As coronavirus infections rise, risks to students and employees are ‘simply unacceptable,’ Cal U president says.
Citing the recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Pennsylvania and across the country, the president of California University of Pennsylvania announced today that Cal U will operate remotely during the fall semester.
“Throughout the summer, my leadership team and many others planned for our return to on-campus operations … in the sincere belief that we could reopen responsibly this fall,” University President Geraldine Jones said in a video message to Cal U students, faculty and staff.
“But in recent days, it has become apparent that even the best on-campus experience presents too great a risk to our Cal U family. Like many of you, I am eager to return to the Cal U we all know and love. But right now, the risks are simply unacceptable.”
Some classes will be offered online, but most will use real-time remote learning. This approach allows students and professors to interact virtually on a regular class schedule – a format preferred by many students, according to a Cal U survey taken this spring.
On-campus residence halls will be closed for the semester, student activities will be held virtually, and most employees will be working off-site. Classes will begin August 24.
President Jones acknowledged that many students would be disappointed with the decision, while to others, “it might come as a relief.” A recent survey published in The New York Times found more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases tied to hundreds of colleges nationwide, even before most schools have begun holding classes.
“This is not the experience we want for you, our University or the local community,” she told students in an email.
Offering fully remote instruction throughout the semester provides a degree of certainty to students, employees and their families in an uncertain time, President Jones added. “The University will not be forced to change course abruptly once the semester is under way.”
Throughout the summer, Cal U leaders kept a wary eye on reports from the state Health Department and other authorities, even as they ordered face masks and reconfigured classrooms to achieve social distancing. The safety of students, faculty and staff was always top-of-mind, said President Jones.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives – but it cannot stop you from earning your degree,” she told students. “I have no doubt that our Cal U family will be together again once the virus is defeated.”