Unity College President Melik Peter Khoury, shown at the college’s Sky Lodge in Moose River in March 2018, said Friday the school will offer only remote learning courses in the 2020-2021 school year. Morning Sentinel file photo

After nearly four months of consideration, officials at Unity College announced Friday that the school will continue with remote learning through 2020-2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than returning students to the campus, located at 90 Quaker Hill Road in Unity, classes will be taught online through the school’s distance education program and through its new hybrid learning program.

College President Melik Peter Khoury said the decision was made because it’s easier to welcome students back to campus than to send everyone home if a second wave of coronavirus were to interrupt the school year, as it did in this spring.

“There’s a lot of unknowns with this,” Khoury said during a phone call Friday. “And instead of taking the risk on our staff and students lives, it’s easier to ask people to come back than to send people away, again.” 

The Unity College Hybrid Learning program, launched last month, was originally designed for students to have the option to complete their degree through a mix of online, remote, onsite and on-campus courses.

The program will now be taught completely remote, but will keep its flexible entry date and still allow students to apply year round for eight five-week terms.


The 2020-2021 dates for the program’s five-week terms are Aug. 24 to Sept. 27; Oct. 5 to Nov. 8; Nov. 16 to Dec. 20; Jan. 11, 2021, to Feb. 14; Feb. 22 to March 28; April 5 to May 9; May 10 to May 30; and June 7 to July 11.

All remote classes will be offered at the hybrid program’s price rate of  $470 per credit hour.

Unity’s distance education program, launched in 2016, enrolls more than 700 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The new term for the fall begins Aug. 17.

A statement released by the college Friday stated that housing plans would “remain subject to the restrictions of local public health authorities,” and that the college would follow safety protocols as the restrictions develop.

The college will return its employees to the workplace in phases and under the guidance of recommendations from the state and the Centers for Disease Control.

Unity’s decision to continue with distance learning comes five days after Bowdoin College announced that nearly all of its classes would be taught online for the fall semester and only about one-third of the student population would be expected to return to campus.

The liberal arts college in Brunswick has also canceled all varsity athletics for the fall semester.

Thomas College in Waterville announced recently that students would gradually return to its campus for the fall but under strict health and safety guidelines implemented by the administration.

“When conditions allow, we will return to in-person instruction,” Khoury said in a prepared statement. “And until that time, we are offering plans for all of our students, in all majors, to follow their academic passions and earn their Unity College degree.”

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