Increasing infection rates and limited testing has led to Mansfield University announcing it plans to increase remote learning opportunities for students.

In an Aug. 3 letter, MU President Charles Patterson said the university’s location initially provided some defense against the spread of COVID-19. Tioga County has one of the lowest infection rates of counties in Pennsylvania, there are no cases on campus and students expressed a strong interest in returning to campus.

“Today, however, we are seeing this rural advantage fade away across areas of the United States and Pennsylvania as infection rates in rural areas have begun to increase,” wrote Patterson to stakeholders on Monday. “In addition, there continues to be limited testing capabilities throughout Pennsylvania.”

Because of that, Mansfield University will further increase its offering of remote, online courses to ensure the continued health of students and employees.

For the fall semester, approximately 75% of all courses will be provided remotely (online). The remaining 25% of courses will be delivered partially or entirely face-to-face. The face-to-face courses will be restricted primarily to natural and health science lab courses, clinicals, student teaching, internships, and certain courses in music and art.

In addition, the university will reduce its residential campus population to approximately one-third of total capacity by restricting campus living to the following:

  • New freshmen may live on campus, but are not required.
  • The first semester of college is critical to success.
  • Having new freshmen Mounties on campus will allow them to start the college experience by
  • building communities and
  • acclimating to college life
  • at Mansfield University. Mountie Days activities will be held with this in mind
  • .
  • Students who are enrolled in a course with an in-person instructional component or hands-on/experience-based component that is required for their major.
  • International students who are in the United States.
  • Students with special circumstances, including students who are housing insecure or who have limited broadband/internet connectivity and are unable to access remote learning at home.

The Fall 2020 Plan has been developed in accordance with health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania department of health and the education.

“It is important to reinforce that the single most important factor in promoting a safe campus environment is compliance with protective behaviors,” Patterson wrote. “We must all take extraordinary steps to stay well and protect each other. What we do today, and in the days and weeks to come, will determine how the fall semester will best serve our students. To this end, it is critical that all university employees, students, community members and visitors embrace a shared commitment to undertake protective measures, both on campus and off campus. In doing so, we will be even better positioned to transition into spring 2021.”