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March 12 Campus Update on the Coronavirus

Dickinson President Margee Ensign sent the following message to the campus community on March 12 to provide an update on the college's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19):

To the Dickinson community:

We are all dealing with a rapidly evolving and unprecedented challenge. We will continue to update you on a regular basis and convey our decisions, which are based on the best evidence available at any point in time. As I have said before, we are following the advice of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State and the World Health Organization (WHO). We have a highly professional Emergency Response Team that is meeting daily to work through many potential scenarios.

The State Department today issued a global travel warning of Level 3, which means that individuals should avoid non-essential travel. In addition, the CDC raised its travel warning to Level 3 for the majority of Europe. As a result, we have made the difficult and disappointing decision to suspend all our study-abroad programs at this time. We are asking all students to leave those programs and return home, unless they successfully petition to return to campus. Our Center for Global Study & Engagement will support them throughout this process. We have been in communication with the students and parents impacted by this decision.

Students, this is clearly not the semester you and your families had planned. I know this situation is particularly difficult for our seniors, who are in their last semester on campus, and our international students, who may be worried about their ability to return to the United States or their home country. I recognize the stress this is causing all of you. I am so grateful for the understanding and support of our entire Dickinson community as we work to make the best decisions we can to continue to provide excellent academics while balancing the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community. The situation is changing daily, and we are developing contingencies.

We will do everything we can to make sure that students are able to complete their semester on time and experience the same outstanding and personalized academic program you have come to expect from Dickinson. If we need to go to online classes for the remaining part of the semester, that will be an adjustment for our students and our faculty. However, our faculty are world class, and I am confident they will be able to innovate and provide a strong educational experience. We will make a decision about this and inform you early next week.

Every day I witness the resilience and commitment of our Dickinson community. I express my deepest appreciation to all of my colleagues who are working tirelessly to continue our mission, ensure the health and safety of our community and respond to this serious challenge. Dickinson is more than a college: it represents a worldview that for more than 200 years has responded to all our country’s challenges. Keep that spirit as we face this new challenge together.


Margee M. Ensign

Published March 12, 2020