Lab, clinical instruction to resume May 4; commencement postponed to Aug. 8 

Published 03.31.2020

Student News
President News
Faculty & Staff

Continuing Penn College's conscientious response to the ever-changing coronavirus crisis, the President's Office has announced a revised plan to close out the Spring 2020 semester – a blueprint that calls for (among a comprehensive list of logistical considerations) resumption of laboratory and clinical instruction on May 4 and combining Spring Commencement with the summer ceremonies on Aug. 8.

The following message was shared Tuesday morning with students and employees:

While strategies for response to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in flux, based on the latest guidelines from President Trump, Gov. Wolf and the appropriate health agencies, we have established Monday, May 4, as the return date to campus for students who still require lab and clinical instruction to complete their coursework. These students can return to campus on Sunday, May 3.

Please know that we continue to be guided by a moral obligation to reduce the spread of the disease, an ethical obligation to provide the best possible educational outcomes for our students and their families, and a professional obligation to provide future workforce leaders to the Commonwealth and our industry partners. We have faith that we can satisfy all of these obligations with our updated plan.

As part of that plan:

  • Laboratory and clinical instruction will begin May 4, and to accommodate courses that cannot be completed via remote/online delivery, the Spring 2020 semester will be extended until Friday, May 29. (Appropriate social distancing and lab sizes will be maintained to protect all students and faculty, and measures to compress this four-week period will be encouraged, which may include evening and weekend labs.)

  • All courses that can be completed using remote/online instruction will continue to do so for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. Online classes will finish by Friday, May 8.

  • In both cases, we will continue providing remote/online instruction for most courses through Friday, May 1; however, for certain lab-intensive courses, online delivery may be paused until on-campus operations can resume. (Faculty will finalize course-delivery methods and timelines and communicate to students in the near future.)

  • When permitted by accreditation, students will have the option to convert each respective course letter grade to Pass/Fail at the conclusion of the spring semester, with a deadline of June 30 for any changes. Students seeking entry to a selective admissions program should consult their academic adviser, at the conclusion of the semester, prior to choosing Pass/Fail grading options.

  • As a last resort, students unable to complete coursework due to extreme circumstances associated with COVID-19 (lack of technology/remote access, caring for others, etc.), may petition for a voucher at the conclusion of the semester to complete their coursework in the next academic year at no additional cost.

  • The deadline for withdrawing from a course is extended to May 1.

  • The Summer Mini-mester is canceled, but the college will continue with our May and June summer sessions. The May session will be taught remotely/online.

  • The college will work with off-campus landlords to assist in the extension of off-campus housing to students with leases.

  • Limited dining facilities will be available beginning May 4 with modified options and safety precautions to protect our students and employees.

  • Students should anticipate that social and student activities scheduled to occur on or after May 4 will be canceled or postponed to allow for proper group size and social distancing.

  • All on-campus resident students, with the exception of those living on campus through this emergency, will receive a four-week refund of room-and-board costs, with refunds being issued the week of April 6. For students with off-campus meal plans, we will provide an update in the near future.

More details will be forthcoming. We know that you may have questions, and your patience is appreciated. For academic questions that require immediate attention, contact your school office or Academic Affairs; for those related to housing, dining, or student activities, contact the appropriate office or Student Affairs.

Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies set for May 15-16 are postponed until Saturday, Aug. 8, and will be combined with the ceremony for Summer 2020 graduates. (In the coming weeks, we will communicate new ceremony times to account for a larger number of participants.) While we cherish commencement as a milestone in our students’ accomplishments, and a touchstone for shared memories of their time at the college, we nevertheless remind all students that they become graduates of Penn College when they complete their coursework and program requirements, grades are assigned, and the graduation audit confirms their status. The commencement ceremony can occur anytime, and our priority remains the health and safety of our students and their families, as well as our faculty and staff in attendance.

I thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times. I am heartened by the collective response to the many challenges that this pandemic has presented, and I ask for your continued perseverance as we surmount the remaining obstacles and successfully complete the Spring 2020 semester and 2019-20 academic year.

Please continue to heed the guidelines from the health agencies to remain safe and to limit the spread of COVID-19. While a resolution to this crisis may seem distant, if we all work together toward a common goal, we will get through this.

Again, all of our planning remains subject to change during this unsettled global situation, and we will continue to update you as circumstances warrant.

Stay safe and be well.

Davie Jane Gilmour

P.S. On a related note, families across the U.S. are currently receiving their Census forms. As a reminder, the Census Bureau wants students living away from home at school to be counted at school, “even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Please make your parents and guardians aware, if applicable.