Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2021

Surviving COVID By Sue Corbran

When COVID-19 hit, Mercyhurst leaned in with resilience and resolve – the same way it’s faced other challenges over the past 95 years. The resilient and resolute pioneer Sisters of Mercy would have been proud. Said former President Michael T. Victor, “Our inventiveness and creativity in tackling challenges – and the caring, hospitable, merciful environment the Sisters started – were huge strengths as we coped with this unprecedented pandemic.” By the time students returned to campus to start spring semester on Jan. 25, Mercyhurst’s leaders had been dealing with the deadly pandemic for a full year. A Presidential Task Force started meeting in January 2020, when fewer than a half-dozen COVID cases had been detected in the U.S. Though it would be many weeks before the coronavirus reached Erie, the challenge it posed became clear at Mercyhurst in early March. That’s when administrators made the tough call to cancel a planned trip to the university’s Dungarvan campus by 15 students and three faculty members. Just weeks later, during a hectic few days in mid-March, Mercyhurst moved all operations online. As soon as virtual classes were up and running, the university’s COVID team immediately started devising plans to bring everyone back to campus safely in mid-August. The campus experience was diferent – like every other aspect of life in the age of COVID. The break between semesters was longer than usual, but Mercyhurst leaders used the time to fne-tune their fall protocols while developing a new testing strategy. Tests before and after arrival on campus allowed Mercyhurst to start classes knowing that the “campus bubble” was as healthy as possible.


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