Health Alerts

Coronavirus Update

The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all persons affiliated with our University are of the utmost importance.  

Based on available information on the potential spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the University has made the decision to close all campus locations through May 11. See more details below.

University leadership will continue to meet regularly, evaluate the situation as it unfolds, and provide updates as needed.

What Students and Families Need to Know

This situation will continue to evolve, and we recognize that we may not be able to answer all of your questions right away.  We will continue to update the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Students section below. Please check back regularly for updates.  In addition, we added a letter to parents and families from President Deanne D'Emlio on March 23 that includes some FAQs. 

  • Gwynedd Mercy University campuses will remain closed until May 11.
  • On-campus classes will continue in an online format through the end of the spring semester. Online programs will continue as scheduled.
  • We expect to be back on campus by May 11 in time for the Summer 1 start.
  • Residence Halls will remain closed until May 11.
  • All University-sponsored travel will be canceled through June 1.

Please be sure to alert The Health and Wellness Center at ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu if you or someone with whom you are in direct contact contracts the Coronavirus.

We will continue to monitor the situation carefully, and keep the campus community updated on the re-opening of our campuses via the University portal and this webpage. Please be sure to check your University email, and the University portal and website regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

April 1 Update

Will the University change the pass/fail policy?  

At this time we are maintaining our current pass/fail policy, which applies only to open elective courses taken by junior- and senior-level students; however, requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis until April 17, 2020.  Please know that for many students, the move to pass/fail would not be in their best interest with regards to meeting accreditation standards, pursing certifications, and/or applying to graduate school. If you have a question about whether a specific course qualifies and/or if it is in your best interest to pursue pass/fail, please contact your academic advisor. All pass/fail requests require final approval from the Dean of your school.  

What is the Protocol for Reporting Exposure to or a Confirmed Case of COVID-19?

Although campuses will remain closed at least through May 10, 2020, here are instructions for what to do if you are exposed to or contract the virus and may have been in contact with someone from the University community.

  1. Self-quarantine for 14 days
  2. Please contact Director of Health and Wellness Donna Ferguson at ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu and provide the following information:
    • Your locations on/off campus, if applicable
    • Names of people from the campus community with whom you may have come in contact
    • Dates of contacts
    • Other pertinent information

Please do not contact any of the above individuals yourself. The Director of Health and Wellness will consult the Montgomery County Office of Public Health for recommended next steps.  If the recommendation in to contact others, the Director of Health and Wellness will handle it. Your name and other personal information will remain confidential.

Campus Closure / Contacting the University
Academics / Online Learning
Registering for Classes
Financial Aid / Bursar's Office / Campus Jobs
Residence Life
Commencement
Self-Care

 

Campus Closure / Contacting the University

Will we still have an Easter Break?
My parents/family have questions about the campus closure.  Is there a place I can send them for more information?
I tried calling the University, but wasn’t able to get through. What should I do?
Will the annual Research Conference, Griffin Student Leadership Institute Conference, and the many awards banquets we hold at the end of the year be canceled?
Can I come to campus to get something I left behind?

Will we still have an Easter Break? (Posted March 26)

Yes. The University will abide by the current Academic Calendar and close for the Easter holiday as scheduled from Thursday April 9th through Monday April 13th.  Online classes offered through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies will continue to meet as scheduled. 

My parents/family have questions about the campus closure.  Is there a place I can send them for more information? (posted March 23)

Yes! President D’Emilio added a letter to parents/families below.  The letter includes answers to some questions we’ve been receiving from parents.

I tried calling the University, but wasn’t able to get through. What should I do? (posted March 20)

Due to the additional telecommunication activity on internal and external lines for such agencies as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint etc., people may at times experience a busy signal  when trying to reach University phone numbers, such as 215-646-7300, ext. 21111 and the Public Safety Direct Line 215-641-5522. If this occurs, Public Safety has a redundancy back-up cell phone line to assist with incoming calls.  Please use the following alternate number 215-353-7208 to reach Public Safety if you experience this issue.

Will the annual Research Conference, Griffin Student Leadership Institute Conference, and the many awards banquets we hold at the end of the year be canceled? (posted March 20)

Unfortunately, all campus events will be canceled during the closure.  We are truly sorry that we have to cancel these very special events, but we believe doing so is in the best interest of all concerned and consistent with guidelines for preventing the spread of this illness.

Can I come to campus to get something I left behind? (posted March 19)

For the safety of the campus community, including Public Safety and Plant Services employees who are on campus during the closure, we are asking that no one comes to campus during the closure. The only possible exception would be to retrieve prescription medication that cannot be refilled by your local pharmacy.  

