Wilkes University

Coronavirus Information

Wilkes University is actively monitoring the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by coronavirus (termed “COVID-19”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Though there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at Wilkes University, we have transitioned to online and remote learning for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Below is official University information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the campus.

Updated Message on March 25, 2020

Dear Members of the Wilkes Community, 

It has been about 10 days since we transitioned from face-to-face classes to remote learning. During that time, so much has changed in the world around us. Every day, and sometimes every hour, we receive new information about COVID-19. In the wake of this dynamic situation, we have had to reconsider just how realistic it is that we can return to campus in the coming weeks.

Based on the guidance of federal, state and local health officials, it is clear that the accelerated spread of COVID-19 will result in increased confirmed cases across our region and our country. With the imperative that we must do all we can to flatten the curve and protect all members of our community, Wilkes University has made the difficult decision to extend remote learning through the end of the semester, including final examinations. 

There are just 15 days of face-to-face instruction between April 6 and the last day of the semester. When you consider this relatively short time period, and the uncertainty of exactly when COVID-19 will peak in our area, we believe that this is the only responsible decision. This is heartbreaking for all of us, but particularly for our students, who call Wilkes University home.

Commencement: For our graduating students, the last six weeks of the spring semester are filled with celebration and eager anticipation. I want to assure you that Wilkes University will hold a commencement ceremony for our 2020 graduates. As of today, we have not made any changes to our May ceremony. If we find ourselves in a position where we have to postpone, we will choose a date in the near future when we can all be safely together again. And we will celebrate with all the pomp and circumstance our graduates have come to expect. We will make a final decision about commencement by April 15.

Refunds: We will also offer prorated refunds or credits on housing, parking and meal plans. As we stated, these are complex issues, especially when you consider financial aid implications. We continue to work on the best course of action for administering these monetary adjustments. Please be continue to monitor your Wilkes email accounts for more information. 

Residence Halls: I know how eager some of you will be to collect your belongings from residence halls. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate requests to visit campus until Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has lifted the order for non-life-essential businesses to close. When we can safely bring you back to campus, we will do so with a plan that maintains social and physical distancing. Residential students will receive more information as we monitor the status of the Governor’s order. If you have any items (i.e. medications) that are considered life-sustaining, please contact the Office of Residence Life.

Academics: As we continue to offer instruction remotely, the Provost’s Office, deans and members of the faculty will continue to communicate with our students on academic requirements and assessments, and ways we can support you during this extraordinary time. I am grateful for all they are doing to facilitate the completion of the spring semester with minimal delay and disruption. 

Workforce: Administrative offices will continue to operate remotely until further notice and are available to students needing assistance. All events are cancelled through the remainder of the semester. 

The ways that you are reaching out to each other and finding new and alternative ways to complete your academic work is heartening and inspiring. While we all feel a sense of loss at not being together on campus, we are no doubt developing new skills, new paradigms and new ways of connecting with each other. When this is all over, we will have the benefit of relating to each other in ways both familiar and newly developed.

With that being said, this is not the way any of us had hoped to finish the semester. This pandemic is unprecedented and with it, sadly, comes unprecedented decisions. Please know that even from afar, you have a Family of Colonels by your side, now and as you move into the next chapter of your life. At Wilkes, we are #forevercolonel.

I encourage you to continue to monitor the University’s coronavirus web page for the latest information. We will continue to communicate with you as new information becomes available. 

We can’t wait to be reunited with you again on campus. 

Paul S. Adams
Interim President 

We know you have questions. We will be transparent by saying that there are some answers we simply do not have right now. Below are the answers we do have and we will continue to work on those we do not. You may also submit a question by clicking the button below. We will address common questions in a group email format, by adding answers here or responding to you directly. 

Submit your question

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has ordered that all non-life-sustaining businesses close their physical locations. The goal of this order is to limit face-to-face contact and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. With classes being conducted remotely, Wilkes University is already in compliance with this directive. In fact, there are very few people on our campus. But it will change the resources that we can provide during this recess.

Academics

Face-to-face classes ended at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. We transitioned to remote learning during the week of March 16, with all classes underway remotely on Monday, March 23. Classes will continue in remote formats through the end of the semester. As we continue to offer instruction remotely, the Provost’s Office, deans and members of the faculty will continue to communicate with our students on academic requirements and assessments, and ways we can support you during this extraordinary time.

