May 15, 2020
Update: Fall 2020
Dear West Chester University Community,
I hope that all of you are healthy, safe, and in good spirits as our nation continues to work through the course of an unprecedented health challenge unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. My leadership team and I are working diligently to establish an effective plan for the reopening of WCU that will keep our community safe, while enabling all of our students to remain on track academically. We are purposeful in our resolve to get through this challenge and remain ready to work together in whatever way we can for the benefit of all of our students, as well as for those who work so hard on their behalf.
Upon guidance provided by Governor Wolf, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently reopening in three phases (red, yellow, and green). As the governor makes determinations with health experts about the status of regional readiness to move between phases, some colleges and universities will be permitted to open before others. Please know that this will not be a one-size-fits-all process, however, and will depend on meeting established health standards.
Weighing this critical factor, I want to share where we are at this stage of our planning. The executive team and I absolutely understand that we all need to think about plans for the fall semester. The course of the pandemic over the next two months, however, will best determine the actions that must be taken by the University. As such, we are currently planning a full range of options for consideration. Comprehensive processes and standards for isolating and the active practice of social distancing are being developed, as well.
West Chester University and its campus in Philadelphia can be regarded as a small city; we are ultimately making necessary plans to protect the educational citizens of our community. The University’s ability to reopen will also depend upon the help and guidance that will be needed from state and federal authorities regarding testing students, faculty, and staff prior to their return to campus. In addition, methods and practices of contact tracing will need to be determined.
Reflecting upon the informed guidance provided by state and federal authorities, as well as that of the leadership team, we will make the decision about plans for the fall 2020 semester and will share them with you in July. While we plan and prepare for a number of possible options, please be aware that now through June will be critical months for us to see how the health of our nation and our region are evolving. This window of time is absolutely needed, so that we can make an educated decision that will help determine the best time to bring our Ram family together. We, too, are eager to do so --- when it is safe. Know that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will always be uncompromising priorities.
Christopher Fiorentino, Ph.D.
West Chester University