Cambria County moves into the "Green Phase," on Friday, June 5 which allows Saint Francis University to begin the next stage of a staggered campus reopening including a return of the university's workforce, as well as select health sciences students. Campus leaders are also making plans for students to return to in-person instruction this fall.
"Saint Francis University continues to drive ahead in fulfilling our essential mission of providing a transformative face-to-face educational experience and nourishing our community of faith and prayer. We are excited that recent movements will allow us to come back together and restore the campus to the engaging, vibrant community we so deeply miss," shared University President Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D.
Since Governor Tom Wolf issued the statewide "stay-at-home" order in March, Saint Francis University students and faculty moved to a virtual learning environment, and the university's administration and staff have continued to support them by telecommuting.
A small number of essential employees have been working on campus since March, and additional employees returned during the Yellow Phase over the past two weeks. During this time, the university's Pandemic Response Team has implemented scalable safety measures including a required daily wellness check-in that will allow its entire workforce to return to campus.
Under the Yellow Phase designation, physician assistant science students were able to return to campus on June 1 for in-person instruction. Abbie Hutchins, from Greensburg who is grateful to be able to resume her coursework said that "the communication was very clear" and students "knew exactly what to expect when we came back to campus." Caralyn Wilcox of Erie added, "Having masks, hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing made me feel very safe to be back in the classroom."
Additional health science majors will return in the coming weeks. The Office of Admissions announced plans to allow campus visits for prospective students beginning June 8.
The university also announced it intends to offer face-to-face classes in fall, as long as the state continues to ease restrictions, although there will be measures in place that will allow for smaller classes and the ability to be flexible if virus cases emerge. The plan calls for the fall semester to begin ahead of schedule (August 17) and conclude with the Thanksgiving holiday. Detailed plans for the fall semester are under development including evaluating academic spaces, altered class times and use of PPE. Plans are being developed with elements of flexibility based on the evolving course of the virus.