In Change of Course, Edinboro Plans Mainly Online Instruction

By Schackner, Bill | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), July 23, 2020 | Go to article overview

In Change of Course, Edinboro Plans Mainly Online Instruction


Schackner, Bill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Edinboro University on Wednesday did an about-face and announced it will move nearly all its instruction online this fall and drastically limit those able to live on campus amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and nationally.

The university alerted students in an email Wednesday afternoon and said the school with 4,800 students will allow only 175 on campus, a fraction of the norm. They include international students and others enrolled in a course with an experiential component that is being taught in person and is required for their major.

Edinboro becomes the third of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities to announce an abrupt change in fall plans, and it comes as a number of campuses in other states also have reversed course on plans for a residential campus experience. Edinboro is canceling all dorm assignments made prior to July 21 and will process refunds for students who already paid, officials said.

Edinboro President Guiyou Huang called it a hard but necessary decision and said he realized many had already firmed up their plans.

"I am writing to share the news that after careful consideration, we have decided to move most of our courses online for the fall semester and to significantly limit the number of students living on campus," he wrote. "I realize that this news is being sent after many of you have solidified your return-to-campus arrangements, but in this incredibly fluid situation, with COVID-19 cases surging in Pennsylvania and many other states, we believe this is the best way to minimize the health risks to our students, faculty and staff."

The move is likely to fuel angst among students and parents at other schools, including those within the State System of Higher Education, many of which, like Edinboro, previously announced plans to bring students back and teach a blend of in-person and remote classes. Edinboro had planned to do so as recently as last week and was expecting to welcome freshmen on Aug. 12.

West Chester University and East Stroudsburg so far are the only others among the 14 State System universities that have shifted their focus to online for the fall, said David Pidgeon, a spokesman for the State System in Harrisburg.

"Sorry, but I can't speculate on whether others will too," he said Wednesday.

The State System, through Mr. Pidgeon, reiterated its view Wednesday that rather than make a systemwide decision, individual universities should make the call because their leaders "know their campuses, their communities and their capabilities best."

Officials with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University and California University of Pennsylvania told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday their plans to return students to campus for blended in-person and online classes have not changed. Slippery Rock University also is proceeding as planned, although it has moved to a smaller share of in-person classes, spokesman Robb King said. …

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