A state of the University as we begin Easter break

Posted: April 8, 2020

As we all prepare for Easter break, we thought this would be a good moment to reflect on the great number of changes that have happened at Gannon in the past six weeks and give you a brief state of the University. The adjustments the University and each of us, individually, have had to make have been monumental. The speed and scale of our collective response to the threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented, and deeply appreciated.

We closed our Erie and Ruskin campuses to all non-essential work on March 17, just shy of a month ago. The staff assisted all students who were able to safely depart our residence halls and continue essential services in care for the roughly 190 students still residing with us.

Since then, we have transitioned instruction to alternative and mostly online delivery, and we have restarted most other university operations remotely from our homes. It wasn’t entirely seamless, but everything has been settling into a new – albeit different – rhythm.

For all of this and your amazing resilience and positive spirit, thank you.

With Easter upon us this weekend and our eager welcome of the renewal of spring, we continue to be steadfast to the stay-at-home orders still in effect in both Hillsborough and Erie counties and most of the country where we are each hopefully finding peace at home.

We were fortunate to not have a reported case of COVID-19 on either campus while they were still open. Given how widespread the disease caused by the coronavirus has become, it was only a matter of time before members of the Gannon family would be affected. We know of a student in Ruskin and a staff member in Erie who have tested positive recently and report they are recovering and waiting out 14-day quarantines in accordance with the protocols of our Hillsborough and Erie health departments. We are thankful for their improving health and pray for the health and safety of all during this time.

Based on the questions we’ve been hearing from you, here are some other updates and reminders: 

Easter Holiday

We would like to remind you that the University will be closed this Thursday through Monday (April 9-13) in observance of Holy Week and the Easter holiday. However, due to the move to alternative course delivery, Thursday and Monday may be utilized as instructional days at the discretion of the course faculty. Please check with your professors if you have questions about your class schedule over the holiday.

Recent Changes to University Operations

The Health Center has moved to call-in only appointments and is no longer taking in-person appointments until further notice. Please call (814) 871-7622 and leave a detailed message with the purpose of your call and your name, date of birth and phone number. A member of the Health Center will return your call promptly with further instruction. If it is an emergency or you are having severe symptoms, do not wait for a return call; please go to the Emergency Room.

The Mailroom and Gannon Press will implement the following modified business hours in the Palumbo Academic Center as of April 14: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mailboxes, Mail Delivery and Pickup: Mailboxes will remain accessible during standard business hours of Palumbo. Departmental mail and packages will not be delivered, but will be held in the mailroom for pickup during the new business hours above. To open a mailbox outside the modified business hours, or for additional questions, please email blumer002@gannon.edu.

Construction on the I-HACK and at the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel projects was required to stop until further notice in accordance with the stay-at-home order issued by the Gov. Tom Wolf. Work will continue as soon as workers are cleared to resume.

Housing and meal plan credits and refunds are continuing to be processed. The University appreciates your patience and understanding as we continue to assist each eligible student with their individual needs. Click here for the update on this topic that the University issued on March 31.

A commencement ceremony update and full details were issued here on March 31. We ask that all May 2020 graduates from our Erie Campus please complete this brief survey by Friday, April 10, to share your plans to attend commencement to best assist the University in planning the events. We have postponed both commencement ceremonies originally planned for May, believing that social distancing requirements will still be in effect. Our plan is to hold commencement in Ruskin on Aug. 29 and commencement in Erie on Oct. 4, coinciding with Homecoming. Students will also have the alternative to attend December commencement in Erie should that be their preference.

University Employment

In regard to University employment, we would like to reassure the faculty, staff and administrators that Gannon remains committed to supporting each of you during this challenging and uncertain time. There are no university-wide personnel changes being considered. We are grateful for your flexibility and dedication to our Gannon community.

We recently requested time entry and tracking by groups of employees that raised questions. This request is made only in response to opportunities we may have for reimbursement of costs associated with the COVID-19 through the recent CARES Act. We have received guidance that our ability to access the relief funds related to the many different parts of the complex Act will require detailed and structured tracking and records of expenses and losses.

For our student employees, an update was issued March 31. You can click here for that. With most of the campus facilities in Erie and Ruskin closed, there are only a few positions that can be considered “essential.” Because of this, students who were actively working and now are unable to will receive two weeks of pay based on the average number of hours worked during the spring semester. We expect this to be included in April 24’s pay. We hope that this is helpful and encourage students to contact the Financial Aid Office should you have questions or need additional assistance.

Virtual Campus Engagement

There are many creative people across campus devising ways to provide activities and programming for you to engage with your classmates or colleagues. Please continue to follow and take advantage of these resources to stay connected:

In the News

Many Gannon members have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with much generosity and ingenuity to support others and the local community in facing these challenging times. Read below some of the many great Gannon stories of the past few weeks:

That’s a lot to digest, but then a lot has happened during this short period in our lives together. We pray that you continue to stay safe and to stay healthy, especially through this Easter weekend. As we move forward, we encourage our students, faculty and staff to stay active and continue take pride in being part of the Gannon Family. We will get through this together.