Thursday, July 9, 2020

Dear Members of the Wilkes Community, 

I hope your summer is progressing as enjoyably and safely as possible. Since my last reopening update to you on June 5, our COVID-19 task force has made much progress in reaffirming our fall plans. I am writing to you today with several important updates.

New Requirements in Pennsylvania
Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf introduced two new directives that will require our attention and compliance. Effective immediately, face masks must be worn anywhere outside of your home throughout the Commonwealth. This includes all indoor locations where the public is generally permitted, including learning and working environments, as well as outdoor spaces where you are unable to consistently maintain a social distance of six feet from individuals who are not in your household. 

At Wilkes, your home is defined as your residence hall or off-campus home or apartment. Members of your household include anyone with whom you reside. That means that face masks will be required in all campus spaces, including classes, with the exception of individual rooms within residence halls. If this changes before our return in August, we will let you know.

Gov. Wolf also announced a self-quarantine period of 14 days for anyone who hails from or has traveled into these states. We are still working to understand this directive and will contact impacted students to discuss this more. Rest assured, we will have a process in place so you can start classes on time. 

If you are not from the impacted states but will travel to them within 14 days of returning to campus, please let us know by emailing Justin Kraynack, assistant vice president of operations and compliance, at justin.kraynack@wilkes.edu.

Fall Semester Updates
We know many of you have questions about how this semester will work. I want to direct your attention to a series of frequently asked questions on our fall 2020 web pages. These FAQs address the ways in which we will monitor social distance, how we can participate in classes, clubs and activities, and how we are prepared to respond to an outbreak on campus. There are still some answers that we continue to develop and refine. Separate guidelines are being developed to govern intercollegiate athletics. Student-athletes should contact their coaches for the latest information.

Later this month, we will post our updated fall 2020 class schedule. This will be reflected with new dates and times, meeting locations and class format. At that time, you can check the portal to determine if your class schedule has changed.

Financial Adjustments
Understanding that our time on campus has been compressed, you will notice room, board and fee adjustments on bills that will be posted on Monday, July 13. These adjustments reflect a 10% reduction in room and board for residential students and a $100 credit to the general university fee for all full-time undergraduate students. During a time in which many universities are increasing fees to account for added COVID-19 expenditures, these adjustments recognize the extraordinary circumstances we will face during this unique semester. It is our goal that these adjustments reflect a slightly reduced number of days in residence and dining halls this fall, while recognizing the financial challenges the pandemic has created for our students and their families. As some lab course registrations have not yet been completed, lab fees may not appear on the bill until they are finalized.

Our plans continue to take form but my hope is that these initial answers will help put your minds at ease. We will continue to update the website and our FAQs with the latest information, particularly if updated guidance from national and state health officials changes our plans. Please check www.wilkes.edu/fall2020 and monitor your Wilkes account in the coming weeks for the latest news.