If you feel you must come to campus to retrieve prescription medication between now and the time the campus re-opens, it is essential that you receive approval in advance. Please contact the Office of Public Safety at 215-646-7300, ext. 21522 to schedule a time to pick up your prescription medication.  For the health and safety of all concerned, students may not return to campus for any other reason during the closure.  
 

Academics / Online Learning

I heard that the University Research Conference that usually takes place in April will be held virtually instead of being canceled. Is that true?
I have a research project that has been approved by the Institutional Research Board (IRB).  May I continue with my research as planned?
What should I do if I need additional help transitioning to online learning?
I need access to my textbook online. Is that possible?
How can I access APA guidelines?
I’m having trouble keeping up with one or more of my courses.  What are my options?
How will I make up the time now that my Clinical/Internship/Student Teaching placement has been cancelled? 
I’m new to online learning. How will I know what to do?
Am I allowed to work from home if my internship or field site allows?
I do not have access to a computer/a reliable Internet connection. How will I complete my coursework?
What if I need tutoring?
How will I access the library?
Who should I contact about the need for Accessibility Services?

I heard that the University Research Conference that usually takes place in April will be held virtually instead of being canceled. Is that true? (March 26)

Yes! Gwynedd Mercy University’s Research Conference will be held virtually on April 23rd. We are excited to provide the opportunity for nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their work.  More details on how people can attend this very virtual event will be shared via the University portal and website.

I have a research project that has been approved by the Institutional Research Board (IRB).  May I continue with my research as planned? (March 26)

All research involving person-to-person contact with participants is suspended until further notice.  If your previously-approved research project involving person-to-person contact can be conducted through an alternative delivery method, please submit a "change in protocol" request form to the IRB for the board's review and approval.  All research involving human subjects that does not involve person-to-person contact can proceed as planned.

What should I do if I need additional help transitioning to online learning? (posted March 24)

If you have not yet completed the Student Online Readiness Course that is located in Blackboard, please do so as soon as possible.  We continue to add new resources to the course, so please be sure to check back regularly.  If you need additional assistance, please reach out to your professors or the Dean of your school.

I need access to my textbook online. Is that possible? (posted March 23, updated March 24)

Pearson recently announced that it will provide access to electronic books via RedShelf and/or VitalSource at no charge to students of participating institutions. GMercyU is a participating institution.

RedShelf is offering students access to seven free eBooks through May 25th. Search for an eBook on this page.

VitalSource is another option. See their help page for more information. You may need to create a VitalSource account to access materials.

In addition, the University bookstore, which is run by Follett, shared the following information today:

  • FREE Online Shipping Offer: Visit the campus store website, https://www.bkstr.com/gwyneddmercystore/home, for Free Shipping on all items with no minimum purchase. This includes various formats of course materials, supplies, apparel, technology and more. Since many online orders are fulfilled directly from your campus store, Follett will execute online orders as long as the store is accessible by staff.  
  • Access to eBooks AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE: Visit the campus store website, https://www.bkstr.com/gwyneddmercystore/home, to gain access to eBooks at no additional charge with your .edu email address. Each student can access up to 7 eBooks for the designated period free of charge. 
  • FREE Access to Lumen Learning OER Courseware: Lumen Learning, our OER partner, is offering FREE access to courseware to help supplement content, and offer additional resources to faculty, click here for the Lumen offer. 
  • Free Shipping on Rental Returns & Deadline Extensions: The campus store is offering free shipping return labels and is also extending the non-return period without penalty to assist with increased returns by mail. Click the COVID-19 message on the home page of the campus store website, https://www.bkstr.com/gwyneddmercystore/home, for the details. 

How can I access APA guidelines? (posted March 23)

The American Psychological Association (APA) has recently announced that it will make the 7th edition of APA Manual available for free until May 25, 2020 to instructors and students at participating nonprofit academic institutions affected by campus closures.  Access to details is available here.

I’m having trouble keeping up with one or more of my courses.  What are my options?  (posted March 19)

  • Option 1: Discuss your situation with your course instructor. You may be able to get an extension on individual assignments.
  • Option 2: If you feel will need a substantial amount of extra time due to circumstances beyond your control, you can explore the possibility of taking an incomplete.  Not all courses are eligible for an incomplete. You need to discuss this option with your course instructor, and should only consider this option after speaking with your instructor about option 1.
  • Option 3: As a last resort, you may submit a course withdrawal request. Additional information on the withdrawal process and potential impacts on your degree completion time and eligibility for financial aid is included below.

How will I make up the time now that my Clinical/Internship/Student Teaching placement has been cancelled?  (posted March 13)

Students will need to complete the required minimum number of hours to meet course learning objectives and program accreditation requirements where applicable. The Deans and Program Coordinators are developing plans and will communicate directly with the students once the extent of the closure is known.  Be assured that we will work with all students to identify all available options to complete their required hours.

