Dear Immaculata University Community,
We have all had to adapt many times over the past several months and it has not been easy for any of us. Unfortunately, we need to do so again. Throughout this COVID-19 crisis, we have said that our highest priorities are the health and safety of our community and the quality of the academic experience. As we began planning for the upcoming academic year, we were well aware that bringing college students together from across the region in the midst of a pandemic presented some unique challenges. We established a plan to address these challenges; however, the recent situation of increased COVID-19 cases has caused us, once again, to pause and consider what is best for our IU Community. If you have been following the news regarding COVID-19, as I have been, you know that dramatic changes have taken place in the spread of the virus and its effect on young adults. These changes have all taken place within the last month, leading to the newest sobering statistic that since the beginning of the pandemic, 40% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States have been reported in the last month.
With these most recent changes, we now believe that our goals are best met by delaying the return to campus until after mid-term. This means that the beginning few weeks of the fall semester will take place through virtual instruction. Beginning on October 16th, our plan is to welcome residential students back to campus and to return to face-to-face instruction on October 19th. A schedule for the return to campus will be communicated at a later date.
The only exception to this present plan will be for our Nursing program. We will be bringing the College of Undergraduate Studies sophomores, juniors, and seniors and the College of Adult Professional Studies Accelerated Degree Completion students to campus as scheduled for nursing courses. The Nursing program requires direct hands on clinical experience, as it is critical to clinical judgment and success as practitioners. This population will be taking courses on-campus, in the clinical Iabs and at clinical locations. Students and faculty will be provided with personal protection equipment, and all classrooms and labs will be sanitized regularly throughout the day. The Office of Residence Life and Housing will be in touch with sophomore, junior and senior nursing students regarding temporary on-campus housing.
It is also important to note that off-campus classes, internships, student teaching and practica will continue. Program directors will work with students to fulfill their internship, student teaching and practicum. While most prefer to have face-to-face classroom instruction, our faculty will be prepared to deliver an outstanding online learning experience. We have invested in many new technologies and software programs that will enhance education in a virtual setting. Academic Support Services will continue to be available virtually for students, including, but not limited to: Academic Advising, Academic Coaching, Career and Professional Development, Library/Research, Learning Support Services, Math Center, Tutoring Services and Writing Center. In addition, our Campus Life and Campus Ministry staffs will remain focused on building community and social connections by working with student organizations to support a wide-range of virtual activities and programs for the first half of the semester. We also had to postpone our fall athletics schedule to the spring. Coaches will be working with our athletes virtually over the course of the first few weeks of the semester.
This is a very painful decision. We want our students to be here on campus as much as they would prefer to be here. This latest development certainly does not reflect how we would like to begin a new academic year. When it is time to do so, we will reopen the campus responsibly by making sure that we follow the guidelines of the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
In light of these unprecedented circumstances, we will make the following financial adjustments:
- The Student Services Fee will be charged at 50% of the semester rate.
- Room and Board will be charged for the time residential students are residing in the dorms.
- A “COVID Credit” will be issued as follows:
- CUS Students – 5% credit against the net tuition for the period we are exclusively online
- CAPS and CGS Students – If you are taking less than 6 credits, you will receive a credit of $125; if you are taking six or more credits, you will receive a credit of $200.
We know that you are likely to have questions and we want to help. Please see our COVID-19 webpage for a series of Frequently Asked Questions. If for some reason your question is not addressed, please contact us and we will be sure you get answers. In the next couple of days, a separate communication will be sent to all employees containing pertinent information.
We realize that our lives have been completely turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across our nation. I thank you for your ongoing patience, flexibility and understanding. These decisions are not easy given the uncertainties and the ever-changing circumstances of this pandemic. One thing is clear. Our support for our Immaculata Community will not waiver. In the face of this great challenge, we are confident in the commitment of everyone in the Immaculata family to work together to advance our mission and to make this a successful and productive year.