Dear Ursinus community,
The spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been our primary focus this spring break, and our task force is working diligently to coordinate all aspects of planning to protect the health and well-being of our faculty, staff and students. Though Ursinus College has not reported any cases of COVID-19, the number of confirmed cases in Pennsylvania has continued to rise and as this note is being composed, there are nine confirmed cases here in Montgomery County, Pa., where Ursinus is located.
We are concerned how this may impact members of the Ursinus community, which is why the college has decided to extend spring break for an additional week, through Friday, March 20. Then, for the following week—from Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27—classes will be conducted remotely and through online channels. Students are expected to remain off campus until Sunday, March 29, but those with an exceptional need to be on campus can request permission to do so. Additional information will be forthcoming.
Given the fluid nature of the situation, these extra days allow us to continue monitoring COVID-19 and best mitigate risk to our community, while still allowing for courses to continue, albeit not in person. More details will be shared in the next few days, including any changes to the college’s schedule after March 27.
Our taskforce will continue to provide additional information about our academic schedule and other preventative measures on our website, through email and on our social media channels. If you haven’t done so already, sign-up for our free “Mobile U” app to receive the latest news and updates. And for those of you who need to travel for necessary business or personal reasons, please continue sharing the locations on our online registry.
A few other developments of note:
- Large Events. Given the growing number of cases across our region, we have decided to postpone our Schellhase Commons grand opening, the Bear2Bear Benefit & Bash and the community-wide Music on Main festival originally scheduled for April 3 and 4. Additionally, our public lecture with visiting professor Reggie Harris will be rescheduled to a later date, and we are currently considering alternative options for other events scheduled to take place over the next several weeks. Thank you for your support of these programs and for your understanding as we seek to find more accommodating times. We are continuing to discuss possible scheduling changes to our admission programs and are involved in conversations with the Centennial Conference regarding future athletic events.
- Wellness Center Appointments. Our Wellness Center, which supports student health and wellness, has a new protocol in place to reduce risk for transmission. If you are feeling ill and wish to utilize the Wellness Center, please schedule an appointment by calling (610) 409-3100 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Wellness will no longer accept walk-in appointments.
- Technology Requests. Library and Information Technology will begin working with faculty and staff who may need to isolate themselves due to illness, exposure to the virus or who have compromised immune systems. Similarly, LIT is taking steps to ensure that appropriate support is being made for students who are in need of it.
During the next two weeks, the college will remain open and operations will continue as normal for faculty and staff. A communication will be sent later this week with additional information, but anybody on campus who is not feeling well is urged to stay home.
We recognize there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the evolving nature of COVID-19 and that media coverage, both locally and nationally, has escalated. We do not wish to create unnecessary alarm or concern, but the well-being of you and your families is paramount. Please understand we do not come to the decision to extend spring break lightly, but after consultation with other higher education institutions and health officials here in Montgomery County. To date, the college has been referring to a general preparedness plan for pandemics, though we continue to tailor that plan to incorporate recommendations recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others.
There may be further interruptions to campus life and our academic programming, and we are grateful for your support and cooperation as the college, collectively, adapts to the changing situation.
Brock Blomberg, president
Mark Schneider, dean of the college and chair of the virus task force