Dear faculty, staff and students,
First and foremost, I want to sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult and unprecedented time. It has certainly been a challenge to navigate the widespread impact of COVID-19 on our region and around the world, and I commend and thank each of you for doing your part to ensure the safety and well-being of our Ursinus community.
I write to you today to let you know that to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to respect and comply with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-which has advised against public gatherings of 50 or more people for at least the next eight weeks-we have come to the very difficult decision to extend the transition to online learning to include the full remainder of the spring semester. Ursinus will also be canceling our traditional on-campus May 2020 commencement. Details will soon follow, but we are committed to commemorating this momentous and celebratory occasion for our graduates in a way that honors both their accomplishments and their legacy at Ursinus.
I know that this is sobering and frustrating news for all of you, especially for our graduating class of 2020, who have worked so hard over the last four years to participate in one of our most important traditions held every May on the Berman Museum lawn. Like you, I’m disappointed that we’re unable to continue with in-person courses and on-campus commencement this spring during our 150th anniversary year, along with the many events and activities that make our small and intimate community so special. Given the seriousness of the situation and threat that COVID-19 poses to so many people, however, it is our responsibility to do our part in mitigating that risk.
In a few days, we will be communicating a process and timeline for move out. We know that everyone will be eager to get their belongings, but for health reasons, we must avoid unnecessary crowding on campus, so please do not return until you have gotten direction to do so. Those students with extenuating circumstances who have been granted permission to stay on campus until this point will also be asked to leave campus. Student Affairs will be in contact soon to assist in individual move-out plans.
The manner in which our faculty and staff have adapted to this changing landscape has been remarkable and we are grateful for their consistent support and flexibility. It is important to know that all staff employed by the college are continuing to be supported in terms of pay and benefits.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Ursinus students, including those who have been studying abroad this term. Ursinus staff and faculty have been and remain in close communication with all students traveling abroad this semester, particularly those in higher-risk countries currently identified as Level 3 or Level 2 by the CDC. We have strongly encouraged all of our students to return home at their earliest opportunity. Many international programs have moved to on-line completion and the majority of our students will complete their coursework for the semester that way. We are communicating with every student and their families individually with the aim of empowering them and giving them agency in the decision-making process. Students who had planned to commence study in Japan beginning this April will not be traveling to Asia this semester. We want to thank our students for their cooperation, resilience and concern for each other in the face of this exceedingly challenging situation.
We are now working hard to make sure the transition to online learning for the rest of this semester is as seamless as possible for everyone, and that the academic interruption does not compromise the quality of Ursinus’s educational experience. The implications on the costs associated with room and board are also being discussed, so please know we are approaching that issue with the seriousness with which it deserves and will provide families with an update on that matter as soon as we can. The change in our spring semester requires a significant amount of effort, especially when information emerges every few hours.
I also understand that every member of our community is receiving an incredible amount of news. Whether that news comes from us, or from the media, or from government officials, it can be overwhelming and intimidating. Please know we are committed to only sharing updates that are timely, relevant and provide clarity about our plans moving forward. With that in mind, continue to check our COVID-19 webpage, the MobileU app and our social media channels for additional updates and insight, and email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Your passion and dedication to one another during a time of incredible uncertainty is deeply appreciated and reflects the very best of Ursinus. Thank you.