President's Letter on Campus Status and Academic Plan

(27 April 2020)

Dear Cadets, Faculty, and Staff,

I write today to provide you with an update on the Academy’s evolving response as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. In consideration of Governor Baker’s extension of K-12 school closings for the remainder of the academic year and the continued trending of COVID-19, I write to inform you that Massachusetts Maritime Academy will remain in its current “period of restricted access to campus” mode until at least 1 June 2020.

As such, we will continue to limit access to the campus for the general public and for employees, except those who are necessary to support critical areas of operation including support of online learning. Employees needed to support this effort will be so instructed by their Division Vice President. It is important to note that the faculty and staff, working remotely and on campus, continue to work tirelessly to deliver our world-class academic program to our well-deserving cadets. I thank them all for their incredible effort.

Regarding the academic program, the Academy’s plan is as follows:

Graduation is being rescheduled from 20 June until 27 June. Based on today’s health data, graduation would be held as a virtual event. By moving the date, we are hoping that COVID-19
cases will be on the decline for a sustained period of time and, if so, we will look to hold graduation in person (even this option would likely be limited to the graduating cadets only). Please note that we will only pursue this option if our medical staff and public health officials deem it safe to do so.

The Change of Command is being rescheduled to 11 June. As with graduation, this may be a virtual event but the change of date gives us the best opportunity to hold the event in person. More on this to follow at a later date.

License Seniors:
We have petitioned the USCG/NMC to postpone the USCG exam until the week of 22 June. NMC and MMA agree that the preferred approach is to test in person but as a backup, NMC has begun to make plans to allow for remote testing. The delayed timeframe gives us the opportunity to see if a decline in COVID cases may ultimately allow in person testing, and concurrently, will give us time to work with NMC to develop remote testing capability.

In order to complete STCW assessments and in-person lab work, we plan to bring the senior license cadets back on campus for small group work beginning on 1 June. This option will be voluntary. Please note that this plan is VERY dependent on the status of the pandemic and our ability to do this work safely.

Non-license seniors:
Seniors in non-license majors will complete their course of study in the current online/distance learning mode. We realize that there may be a few exceptions to this that might require in-person small group work. If that is the case and the aforementioned conditions for a safe environment are met, these students may be brought back on a voluntary basis as of 1 June as well.

Underclass students:
All underclass students will complete the semester in the current online/distance learning format. We expect that not all coursework will be able to be completed in this fashion. As such, the
Academy will make every effort to offer summer programming and we will utilize the fall term to provide options for the effected students to get caught up.

Refunds for room, board and parking will be issued in early May based on the aforementioned plan.
It is important to note that this entire plan is contingent on the progression of the pandemic and
will be modified accordingly.

Moving forward, I am asking our cadets to continue to be vigilant in regard to their studies. Pay attention to the online delivery of your coursework, be an active participant and stay on top of all assignments.

We will continue to focus on our four priorities of keeping our entire community safe, limiting the possible spread of the virus, doing everything in our power to ensure that our senior cadets can complete their studies, and minimizing the academic impact on our underclass students.

As each day passes, I am even more appreciative of the incredible support and willingness of the entire academy community to find creative ways to accomplish our goals. Please be safe and continue to follow CDC guidelines and, please, whenever possible, just stay home.

I will update the community again not later than the week of 25 May.

My kindest regards,

Admiral McDonald's Signature

RADM Francis X. McDonald