MAINE, USA — The University of Maine system will reimburse room and board charges paid through family contributions on an "appropriate and prorated basis," according to Executive Director of Public Relations Dan Demeritt.
This announcement comes after the UMaine system announced Wednesday that classes will be taught remotely after spring break, which is next week, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Demeritt said the UMaine system will post guidance on requesting room and board refunds on its public health advisory website by noon on Wednesday, March 18.
"It is our intention to adjust and reimburse money to those individuals who are entitled to it," Chancellor for the University of Maine System, Dannel Malloy, told NEWS CENTER Maine.
The schools in the University of Maine system are:
- University of Maine in Orono
- University of Maine at Augusta
- University of Maine at Farmington
- University of Maine at Fort Kent
- University of Maine at Machias
- University of Maine at Presque Isle
- University of Southern Maine
The universities will be notifying on-campus residential students to make plans to leave campus by Sunday, March 22, with personal and educational belongings necessary to complete their semester requirements remotely.
The universities said they will provide housing and dining options to students who must remain in or return to their on-campus residence due to personal circumstances.
The UMaine system had previously said they were taking the opposite approach and were asking students to stay on campus over spring break if possible, to avoid people traveling to possibly infected areas and back to their university.
"Everything is unfolding very quickly here, and we're working in real time to make the most safe and sensible decisions that we can for our campuses," Joan Ferrini-Mundy, President of the University of Maine at Orono, explained to NEWS CENTER Maine about the changed decision.
"This is one of those very rapidly changing, dynamic situations," Robert Dana, Vice President for Student Life at the University of Maine at Orono, added. "We feel good about the decision-making, albeit it's very upsetting."
The prospect of university students traveling domestically and internationally over spring break in the face of the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration for COVID-19, which was made Wednesday, prompted Chancellor Malloy to direct the transition to remote instruction and take steps to limit occupancy in the university’s residence halls.
It's a decision that students on campus agree with, even though it's a difficult reality.
"I think it's right on time," said Miriam May, a senior at the University of Maine at Orono. "Going on spring break, I think it's really important to be able to be extra precautious."