College announces deadline for changing spring 2021 learning status

In an email to the campus community on Jan. 28, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students April Thompson and Dean of Curriculum and College Registrar Ian Binnington announced the deadline for students to decide whether to continue remote or resume in-person learning for module two of the spring 2021 semester. 

“We want to update those of you who are still weighing your options for Spring 2021 and deciding if you will return to campus or take classes remotely,” Thompson and Binnington wrote in the email. “At this point in the semester, it is too late to switch from remote to on-campus or commuter. However, students may still choose to switch from on-campus or commuter to remote, with the following deadlines and conditions.”

Students have the ability to switch their learning status until Feb. 4 at 5 p.m EST without penalty or charge. After this deadline, students may switch to remote, but they will have to pay a $600 cancellation fee. Until move in on Feb. 18 or 19, any room charges left after the $600 is deducted as well as any board charges will be refunded to the student. Following move-in, students have the opportunity to switch to remote learning throughout the semester, but will be required to pay the $600 cancellation fee. They will receive a room and board refund until the 60% mark of the semester. After that time, students who chose to switch to remote learning will not be eligible to receive a refund or be obligated to pay a cancellation fee. 

In a follow-up email to the campus community on Jan. 29, President Hilary Link and the Allegheny College Health Agency clarified that current remote students can switch to in-person learning until Feb. 4. 

According to the Withdrawal and Return of Title IV Funds, the aforementioned 60% mark varies based upon student enrollment. The website reads, “the 60% point of the spring 2021 semester is April 6 for students taking both module (one) and (two) or a full semester course. The 60% point of the Spring 2021 semester is (Feb. 2) for students taking only a module (one) course. The 60% point of the spring 2021 semester is April 16 for students only taking a module (two) course.” 

Thompson and Binnington encouraged remote students to check their bill ahead of the Feb. 4 deadline to see that their meal plan and housing plan are no longer listed. If the plans are still listed on the bill, students must send an email to [email protected] announcing their intent to be remote for the semester. Any student that would like to switch to remote learning during the semester must send the notice to that email and vacate their residence within 48 hours. Their dormitories need to be empty before they leave campus to return to remote learning. 

 “We know that it is challenging to decide whether to be remote or in-person, and we wanted to provide you a little more context to help you in making the decision,” Link and ACHA wrote in the email. “A large number of students who were remote in the fall have selected to live and learn on campus instead in the spring. As some students are currently still weighing their options, we wanted to alert you to our updated and enhanced (COVID-19) dashboard.”

According to the ACHA, the college’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 0.42% compared to 12.9% in Crawford County. The current on-campus positivity rate is less than that of Pennsylvania’s and the United States’ positivity rates. Since Jan. 13, there have been 6 positive cases of COVID-19, 5 of which were from employees. There are currently 3 active cases on campus, all of which are employees.

“Our ACHA advisory board — including epidemiologists and microbiologists in California and Erie, PA — is confident that the surge is declining in Crawford County and that Allegheny College remains one of the safest possible places to live and learn this spring,” Link and ACHA announced.