Three Days After Announcement of Spring Break Extension, Where Are We?

(Photo Allyson Frantz/The Gettysburgian)

(Photo Allyson Frantz/The Gettysburgian)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Three days after the college announced it would extend spring break by a week and begin to prepare contingencies if classes cannot resume in person due to the threat of a spreading coronavirus, no decision about what will happen on March 23, when classes are scheduled to resume, has been announced. Sources familiar with internal deliberations say that no decision has yet been made.

According to a memo that circulated among some college administrators not participating in the highest level of deliberations, options on the table include resuming in-person classes while banning large gatherings, temporarily moving to remote instruction, and moving to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. While it is not known when the college will make a decision about the plan moving forward, college spokesperson Jamie Yates said Wednesday night that the college is aware of the sense of urgency that students feel.

To Student Senate President Patrick McKenna ’20, that sense of urgency is heightened by a lack of communication from the college.

“I understand that the College is dealing with a set of circumstances that is continuously evolving and while I appreciate their sense efforts I believe the overwhelming sense among students is that we need to know what is going on,” McKenna said. “Or, at the very least send more frequent updates because no one feels that communication from the College has been adequate in the middle of this global pandemic.”

Meanwhile, members of the faculty have begun preparations to teach courses remotely, and training sessions are planned every afternoon next week to acquaint faculty with Zoom, Screencast-O-Matic, and Moodle.

“I have to say I’ve been impressed with the faculty response: folks are understanding of the extraordinary circumstances we’re in, those with experience have been chipping in to help those with less and even the most computer-phobic faculty have been enthusiastic despite the difficult and time consuming process ahead,” Director of Educational Technology Eric Remy said Thursday evening.

Faculty members have also been attending online trainings and scouring Twitter and other internet sources as they look to adapt their classes in the event of online instruction, which four faculty members said Thursday seems increasingly likely based on the communications they have received from the college and their conversations with academic administrators.

Students abroad have had mixed reactions and responses to the president’s announcement Wednesday night that he would be banning all travel from Europe, which the administration later clarified applied only to people that are not U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or their immediate family members. Students also criticized the lack of immediate response from college administrators as other institutions recalled their students, and at least three global study programs — in Copenhagen, Geneva, and Jerusalem — have canceled the rest of the semester abroad and are sending students home. The Gettysburgian is aware of two other students who decided to leave their respective locations on their own volition or at their parents’ urging within the past 24 hours.

Late Thursday night, the Center for Global Education did send a message to students studying abroad in Europe. They were told to come home.

Recap of The Gettysburgian’s Coronavirus Coverage

Assistant News Editor Katie Oglesby contributed to this report.

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.

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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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