Summer classes are occurring as scheduled. Please note that face-to-face classes may be conducted remotely based on University operations and the guidance of national and state health officials. Click here for the summer schedule.

Grading

We appreciate your concerns about grading in light of new learning modalities. Please know that we are considering a variety of grading options, including the concept of pass/fail. More will be shared with students in the upcoming days.

Residence Life

All residence halls, except those housing our international students, are closed. We know how eager some of you will be to collect your belongings from residence halls. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate requests to visit campus until Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has lifted the order for non-life-essential businesses to close. When we can safely bring you back to campus, we will do so with a plan that maintains social and physical distancing. Residential students will receive more information as we monitor the status of the Governor’s order.

Experiential Learning 

There have been interruptions to student teaching and pharmacy and nursing clinicals at external sites. Pennsylvania K-12 schools have closed and some medical sites are no longer allowing students to report. Internships are under further review and many students are fulfilling their commitments by working remotely. Academic leaders from the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, the Passan School of Nursing and the School of Education will continue to contact students directly about experiential learning requirements.

Monetary Adjustments

Understandably you may have questions about whether you will be refunded for housing, parking and meal plans that you will not use for the next several weeks. Right now, our top priority is focused on COVID-19 and keeping our campus community safe. But please be assured that Wilkes will offer prorated refunds or credits (based on your individual situation) on housing, parking and meal plans. Though we will not reimburse tuition, fees or out-of-pocket software costs, students who do not have access to required software should work with faculty members on alternative arrangements.

Due to possible financial aid implications, these are complex issues and we need some time to prepare accordingly. We will share more details as developed, including the value of monetary adjustments and when they will be administered.

Commencement

The Office of Student Affairs has received several inquiries about the status of the May commencement ceremonies. Commencement is such an important celebration for us at Wilkes and in the entire higher education community. Please know that Wilkes will do everything possible to make this event happen. If commencement is postponed, an alternative date would be identified. We will correspond with those graduating to share any modifications to events leading up to the May commencement, but no later than April 15. We welcome your inquiries at student.affairs@wilkes.edu.

Counseling Services

The more information that we receive about COVID-19, the more it can fuel our thoughts, feelings and reactions to this situation. Campus Counseling would like to provide you with helpful information and resources to assist you in navigating this new societal concern. During the recess, the CHAT line is available to students needing support for any mental health issue including those common during an emergency situation. Please call (570) 408-CHAT.

Managing Anxiety and Fears about Coronavirus

Library and I.T. 

The Farley Library will be closed until further notice. This includes lower-level 24/7 access.

Help Desk employees are working remotely. As a result, we ask that all requests be submitted to helpdesk@wilkes.edu. ITS staff will reply via email or by phone during normal Help Desk hours:

• 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
• 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays
• 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday
• 12 noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays

As a reminder,
Comcast and other internet providers are offering lower-cost services for those in need of connectivity at this time. Learn more here.

Building Access

Only employees and students with permission granted by supervisors and deans will be allowed into campus buildings until further notice. Deans and supervisors have been instructed to email publicsafety@wilkes.edu with all permission requests. Please contact your dean, supervisor or vice president. 

Access to University buildings will be granted only for urgent needs or critical personnel. Examples include:

  • Students with special housing arrangements
  • Faculty or staff caring for animals or lab equipment
  • Facilities personnel who clean and disinfect campus  
  • Preapproved staff members from departments maintaining critical operations
  • Faculty uploading critical course content that is imperative to the student experience

Food Service

The Henry Student Center dining hall will move to takeout only. Lunch pick up is available from 11 a.m. to 12 noon and dinner pickup will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Dinner will also offer breakfast options for the following morning. Patrons will collect to-go food and drink containers and select their meal choices.

Health Services

Health Services will be closed until further notice but staff are available remotely for routine questions. The Wright Center, located just a block from campus at 335 S. Franklin St., is available for appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, please call (570) 591-5283. Click here for a list of pharmacies, clinics and urgent care centers where you can seek medical assistance. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911.

Faith Services

Many religious congregations have suspended in-person worship services due to COVID-19; however, many have made the transition to streaming their services online. Click here for a list of Wilkes-Barre churches and synagogues who are providing an increased presence via their websites and social media.

