College Extends Spring Break Due to Coronavirus

Drew Kaplan '20, Editor-in-Chief

Dickinson College has extended spring break by an additional week due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, with plans to reopen the college on Monday, March 23. A final decision regarding a potential move to online classes for the rest of the semester is expected by early next week.

According to an email sent on March 10 to the college community by President Margee Ensign, the decision to extend the break is due to the “rapidly changing situation and spread of COVID-19 in the United States.” Despite this, Ensign stated that the college remains committed to competing the spring semester.

Students have been asked to leave campus by Friday, March 13, unless granted permission to remain. Students not granted permission are not permitted to return until Saturday, March 21. Moreover, buildings on campus, including the library and Kline Center, now require individuals to swipe in, and college operated student shuttles have been cancelled. Access to the library and Kline Center was suspended for retirees, alumni and employee dependents on March 12, according to the Dickinson College website. The petition form states that students who can remain away from campus for the duration of the closure are expected to do so, and students are instructed to contact faculty members directly regarding academic projects. College sponsored travel has also been suspended, and as of March 12, all study abroad programs have also been suspended, with students asked to leave their abroad institutions and return home unless granted permission to return to Carlisle. Ensign said that faculty have been instructed to develop plans to move classes online should the college remain closed later than the current March 21 reopening date.

Students have been supportive of the decision to extend the break, but concerns remain over how the remainder of the semester will be affected. “Honestly, I thought that it [the spring break extension] was premature but now seeing everything going on with the other schools and the spread, I think it was smart” said Mac Khoury ’22, “to call of school completely right away would be so upsetting and random, but this is like a temporary fix that’ll prepare us for any response.”

“I truly have no idea if I’m ever going to have class in-person again, and that’s devastating in a way” said Isabella Jurcisin ’20.

In an email sent on March 12 to the college community, Ensign reiterated the college’s commitment to completing the semester. “I am so grateful for the understanding and support of our entire Dickinson community as we work to make the best decisions we can to continue to provide excellent academics while balancing the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community” wrote Ensign, “the situation is changing daily, and we are developing contingencies.”

Dickinson College’s response to the situation echoes that of other Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Classes at Lafayette College will occur remotely from March 23 until April 5, with students required to leave college owned housing during the remote learning period, according to the Lafayette College website. Franklin & Marshall College will have classes online from March 23 until April 2, with students who are able required to return home during the period, according to the Franklin & Marshall College website. Students at Shippensburg University will return to classes as scheduled on March 23. However, according to The Slate, the newspaper of Shippensburg University, the university is continuing the monitor the situation, and may amend the schedule for the remainder of the semester. Students at the University of Pennsylvania are required to leave their residences by March 17, following an extension of the original deadline of March 15. The university has urged students not to return to campus to collect belongings, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania has also suspended its study abroad programs in Europe for the semester, as well as programs scheduled for summer 2020. The university is also considering online classes, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The outbreak of coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11.