PASSHE schools respond to coronavirus outbreak

Published by The Rocket, Date: March 10, 2020

This is a comprehensive list of all universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and their plans in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This story will be updated with more information as more schools announce contingency plans. 

Two PASSHE schools (Shippensburg and West Chester) have reported confirmed cases (four) of COVID-19 as of March 26.

As of March 18, all PASSHE schools have transitioned to online learning for the rest of the spring semester. 

PASSHE System-Wide Updates – UPDATED MARCH 16, 4:00 p.m. 

PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein announced to the State System Family on March 13 that, in wake of PA Governor Tom Wolf closing all K-12 schools for two weeks, he was directing all PASSHE institutes to abandon in-person instruction during the same period.

From March 16-29, all 14 state system schools will instruct classes in either an online or alternative method or suspend classes altogether.

Greenstein said he made the decision in the interest of the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.

Kutztown University and Indiana University (Pa.) suspended face-to-face instruction within roughly an hour of the direction of Greenstein’s statement.

On Monday, March 16, PASSHE announced that undergraduate and graduate students in experiential learning sites, such as professional placements, practica, internships and clinical rotations, should not report to on-site placements “until face-to-face classes resume.”

The restriction on these learning sites will last until April 6 at the earliest. However, it’s not yet clear at this time how universities that have already switched to distance education for the remainder of the semester will approach the continuation of experiential learning.

Dave Pidgeon, PASSHE director of public relations, said that this issue will be looked at closely and that communication with each university president is key in these decisions going forward.

The Office of the Chancellor is now working using remote methods and the Board of Governors meeting scheduled originally for April 1-2 has been postponed.

Bloomsburg University (Columbia County) – UPDATED MARCH 16, 5:15 p.m. 

Bloomsburg University announced Monday, through an online statement from BU President Bashar W. Hanna, that all classes will be delivered through an online medium through the end of the semester, starting March 23.

Bloomsburg students will be allowed to retrieve belongings from residence halls and academic buildings the week of March 16-21, but students will have the opportunity to move out at a later date if needed.

Bloomsburg strongly discourages BU students from remaining in off-campus housing citing a need to take the situation around COVID-19 seriously and listen to public health officials.

Questions regarding refunds and financial matters will be addressed as soon as university officials come to a decision, and the university assured students that leadership is working on a solution.

In accordance with PASSHE directives, all BU experiential learning sites, including internships, have been cancelled.

All university-sponsored travel is cancelled for faculty, staff and students related to professional development and non-essential business.

All events through the end of April have been cancelled.

Per PA Governor Tom Wolf’s directive, all non-essential BU employees need not report to work Tuesday, March 17, until further notice.

California University (Washington County) – UPDATE MARCH 18, 12 p.m.

California University has extended its spring break for on-campus students until March 27.

California University President Geraldine Jones announced that remote operations will begin Wednesday, March 18.

Online classes continued as scheduled on March 16 and beginning March 30, all on-campus classes will resume through online and distance learning.

Students who live in residence halls are asked to check out by March 22 at noon.

Student workers and graduate assistants will be paid but are not to report to work.

Cheyney University (Delaware Valley) – UPDATE MARCH 18, 12 p.m. 

Cheyney University announced its spring break will be extended an extra week and classes are expected to resume March 23.

On Tuesday, March 17, students were notified that classes will continue online.

Clarion University (Somerset County) – UPDATE MARCH 16, 2:15 p.m.

As of Monday, all face-to-face instruction at Clarion University is suspended for the rest of the spring semester. All instruction beginning March 23 will be via remote methods.

All Clarion students are asked to move out of their residence hall by Sunday, March 22 at 5 p.m.. This includes apartments at Clarion’s Venango Campus.

More information will be updated on the university’s FAQ page.

Clarion University was the 12th PASSHE school to make changes to their schedule. Moving forward Clarion has suspended all face-to-face instruction effective Monday, March 16. Classes will continue online, as any face-to-face instruction is prohibited.

East Stroudsburg University (Monroe County) – UPDATE MARCH 18, 12 p.m.

East Stroudsburg University announced through an official email to its students Wednesday that its spring break would be extended from the week of March 15 until March 23 as a “precautionary measure in the light of the ever-changing updates regarding COVID-19.”

On March 16, the university announced that all undergraduate, graduate and doctorate instruction will be online for the remainder of the semester.

East Stroudsburg’s campus will not be closed during the extended week of spring break. ESU will provide training to allow faculty to convert face-to-face courses to remote courses.

In a message sent to the ESU campus community Wednesday morning, ESU President Marcia Welsh said that she instructed her leadership team to inform their staffs to prepare to work remotely.

