Update on Fall 2020 Plans

Posted on 6/26/2020 3:05:36 PM

As President Driscoll announced in May, we look forward to welcoming you to campus for face-to-face instruction and residential living this fall.

Plans for Fall 2020 The Fall 2020 Planning Committee, which we co-chair, has been charged with coordinating this important work. More than 50 employees and students, divided into 11 Action Teams, are navigating through mostly uncharted territory to develop a set of recommendations for the fall semester.

We have received hundreds of emails with questions and suggestions that have helped us to structure our plans. In our discussions, we immediately realized that the foundation to a successful transition to returning to campus is on all of us, as a community. We must share a commitment to taking care of ourselves and taking care of one another.

Fortunately, we are confident that this foundation will stand firm on what we are building. Caring for each other is just what Crimson Hawks do. 

While much remains unknown related to the pandemic, we continue to focus on these core guidelines:

  • We will be flexible and ready to act as new information about the coronavirus pandemic becomes known;
  • We will communicate new information and decisions as broadly and as quickly as possible, including posting all news on our Plans for Fall 2020 website;
  • We will provide a high-quality educational experience;
  • We will maintain standards and initiatives that protect your health and safety, the health and safety of faculty and staff members, and the health and safety of our home communities; and
  • We will continue to hold fast the ties that bind the IUP family together. 

While our work is ongoing, we want to share some key decisions from our recommendations that have been finalized by university leadership.

The Academic Calendar

Classes for the fall semester will start as originally scheduled on August 24 and end on December 7, with final exams scheduled for December 8 through December 11. No classes will be held on Labor Day (September 7). The Thanksgiving recess remains planned for November 23 through November 27, with classes resuming for the fall semester on November 30. 

Your faculty member, depending on course content, might offer you the opportunity to complete classwork offered November 30 through December 7—and your final exams—via distance learning. These decisions will be made by your instructor based on the course content.

New students will begin to move into university housing on August 15 and will participate in Welcome Week programs and events starting August 16. More information and a detailed schedule for move-in and for Welcome Week will be sent to new students in the next few weeks.

Move-in days and times for returning students have been expanded to observe health and safety guidelines; students will be able to schedule move-in times.

Students in programs in the Institute for Rural Health and Safety, Criminal Justice Training Center, and at the Academy of Culinary Arts will receive more information specific to their classes from their program directors.

Hybrid Style Class Delivery

While we remain committed to offering face-to-face instruction as much as possible, classes will be formatted to maintain social-distancing recommendations at all university campuses and centers while focusing on real-time instruction and delivery. 

Many lecture classes will be conducted in a hybrid model, which means that classes will be divided into groups that rotate between being physically present in the classroom and interacting with the class via Zoom or similar technology. As possible, lecture classes will be moved to rooms large enough to permit all students to attend together while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Courses already scheduled for online delivery will continue to be offered in that modality. If distance education is a preferred option for you, please work with your faculty advisor on selecting the right courses for you.

Prior to the beginning of the semester, your faculty members will provide information about the structure of your class so that you know what to expect. This communication will be made through email and D2L.

During the first few days of classes in August, faculty will finalize arrangements for your class structure, and will clearly communicate with you about what you are to do. Information about expectations related to health and safety guidelines will be publicized widely, including on class syllabi. Support to students with specific needs related to learning in this hybrid method is available through IUP’s Department for Disability Access and Advising.

In order to help you feel more comfortable about being in the classroom, we will provide cleaning materials so that you can sanitize your seat and desk area, and we will ask that you sanitize your area when you leave the classroom. We will continue to maintain rigorous cleaning protocols, following Centers for Disease Control and other state guidelines, on the common areas. Employees are being trained on these processes. Classroom space will only be used for extracurricular activities through an approval process designed to keep everyone safe.

We look forward to welcoming you with a return-to-campus package of hand sanitizer, three washable cloth face coverings, a multi-use disposable forehead thermometer, and other items intended to help keep you safe and healthy. Information on where to go for information and resources will be included in this kit. Families on campus for Welcome Week also will receive a welcome to campus packet.

As information from state and national health agencies are finalized regarding wearing face coverings on campus, we will communicate that information to you.

Living and Dining Reminders 

As was shared in May, all students who live in residence halls will have a private bedroom or bedroom spaces that have been redesigned to follow social distancing guidelines. Some students will also have a private bathroom; some bathrooms will be shared, but if a bathroom is shared, it will be shared by no more than two students. All shared living-learning areas in the residence halls will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Additional information is available on the Housing site.

IUP Dining Services, which has continued to offer meals this spring and summer, employs well-trained and experienced personnel who follow health and safety guidelines required by the state during our current national health status. Dining facilities will be set up to maintain social distancing, and you will still enjoy meals at our award-winning North Dining, Crimson Café, and Hawk HUB Food Court, located in the Hadley Union Building, which includes Chick-fil-A.

We are awaiting guidance from both the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the NCAA on when teams can resume competition. We will make decisions about major university events as we get additional information from national and state officials about gatherings.

Helping Students with Financial Hardships

Just as we distributed more than $15 million in refunds and financial support in the spring, we will be flexible about finances, including deposits, refunds, and holds on student accounts. The IUP Student Assistance Fund, which was established to provide financial help to students negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to support students as funds are available. If your family has encountered circumstances that have led to a reduction in income, you can contact the Office of Financial Aid for advice and assistance.

Preparing Our Campus

Most employees will continue to telework at least throughout July but are continuing to provide services to you. Some members of the facilities staff are on campus to prepare our buildings and grounds for fall. These employees have been trained on safety procedures and cleaning protocols and have state or national health agency recommended masks or other protective equipment in order to do this important work safely. 

Because a great deal is still unknown about the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Fall 2020 Planning Committee are building a number of plans and scenarios in order that we can quickly respond to new health and safety guidelines from state and national health agencies. We will continue to communicate with you as new information becomes finalized; please continue to visit the fall planning website, as it is the best source for up-to-date information. 

IUP Student Assistance FundWe are working diligently to provide you with answers. In all that we do, we will focus on these important guidelines: maintaining everyone’s health and safety; providing a high-quality academic experience, including programs outside the classroom; communicating what we know as quickly and as broadly as we can; and doing everything in our power to make sure you know you are never alone. We are in this together.

It will be a new way of life at IUP for us all, but some things remain constant: faculty and staff who mentor, challenge and care deeply about you; academic and co-curricular experiences that prepare you to reach your goals and dreams; and a community that stands beside you and behind you now, and for all of your life.

We believe in you, because we’ve seen it over and over again. The IUP family steps up to do what needs to be done—in this case, taking care of yourself and our community in new ways. 

It’s the Crimson Hawk thing to do.

R. Scott Moore
Paula Stossel
Co-chairs, IUP Fall 2020 Planning Committee