Dear Ship Community,
I write to share next steps in our response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring the health and safety of our community while maintaining the high-quality educational experience that makes us Shippensburg University has been my guiding principle.
While we had hoped that, in our region, the virus would remain contained, extending our spring break gave us the opportunity to prepare for the scenario that is now playing out in the Commonwealth. The situation prompted our governor to enact significant containment measures outlined in a set of directives for all Commonwealth agencies that included suspending gatherings of large numbers of people and travel. On the same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, citing the rapid increase in infections worldwide and the expectation of continued transmission over the coming weeks. And nationally, public health agencies acknowledged the US has moved to efforts to mitigate transmission of the virus, including suspension of travel from European countries for 30 days. The declarative guidance of these expert organizations, unfortunately, calls our university into a new course of action. We must now do our part to mitigate community spread and ensure the health and safety of our community.
This is a difficult decision for me, and I know it will be for many of you as well, but to ensure that our community is healthy and safe, all face-to-face university instruction and events are suspended through Saturday April 11. This means all academic and non-academic instruction will be provided virtually.
One of the things I enjoy most about being your president is being on campus and sharing in the energy and life you all bring to it. It, quite literally, won’t be the same on campus without you, but after consultation with dozens of experts, professionals, and members of our community, I am confident that these social distancing measures are what’s best for our entire community.
While we have to modify the platform in which we deliver instruction, and for a time, the way we live and work as a community, we remain committed to our mission and who we are as the Ship community. It is a difficult time, but we honor our values. We will make sure that students are supported and able to continue their educations, and not just through course instruction. Seniors, we will work to help you get to the finish line and connect with jobs if you are graduating. We want to ensure that all students feel supported through this process and that their families know that Shippensburg University is here for them despite what is going on in the world around us.
Please go to ship.edu/coronavirus/faqs for detailed information and directions for accessing campus resources that address the variety of issues that are sure to arise around academic instruction and the other components of campus life. I urge you to read these messages carefully and to seek any help you need. Students, the administration, faculty, and staff are committed to carrying out these important and urgent changes with your best interests in mind and with a full appreciation of the challenges they create.
I know you have many questions. Please review the links on this page such as the FAQs section, where you may read the answers to questions from your peers and colleagues, as well as contribute your own question that may help us further inform the Ship community.
I am hopeful that the next three weeks of social distancing and community spread containment measures here and across the commonwealth will be an effective mitigation solution. If they are not effective, we will move forward in way that seeks to ensure the health and safety of our community.
Laurie A. Carter