Fall 2021: Edinboro U hopeful campus can get back to normal

Category:  News
Friday, February 26th, 2021 at 11:27 AM
Fall 2021: Edinboro U hopeful campus can get back to normal by Jenna Tupitza
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On Feb. 15, Edinboro University President Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson sent an email to Edinboro University students, faculty and staff announcing plans to reopen the campus for the Fall 2021 semester. In this email, Pehrsson said, “We will continue to follow the science, but we are very hopeful that students can return to in-person classes, living in our residence halls and engaging in more activities.” In addition, campus housing applications are now open and housing assignments are planned for July.

So, what does this mean for the expected return to campus? We talked to Edinboro officials and surveyed the student body for questions.

“We are planning to offer the mix of traditional in-person and online classes that were offered prior to the pandemic,” said Vice President of Marketing and Communications Angela Burrows. She explained that this means there will be online courses available to students, but the majority of undergraduate courses will be in-person. Classes may return back to online if ordered by safety conditions, though. She revealed that the fall class schedule will be posted for students in the SCOTS portal “soon.”

“Will housing be open for more than 2 people? Like, will rooms go back to being 4 people in the Highlands?” asked Saige Slater, a freshman majoring in childhood education. When we asked Burrows that question, she said she hopes students will be allowed to room together and live in the housing on campus as long as health experts approve. “Our hope is to return to pre-COVID living arrangements in the residence halls.”

What will the return of clubs and activities look like? Edinboro University hopes to allow students to attend events in the Fall 2021 semester, but are still working on a safe “Welcome Weekend,” for example. Burrows said of events, “This assumes the COVID situation improves, most on campus have received the vaccine, and [the] Erie County Health Department and PA Department of Health officials do not advise against such in-person activities.”

Athletes like Madison Deegan, who majors in early childhood education, wonder if they can play their sport in the fall semester and if their friends and families can attend their games. Burrows explained that Edinboro University would like to return to regular sporting events, however, “decisions around athletics will be made in collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the NCAA.”

Edinboro previously announced that select winter sports — wrestling and swimming — along with all spring sports would return for the spring semester. Then, “all other fall and winter sports will return to campus and resume strength, conditioning and practices with limited opportunities to scrimmage on a case by case basis.”

“We’re hopeful with the vaccine,” Burrows said more generally about the fall semester. “We know more now than we did in fall (2020), so we’ve learned.” She said that Edinboro University has increased their testing efforts with all students living on campus being tested at the beginning of this semester, and there will likely be testing in the fall to a necessary extent.

With the vaccines being slowly released to the public, Burrows explained that the university cannot require that students and faculty receive the vaccine to attend school, but they can strongly encourage it. “As a public institution, we cannot mandate vaccination in order to pursue an education unless the Pennsylvania Department of Health requires it.” However, Edinboro University’s plan is to educate students as part of the campus vaccination efforts, but there are no conclusions on what this outreach will look like.

In addition, and according to an email from the university’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), the school has “submitted information to the PA DOH (Department of Health), at their request, to become a point of dispensing (POD).” Specifically, EU is in consideration for an open POD, which means the school would be “utilized to vaccinate the community.” They do warn readers that “this information was provided for planning purposes only and does not guarantee the delivery of the vaccine to Edinboro University.”

With the plan to move students back to campus, there will need to be precautions in fall no matter what. Burrows mentioned this could include wearing masks or social distancing. She reminded students, “[Edinboro University] won’t know until much closer to the start of the fall semester, when we’ll have a better sense of the status of the COVID situation.”

There may still be some mystery surrounding fall, but as the fall announcement email stated, “given what we know, we are very hopeful for the fall.”

“We are anticipating a more typical reopening for the fall semester based on the assumption that vaccine distribution will be more widespread across the country, allowing for safer campus conditions,” said Burrows.

Jenna Tupitza is the Assistant News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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