I’m new to online learning. How will I know what to do? (posted March 16)

Don’t worry; we have a course for that! When you log into Blackboard you will see a “Student Online Readiness” course. Please open the course to learn more about navigating your courses in Blackboard, submitting assignments, taking exams, participating in discussion boards and blogs, managing your time, maximizing your learning, reviewing support strategies, and accessing student support resources.

Am I allowed to work from home if my internship or field site allows?  (posted March 13)

Yes. Please contact your placement/program coordinator first for approval.

I do not have access to a computer/a reliable Internet connection. How will I complete my coursework? ((UPDATED on 3/16/2020))

Several companies are offering free internet services to students as follows:

  • Spectrum is offering free WiFi services to students for 60 days. Students can call 844-488-8395.
  • Comcast offers the first two months of Internet service free for new customers. For more information click on https://www.internetessentials.com/.

What if I need tutoring? ((UPDATED on 3/13/2020))

Your classes are now online – your tutoring can be, too! While University campuses are closed, the Academic Resource Center will provide online tutoring options. Please email the following professional staff members directly for appointments: 

  • Tami Nosal, Writing Specialist, at nosal.t@gmercyu.edu for English and writing tutorial appointments.
    • Additional writing resources, such as an APA guide, are available on the ARC's webpage 
  • Joe Azzarano, Math Specialist, at azzarano.J1@gmercyu.edu for math, physics, psychology statistics, and chemistry appointments
  • Nursing tutorial requests should be made to Stephanie Alderfer, Director of Tutoring Services and Placement Assessments, at alderfer.s@gmercyu.edu, and she will have a nursing tutor respond to you to set up an online appointment

Other Subjects: Online tutoring for any other subject can be accessed through SmartThinking. 

  • SMARTHINKING is available at http://services.smarthinking.com. Students may enter the site by logging on with their student ID number and using the last four digits of their social security number as the password.

Email arc@gmercyu.edu for any tutoring-related questions!
 

Academic Advising and Academic Coaching

If you would like to discuss learning strategies for online settings, please contact Kim Logan at logan.k@gmerycu.edu or Allyson Waylen at waylen.a@gmercyu.edu, Professional Advisors/Academic Coaches, directly!

For any additional questions ARC questions, please contact arc@gmercyu.edu or Meredith Hoch-Oescher, Dean of Student Success, hoch-oescher.m@gmercyu.edu.


Who should I contact about the need for Accessibility Services?  (posted March 13)

Brandi Crawford, Director of Accessibility Services, will be available via email at crawford.b@gmercyu.edu to support you with accommodation questions and needs while University campuses are closed. If you have any questions about your accommodations or learning needs during this time, please contact Brandi Crawford. Additional information may be found on the Accessibility Services webpage.  
 

How will I access the library? (posted March 12)

Although Keiss Library will be closed along with the rest of the University campus, Virtual Reference Services will be available during regular library hours (see below).  Students can click here for reference assistance.  

Library Hours:
Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 10:00 pm
Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In addition, the library staff will do its best to maintain InterLibrary Loan service for electronic requests.  Journal article requests should be submitted using this form. This service is dependent on other libraries being operational so we cannot guarantee this service but will do our best. Please check the University website for status updates as the Library will follow those plans.

 

Registering for Classes

How will I register for Summer or Fall semester classes? (UPDATED on 3/13/2020)

Course registration schedule has been altered. Please see schedule below and continue to check the University portal and the Registrar webpage for updates and further details.

Online Registration Dates & Times:

Date/Time

Who

April 1 (online only) 

Time: Beginning at 9 a.m.     
 

Graduate and Professional Studies students (all students)

April 14 (online only)   

Time: Beginning at 9 a.m. 

Senior level (90 or more total credits earned prior to current term)

Associate Degree Sophomore (30 or more total credits earned prior to current term)

Graduate Degree students (Main Campus programs only)

April 15 (online only)  

Time: Beginning at 9 a.m. 

Junior level (60-89 total credits earned prior to current term)

Associate Degree Freshman (1-29 total credits earned prior to current term)
 

April 16 (online only)

Time: Beginning at 9 a.m. 

Sophomore level (30-59 total credits earned prior to current term)

April 17 (online only)       

Time: Beginning at 9 a.m.

First Year level (1-29 total credits earned prior to current term)

 

    Financial Aid / Bursar's Office / Campus Jobs

    How will I get help if I have questions about my Financial Aid?
    Will the University extend its withdrawal deadlines for students?  
    If I am a GPS, MSOT or ABSN student and I need to withdraw from one or more courses, what is the process?
    If I decide to withdraw from one or more courses, will it affect my Financial Aid?
    If I withdraw from one or more courses, will I be eligible for a refund?
    If I am a GPS student and I withdraw from a course, what impact will that have on my ability to register for my next course?  
    Who should I contact if I have questions about my bill?
    I have an on-campus job and I depend on those hours to help cover my tuition costs. Will I be able to make up my hours?  

