Gannon to shift to alternative delivery, campuses stay open
Posted: March 13, 2020
I am writing today to detail the latest decisions for the Gannon community in response to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We continue in confidence that our campus environment is currently healthy and safe. In light of the many new realities in communities surrounding our campuses, Gannon University’s Erie and Ruskin campuses will transition to alternative instructional delivery methods yet remain open to offer support.
This is not a decision we came to lightly, given the wide-ranging implications it will have on our students’ living arrangements and learning experience. This is an unusual time for our university and our global community that will require our flexibility, patience and full engagement.
This is a situation that is changing rapidly, as is our assessment. The best decisions are being made based upon the broad spectrum of information available at the moment.
We are staying in close communication with the Erie County and Hillsborough County departments of health, among other key sources. At the moment, no cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, have been reported in Erie County and – contrary to rumors – no Gannon student, faculty or staff member in Erie or Ruskin has or is suspected of having the virus. We continue to believe that, with no cases in Erie or on Gannon’s Erie campus, our campus remains safe.
In recent days we have heard a noteworthy level of concern from parents and students on all sides of this issue, and we have seen partners like the NCAA and our clinical sites take significant steps to alter their – and our – operations in light of COVID-19. In response, we are taking the following steps:
- In Erie, we will suspend face-to-face classes effective Monday, March 16, for the rest of the semester. We will have faculty and instructors available this Monday and Tuesday to provide students the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff to answer any questions about their classes. Classes will resume Monday, March 23, using an alternative delivery method designed by the instructor and approved by their Chair and Dean.
- In Ruskin, we will suspend face-to-face classes effective Monday, March 16, for the rest of the semester. Classes will resume Monday, March 23, using an alternative delivery method designed by the instructor and approved by their Chair and Dean.
While we plan to move all classes to an alternative teaching method, we recognize that some areas of study do not lend themselves well to these forms of learning or they require specialized settings, alternative technologies, labs or equipment. We will be working with faculty and students to provide timely access to these specialized experiences, especially for seniors and graduate students who are working to complete final requirements for their degrees.
Many courses will require the use of personal technology for full engagement in the alternative delivery modes. If you do not have access to a laptop or tablet with a camera and high-speed internet access, please reach out to ITS. For technology needs, you can consult https://gannon.teamdynamix.com/TDClient/2057/Portal/KB/?CategoryID=17319 to see what devices or other resources are available to you. The Gannon ITS help desk can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Residence halls will be closing March 22, although some students will need to remain on campus. Students who remain in residence halls will retain access to amenities including the library, the Recreation and Wellness Center, and some dining facilities.
We expect that students will return to their permanent residences after the closure of Gannon residences. Students may request a room and dining plan credit (as applicable) for time not spent in university-owned residences or using the dining plan. The credit may be used toward a future semester’s charges. Seniors and master’s/doctoral students currently living in university-owned residences who are graduating in May 2020 are eligible for a pro-rated refund (as applicable) for time not spent in University-owned residences or using their full dining plan.
We expect some students will have personal circumstances that will require them to remain in campus residences. Some will feel more secure remaining in place on campus, some have no alternatives, some will not feel that they should return to places currently with greater risk. We will accommodations for those who prefer to remain on campus and students should not feel compelled to leave if they feel they need to stay. For those who do remain on campus, the university will be open and most resources to continue your academic progress will be available. If you intend to stay beyond March 22, we ask that you declare that intention by March 20 to Residence Life. A form will be available on the COVID-19 emergency information page by the end of the day.
- Dining services will be reduced but all current locations and services may not remain open. The University is developing a plan in coordination with Metz and will announce further details soon.
- Employees should report to work as usual. If you have health issues that put you at greater risk for COVID-19, please work with your supervisor to arrange for appropriate accommodations.
- Any staff member who shows signs of the flu will be expected to stay at home, seek medical attention as needed, and self-quarantine according to the latest medical recommendations.
- Cleaning methods for all campus spaces have been expanded according to recommendations and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Students working on campus who elect to stay on campus or near campus will be permitted to continue their employment.
- All athletic competitions have been canceled. The PSAC announced this morning that all athletic competition for the remainder of the spring semester will be canceled. This follows the NCAA’s announcement Thursday that it has canceled all winter and spring championships effective immediately.
- All travel abroad learning trips for the spring and summer terms have been suspended and are being reviewed.
- Professional travel for staff and faculty is not permitted without the prior review and approval of a divisional vice president.
- Students, faculty and staff returning from level 3 warning countries or anyone who potentially has been exposed to coronavirus are required to report via the International Travel Report form and to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine.
Events on campus
- Gannon will remain open in Erie and Ruskin yet many events will be canceled. Public health authorities recommend that we practice “social distancing” as the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. To support that, all mid- and large-scale events are canceled until further notice. All club and student organization activities are also canceled.
- Selected administrative events and activities will continue but on a limited scale. We will continue some events and activities such as selected enrollment activities that can be delivered individually and in small groups to allow individualized attention. Students and families that wish to visit campus or take a campus tour are welcome to do so and should contact our Office of Admissions at (800) GANNON-U or online at www.gannon.edu/visit.
- We have not made any decisions about the commencement ceremonies planned for May in Ruskin or Erie. We will do everything we can to appropriately honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates.
Stay in touch
We want to reassure our students, staff and faculty that we are intensely focused on your well-being. If anyone at any time has a concern, please reach out and speak up. Talk to your faculty member or supervisor. You can also submit concerns or questions to www.gannon.edu/Questions-or-Comments/.
We have established a web page to share information to our Gannon community. You can see everything at www.update.gannon.edu. We will be posting all future communications to this page.
We recognize that the rapidly changing situation has created uncertainty and concern. We are all focusing on care for our students, faculty and staff, as well as providing for the academic progress of our students.
I am grateful for the flexibility and commitment of our faculty and staff who are already preparing for the transition to alternative delivery and who will be here to support the needs of our entire community.
Even though we have begun to exercising “social distancing,” we can continue to be present to one another in ways that technology makes possible.
As a community of faith, we are committed to accompany one another with encouragement in times of challenge and with gratitude in times of joy.