Shippensburg University Students and faculty are pushing to Nov. 20 with about two weeks remaining in the fall 2020 semester. SU delivered face-to-face, hybrid and remote instruction, allowing students to choose to live on campus, while others remained off-campus or at home.
SU modified the fall academic calendar so students would not return to campus following the Thanksgiving holiday. SU decreased the threat of spreading the virus on-campus after the holiday, but what about SU community members spreading it to their families?
Many SU students reside in central Pennsylvania, where it is common for multiple families across the commonwealth to gather in a local home. Some have altered their Thanksgiving break plans, while others are planning a traditional feast.
SU management professor M. Blake Hargrove wanted to share his family’s story to get students to think of their own. His father, Cecil “Mac” Hargrove, died in March from coronavirus complications. Hargrove shares the story of his father in the accompanying story on A1.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are recommending families virtually celebrate the upcoming holidays. Officials said family members must consider the community levels of the coronavirus at the celebration location and where family members are coming from. The length of the gathering, as well as the number of people attending and their behaviors are important to note, officials saidLocal health officials are offering similar guidance. Ashleigh Bailey, a WellSpan CRNP at Etter Health Center shared tips for students to remain healthy at the end of the semester, and as they travel home for the holidays.
“Students have to think about the fact that if they are getting sick, they’re not the ones who are really at risk, unless they have comorbidities. It’s the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles who get more sick,” Bailey said. “They [students] want to think about who they’re going to be around.”
Bailey said students should continue to wear masks, wash their hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Students should also cough into their elbows, and disinfect frequently touched objects like cell phones, counters and doorknobs, according to Bailey.
“Be alert to symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. If you feel different monitor yourself for that,” she said.
Bailey said if students are going to be around others with less than 6 feet of social distance, they should wear a mask and take their temperatures. When taking one’s temperature, Bailey said students must be mindful of elements that could impact a clear reading, including medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, or if they just worked out or were sitting in a heated car.
Bailey said when students are traveling home or elsewhere for the holidays, they should avoid making frequent stops at gas stations and restaurants. She recommended students pack their own snacks and drinks to avoid stops.
As for those big holiday dinners and parties, Bailey said it is better to have small dinners with those in your household and to Zoom or FaceTime loved ones.
“They’re the best ways to connect with people this holiday season,” Bailey said.
At SU, officials are continuing to promote the “Raider Respect” initiative through the end of the semester.
The university is working to keep students healthy and safe as students enter the final weeks of the semester through entertainment programming options as an alternative to off-campus partying.
SU President Laurie Carter encouraged students to use the testing services available at Etter Health Center, especially as the campus nears the completion of the on-campus portion of the semester.
“Get tested as close to going home as you possibly can,” Carter said.
Carter and SU Chief External Relations Officer Kim Garris said they expect an uptick in testing at the end of the semester.
Garris said there will be added test hours beginning Nov. 10 at Etter, weekdays from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and weekends from noon-5 p.m. Students must call to make an appointment before arriving for testing, and if the appointments fill, officials will work to add more appointments.
“No one wants to be responsible for bringing this virus home to their family,” Carter said. “So get tested and put everyone at ease.”
Carter recommended that students continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and to social distance.
“Make sure you are being really intentional about social distancing and not putting yourself in risky situations that could expose you to the virus,” Carter said.
When asked how she thought SU did with returning to campus this fall, Carter praised the community coming together. She wanted to thank the students for what they did for SU to remain on campus for the entire semester.
“It was not perfect, but it allowed us to provide a life on-campus that permitted students to have some semblance of life within this pandemic,” Carter said. “I know it’s not perfect and I know it’s been challenging, and I know that students, faculty and staff are really feeling a sense of isolation and a sense of lost, but when I speak with colleagues around the country and from regional campuses around us, we actually accomplished some student activities and we were able to provide some quality of experience for our students within this pandemic.”
Carter added that next semester SU officials hope to provide more for students as they pursue better testing options.
“We’re learning as we go along, as is everyone in this pandemic,” she said.
To schedule an appointment for coronavirus testing at Etter, call 717-477-1458.