     

    How will I get help if I have questions about my Financial Aid? (posted March 12)

    Although the University campuses will be closed, the University will continue to operate remotely.  Please reach out to financial aid via phone or email and someone will respond as quickly as possible.  Please know that a return call may originate from a “blocked” number; please answer the call or return it with details on the best time to reach you. 

    Main Campus undergraduate and graduate students
    Email: financialAid@gmercyu.edu
    Phone: 215-646-7300 ext. 21216
    Fax: 215-641-5556

    Online/accelerated students in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies
    Email: accelerate@gmercyu.edu
    Phone: 877-499-6333 (toll-free)
    Fax: 215-643-9104

      Will the University extend its withdrawal deadlines for students?  (posted March 19)

      In some cases, yes. For traditional on-campus undergraduate, Hybrid MBA, MSN, and Weekend BSN students the withdrawal date will be extended until April 17, 2020. Students should complete the request for withdrawal form located at on the Regisrar's webpage and forward it to the Dean of their major program of study.

      If I am a GPS, MSOT or ABSN student and I need to withdraw from one or more courses, what is the process? (posted March 19)

      The University’s course withdrawal policy will not change, but students who are experiencing extenuating circumstances, such as a loss of pay due to mandated COVID-19 work closures, may complete a request for withdrawal form located on the Regisrar's webpage. Please send the completed withdrawal form to:

      PLEASE NOTE:  

      Academic Progress: A course withdrawal may have an impact on your time to graduation.

      Financial Aid: A course withdrawal may impact your eligibility for financial aid.  Students who receive any financial aid funding should not withdraw from one or more courses without first speaking to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

      If I decide to withdraw from one or more courses, will it affect my Financial Aid? (posted March 19)

      A decision to withdraw will most likely affect your current financial eligibility and may also affect future aid eligibility.  It is essential that you contact the Office of Financial Aid prior to withdrawing from one or more courses.  

      If I withdraw from one or more courses, will I be eligible for a refund? (posted March 19)

      The University will continue to follow the existing refund policy.  

      If I am a GPS student and I withdraw from a course, what impact will that have on my ability to register for my next course?  (posted March 19)

      If your payments are up to date, you will be able to register for your next class.  If you have a previous outstanding balance, the decision to withdraw may result in a billing hold. The Bursar’s office will work with you to setup a payment plan to resolve the outstanding balance.  

      For students who incur a balance as a result of a course withdrawal that is directly related to the COVID-19 crisis, the university will grant a one-time exception and allow students to register for their next class.  It is expected that all impacted students will work with the Bursar’s office to resolve all outstanding balances so they can continue to enroll in future classes.

      Who should I contact if I have questions about my bill? (posted March 12)

      Please contact the Bursar’s Office. Although the University campuses will be closed, the University will continue to operate remotely.  Please reach out to the Bursar’s Office via phone or email and someone will respond as quickly as possible.  Please know that a return call may originate from a “blocked” number; please answer the call or return it with details on the best time to reach you. 

      Bursars’ Office
      Phone: 215-646-7300 ext. 21278, 21593 or 21591
      Email: studentbilling@gmercyu.edu
      Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
       

      I have an on-campus job and I depend on those hours to help cover my tuition costs.  Will I be able to make up my hours?  (posted March 12)

      The University will contact student workers about how this process will be managed.
       

      Residence Life

      I live in the Residence Halls. How will I get my stuff? (posted March 20)

      Residential students will be contacted with instructions on how and when they can retrieve the contents of their Residence Hall rooms.

      PLEASE NOTE: For the safety of everyone involved, students will not be able to return to campus to retrieve their belongings any time before March 31.  Details on move-out procedures will be coming to you from the Office of Residence Life shortly.  Thank you for your patience as we develop a plan that will allow you to retrieve your belongings while minimizing the potential spread of this illness.
       

      Commencement

      Has the University set a new date for Commencement?
      What will happen with Commencement and related events?
      Will the fact the Commencement Ceremony is being postponed affect my ability to accept a job and/or sit for required licensure exams?
      What about my diploma?  Don’t I need that to prove that I graduated?
      When will students receive their diplomas?
      What if I can’t complete all my degree requirements by the end of the Spring semester?
      Will I be able to come back to campus before graduation to take pictures and see my friends?
      What about Senior Portraits?

      Has the University set a new date for Commencement? (Posted March 26)

      Yes! As President D’Emilio shared in her video message on March 26: “Barring any other necessary changes, we plan to hold this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, August 20th at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks. Similar to last year, both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies will be held on the same day – a few hours apart. And since we’re moving the ceremony to August 20th, we will be able to celebrate the accomplishments of our May and August graduates on the same day. 

