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Gettysburg College Confronts Fallout from Its Abbreviated In-Person Learning Experiment

Acknowledging the decision to send students in its sophomore, junior, and senior classes home had “created unwelcome tension on campus, among students, and with the college as a whole,” college president Bob Iuliano announced today that students who were not remaining on campus would receive a ten percent reduction in their tuition and that 80 percent of their housing and meal plan costs would be refunded.

Gettysburg College Kline Theater

Iuiliano said the college knew the decision to send students home would be unpopular, but that it was required given the occurrence of 60 positive cases of COVID-19 and 150 students in quarantine, all within the first three weeks of the semester.

“There are no words to adequately express the profound sadness we felt in witnessing our students once again depart from the Gettysburg College campus.”

Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano

“Every decision we have made has been guided by our commitment to the community’s well-being and our students’ overall educational experience. From the outset, we have stressed that we would return and remain in residence only if it were responsible to do so,” said Iuliano. “We proceeded despite the significant emotional, organizational, and financial costs precisely because it was the most responsible decision available to us. We are not, have not, and will not compromise on those foundational commitments.”

“Simply put, we know how disappointing this is—and we are truly sorry for the need to reduce our in-residence student population this fall,” said Iuliano.

Iuliano said the process of sending students home was done safely in consultation with public health experts. “Every student has tested negative once—some twice—in the 10 days before they departed campus,” said Iuliano. “Students who are in quarantine because of a close contact with someone who has COVID-19 will complete their required time in isolation before leaving. “

Iuliano said the decision to retain the first-year cohort only was made on the basis of academics: “First-year students, especially in the fall, share a number of common courses, including our First-Year Seminar program. Even more meaningful was the nature of the transition from high school to college, when workload and expectations increase substantially. Having first-year students on campus, with the direct ability to engage with our faculty and other on-campus resources, promises to give them the tools to navigate this transition to college successfully. While our upper-class students would also materially benefit from being on campus, they have had a fuller opportunity to acquire the necessary skills to navigate college, including through remote learning,” said Iuliano.

Iuliano also announced online “listening sessions” to be held in the coming weeks in which students are invited to express their thoughts and concerns.

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