CMC says no refunds for students as semester on track to conclude with online coursework
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Continuation of the spring semester at Colorado Mountain College campuses via online courses will be treated the same as if classes had resumed in person, according to college officials.
That means, with just four weeks remaining in the semester, refunds will not be provided for credit classes at this point, CMC Chief Operating Officer Matt Gianneschi clarified in a recent online Q&A session that was posted to CMC’s Facebook page.
Special provisions are being made for any courses that had an experiential component to them, Gianneschi said.
“Those courses cannot be moved easily to an online format,” he said. “We are postponing those courses and will find a way to deliver the remaining instruction … or offering other alternatives.”
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Questions about refunds had come up after CMC decided to resume coursework online March 23 after in-person classes were canceled due to public health restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our approach to refunds this spring is in alignment with virtually all of higher education,” CMC said in a followup statement. “We are continuing to offer classes in accordance with the social distancing and ‘stay-at-home’ requirements we are all having to follow.”
Faculty and campus staff have been working to stay connected with students remotely, so that they can finish the semester using online instruction methods.
“The faculty expenses necessary to complete the semester online are the same as they are for classes held face-to-face,” according to the statement.
Students may, however, still elect to switch to a pass/fail grading option. Or, they can withdraw by April 15 to avoid a final grade, but without a refund, or take an incomplete grade option, in which case they could complete the class next fall.
CMC did allow students who live in residence halls to remain on campus, and access is being maintained to on-campus computer labs for students who don’t have online access available to them elsewhere.
“Campuses are open to students and employees to enable learning and provide access to technology and connectivity,” CMC Spring Valley and Glenwood Springs Campus Dean Heather Exby explained in a note to campus employees. “We also are committed to supporting physical distancing in order to slow the community spread of the virus. That means balancing the need for access with the need for containment.”
CMC officials have also been busy trying to get Chromebooks and other loaner laptop computers in the hands of students who indicated they needed them.
The CMC Foundation has pledged $42,000 for a rush order to purchase 60 new laptops for student use across the campuses, and is currently seeking donations to support that pledge (contribute at cmcfoundation.org/give, or contact the CMC Foundation at 970-947-8378).
Meanwhile, residential students who chose to vacate are being reimbursed for unused housing and dining fees — at a cost to the college of about $900,000, according to the statement.
Decisions will also need to be made soon with regards to summer courses and the fall semester, Gianneschi said.
Registration for both the summer and fall terms has been postponed until at least April 15 when CMC will have a better idea of what can be offered, and how.
Internally, the college will need to make a decision by April 8 whether to proceed with the summer term at all, he said. As for how to carry out the fall semester, that decision can wait until July 15, he said.
“If restrictions are still in place at that time, we may very well continue with online,” he said.
In addition to canceling in-person classes, CMC also previously decided to join other Colorado institutions and cancel spring commencement ceremonies.
The CMC Board of Trustees has also scheduled a special electronic meeting for 2 p.m. Monday to discuss, among other things, summer 2020 discounts and benefits, and fall semester options.
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