      We are so looking forward to celebrating with our graduates, their families, and the entire University community. We will continue to provide more updates regarding the ceremony in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, please set aside this day for the celebration of a job well done!

      I want to reassure all our May graduates that the new date for the Commencement ceremony does not affect your actual graduation date, which will still be May 9th. As long as you have completed all of your degree requirements by the end of the semester, you will have a graduation date of May 9th.

      Details on regalia, senior portraits, baccalaureate mass and other Commencement-related events will be shared as they become available.  I thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate through the challenges of moving such a large-scale and truly momentous event."

      What will happen with Commencement and related events? (posted March 20)

      We know how important Commencement is to our soon-to-be graduates and their families.  Our goal is to postpone Commencement to a time when we can hold an in-person ceremony that allows graduates, their families and the entire University community to celebrate this momentous occasion together. Given the fluidity of the situation, we do not have a new date yet.  We will provide more information as it becomes available.

      Will the fact the Commencement Ceremony is being postponed affect my ability to accept a job and/or sit for required licensure exams? (posted March 23)

      No. The postponement of the Commencement Ceremony will not affect your actual graduation date. As long as you have successfully completed all your degree requirements, you will still have a graduation date of May 9, 2020.  You will be able to order an official copy of your transcript after May 9 using the same process as in any other year.  Please see the Registrar page of the website for instructions on how to order a transcript.

      What about my diploma? Don’t I need that to prove that I graduated? (posted March 23)

      No.  All you need to show proof of graduation is a copy of your official transcript.

      When will students receive their diplomas? (posted March 23)

      Typically, we distribute diplomas at the end of the Commencement ceremony.  The distribution of diplomas for May 2020 graduates will occur at the conclusion of the ceremony once it has been rescheduled.  As is true in other years, students who cannot attend the ceremony in person can request their diploma be mailed to them after the Ceremony date. As soon as we have a new date for the 2020 Commencement ceremony, we will share it with you.  

      What if I can’t complete all my degree requirements by the end of the Spring semester? (posted March 23)

      As is true in any academic year, students who need extended time to meet their degree requirements will have a graduation date of August 15 or later, depending on how much more time you need to complete your requirements.

      Will I be able to come back to campus before graduation to take pictures and see my friends? (posted March 23)

      We know how important this is to you, and we very much want to provide you with this opportunity.  We are exploring ways to make this possible while still keeping people safe from the potential spread of this illness.  All decisions will be based on the best available information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state health agencies. 

      What about Senior Portraits? (posted March 23)

      Graduation portraits rescheduled from March 16-18 to April 6-8 have been cancelled. Once we have a new commencement date, we will work with our photography vendor to see if we can schedule additional portrait sittings.
       

        Self-Care

        Can I still access Counseling Services?
        Can you provide any resources for ways to stay active while at home?
        I would like to speak to someone from Campus Ministry for pastoral care. Who should I contact?
        What should I do if I get sick?

        Can I still access Counseling Services? (posted March 17, updated March 23)

        The GMercyU Counseling Services staff will begin remote mental health check ins with students the week of 3/23/20.  During the week of 3/23/20, counselors will be reaching out to schedule Skype (or alternative platform as needed) check in conversations with current clients of our office, and will be available to any student who feels that they are struggling with their mental health during this time.  If students are interested in speaking with a counselor, they should email counseling@gmercyu.edu and a counselor will reach out to schedule an appointment. Staff and faculty members should also contact counseling@gmercyu.edu if they want to refer a student for a mental health check in.

        The Gwynedd Mercy University student health insurance policy includes access to tele-counseling services. You can call the behavioral/mental health telephone number on the back of your insurance card to obtain more details. 

         If you don’t have GMercyU’s student health insurance, your personal health insurance policy may also have access to tele-counseling. You can check your policy by calling the behavioral/mental health telephone number on the back of your insurance card. Your insurance company can give you information regarding whether your health plan includes tele-counseling services, as well as any associated costs, co-pays, etc.

        If you are having suicidal thoughts or are in need of immediate assistance please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or dial 9-1-1.  You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY 800-846-8517).
         

        Can you provide any resources for ways to stay active while at home? (posted March 16)

        Here’s a resource to check out: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AQWeSz1_VpXy0MnGp544JfhkT5ZgZr3vM-96Vezfx4o/edit
         

        I would like to speak to someone from Campus Ministry for pastoral care. Who should I contact? (posted March 16)

        Please send an email to Wallace.j@gmercyu.edu for assistance.
         

