College Will Extend Spring Break by One Week

(Photo Allyson Frantz/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Allyson Frantz/The Gettysburgian)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Gettysburg College will extend spring break for one week, through Sunday, March 22, President Bob Iuliano announced Tuesday.

“The additional week will provide us with the opportunity to understand more fully the evolution of the outbreak, including now that the first cases have been reported in Pennsylvania,” an email sent to the campus community shortly after 8:00 p.m. Tuesday said. “It will also enable us to be as best positioned as possible to resume classes, whether in person or online, as anticipated on March 23.”

Iuliano added that “this decision raises a set of operational, financial, and logistical questions, about which we will have more to say shortly.”

Earlier today, Gettysburg rolled out a web page and a website on Moodle, the college’s learning management platform, to help faculty members plan for the possibility of delivering instruction online as colleges across the country have paused or canceled in-person classes and meetings for the remainder of the semester.

“At this time, no actions are being taken for an imminent transition to remote teaching at Gettysburg,” the web page states. “However, instructors have been advised to take appropriate steps to prepare, just in case the campus is asked to move in that direction.”

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Provost: Prepare Remote Instruction Options

Shortly after Iuliano’s email, Provost Chris Zappe and Vice President of Information Technology Rod Tosten followed up with an email college faculty and administrators encouraging them to make plans to help “maintain academic continuity.”

The email stated that the additional week will provide time to have faculty train and prepare for a remote-learning option. The pair emphasized that “the College has yet to decide if we need to move in this direction,” but he underlined resources that were launched earlier in the day Tuesday and said that faculty ought to prepare for how to teach classes if they are ill, if their students are ill, and/or if they cannot be on campus.

The email also promoted training opportunities later this week for various remote access tools such as Zoom video conferencing and Screencast-o-matic and pointed to resources available on a newly-created Moodle site titled “What do I do if I can’t have class?”

Screenshot from the Moodle page about remote instruction options set up for faculty (as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 10)

Screenshot from the Moodle page about remote instruction options set up for faculty (as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 10)

“Please keep in mind that if any of these scenarios become reality, these voluntary training options may become required,” they said.

What Other Institutions Have Done

While dozens of colleges nationwide have taken steps from extending spring break to canceling in-person classes and closing down campuses, only a few of Gettysburg’s geographically closest peer institutions have yet made any public announcements about moving courses online or confirmed cases.

Bucknell University, located in Lewisburg, PA, announced Tuesday that it would transition to remote education for the remainder of the semester.

Classes are cancelled Monday, March 16, through Wednesday, March 18, 2020, so that faculty and staff can plan for delivering remote educational activities. Classes will resume remotely on Thursday, March 19.

“Students are instructed to move out of on-campus housing by 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17,” Bucknell’s announcement said. “Students who feel they must remain on campus may complete an online petition form sent to them.”

Dickinson College, located just up Route 15 in Carlisle, extended spring break through the end of next week and canceled events with more than 25 people.

Muhlenberg College, located in Allentown, announced Tuesday evening that it would hold classes online from March 18 through April 13 and would close campus except to students with extenuating circumstances.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania has 12 confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Hey Gettysburgians: Tell us how this news is affecting you and what questions you have for the college (anonymously if you’d like) in this web form.

This article will be updated.

Update (9:45 p.m.): The Provost and Vice President of Information Technology directed faculty to begin considering remote instruction options. Muhlenberg College’s decision will move its classes beginning next week.

Managing Editor Gauri Mangala and Assistant News Editor Katie Oglesby contributed to this report.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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