you should you have a question, need to speak to a counselor, or are looking for additional academic help. The resources are robust and I encourage you to use them.
I am confident that the strength and resilience of the Merrimack College community will continue to shine in the months to come. As I have said many times before, we are in this together.
Resources For Students
The College has created this Student Remote Learning Website to help you every step of the way as we transition to remote learning. We encourage you to visit this site regularly as it includes resources and guides that will be helpful. This website includes information on how to access Blackboard, resources from the Academic Success Center, how to schedule virtual tutoring and advising support, mental health counseling and more. It is updated regularly with new and developing information. We recommend creating a bookmark so you can visit this page with just one click!
As a reminder, your advisor will be reaching out to you about how your remote advising will take place this year. Each school and department does advising in different ways and for the most part, the same process will continue with the exception that it will happen remotely. We have adjusted the dates for the start of registration as follows:
Monday, April 6: Juniors and non-graduating seniors registration for Fall 2020 (original date was March 26)
Thursday, April 16: Sophomore registration for Fall 2020 (original date was April 2)
Tuesday, April 21: Freshman registration for Fall 2020 (original date was April 14)
The Task Force can always be reached if there are any questions you have and are unsure as to who to contact. Send any questions you have and the Task Force will put you in touch with the appropriate contact.
ALL student support services are open for calls, emails and remote meetings. Check out our Support Services page to get in touch with the office you need to.
If you are missing your books or materials let your faculty member know and email the Task Force who will help you retrieve your books from campus or get online access to electronic books.
The Academic Success Center Team is up and running and ready for remote support. Students can access a success coach by sending an email to ASC@merrimack.edu. We will be meeting with students one-one-one with Zoom. You can also share our new Remote Learning for Students web page to help students navigate this new environment.
Accessibility Services Office (ASO). Merrimack will continue to support all students who are signed up with the ASO. The expectation is that all current accommodations will continue - with some changes to adjust for the remote learning environment. If you have questions about a specific student, please email the ASO.
Mental Health & Counseling Services. Counseling from our staff at Hamel Health is available to students for teletherapy appointments. Scheduling for these appointments began on Monday, March 23rd. Students can call Hamel directly at 978-837-5441 to schedule a teletherapy appointment, which will happen confidentially via Zoom.
Finally, you are not alone, thousands of students, faculty and staff are going remote together so if you have a concern, a question or just need to talk with someone just ask by emailing the Task Force or calling the 24/7 Hot Line at 1-978-837-3500.