As a result of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community, Indiana University of Pennsylvania announced this morning that it is rebalancing its hybrid plan for fall classes — meaning that as many as two-thirds of the student body will be staying home and using online technology to access their courses.
“We must move forward in a new direction that rebalances our commitment to protecting health and safety with our educational mission,” IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll wrote in a letter to university employees and students. “With this rebalance, significantly fewer students — perhaps a third of IUP’s student body — will be on campus and in the community.”
Driscoll said there are no reported or confirmed cases of coronavirus or COVID-19 infection on IUP campuses in Indiana, Punxsutawney and Northpointe.
“This rebalanced plan is designed to enhance the work we have already done to mitigate risk for our students, employees, and communities,” the IUP president wrote.
New freshmen will be invited to campus.
“Fall classes will begin August 24, as scheduled,” Driscoll wrote. “Welcome Week activities will be held as planned (some in person, some via technology), and new freshmen will move in to on-campus residence halls on Aug. 15 and 16, as scheduled. More detailed information about move-in will be sent soon.”
However, Driscoll also wrote, “being physically present on campus is not required for all new freshmen; we will continue to work with students who have concerns about coming to campus on an individual basis to provide the best possible learning platform for them.”
Driscoll said face-to-face instruction will be provided for students in academic programs that require them to be on campus, such as those in clock-hour programs such as those offered by the Academy of Culinary Arts and the Criminal Justice Training Center.
“While most of our fall plan is unchanged with this rebalanced approach, we are making changes to reduce the number of students returning to campus for face-to-face instruction,” Driscoll wrote. “We have thought long and hard about what is best for our students and their academic success while balancing our prioritization of the health and safety of the IUP family and our home communities.”
Also, Driscoll wrote, those to return to campus include most students in graduate programs, most international students who are in the United States, and students with special circumstances.
“Special circumstances might include students who need a specific face-to-face experience to graduate, students with special learning needs, and students who do not have another place to live or who are not able to access remote learning at home,” Driscoll said. “We will work with students in special circumstances on an individual basis to provide the best possible learning platform for them.”
He said faculty and staff members completed training this summer in new ways to present courses via distance learning, and classrooms have new technology “to provide a smooth remote delivery of classes.”
“Employees in student-facing offices, such as the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of the Bursar, will help students in person, working within social-distancing guidelines,” Driscoll said. “Many other employees will telework, if possible.”
Also, the Hawks Q&A Center, a question-and-answer service that offers live responses and an opportunity to submit questions via email, will start Aug. 15 “to provide information and help within 24 hours,” he said. “Other resources, including computer labs and the IUP Libraries, are arranged to maintain social distancing and will be open for students this fall. As we did in the spring, tutoring and other assistance will be offered remotely to the fullest extent possible.”
The president’s letter in its entirety is the top link found on the front page of the iup.edu website.