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Coronavirus Update

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Campus Reopening Page.

March 16 Campus Update on the Coronavirus

President Margee Ensign sent the following message to the campus community on March 16 to report that Dickinson has made the decision to move classes online for the rest of the semester:

To the Dickinson Community:

We have made the difficult decision to complete this semester online.

We are all living through extraordinary times. While there are no presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus, five cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in Cumberland County, the county Dickinson has called home for more than two centuries. As cases multiply across the state, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has closed all K-12 schools for two weeks and has ordered all non-essential businesses to close. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last night that all gatherings of 50 or more be suspended for eight weeks. In addition, the CDC has said that closing schools for eight weeks or more may have a greater impact on mitigating the spread of virus than the shorter times currently planned.

This is not a decision we take lightly, and it is certainly not the decision we would prefer. Seniors, I know how difficult this must be for all of you. I truly am sorry that you will not be able to finish your Dickinson journey in the way you had hoped. However, this decision is one that we must make to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff and community.

Dickinson is proud of its long history of educating leaders who will work for the common good. We are proud of the close relationship that exists between faculty and students. Our skill in innovating, our nimbleness in adjusting as the world changes, our comfort with ambiguity and our concern for one another—these will allow us to meet these difficult times. We will work through them together, emerging an even stronger community.

Students, you will be hearing from your faculty members this week as they work diligently to create remote learning options. To my wonderful faculty colleagues, thank you for all of your hard work under these taxing, unprecedented circumstances. To staff members, I am grateful for your loyal service and mindful of protecting your health and safety in the days ahead.

We will begin holding virtual meetings with various groups later this week.

Listed below are some impacts of this decision. We have created a website with Frequently Asked Questions. Please check this webpage for more complete information.



  • We ask that all students try to get their belongings and move out of your campus housing between March 18 and April 5. You will need to schedule your return through Housing Self-Service (Housing icon in Gateway).
  • Students with a compelling reason to stay on campus, including those who were approved for this week, must apply to remain on campus. Please submit the application found here by noon on Thursday, March 19 , in order to receive an answer by Friday at 4 p.m.
  • If you are unable to retrieve your belongings, please see the options available to you. If none of these options work for you, please contact
  • For additional questions, please take a look at this FAQ document.


  • Our goal is for all students to complete the semester on time.
  • Faculty will be reaching out to you as we move to remote classes. We know that all students will not be available to be online at the same time, and faculty understand this. We also know that not all students have equal access, and we will be working to meet every student’s needs.
  • Students, in consultation with their faculty, will have the option to take a grade for classes or take credit/non-credit for the course. Some faculty may choose to move the entire course to credit/no credit.
  • For other questions please consult this FAQ.


  • The Wellness Center will remain open 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. to provide limited services to students who are still on campus and will work with all other students to find referrals at home. Routine appointments will not be offered at this time, and in lieu of coming in to schedule appointments (or for Open Hours), all students should instead call the Wellness Center if they need assistance. Students should call the Department of Public Safety at 717-245-1111 if there is a physical or mental health emergency after hours or on weekends.


  • You make Dickinson the world-class institution it is, and I am grateful to all of you for your efforts and support during this challenging time. All full-time and part-time employees (who are scheduled to work and not already planning to be on leave) will receive their regular pay through March 31 and will not be required to take paid leave during this time.
  • We are committed to developing a scheduling and compensation strategy for our full-time staff for the rest of the semester and will be providing additional information in the days ahead.
  • The campus will transition to a modified staffing arrangement beginning Monday. Those who are able to work remotely should be in contact with their supervisors who will work with you to ensure you can start doing so as soon as feasible. If you have health concerns, please contact your medical provider and do what is best for you. Please follow up with your supervisor.
  • The library is closed to students and the public.
  • The Kline Center is closed to everyone except athletic staff, housekeeping and officers from the Department of Public Safety.
  • For other questions please consult this FAQ.

Dickinson prides itself on being a different sort of college. We have been a college, since our very founding more than two hundred years ago, that has sought to provide a useful education, an education to foster the common good. This is an attitude, an orientation, now indispensable in our college, our nation and the world. We must all of us be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to do our part. I have every confidence that we will look back at this difficult time with pride in what we have done, how we have helped and how we have lived up to our ideals and principles.


Margee M. Ensign

Published March 16, 2020