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Slippery Rock Extending Spring Break in Response to COVID-19, Clarion University Remains Open

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 @ 03:03 PM

Posted by Aly Delp

45299904_10156751931007622_8432574407683080192_nSLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. (EYT) – Slippery Rock University has announced they are extending spring break in response to concerns over COVID-19.

Slippery Rock University is the eighth PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) school to modify its instruction in response to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Slippery Rock University announced that as a proactive measure, the University has made the decision to extend the current spring break, originally scheduled from March 8-15, until March 29.

The announcement follows similar announcements from seven other PASSHE schools, including Kutztown, East Stroudsburg, Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, Edinboro, Millersville, and West Chester.

The extension at Slippery Rock pertains to on-campus (residential and commuter) students only. All online students will resume classes, as scheduled, March 16.

“Like everyone else, University administration has been closely monitoring the continued spread of COVID-19 around the world,” said William Behre, SRU president, in a release issued by the university.

“University health and student affairs officials have been in continual contact with Butler County health and emergency management officials and have been keeping abreast of the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other state and federal agencies. In addition, the presidents from all 14 State System universities have been in constant contact with the Office of the Chancellor to discuss next steps.

“I have been regularly meeting with senior leadership to discuss how best to prepare our University and respond to the growing outbreak. In making this decision, we are remaining thoughtful not only of our entire community, but particularly our students and the fulfillment of our obligations to their educational pursuits in providing a continuity of service.”

Although the University will not be open for educational instruction during this time period, campus offices will remain open for business unless health concerns mandate closures.

During the extended break period for on-campus students, faculty and staff will be preparing for the contingency that all classes will be provided through a distance learning modality beginning March 30 and until further notice. If the semester should need to be completed fully through distance learning, additional instruction to students on the particulars of this change will be communicated by March 25.

“One of the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses is to minimize the opportunities for individuals to interact and transmit disease,” said Behre. “As the University represents a large population contained in a small area, it is for the public good that we have arrived at this decision.

“While there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported on campus, in either Slippery Rock Borough or Township, or in Butler County, we do know that the state has had presumptive cases reported with the expectation of more to come. We realize that our students are not the demographic most at risk during this time; however, as good, regional citizens, it wouldn’t be prudent to possibly overwhelm local health care resources at this juncture.

“We realize that this decision will cause disruption to normal routines, schedules and activities. Still, we believe the temporary inconvenience is necessary to maintain the safety of our campus and our community.”

While eight of the PASSHE schools have adjusted their schedules due to COVID-19, Clarion University has not made any changes to their schedule as of Wednesday, March 11.

According to a letter to the community from Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, president, Clarion University, the University continues to remain vigilant in monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including making plans for the possibility the outbreak reaches any of Clarion’s campuses.

“By now, you may have heard that other Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education schools and some schools around the country have extended their current spring break and/or have moved all classes to an online approach for a period of time,” Pehrsson states in the letter.

“State System universities do not follow a common calendar, and, while most of the PASSHE universities are on spring break this week, ours was last week, making our situation different. The location and size, as well as current conditions in the areas near campuses, dictate how each campus makes those decisions.

“At this point in time, conditions do not indicate a benefit to suspending our face-to-face instruction.”

The letter goes on to note increased efforts being taken to clean and disinfect surface areas more frequently and to share information on protecting oneself against the virus, available at clarion.edu/coronavirus.

“University leadership and a team of subject matter experts are meeting on a regular basis to update our current Emergency Response Plan to address developing issues and to refine information on potential actions. We remain in contact with various outside agencies, including the national Center for Disease Control, Pennsylvania Department of Health, the State System Office in Harrisburg, and both the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association.”

Pehrsson also noted the University is continuing to look at actions to protect students, faculty, and staff, including possible contingency plans and plans to possibly move to alternative class delivery, if necessary.

“This situation is evolving daily, and plans are subject to changing quickly. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available. We will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed, with the safety of our campus community as our priority.”


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