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Penn State Ends In-Person Classes For Now, Switches to Remote In Response to Coronavirus

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Penn State announced that it is canceling in-person classes and switching to remote, online learning at least through April 3. Penn State is currently on spring break, and the university is discouraging all students from returning after the break, even if they live off-campus.

There are no known cases on any of the Penn State campuses. 

“We think it is really in the best interest of not only our community but the community in which we reside to move to remote instruction for this three week period and really lower the density of people on campus thereby minimizing the likelihood of further virus transmission," said Provost Nick Jones, who has been leading the university’s efforts.

Classes will be held remotely. Dorms and on-campus dining will be largely closed. Most events will be canceled or rescheduled until after April 6.

Faculty and staff will continue to work. But, the university says supervisors will work with staff to accommodate telecommuting when possible.

“We want people at all levels student staff and faculty, leadership, to be making the right decisions that are really driven by consideration of the health and safety of our community and the community in which we reside," Jones said.

Penn State Athletics will continue to hold home competitions and practice. But, the events will be closed to the public.

Other schools have been taking similar steps. Juniata College, Lock Haven University and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford have extended spring break until March 20 and will go online after that. In Centre County, the State College Area School District is canceling school next week. It’s also currently on spring break.

President Eric Barron notes in a message issued Wednesday afternoon that there are now more than 1,000 cases throughout the United States, including cases in Pennsylvania, and they expect the number will grow.

“The best mechanism for prevention based on advice from experts is social distancing, and unfortunately that is very difficult in a university setting,” the message from Barron says. “We fully understand these changes will cause disruptions in your day-to-day lives; Penn State’s decision was made out of an abundance of caution and with your health and the well-being of our entire community in mind, and as Pennsylvania is currently under a state of emergency.”

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.
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