“Yesterday, I instructed my leadership team to work with their staff to prepare as many personnel as possible to work remotely from home, in the best interest of our Warrior family and their families,” Welsh said. “Today, few staff and faculty are in their offices on the physical ESU campus. But the greater number of faculty and staff are connecting electronically to make sure that all operations at ESU are running smoothly and functioning to the best of our ability given the circumstances.”

Students living in the residence halls are asked to move out by April 6 unless they are an international student or have another reason to stay. They are to contact Gene Kelly, dean of students.

All study abroad trips, spring break trips and other travel for university business and conferences have been suspended effective March 6.

Edinboro University (Erie County) – UPDATE MARCH 16, 2:25 p.m.

Edinboro University administration announced Monday morning that face-to-face instruction will be suspended for the rest of the spring semester.

Edinboro University’s spring break has been extended through the week of March 16 and classes will be online starting March 23, according to Edinboro President Guiyou Huang. Face-to-face instruction was previously anticipated to resume on April 6.

Edinboro University was the third PASSHE school to announce a change in its operating schedule.

Edinboro University had already cancelled all university-affiliated travel in response to the outbreak.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana County) UPDATE MARCH 16, 9:30 a.m.

Indiana University (Pa.) announced that all face-to-face courses for the rest of the spring semester will be suspended in a statement released Monday morning.

According to IUP President Michael A. Driscoll, faculty will use the week of March 16 to prepare their courses for online delivery. Classes originally taught in a classroom will resume online on March 23.

Classes that were originally taught online will begin today, March 16, as scheduled.

Driscoll also said that faculty will be working to transition off-campus study to alternative learning experiences.

“Students in clock-hour programs (Culinary, Police Academy, EMT and Paramedic training) will receive specific instructions from their program directors,” Driscoll said. “At this time, we are not considering extending the semester. Faculty and academic leadership will receive additional information from Provost Moerland later today.”

IUP residential students are asked to remove their belongings and move out of their dorms by Saturday, March 21. Tom Segar, IUP vice president for student affairs, will send more information about the move-out process later today.

“Dr. Segar also will provide information about options for students who need to remain in university housing due to emergency situations and the support systems we will continue to offer to students,” Driscoll said.

Kutztown University (Berks County) – UPDATE MARCH 16, 4:45 p.m. 

Kutztown University President Kenneth Hawkinson announced Monday, March 16 that the university will move to online classes for the rest of the semester. Classes will resume online on March 23.

Residential students will be contacted by Housing and Dining Services concerning moving out of the residence halls. Information about refunds will be shared later this week.

“We will be asking all students living in residence halls to remove their belongings and check out of the residence halls,” Hawkinson said. “Options will be available for students who need to remain in university housing due to emergency situations.”

All non-essential employees are to work remotely starting Tuesday, March 17. At this time, administrative offices will remain open via phone and email.

All on-campus events are canceled for the rest of the semester. Hawkinson said that information about spring commencement “will be forthcoming, but probably not for a few weeks.”

Lock Haven University (Centre County) – UPDATE MARCH 18, 12 p.m.

Lock Haven University has suspended all face-to-face instruction following its spring break, according to a statement put out by the university.

On Tuesday, March 17, Lock Haven University administration announced that remote learning will extend to the end of the semester.

Courses will resume remotely on Monday, March 23. The week of March 16 will be used to prepare faculty and staff for the usage of remote and online modes of instruction.

The original hope for Lock Haven University was to resume face-to-face classes on April 6.

All online courses, undergraduate and graduate, resume das planned on Monday, March 16.

Lock Haven University officials recommend that any experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 after spring break should not return to campus and any exposed to COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Lock Haven has already cancelled university-sponsored travel to Jamaica, Italy, China, Iran, South Korea and Japan.

Mansfield University (Tioga County) – UPDATE MARCH 12, 2:17 p.m.

Mansfield University was the last PASSHE school to announce a modification to its schedule due to the coronavirus. Mansfield has suspended face-to-face classes beginning Monday, March 16 and will return with remote instruction starting on Monday, March 23.

Mansfield classes will remain online for the rest of the semester.

Residence halls will remain open to students, but consolidation may take place to not isolate any students but still follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing.

“No matter which option is chosen, all students will be completing their coursework online,” Dusty Zeyn, Mansfield University dean of students, said in an online update message on Tuesday. “We are giving students these options because each student’s situation is different, and some students (including international students and those who do not have reliable internet connectivity at home) may need to stay on campus and/or access campus resources.”

Millersville University (Lancaster County) UPDATE MARCH 16, 5:50 p.m.

Millersville University announced Monday that all face-to-face instruction will transition online for the remainder of the semester in an online statement from MU President Daniel Wubah.

Face-to-face classes will be suspended from March 21-27 and will resume via remote instruction on March 30. Classes originally delivered through online platforms will not be affected and will resume as normal on March 21.

