The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved a framework Wednesday to guide operations of the system’s 14 universities for the upcoming Fall semester, marking a significant milestone since the coronavirus pandemic began. The framework is designed to provide flexibility for universities to plan locally while doing so in a fashion that meets systemwide standards. All 14 State System universities are making plans that allow for some form of face-to-face instruction in the Fall; those plans will be finalized in the coming weeks. “Our universities continue to prove their ingenuity, resilience, and an unbridled commitment to mission,” Chancellor Dan Greenstein said. “Leadership at these universities are engaging their local communities to develop their plans for Fall with a focus on how to mitigate risks while re-engaging face-to-face instruction.” In addition to following federal and state health and safety guidelines, the framework requires all 14 university plans to conform to State System guidance that fosters consistency in key areas such as:
- Expectations for students, faculty, and staff with respect of their roles in helping to mitigate health and safety risks;
- Curtailment of institutionally sponsored travel unless deemed essential;
- Support for employee telework including remote instruction if needed;
- Standardized processes for employees requesting flexible work arrangements;
- Steps to be taken in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19;
- Circumstances requiring a university to curtail or suspend face-to-face instruction independently of any action taken by a local, state or federal government agency.
For more information on the State System’s framework for safely returning to campus, please click here. “Every university in our System is unique and operates in counties with varying degrees of pandemic severity,” said Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors. “It’s important for us to balance their independence with a systemwide approach emphasizing safety standards for all students, faculty, and employees. Everyone who is part of our campus communities should have confidence that their health and safety is our number one priority.” The State System suspended in-person instruction March 13, 2020, as a means of helping control the spread of the coronavirus. While university leadership has focused on what measures make sense for their campuses, they’ve also collaborated with other System institutions to improve health and safety plans.