It is nice to see you on campus again
Posted: January 26, 2021
Today is a big day for Gannon:
- Classes began at both the Ruskin and Erie campuses for the spring semester.
- It was also the first day of classes inside the newly renovated I-HACK.
Our start today follows a busy week of onboarding that was full of testing and orientation at both campuses. By all reports, those processes seemed to run smoothly. In Erie, we administered nearly 2,000 tests from Saturday, Jan. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 24, primarily to athletes and students returning to our residence halls. Only four of those tested were confirmed positive. We have only two students in isolation on campus, thankfully with mild symptoms.
In Ruskin, we administered 219 tests and had two positives. We await additional results from our Florida campus early this week.
This low number of positive cases is even less than we saw to start the fall and is a reflection of how seriously you took the safe return process. Thank you for your diligence in doing your part to keep our Gannon community healthy.
Now, here we go with a great semester.
CHANGES FOR THE SPRING SEMESTER
Some of our COVID-19 mitigation efforts have changed, but most have not.
Our strategy to be face-to-face on campus during a pandemic is to monitor relentlessly, identify cases early, and then isolate and trace those cases to contain spread. To achieve this, we need your help: complete the LiveSafe questionnaire daily; wear your mask; wash your hands frequently; watch your distance; and walk away from large gatherings.
For students, we are restricting in-person social community events and discouraging gatherings for the time being. We will reassess as the semester moves on and the environment allows more freedom. Also, as announced last fall, the schedule for this semester has changed so please double check your calendars.
For employees, we are continuing our bias toward remote work, where possible and with the approval of your supervisor. We too are to adhere to our safe practices and restrict our engagement in social gatherings.
In addition, we have updated several policies to reflect changes in state and local guidance, to reflect our new understanding of the disease, and improve some of our procedures.
- One key difference from last fall involves quarantine timelines. We have reduced quarantine for “close contacts,” who remain asymptomatic, to 10-days coinciding with the advice of the state health department. Those presenting symptoms will still follow a 14-day quarantine.
- Also, we have expanded the list of symptoms to reflect current CDC guidance. We are recommending that anyone – student, staff, faculty – avoid coming to campus or class if they have these symptoms (they are listed in the LiveSafe questionnaire) until you have been screened by the Health Center and/or received a negative COVID-19 test. If you feel sick, you should follow protocols as though you have COVID until you test negative.
- Another noteworthy change was to our employee travel policy. The quarantine is slightly longer and the test is required on day 5 of return.
- For both students and employees, there is a new COVID-19 acknowledgment that you will be required to sign, committing to our policies and each other. More information will be shared about this in a separate email.
You can find all of our updated policies and COVID-related communications at our COVID update page.
BRING ON THE VACCINES
We have a new defense arriving for the fight against COVID-19: the vaccine. We are working closely with our local partners to make the vaccine widely available this semester, contingent on its availability.
So far, we have vaccinated about 65 Gannon frontline workers – our nursing staff, those involved in our testing program, our COVID-19 care team, members of Police and Safety, and some of our Physical Plant team. Another 160 in our health professions (including some students headed to clinicals) are expected to receive their first doses of vaccine this week.
We are also designing vaccine clinics that could vaccinate about 300 people every Tuesday. We expect the first of these to happen Feb. 2. Details are nearly final, and we expect to send a more detailed message this week.
A NEW YEAR, A NEW I-HACK AND A NEW CHAPEL
We have two projects nearing completion: I-HACK and the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel.
I-HACK welcomed its first students today, marking the culmination of a $13 million first phase of a multi-phase project to transform the building into a regional technology hub. About 81 students in seven different courses will use the facility throughout just its first week.
Those students were among the first to pass through the glass-enclosed lobby area on their way to the second-floor “academic heart” of I-HACK, the Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center.
We also expect to soon re-open our Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel. A Mass of Dedication and Blessing will be scheduled following the arrival of key furnishings to complete the building’s interior. The nearly $2 million renovation to the chapel began about 18 months ago, after a natural gas leak was discovered beneath the building.
It is so nice seeing you back on campus. Our student-athletes started arriving in late December and they are now competing – something they and we have waited for since the fall. Employees in increasing numbers enthusiastically arrived back on campus after the new year. Move-in began Thursday and eager students were filling campus into the weekend.
Gannon this morning was alive – in Erie and in Ruskin.
We see new hope in the new year, but we must be vigilant. We must watch after ourselves and after our friends and colleagues. The semester ahead will be challenging, but May – and commencement – will arrive soon enough and we will be right here together to enjoy it.
Welcome back, Knights.
If you have a question or a comment, you can submit it at https://www.gannon.edu/Questions-or-Comments/.