Diversity Affairs

Staff from the Center for Global Education and Diversity are available remotely to discuss any student needs. Contact Georgia Costalas for assistance at (570) 408-7854.

Athletics

All athletic competition and practices are cancelled throughout the remainder of the semester. Face-to-face recruiting is also suspended. All University athletic and recreation facilities are closed until further notice.

Colonel Food Pantry 

The food pantry will be available for studentwho need it. Please contact Kristin Osipower at ext. 5904 for assistance. 

Events 

All events are cancelled through the end of the semester. All tours, admissions, alumni and special events on and off campus are cancelled. This currently excludes commencement -- please see more below.

Work Study

Work-study students who can work remotely or at off-campus partners should do so. They should continue to log their hours in TimeTrak. Students who are not working remotely or at community partners, but were working in work-study positions prior to the transition to distance education, will be paid an average number of hours based on their prior work history. This estimate will be entered in TimeTrak by the Student Employment and Payroll departments. Federal work-study positions will end when federal eligibility limits are reached. Questions can be directed to Jean Eckert at jean.eckert@wilkes.edu.


Previous Messages to the Campus Community

Information You Need to Know

Academics
• Face-to-face classes end at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. 

• We will transition to remote learning during the week of March 16.

• All classes will be underway remotely by Monday, March 23 and continue through the rest of the semester. Final exams will also be conducted online.

• Faculty will communicate directly with students on how and when courses will continue. Academic leaders will be in touch about clinical experiences, internships and student teaching.

Residence Halls
•All residence halls, except those housing our international students, are closed. When we can safely bring you back to campus, we will do so with a plan that maintains social and physical distancing to collect your belongings. Residential students will receive more information as we monitor the status of the Governor’s order.

Athletics

• Athletic contests are cancelled for the rest of the season.

Monetary Adjustments
• Wilkes will offer prorated refunds or credits (based on your individual situation) on housing, parking and meal plans. With our top priority being COVID-19 and keeping our campus community safe, we need some time to prepare accordingly. We will share plans with you soon. 

• Parking fees will not be charged for the rest of the semester.
Commencement
• Commencement is such an incredible event for us at Wilkes. We will do everything possible to make this event happen. We will most likely make a final decision in mid-April.
• The Office of Technology for Teaching and Learning has developed a plan to deliver classes remotely. They are also offering one-on-one advising sessions should you want additional assistance.

• All University events are cancelled through Sunday, April 5. 

• The mailroom will operate from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Campus mail delivery is suspended and members of the campus community must pick up all mail and packages from the mailroom. Mail will be ready for pick up by 9 a.m. each day. Outbound mail must be dropped off no later than 1 p.m. Please note that you will need a swipe card to enter the Henry Student Center. We are also asking that the campus community refrain from ordering perishables. If you must order these materials for critical academic research, call Jim Yeninas at 570-408-4123 to coordinate the delivery of those items.

• Parking fees will not be charged for the rest of the semester.

• Exempt employees will begin to work remotely as soon as possible, but no later than Wednesday, March 18.

• Members of our facilities and University police departments will continue to report to campus.

• Nonexempt employees who are paid hourly are also encouraged to work from home. If working from home is not possible, there are opportunities to help with important projects where staffing is limited

• The ITS Remote Resource Guide is a valuable resource in the event staff needs to work from home. Consult with your supervisor for more information. 

All University events are cancelled through the remainder of the semester.

The mailroom will operate from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. Campus mail delivery is suspended and members of the campus community must pick up all mail and packages from the mailroom. Mail will be ready for pick up by 9 a.m. each day. Outbound mail must be dropped off no later than 1 p.m. Please note that you will need a swipe card to enter the Henry Student Center. We are also asking that the campus community refrain from ordering perishables. If you must order these materials for critical academic research, call Jim Yeninas at 570-408-4123 to coordinate the delivery of those items.

• Parking fees will not be charged for the rest of the semester.

Information & Resources

For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you have recently returned from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran, the CDC recommends you stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you departed these heavily impacted areas.

The CDC does not recommend any additional precautions for the general public to take in regards to this virus at this time, however, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

View the infographic

Routinely updated information and mapping of the numbers of confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in China and all other affected countries can be seen under the following links:

University ContacT

For questions regarding information on this page, contact:

Justin Kraynack
Assistant Vice President of Operations & Compliance
(570) 408-4554

Dated March 27, 2020


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