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Penn State Will Announce Plans For Fall Semester By June 15

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian

Penn State leaders say they will announce plans for the fall semester and whether students will return for in-person classes by June 15.

“We’re always trying to juggle the two competing desires for people to know what’s ahead of them, but also to be making the best decision with the most up-to-date epidemiological and health information at our fingertips,” said Provost Nick Jones.

He and Penn State President Eric Barron answered questions about the impact of COVID-19 on Penn State during Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, which was held remotely.

They said Plan A is for students to return in the fall, but they are developing other plans.

Barron outlined several outcomes that are being studied, from new international students not being able to make it to campus to the “worst case scenario.”

“Which is you can’t be residential in the fall. You lose a lot of students, particularly out-of-state and international. You convert a number of them to remote education, with the hopes that they become residential in January,” Barron said.

He said other scenarios that could happen include out-of-state students opting for a university that's closer to home and less expensive. What happens with student enrollment will dictate the impact on Penn State’s budget.

“Fundamentally, that range from an $88 million hole in the (Education and General) budget to a $456 million hole in the budget is really entirely a picture on who comes and who enrolls and what their distribution is,” Barron said.

Pennsylvania is currently under a stay-at-home order from Gov. Tom Wolf until May 8. Wolf plans to begin lifting that in some parts of the state starting May 8. The state has not detailed the specifics of what criteria or testing levels a county or region will need to meet for the order to be eased. Some Penn State campuses are in areas that have been harder hit by the coronavirus.

Barron said the university will likely use a phased process and everyone probably won't go back to work at the same time.

“I personally don’t see people not working remotely … for well past May 8,” he said.

Penn State summer classes are already slated to take place remotely.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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