Penn State York to begin spring semester fully remote

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Incoming students for Penn State University's fall semester are being forced to sign 'extrem' COVID-19 waivers.
Wednesday, August 12., 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Penn State York will begin its spring semester a week late, and classes will be fully remote for at least a month.

The spring semester was originally scheduled to begin Jan. 11, but Chancellor David Christiansen said Penn State leadership decided earlier in the year to postpone it until Jan 19. In-person classes will not resume until Feb. 15 under the new plan. 

Officials also eliminated the week of spring break, so the semester could end at its normal time, he said. 

The final day of classes is scheduled for April 30, with finals week May 3 to May 7, according to a news release. 

All 24 of Penn State's campuses are following this schedule, Christiansen said. It's up to professors to decide how to conduct their classes online. Christiansen said a majority of professors choose to hold classes via Zoom at their normally scheduled times. 

Christiansen said the Penn State York campus has operated fully remote several times before, including during the previous spring semester when the pandemic first hit the U.S. and in the final weeks of the fall semester, following Thanksgiving break. 

According to Penn State's COVID-19 dashboard, Penn State York has administered 452 COVID-19 tests, with only two positive cases identified. Penn State's main campus has administered more than 94,000 tests, with 5,125 positive cases identified. 

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Some Penn State campuses have students living on campus during winter break, but Penn State York does not have on-campus housing. Christiansen said a limited amount of students will be allowed on campus to access facilities such as computer labs or the library. 

Students returning to campus before Feb. 15 are required to get tested for COVID-19 prior to their arrival, according to the news release. 

Some faculty and staff are also allowed on campus, Christiansen said, but they must follow the university's safety guidelines. Everyone on campus must wear a mask. Christian said the only exception is when professors are alone in their own office with the door closed. 

More:Students at Penn State forced to sign 'extreme' COVID-19 liability waiver

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed in the U.S., Christiansen said he isn't sure how the vaccine will impact Penn State York. He said it will likely depend on how quickly the vaccine is distributed, but university officials plan to follow government and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. 

"We're anxious to get back," Christiansen said. 

York College is also planning a shortened spring semester that will begin Feb. 1 and end May 13, according to its website. The campus will open for students Jan. 30. 

York College has administered 357 COVID-19 tests with 74 positive cases recorded as of Nov. 25, the most recent update to its COVID-19 dashboard.