M.U. increasing online courses, reducing on-campus dorm capacity

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MANSFIELD, Pa., (WETM-TV) – On Monday, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania announced additional steps in the wake of COIVD-19, to keep its students safe this upcoming fall semester.

Dr. Charles Patterson, President of Mansfield University, issued the following letter;

Dear Mansfield University Community:

Mansfield University’s home county of Tioga continues to rank among the top 10 counties in Pennsylvania with the lowest number of positive COVID-19 cases. In the spring and summer of this year, Mansfield University’s location in rural Northcentral Pennsylvania provided a unique defense against the spread of COVID-19. At that time, our Mountie students overwhelmingly expressed a strong interest in returning to campus in the fall, albeit with appropriate restrictions to ensure a healthy environment.

Today, however, we are seeing this rural advantage fade away across areas of the United States and Pennsylvania as infection rates in rural areas have begun to increase. In addition, there continues to be limited testing capabilities throughout Pennsylvania. This combination of increasing infection rates and limited testing regimes is requiring universities throughout the United States to continually shift their initial plans for returning to in-person instruction in the fall of 2020, including Mansfield University.

Today, Mansfield University is announcing that we will continue to further increase our offering of remote (online) courses in response to a continually changing pandemic environment. This shift is being done proactively in order to ensure the continued health of our students and employees.

We do not have any reported or confirmed cases of coronavirus infection on our campus at this time. This plan simply builds upon the work that we have already done, as described within the Fall 2020 Plan. Rebalancing the delivery of instruction and limiting campus residency allows Mansfield University to continue to prioritize the health and safety of our campus community, while also supporting student needs and advancing our important educational mission.

For the fall semester, our campus community can expect the following adaptations:

  • Course delivery: As the fall semester begins, we anticipate that approximately 75% of all courses will be provided remotely (online). The remaining 25% of our courses will be delivered partially or entirely face-to-face. Our face-to-face courses will be restricted primarily to natural and health science lab courses, clinicals, student teaching, internships, and certain courses in music and art.
  • Residential living: We will reduce our residential campus population to approximately 1/3 of total capacity by restricting campus living to the following students:
    • New freshmen are invited to reside on campus, but this is not required. The transition to college life can be challenging and the first semester of college is critical to success. Having our new freshmen Mounties on campus will allow them to start the college experience by building communities and acclimating to college life at Mansfield University. Mountie Days activities will be held with this in mind. Students who are enrolled in a course with an in-person instructional component or hands-on/experience-based component that is required for their specific major.
    • Students who are enrolled in a course with an in-person instructional component or hands-on/experience-based component that is required for their specific major.
    • International students who are in the United States.
    • Students with special circumstances, which may include students who are housing insecure or students who have limited broadband/internet connectivity and are unable to access remote learning at home. We will work with students with other special circumstances, as well as students with concerns about living on campus, on an individual basis to provide the best possible learning platform for them.

Mansfield University remains committed to assisting all of our students through the coming fall semester. We stand ready to support technology needs, increasing mentorship, proactively addressing any hardships, and adjusting the total cost of attendance in concert with the Office of Financial Aid.

Each college or university must build its plan based on what it believes is best for its situation and must be prepared to change course as new information becomes known and understood. The Fall 2020 Plan has been developed in accordance with published health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). The alterations described above represent our commitment to continue to evaluate and adjust instruction as conditions require and as further research and data has become available.

It is important to reinforce that the single most important factor in promoting a safe campus environment is compliance with protective behaviors. We must all take extraordinary steps to stay well and protect each other. What we do today, and in the days and weeks to come, will determine how the fall semester will best serve our students. To this end, it is critical that all university employees, students, community members and visitors embrace a shared commitment to undertake protective measures, both on campus and off campus. In doing so, we will be even better positioned to transition into spring 2021.

To our students and their families, I want to personally thank you for your patience and for your understanding as we continue to take measures to ensure student success while also addressing the health and safety needs of our entire campus community. You will undoubtedly have questions. More information will be coming tomorrow and throughout this week as we work to prepare for a successful fall semester.

To our faculty and staff, I remain tremendously proud of how the Mansfield community has come together to plan – and make appropriate adjustments to plans – based on a continually changing environment. Thank you for your exceptional efforts and for keeping your focus on the success of our Mountie students.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Patterson, PhD

President

View Online: http://mansfield.meritpages.com/news/Mansfield-University-Fall-2020-Update/16582

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