        What should I do if I get sick? (posted March 12)

        Please be sure to alert The Health and Wellness Center at ferguson.d@gmercyu.edu if you or someone with whom you are in direct contact contracts the Coronavirus.
         

        A Letter for Parents and Families from GMercyU President Deanne D'Emilio

        Dear Parents and Families,

        I hope you and your families are safe and healthy.  Please know that the health and safety of our GMercyU community are our top priority.  The decision to close our campus locations for the rest of the spring semester was based on the best information available from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state health agencies, and state requirements.  

        On behalf of the entire GMercyU community, I want to express my deep sadness for the impacts this closure is having on our students, particularly our soon-to-be graduates who were hoping to compete in sporting events, work on spring fling, stand around and chat with their favorite professor, or complete their clinical, fieldwork, or student teaching hours. This also cannot be easy for you as you juggle changes in your own work and family responsibilities in this time of deep uncertainty. 

        I also know the decision to close the campus raises many questions for our students.  The University has been in touch with students daily, via portal announcements and additions to a growing list of publicly-available Frequently Asked Questions on our website. I meet with University leadership daily to discuss the best way to respond to this very fluid situation filled with constant change and uncertainty.  I know you have questions, as well, and I want to try and answer as many of them as I can here.  

        Here’s a quick summary of where we are:

        • Gwynedd Mercy University campuses are closed through May 11.  
        • Course instruction for on-campus students will be delivered in an online format for the rest of the spring semester.
        • Clinicals, student teaching, internships, and field experiences are suspended until further notice.
          • A limited number of students may be able to participate in these activities based on specific needs and requirements of their assigned site; site supervisors will be in touch with students for whom this may apply.  
        • University operations will continue to function remotely.
        • Residence Halls will remain closed during this time. The Office of Housing and Residence Life will communicate specific instructions and timing for retrieving belongings from residence hall rooms. 

        Here are answers to the Frequently Asked Questions we have been receiving from parents and families.  Please know that the University’s leadership team and I are responding to questions as quickly as we can based on the best available information at the time.


        Students are used to being able to talk directly with their professors.  How can they get answers to their questions and extra support if they need it in an online format? 

        I know that one of the things students most love about GMercyU is the personal attention they receive from our faculty.  Moving to an online environment will no doubt impact these interactions, but there are still some excellent ways for students to stay in close contact with their faculty.  

        After a short break to make the transition to a fully online learning environment, faculty office hours will resume this week - virtually.  Students can connect with faculty during these hours by phone, email, and video chat via various tools, including Skype.  Our Learning Management System, Blackboard, also provides access to a Discussion Board where students can share ideas and ask questions – of both their professors and their classmates. 

        Although online learning does not offer the direct in-person interactions students are used to, it does provide many ways for students to continue to benefit from the personal attention they are used to receiving. We are still very early in the move to online instruction, and we continue to investigate additional forms of technology to continually enhance the student experience. 

        My student doesn’t feel there is adequate instruction in the online learning environment.  How are you going to address that?

        GMercyU has a very successful track record of delivering high quality online instruction and studies show that online learning outcomes can be just as strong as face-to-face outcomes.  However, I completely understand that the unexpected and sudden switch to an online learning environment will be an adjustment for our on-campus students and faculty.  It has only been a few days since courses moved to an online format, and I am asking everyone to keep an open mind and be patient as we make this transition. We also have asked faculty to be flexible and patient as students navigate this new way of learning. 

        The success of our students is of paramount importance to us, and we are doing everything we can to support them and keep them on track to graduation. Anyone who needs help should let their professors know right away.  We also encourage students to take full advantage of the many academic resources available to them through the Academic Resource Center and University Library, both of which are operating remotely. 

        How will students complete their clinicals, student teaching, internship and other field experiences? 

        I know how concerned everyone is about this issue, and the University is monitoring the situation very carefully.  Right now, all K-12 schools and many businesses are closed, and hospitals and other organizations are not accepting clinical/field experience students in Pennsylvania.  This is true in a number of other states, as well.  As soon as it is safe to have our students return to their site locations, they will do so.  In the meantime, we are implementing virtual simulations for nursing and health professions students, along with exploring other alternatives and recommendations from our accrediting bodies.  

        I wish I could provide a firm date for when students will be able to return to their sites, but we cannot predict how quickly this virus will be contained and we must rely on the best available real-time information from local, state and federal officials when making decisions. Rest assured, we will do everything possible to ensure students can successfully complete their degree requirements as quickly as possible. 

        My student is a Nursing major. How will students realistically learn what they need to know via virtual simulations?

        Research shows that simulation is a very effective learning tool.  In fact, the most significant research to date to influence nursing education at the pre-licensure level was a two-part study conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which revealed that there was no difference in NCLEX pass rates or end-of-program educational outcomes for students who used simulation as a replacement of clinical hours for either 25% or 50% of each school's total clinical hours. The Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions at GMercyU is using the NCSBN guidelines for the simulated virtual clinical experiences.