In the wake of PA Governor Tom Wolf’s Monday announcement, all non-essential employees will not need to report to campus, starting Tuesday, March 17.

Essential employees whose duties require a physical presence at the university will report to work until further notice, and all essential and non-essential employees who have been identified as being able to work from home will do so from March 17-27.

Shippensburg University (Cumberland County)  UPDATE MARCH 19, 7:35 p.m. 

Shippensburg University announced Monday that all face-to-face instruction has been cancelled for the remainder of the semester in an online statement from SU President Laurie A. Carter.

Previously, Shippensburg had suspended all face-to-face classes and events through April 11 after originally extending its spring break for one week, the university announced Friday through an online statement.

During the originally scheduled extension of its spring break, faculty and staff will work toward the continuous delivery of courses and academic offerings through a virtual setting. Faculty and academic leadership will receive additional information Monday from BU Provost Tom Ormond.

All courses will be delivered online from March 23 through the end of the semester.

SU asked students to fully move out of residence halls by Saturday, March 21 at 5:00 p.m. More information will be delivered to students by Dr. Donna Truss, the VP for student enrollment management, student success and student affairs on Monday.

Truss will also provide students who need to continue to utilize on-campus housing with more information.

Shippensburg University’s FAQ page addresses residence life, graduate student and employee concerns.

Non-essential, university-sponsored travel is cancelled until further notice.

The university asked for patience as it works out dining and housing refunds and asked those with questions to check out a regularly updated FAQ’s page.

Two Shippensburg University students tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to the United States from Europe, SU President Laurie A. Carter announced Thursday in an online statement.

Shippensburg confirmed that both students had travelled to Europe over spring break and tested positive after being stopped at the airport once back in the US. Both students are currently hospitalized, but Carter said the pair were in good spirits.

Since the Shippensburg students are being held in quarantine at a hospital out of state, the SU community was not put at risk.

Carter asked those who are aware of the identity of the students to protect their anonymity to allow them to focus on returning to full health.

Future cases of COVID-19 at Shippensburg will be reported on the university’s COVID-19 website.

Slippery Rock University (Butler County) – UPDATE MARCH 16, 1:00 p.m. 

Slippery Rock University has announced that all face-to-face classes for the remainder of the semester will be delivered online, effective March 30, through an email from SRU President William Behre.

Previously, Slippery Rock University announced Wednesday that its spring break will be extended from the week of March 8-15 until March 29, according to an email from the Office of the President to SRU stakeholders.

Through instruction from PASSHE chancellor Daniel Greenstein, all state system students engaged in clinicals, practicums, internships and student teaching should not report to on-site placements until face-to-face classes resume. More information for individual students should be released to those students.

Certain on-campus students, including international students, who have already chosen to stay and have registered with the Office of Residental Life, are allowed to stay. Priority will be given to students without a permanent residence within reasonable distance to the university. Dining services will be available to those students.

Residental students should receive an email from the Office of Residental Life soon to schedule an orderly clean out personal belongings.

The extension of spring break will not be added onto the end of the semester as the semester will be condensed with 12-week courses ending on April 20 and 16-week courses ending on May 4. Final exam week will remain May 5-9.

Off-campus students should use their best judgment in returning to campus as ancillary facilities such as the Aebersold Recreation Center and Bailey Library will be closed.

All on-campus events are cancelled through the end of the semester. All university-related travel is suspended.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference has suspended all athletic competition, and SRU subsequently cancelled all athletics through the end of the semester.

SRU will release more information on pro rata room and board fees soon. Information regarding commencement will be released in a few weeks.

West Chester University (Delaware Valley) – UPDATE MARCH 26, 7:10 p.m.

West Chester University was the first PASSHE school to announce a change to its operating schedule.

WCU President Christopher Fiorentino announced that face-to-face instruction will resume by alternate means on March 30. In the next two weeks, faculty will prepare their courses for remote delivery.

All online courses will continue as scheduled, and internships for credit, clinicals and student teaching assignments will continue as long as the host institution remains open.

The residence halls and South Campus apartments will not be open, and the Office of Residence Life will contact students for scheduled times to return to campus for their belongings.

All large events and public gatherings have been cancelled.

Florentino also announced two confirmed cases in which a student and faculty member tested positive for coronavirus. An off-campus student tested positive after traveling outside the United States and is currently self isolating at home. They did not come back to campus as of the initial report on March 23.

A WCU faculty member tested positive and didn’t report any recent travel outside the country or region, Florentino said in a statement on March 25. They most recently visited Schmucker Science Center South on March 11 and came in contact with two individuals. The faculty member is currently isolating at home, and the two individuals were notified of the potential exposure to coronavirus.


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