Allegheny College cancels in-person classes through March 30 amid COVID-19 outbreak

'Remote instruction' to begin March 25, more details to come

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At 6:17 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, Allegheny College students received an email from President Hilary Link announcing that in-person classes will be cancelled until March 30. “Remote instruction” of classes will begin on March 25, which is one day after Allegheny students were set to return from spring break. 

The cancellation of in-person classes is in response to the global spread of COVID-19, according to the email. There are currently more than 125,000 reported cases of the virus on six continents — the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday. In the United States, almost 1,300 cases have been reported in the majority of states, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

A pandemic, as defined by the WHO, is “the worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity,” according to an article published by NBC News.  

“As we watch the rapidly changing impact of the COVID-19 virus throughout the world, Allegheny joins many other colleges in evaluating how our campus should be responding to protect the health and safety of our community while delivering the high-quality education that is the core of our mission,” the email reads. 

The college joins other higher-education institutions in Northwestern Pennsylvania that have already cancelled in-person classes due to fears of the virus. Edinboro University expects that in-person instruction will resume in April, and Slippery Rock University will be extending its spring break until March 29.   

Link’s email says that even though the campus hasn’t closed for spring break in past years, “this year (the college is) expecting that students leave campus if possible.”

Students are expected to leave campus by 5 p.m. on Saturday and should remain off campus until March 28, according to the email. Students with “extenuating circumstances that prevent them from leaving campus or accessing remote education,” must complete a “Spring Break 2020 Form,” and permission to be on campus will be granted on “a case-by-case basis.” While students are expected to leave campus, faculty and staff will follow business as usual.  

The email provides information regarding housing and dining, travel, athletics, events on campus and study abroad programs, amongst other topics pertaining to campus life. It also includes a “Risk Prevention Guidelines” section, which details ways to prevent further spread of the virus. 

“When students return to campus on March 28, 2020, their housing assignments and meal plans will remain in place,” the email reads. “Students may leave their belongings in their rooms over the extended break, but are encouraged to take class-related items that are needed to continue studies remotely.”

Housing selection night will now take place on April 1 — selection for college-owned houses will begin at 5 p.m. that evening, and senior selection will begin at 6 p.m.