        Is there going to be a decrease in the tuition cost because online courses are less expensive to provide than face to face?

        I understand the reason for this question.  However, although the campus is closed, the University continues to operate remotely, and is paying faculty and academic support staff their full salaries.  While there will be reductions in campus-based costs in some areas, online teaching can sometimes be more expensive than face-to-face instruction.   In addition to adding more technology for instruction, the University has invested in additional online testing and simulation tools, and added new staff to support faculty in developing online learning materials.

        Is the option for a refund available to students who can’t successfully learn online?

        The University’s refund policy will not change.  However, the University has extended its course withdrawal deadline, and has committed to being as flexible as possible while students make the transition to an online learning environment. 

        GMercyU has a very successful track record of supporting students in an online learning environment.  Anyone who is struggling should immediately reach out to their professors to discuss their concerns.  In addition, students have access to a “Student Online Readiness” course in Blackboard.  This course provides detailed information on how to navigate their courses in Blackboard, submit assignments, take exams, participate in discussion boards and blogs, manage their time, maximize their learning, review support strategies, and access student support resources.  The Academic Resource Center, which provides tutoring and other support services, also is available to students.  Students who continue to have difficulty after taking advantage of all these resources should contact the Dean of their school to discuss the best way to move forward. 

        How will students who do not have reliable access to the Internet or a computer complete their courses?

        Several companies are offering free Internet services to students as follows:

        • Spectrum is offering free WiFi services to students for 60 days. Students can call 844-488-8395.
        • Comcast offers the first two months of Internet service free for new customers. For more information click on https://www.internetessentials.com/.

        The University provided its available laptops to students who requested them prior to the initial campus closing on March 11. Any student who does not currently have access to a desktop or laptop computer still has some options.  The University’s Learning Management System, Blackboard, is fully accessible via a Smart Phone or other mobile devices. We encourage students to let their professors know if access to technology is an issue, and we will work with them on next steps. 

        What about Commencement and related activities?

        We know how important Commencement is to our soon-to-be graduates and their families.  Our goal is to postpone Commencement to a time when we can hold an in-person ceremony that allows graduates, their families and the entire University community to celebrate this momentous occasion together.  Given the fluidity of the situation, we do not have a new date yet.  We will provide more information as it becomes available. 

        Will the fact that the Commencement Ceremony is being postponed affect students’ ability to accept a job and/or sit for required licensure exams?

        No.  The postponement of the Commencement Ceremony will not affect a student’s actual graduation date. As long as students have successfully completed all their degree requirements, they will still have a graduation date of May 9, 2020.  Students will be able to order an official copy of their transcript after May 9 using the same process as in any other year.  

        What if students can’t complete all their degree requirements by the end of the Spring semester?

        As is true in any academic year, students who need extended time to meet their degree requirements will have a graduation date of August 15 or later, depending on how much more time they need to complete their requirements. 

        Don't students need a diploma as prove that they graduated?

        No.  All students need to show proof of graduation is a copy of their official transcript. 

        When will students receive their diplomas?

        Typically, we distribute diplomas at the end of the Commencement ceremony.  The distribution of diplomas for May 2020 graduates will occur at the conclusion of the ceremony once it has been rescheduled.  As is true in other years, students who cannot attend the ceremony in person can request their diploma be mailed to them after the Ceremony date. As soon as we have a new date for the 2020 Commencement ceremony, we will share it with students. 

        I know you are concerned, and I sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through this challenging time.  Please encourage your student to reach out to their academic advisor or professors if they need help, and know that the entire University community remains committed to student success. 

        These are unprecedented times, and we continue to monitor this situation very closely.  We will provide further updates via the University portal and website.  Please be sure to check these sites regularly. 

        I want to share a quote from Catherine McAuley that is particularly appropriate at this time: “Get all the prayers you can for me – that I may get through this new business as well as I can.”

        I can imagine that you’ve uttered or spoken similar words within the last week.  As we all take a pause in our daily routines, please know that my prayers are with you during this difficult and uncertain time. I wish you and your loved ones good health and good times together.   

        Best wishes,

        Deanne H. D’Emilio, JD
        President of Gwynedd Mercy University

        Resources

        For current information on the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and recommended travel restrictions, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) websites:

        CDC Website Updates on the Coronavirus

        WHO Updates on Coronavirus

        Montgomery County also is posting regular updates on the virus.

