This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
UPDATE MARCH 16 12:50 P.M.
Just 10 days after SRU students left for spring break, SRU President William Behre announced Monday afternoon in an email to university stakeholders that face-to-face classes will be delivered through distance education models beginning March 30.
Previously, Behre announced that spring break will be extended until March 29. All classes originally taught online will begin today as originally scheduled.
“I know this is not what many of you had hoped for, nor is it what you had planned on when you came to SRU,” Behre said. “But rest assured that your professors are diligently working to bring your content online before virtual classes resume March 30.”
Behre said that staff from the Office of Residence Life will schedule a move-out procedure for students to move out of their dorms. The university asks that no students come to campus without an appointment to avoid large groups coming together.
“If you are one of the handful of students who must currently continue to reside on campus and have registered with the Office of Residence Life, you are welcome to continue to stay,” Behre said. “Staff will be in touch with any logistical issues that may arise.”
Behre added in his email that university staff is working on information regarding room and board fee refunds. He added that information concerning refunds will be coming soon.
All on-campus events, including athletic contests and recognition ceremonies, will be canceled for the rest of the semester. There is no information concerning the status of the spring commencement ceremonies at this time.
Originally published March 11 at 5:24 p.m.
In an email sent to university stakeholders on Wednesday, SRU President William Behre announced that SRU will extend spring break by two weeks in response to the coronavirus outbreak and move instruction online starting March 30.
During the two-week extension, faculty will prepare to potentially teach their courses online. Classes originally taught online will resume as normal on March 16.
Under a revised FAQ document attached to the email sent at 1:12 p.m., on-campus classes will “probably not” resume at the end of spring break.
“The University will be monitoring the public health situation,” the FAQ document states. “At this point, we expect that all classes will resume through distance modalities on March 30. During the extended break period for on-campus students, faculty and staff will be preparing for the contingency that all classes will be online only beginning March 30 and until further notice. This means that there will likely be NO face-to-face instruction via lectures, seminars or any other similar classroom setting until further notice. The University will make a final decision before March 25.”
In his email, Behre added, “If the semester should need to be completed fully through distance learning, additional instruction to students on the particulars of this change will be communicated by March 25.”
The semester schedule will not be extended. Final exam week is still scheduled for May 5-9.
Campus offices will remain open during this extended break, but auxiliary offices (such as Bailey Library and the Aebersold Recreation Center) will be closed.
Students with internships or student teaching assignments should refer to their placement sites.
The announcement comes after the Pennsylvania Department of Health 15 presumptive cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania. So far, all presumptive positive cases have been contained to the eastern side of the state in Montgomery, Delaware, Monroe, Wayne, Bucks and Philadelphia Counties.
“The hard part is that you don’t want to contribute to public hysteria, but at the same time, if you don’t plan now you can find yourself in a situation where you have hundreds of people exposed,” Behre added via a phone call interview on Tuesday.
On-campus residents should not return to campus unless they must collect textbooks, prescription medications and other essential items. The Office of Housing Residence Life will follow up with more information.
Information about prorated university room and board charges will announced at a later date.
According to Behre, there will be a small amount of students permitted on campus. The majority of these students are international students and/or would be homeless without on-campus living. Scaled-down food operations will be available to the students permitted to stay on campus.
“Some on-campus residents, such as international students, have a continued need to live on-campus as it is their permanent place of residence during the academic year,” according to the updated FAQ page. “Students who must live on-campus will be given the opportunity to apply for on-campus housing during this two-week period. Dining services will be offered to these students who must live on-campus. Further communication to on-campus residents about these options will be sent out by the Office of Housing and Residence Life by March 13.”
All events on campus during the two-week extension have been cancelled. The status of events for the rest of the semester will be decided closer to March 30.
Only student workers who work in essential services related to health and safety will continue to work. All other student employment is temporarily suspended.
“When students return to campus, they will resume their student work responsibilities,” the FAQ page reads.
As of Wednesday afternoon, athletics events haven’t been cancelled. There will be no spectators permitted at athletic events.
According to Behre, the lost two weeks will not be added to the end of the semester since the university’s accrediting body allows for missed time due to weather or other emergencies.
University police will remain open during the two-week extension of spring break, and health center and counseling center services will be available, according to Behre. The health center is also available via phone call.
UPDATE (March 11, 2:15 p.m.)
SRU’s chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) shared an email received by Ben Shaevitz and Jason Hilton, SRU’s president and vice president of APSCUF, in a Facebook post.
“Though we have dealt with disruptions to classes before, both in cases of severe weather and during our successful job action in 2016, the proposed duration of this disruption and the comprehensive push toward online pedagogies is unprecedented,” the email reads. “Know that local APSCUF leadership has been involved in the planning process for this action and that both Ben Shaevitz and Jason Hilton are members of an emergency planning taskforce that will be meeting regularly throughout this disruption.”