SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Joining all public and private institutions of education in Sint Maarten, the University of St. Martin (USM) is transitioning to online learning in order to secure the continuity of its academic programmes during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday, USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez announced that classes will resume online starting Monday, 23 March.
“We are very happy to inform all USM students and the general public of our plans to resume regular academic programming online starting on Monday. USM management, faculty and staff have worked very hard throughout the week of March 16 to ensure that all students are able to continue taking classes online and comply with course requirements. It is through their commitment and collective efforts that we will be able to pull through this crisis,” Dr. Carmona stated.
In anticipation of schools closing, USM management delivered surveys on Monday, 16 March to gather information on the capacity of students and faculty members to transition to online programming. With the announcement from the Prime Minister that schools will be closed as of Wednesday, 18 March, USM administration fast tracked their plans. Since then, USM has been successful in the training of instructors for the use of online platforms like Canvas for quizzes, assignments, exams and the delivery of course work, and Zoom for streaming lectures. Trainings were conducted by computer instructors, Mr. Marcus Nicolaas and Mr. Dean Ducreay.
Management, faculty, and staff have been in continuous contact with students to ensure that they are kept informed and are aware of the tools the university will be using. As things are moving quickly, students have been asked to keep connected via email and USM’s Facebook page for important updates. Those who may be experiencing difficulties with resources are asked to speak to their division heads and instructors for information on the support made available to them. The university counselor has also provided students with information on how she can be reached as they deal with potential stresses arising from the pandemic and their accommodation to the new circumstances.
“This is a new adventure for many of us. We were faced with a roadblock and rose to the occasion to guarantee that our students can continue with their courses with the least interruption possible. I am extremely pleased by the timely cooperation of all faculty members, resulting in most students only missing one class per course. To ensure quality and test feasibility ahead of Monday, some instructors held online sessions with their students, and this proved to be successful. We are, therefore, ready to begin”, said Dean of Academics Dr. Rolinda Carter.
Although USM campus is closed momentarily to students and the general public, faculty and core staff are working day and night to make sure that everyone has the resources they need as the university transitions to online programming.