        Health Precautions

        The best way to keep yourself – and others – healthy is to take the following precautions:

        • Wash Your Hands frequently with soap and water  
          • It is recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy     Birthday or the ABCs), and dry them completely.
          • If you do not have access to soap and water, use a generous amount of hand sanitizer.
        • STAY HOME if you have a fever, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms, and seek appropriate medical attention
        • STAY HOME if someone with whom you have regular close contact is diagnosed with the Coronavirus
        • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
          • Wash your hands!
        • Clean doorknobs, cell phones, keyboards, and other frequently-touched surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes
          • Wash your hands!
        • Avoid touching your face
        • Do not drink from the same glass or eat from the same utensils as others
        • Get a Flu Shot if you have not already done so

        Archive

        Many schools have moved to online learning for the rest of the semester given uncertainty around the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Why isn’t GMercyU closing for longer?
        Is the SEPCHE Conference canceled?
        What about Commencement and related events? Will they still be held as planned?
        Are there confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus? 
        How long will campuses be closed? 
        How/when will classes be held?
        Are internships, clinicals, student teaching, and field experiences canceled? 
        How will I make up the time needed to complete my Clinical/Internship/Student Teaching requirements?
        Are residential students being sent home? 
        Are all university events on or off campus canceled through March 31? 
        I had plans to travel on a University-sponsored trip. Can I still go?
        Are athletic practices and competitions canceled through March 31? 
        How will I register for Summer of Fall semester classes?
        I do not have access to a computer/a reliable Internet connection. How will I complete my coursework?

        Many schools have moved to online learning for the rest of the semester given uncertainty around the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Why isn’t GMercyU closing for longer? (posted March 16)

        The decision to close GMercyU campuses through March 31st was based on the best available information at the time we made the decision. University leadership continues to closely monitor the situation and will adjust the timing of our re-opening based on the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control and local and state health agencies. Please continue to check the University website and portal for further updates. 

        Is the SEPCHE Honors Conference canceled? (posted March 16)

        Yes, The Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE) has canceled this year’s SEPCHE Honors Conference originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28. 

        What about Commencement and related events? Will they still be held as planned? (posted March 12)

        At this time, we have no plans to change the schedule for Honors Convocation, Baccalaureate Mass or Commencement. However, as you know, things continue to change very quickly.  We are monitoring the situation daily and will make decisions based on the best available information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and state health agencies.  Please continue to check the University website and portal for updates. 

        Are there confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus?  (posted March 12)

        At this time, there are no known presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Gwynedd Mercy University campuses. The decision to close is being made out of an abundance of caution.  The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and all persons affiliated with our University are of the utmost importance.  

        How long will campuses be closed?  (posted March 12)

        All campus locations will close at 4 p.m. on March 11 and remain closed through March 31.  

        How/when will classes be held? (posted March 12)

        On-campus classes will be canceled from 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 through Tuesday, March 17 to give faculty time to prepare to move their instruction online.  

        Effective Wednesday, March 18, course instruction for all on-campus students will be held online.  Further instructions on online learning will follow.

        Online programs will continue as scheduled.

        Are internships, clinicals, student teaching, and field experiences canceled?  (posted March 12)

        Yes, they are canceled for the duration of the campus closure. 

        How will I make up the time needed to complete my Clinical/Internship/Student Teaching requirements? (posted March 12)

        The Deans are actively exploring ways to address this potential issue; as soon as we have more information, we will share it.

        Are residential students being sent home?  (posted March 12)

        Yes. Residential students were instructed to vacate the residence halls as soon as possible and no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 12. Please contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life at reslife@gmercyu.edu if you are unable to leave the residence halls within this timeframe. 

        Are all university events on or off campus canceled through March 31?  (posted March 12)

        Yes. All university activities and events will be canceled through March 31. This includes all clubs and organization meetings, Intramurals, and athletic practices and competitions. 

        I had plans to travel on a University-sponsored trip.  Can I still go? (posted March 12)

        University-sponsored domestic and international travel will be suspended through May 1. Travel beyond May 1 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis based on the best information available from the Centers for Disease Control and state and local health agencies.  The faculty or staff member organizing your trip will be in touch about next steps. 

        Are athletic practices and competitions canceled through March 31?  (posted March 12)

        Yes. The University community will not host or travel to events off campus, including athletic practices and competitions.
         
        What about Senior Portraits? (posted March 12)

        Senior Portraits have been rescheduled for April 6-8, 2020. Lifetouch Photography is emailing students who made appointments for next week to inform them of the change. 
         
        Updated Senior Portraits Schedule:
         
        Monday, April 6: 12pm – 8pm
        Tuesday, April 7: 12pm – 8pm
        Wednesday, April 8: 10am – 5pm
         
        Location for all appointments: Late Night Lounge, Waldron Student Center, Gwynedd Valley Campus
         
        To schedule an appointment, go to: www.ouryear.com and use school code 280.