Dear faculty, staff and students,
This upcoming Monday, March 23, the college officially begins remote learning. That new virtual environment introduces a rather unexpected and unique chapter in the academic careers of our students, but one that we hope will also result in an even greater appreciation of the real camaraderie that exists among the Ursinus family.
As we were making final preparations to restart our spring semester on Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order that has affected some of our plans. With this email we plan to address:
1. A change to our students’ proposed move-out plans
2. An indefinite extension of remote working for most employees
3. Cessation of construction on the Schellhase Commons
Yesterday evening, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life-sustaining businesses” to close their physical locations across the commonwealth, effective immediately. Exceptions are granted for virtual operations. It is our intention to be in full compliance with this order, though we are simultaneously seeking additional information about its impact on colleges and universities. Clarification from the governor’s office is beginning to come to us and we will share those further implications as soon as we are able.
The governor’s order has an immediate impact on our proposed move-out schedule, which we were prepared to share with all students today. We must now take a step back and, once again, re-evaluate those plans. That order clearly indicates that all faculty, staff and students should not return to campus until further notice–likely once courses have ended. We are aware how these changes of plans will be received, but please understand we are doing our absolute best to adhere to the governor’s order and to develop a new move-out process for early this summer that ensures your long-term safety, health and well-being. We will communicate that new timeline for move-out at our earliest opportunity.
As for those students currently on campus with extenuating circumstances, student affairs will continue to work you on an individual basis to help you navigate the next few days and weeks.
This order reinforces our current practice that faculty and staff must remain off campus, and work remotely if they are able to do so until further notice. The only exceptions are for employees who have been authorized to provide essential support for the few remaining students currently residing on campus, as well as basic campus operations.
The order also designates construction as “not a life-sustaining business,” which means that work on the Schellhase Commons will come to a halt. Construction crews are taking today to ensure the safety of the site for the indefinite term of the governor’s order.
We know these developments raise new questions, and so we ask for your continued patience and support. Rather than focus on that uncertainty, you have all risen to the occasion with creative solutions and even greater collaboration and, for that, we are grateful.
We remain committed to providing whatever support we can as we plan a new path forward. At this time when we are all deeply missing the personal connection of the Ursinus community, I wanted to share my own personal video to the community. Please take a look at https://go.ursinus.edu/VideoMessage as soon as you have a moment.
Our COVID-19 webpage (https://www.ursinus.edu/coronavirus) has the latest information and we ask that you visit that page frequently for the latest updates. And if you have not done so already, please download our free Mobile U app to ensure you are receiving the most important news about Ursinus. If you have additional questions, please contact the taskforce directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.