COVID-19 RESPONSE

Open with Classes On-Campus

We’ve been winning the semester so far, thanks to you.

Posted: November 8, 2020

Dear awesome Gannon Students,

We are in the final minutes of the game.

We’ve been winning the semester so far, thanks to you. You’ve been wearing your mask, washing your hands, keeping your distance and limiting your social interactions to your small close knit group.

As we approach the last two full weeks of the semester – the final stretch – we are surrounded by the warning signs of rising numbers of cases of infection occurring from seemingly innocent interactions with family and neighbors. These should be reminders that we must stay focused and to keep playing to the final whistle.

Some advice and a plea for the coming two weeks:

The payoff of staying healthy is being able to take final exams in person and then enjoying Thanksgiving at home with family on your terms. Missteps in these final days have the potential for heavier impacts on you and your peers with the importance of end-of-semester academic requirements and important events such as commencement just around the corner.

The Erie community is awash in COVID-19 right now. The county reported 59 new cases on Friday alone – a single-day record – after reporting more than 33 cases a day for more than week. This wave has left the county health department overwhelmed and only tracing certain cases, not all. Several Erie County K-12 schools have transitioned to online education as has at least two regional universities.

After several weeks of relative calm, we have seen our own cases show a slight trend upward. Most of these are off-campus or commuter students, and staff. These cases are resulting in additional “close contacts” – individuals who must quarantine for 14 days. A majority of our quarantines are the result of community exposure and interactions off campus or at home.

This is not a criticism of those living off-campus, rather a reflection of the risks of living as members of a community that has rising numbers of cases. These additional Gannon cases are a sobering reminder that this is no time for carelessness, attending that enticing end-of-year or weekend party or deciding to hang out with that person you don’t know.

Campus Police and Safety and Gannon staff have been responding to tips of parties and unfortunately finding a few lately. The party hosts and attendees are being handled by Student Conduct, and some have already been suspended from the university with sanctions growing tougher as we get even closer to these critical final weeks.

Gratefully, these students have been the exception and not the rule this semester and we fully recognize the vast majority are doing such an outstanding job of keeping each other safe.

Most of you seem to have taken this opportunity to be together on campus and treated it as a gift – a special chance to pursue your goals in the middle of a pandemic that has suspended the plans for so many and disrupted the education of many of your friends elsewhere.

We – the faculty and staff -- are so happy for you, and we want so much for these next two weeks to be kind to us all and especially to you.

You have worked so hard for so many weeks. You deserve a safe and healthy finish. Getting there, however, will require some luck and a lot of resolve. Together, we can make it happen.

Let’s win these last two weeks.

Dr. Keith Taylor