COVID-19 LATEST UPDATE
July 12, 2020 - 11:15 a.m.
Greetings from the Hurst!
We hope you and your families are safe and well!
We’re writing today to share information as it pertains to your return to campus for the fall. On Thursday, July 2, the Office of The Governor of Pennsylvania issued travel restrictions for the following designated “hot spot” states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Mercyhurst requires a mandatory quarantine of 14 days for all students who are traveling from a “hot spot” state(s) - OR - who cross an international border in the 15 days prior to their arrival to campus.
Students who are required to quarantine (designated “hot spot” state or international travel) MUST submit the following form: Travel and Required Quarantine Information Form.
When will I need to return to Mercyhurst?
Students who are subject to this requirement will have the option to return to Mercyhurst between July 28 and August 31. Should you wish to complete quarantine before the start of classes (August 19) you will need to arrive no later than August 4.
It is important that you know how to calculate your individual quarantine period as you make travel arrangements. Please see the COVID-19 FAQs for guidance. Should you have further questions, please contact the Residence Life Office at email@example.com.
Can I quarantine on the Mercyhurst Campus?
Mercyhurst has facilities on Erie and North East campuses for our students to live in during quarantine. Meals will be provided during the quarantine period. There is limited availability of quarantine apartments and they will be provided on a first come, first served basis. If you plan to quarantine in Mercyhurst housing, we recommend you contact us soon.
How much will on-campus quarantine cost?
For each day in quarantine prior to August 16, the university’s official move-in date, you will be assessed a $35 early arrival accommodations fee. Charges will not be assessed past August 16. The early arrival fee will be posted to your student account when you arrive. We understand that this cost may be an added burden. However, this fee provides for additional days of housing beyond those in your housing contract, meals during quarantine, and the appropriate security and cleaning staff. We have worked hard to keep this cost low.
Can I quarantine with friends/family that do NOT live in one of the “hot spot” states instead of quarantining on campus?
If you have friends/family who do not reside in the states listed above and are willing to have you stay with them during your quarantine period, you are welcome to do so. Please note, this housing arrangement cannot include any Mercyhurst employees or current students. You will need to verify that you stayed in mandatory quarantine throughout the entire period and that you were not in your home country or in any one of the “hot spot” states listed above during this time.
Canadian students who are planning on quarantining in the U.S. prior to the start of classes should contact the International Student Office before making arrangements in order to ensure that their plans follow the current travel restrictions.
I am an international student, can I travel to the United States?
Travel restrictions listed in our ‘important travel information email sent on June 4 are still in place. Travel restrictions change quickly — students should be sure to keep an eye on their individual circumstances and should make the decision to travel based on their own comfort level and timeline. Students should also continue to monitor official advice published by their home government and embassy as well as advice published by The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
- International students, Brooke Fischman at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Athletics, Suzanne Sweeney, email@example.com
- All other students, Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, feel free to contact the Residence Life Office at email@example.com.
We’ll continue to provide updates and look forward to seeing you on campus soon.
June 10, 2020 - 3:46 p.m.
Dear Mercyhurst Community,
The challenges generated by COVID-19 have disrupted the lives of nearly everyone in our college community. Despite those hardships, our students, faculty, and staff have persevered in solidarity, sharing The Mercyhurst Experience in innovative and historic ways.
Just as we forged ahead through the uncertainty of spring, we now turn our attention to a fall semester that will be unlike any other in our 94-year history. And, as with the onset of this pandemic, we move forward united as we face yet another opportunity to rise above the challenges.
We remain committed to reopening campus operations and welcoming students to campus this fall. Just as the pandemic has altered our daily lives away from campus, our return to campus will require a shared commitment to health and safety, considerable changes in policies and practices, and new risk mitigation strategies.
I’m writing today to announce three important changes we’re adopting as we prepare for fall.
#1 – A REVISED FALL SEMESTER CALENDAR
Based on advice from public health experts, who say we could face a second wave of COVID-19 sometime in late fall or early winter, we are compressing our fall calendar. Most notably, we are starting and finishing the fall semester earlier than usual to attempt to stay ahead of that second wave. We are also eliminating fall break to discourage travel and the viral risk that travel might introduce on campus.
As such, key changes to the fall calendar include:
- Friday, Aug. 14 Freshmen move-in.
- Saturday, Aug. 15, through Tuesday, Aug. 18 Upperclassmen move-in.
- Wednesday, Aug. 19 First day of classes.
- Monday, Sept. 7 Labor Day — Classes will be held.
- Tuesday, Nov. 24 Last day of classes — Students should return to their homes after their last classes.
- Tuesday, Dec. 1, through Friday, Dec. 4 Final exams completed remotely from home.
Move-in times will be scheduled in coordination with Residence Life. More information will follow about scheduling your move-in. Athletics will comply with NCAA and conference standards to return student-athletes to campus. Decisions about intercollegiate competition will be made later and will be in conjunction with the NCAA and our respective conference affiliations.
We understand that this new schedule might disrupt your summer plans. Thank you for your understanding, and trust that we will do everything possible to offer flexibility and accommodations, as needed.
#2 – A FLEXIBLE INSTRUCTION PHILOSOPHY
Classrooms and laboratories will be configured to reduce crowding and maintain physical distancing. We will deliver instruction through a variety of face-to-face, hybrid, and remote means.
Specifically, fall academic programming will be conducted in a variety of instructional formats, including in-person and remote options using livestreaming and recorded lectures. Remote coursework will be designed to accommodate students and faculty with serious underlying health conditions and those who may need to be isolated due to virus concerns. These instructional approaches ensure maximum flexibility for students and faculty, allow for continuity of instruction, maintain Mercyhurst’s high academic standards, and enable our students to make continued academic progress. Moreover, they preserve the special relationship between students and faculty and the robust educational experiences that in-person and synchronous instruction afford.
#3 – COMMUNITY STANDARDS
Keeping our campus community safe will require a commitment from students, faculty and staff. The risk mitigation strategies each of us employs serve the greater good. We will ask our campus community to adhere to new Community Standards and public health guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Among those standards are physical distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, maintaining clean spaces, and wearing masks. Generally speaking, campus will be reserved for use by our students, faculty, and staff. Outside guests will be discouraged.
Housekeeping staff will continue to clean offices and workspaces according to CDC guidelines, and “high touch” areas like doorknobs, stair railings, and bathrooms will be cleaned more frequently. Dining venues will have reduced capacity and new processes in place to control traffic.
These standards, which are currently being developed, require a partnership between all students, faculty, and staff to protect each other’s safety, health, and well-being.
MORE UPDATES AND POLICIES TO COME
Our COVID-19 Task Force and its subcommittees are immersed in preparing for the many scenarios associated with our return to campus. The cornerstone of Mercyhurst’s reopening plan is the health and welfare of our community. Our reopening plans are being informed by the medical and scientific expertise of the Erie County Department of Health and in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines.
This announcement is just the start of our communications about your return to Mercyhurst. Please understand that this announcement is not intended to answer all of the questions that students, faculty, staff, and families might have about our return to campus, and it does not provide details on the many issues and decisions we expect to address in the weeks ahead. This plan is a work in progress. It will evolve as guidance and best practices are updated by medical experts, government authorities, and our public health partners. Please continue to monitor your Mercyhurst email and the COVID-19 website for ongoing updates.
We can create an environment that enables the right behaviors and reduces the spread of COVID-19, but a dynamic campus environment will only be sustained if everyone — students, faculty, staff, and visitors — takes responsibility for their own health and safety and the health and safety of those around them.
Thank you for your commitment to this important responsibility.
Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D.