Dear IUP Students,

As we begin the fall semester during these unprecedented times, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for following the social distancing and face covering guidelines in place for campus during the first days of classes. Your commitment to the health and safety of the IUP family makes me very proud to be a Crimson Hawk.

Now, I'm asking you to take this commitment a step farther - well, a few steps farther.

As we have told you before, we need you to continue to practice masking and social distancing when you leave campus. We want you to be safe and we want to keep our community safe. We cannot put our students and our community at risk, and if the cases of coronavirus escalate in the Indiana community and in Indiana County, we may be forced to change how IUP continues this semester.

What does the mean to you? Mainly, be mindful of off-campus interactions. State guidelines prohibit indoor gatherings of 25 or more and outdoor gatherings of 250 or more. Even if you are outside, if you are in a crowd and cannot be socially distant, you must wear a face covering. Remember, social distancing means being at least six feet away from others.

We want you to still have fun and be with your friends, but please do the right thing to keep yourself and others safe. You can socialize, but you need to practice social distancing and using face coverings. Wash your hands frequently. Remember, you may not feel ill, but you could become infected and infect others - people you live and work with here, or your family and friends when you go home for a visit.

Other universities have faced serious consequences when students did not follow these rules. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the College of Notre Dame totally transitioned to remote learning after only one week of classes. This was a result of off-campus parties with students not following health and safety guidelines. Let's keep IUP and the Indiana community safe.

If you missed picking up your safety kit during move-in or from Folger Hall, go to University Police in the first floor of University Towers. Safety kits include three washable face coverings, along with other health supplies.

Here's what I'm asking you to do: wear a face covering and practice social distancing - on and off campus. Please don't be part of the reason that forces IUP to shut down on-campus facilities, services and classes and send students home. The campus just isn't the same without you.

Take care of yourself and each other. What happens next at IUP is up to you.

Thomas Segar