Maryville College announced Wednesday it is “cautiously optimistic” students will be able to return to campus and in-person instruction in the fall.

With fall semester classes scheduled to begin Aug. 26, the college hopes to announce a broad plan by early- to mid-June, with specific details announced over the summer.

The campus has been closed since March 19 because of the coronavirus pandemic, with classes moving to online and other distance-learning formats. Final exams ended Wednesday, May 6.

Facilities including the Clayton Center for the Arts will remain closed to the public through at least May 31.

“For a while, we will have to live with a level of uncertainty that feels uncomfortable, but I’m confident that we will make the right decisions for our campus community,” President Tom Bogart said in a memo Monday, May 4, to students, faculty and staff. “At Maryville, we say that we prepare students for the everyday and the unexpected, and I have seen even more proof of this—and of our faculty and staff members’ adaptability—since March.”

“I know you are hopeful that in-person classes will resume, that residence halls and dining rooms will reopen, and that the Maryville College community will be together again, physically,” Bogart’s memo said. “College leadership is hopeful as well. After weeks of monitoring local infection rates and the guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, we are cautiously optimistic that Maryville College will be able to open in the fall, though exactly what the semester will look like is uncertain at this time.”

A Contingency Planning Task Force will meet throughout May and make recommendations for the fall, along with relaprocedures and policies. Its membership will include faculty and staff from the President’s Cabinet, the Crisis Management Team, academic divisions, athletics and other areas of campus.

Bogart’s memo said, “We are nearing the end of a very strange and stressful Spring. The empty Maryville College campus saddens me, but I take pride in the strong community built remotely as we finish this semester. I hope that the remaining days of final exams go well for you and that the warm, sunny weather brings rest and renewed optimism in the future and less anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Bogart’s term as president will end June 30, and he will be succeeded by Bryan Coker, currently vice president and dean of students at Goucher College in Maryland.

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