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Coronavirus Update

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March 11 Campus Update on the Coronavirus

Dickinson President Margee Ensign sent the following message to the campus community to provide an update on the college's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

To the Dickinson community:

We have communicated with you regularly during the past several weeks, and we will continue to do so. But today, I want to start with a thank you. This is a challenging time for our campus, our country and our world. Dramatic steps are being taken here at home and abroad to stop the spread of the unprecedented COVID-19, which was today classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. There is much we don’t yet know about this novel strain. What we do know—and what we have seen repeatedly—is that this is a fast moving, fluid situation that requires constant monitoring and adjustment.

I know this has not been an easy time for our students, faculty, staff and parents. I want to thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we work to ensure that we continue to educate our talented students, while at the same time protecting the health and safety of our entire community. We know those individuals who have underlying health concerns, are pregnant or are older are at the greatest risk from COVID-19, and we are making decisions with all those individuals in mind.

And we remain committed to completing the spring semester. We know the uncertainty about how we will do that is hard for everyone, but particularly for our seniors, who are looking forward to these last months on campus and with their friends. I am sorry your final semester has been disrupted. Be assured that we will make every effort to ensure that you graduate from Dickinson as scheduled.

We are a resilient, innovative and caring community. I cannot imagine a better group of people to tackle the challenges ahead.

I want to update you on several matters.


  • We have extended spring break and ask no students to return to campus before March 21. Students who need to return to or remain on campus must successfully petition here by 4 p.m. Thursday, March 12.
  • A message will go out to students who have petitioned to remain on campus about services available on campus next week, including dining services.
  • Shuttles for this weekend have been canceled, and any students who need information should contact or 717-245-8187.
  • Faculty will begin reaching out to all students in their classes next week as part of our contingency planning processes.
  • The Wellness Center will be open next week (and the remainder of this week) Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Open Hours in Counseling & Psychiatric Services will continue to be offered Monday - Friday from 11 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. If you already have a Wellness Center appointment scheduled for next week, you will be contacted by Wellness Center staff about rescheduling as needed. If you have questions or concerns that cannot wait, please contact the Wellness Center at 717-245-1663 or If you are on campus and need to schedule a Health Services appointment, please call to schedule rather than walking in so that Wellness Center staff can obtain some information from you on the phone prior to your visit.
  • We will make additional decisions about how we will complete the semester early next week.
  • We will announce decisions about the remainder of our athletic season tomorrow.
  • Beginning tomorrow morning, card access will be required to all buildings so equipped, including the Kline Fitness Center and the library.
  • We are not suspending any additional study abroad programs, but travel within those programs is suspended, and we strongly discourage personal travel by students studying abroad.


  • Although spring break has been extended, the campus is open, and all employees are expected to report as usual, unless you have been notified by your supervisor.
  • If you have underlying health concerns, please contact your physician and make the best decision for you.
  • Beginning tomorrow morning, card access will be required to all buildings so equipped, including the Kline Fitness Center and the library.
  • Faculty will be asked to reach out to all students next week as part of contingency planning for the rest of the semester.
  • Additional decisions about how we will complete the semester will be made early next week.
  • Effective immediately, Aetna has waived co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This policy will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location. More information is available here.
  • For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. More information is available here.
  • If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, please stay home from work and we encourage you to contact your medical provider.

Travel and Events

  • All non-essential Dickinson-related travel on airplanes, trains or buses is suspended unless a waiver is provided by the president.
  • We are also suspending all on-campus and off-campus college events that involve gatherings of more than 25 people. Any such events will need to be canceled.
  • Personal travel is strongly discouraged, and we urge caution and good judgement.

Precautionary measures

I urge you to follow the steps outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, including:

  • Frequent handwashing for 20 seconds or more.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.

Campus updates are available on our coronavirus webpage.

The coming days and weeks will present more challenges for all of us. I know this is a disruptive and distressing time for many in our community. Please know that we will continue to chart a path forward that allows us to continue educating our students while protecting the health and safety of our entire community.

Again, I want to thank all of you for your resilience and flexibility throughout this situation. Working together, we will meet the challenges ahead. I am so grateful to all of you for your dedication and your passion for learning.


Margee M. Ensign

Published March 12, 2020