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Penn State Cancels In-Person Classes For Rest Of Semester

Matt Rourke
A students walks in front of the Old Main building on the Penn State campus Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, in State College, Pa.

Penn State University on Wednesday canceled in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester, citing the coronavirus pandemic, as state officials announced a 40% jump in the number of confirmed cases.

Penn State, which enrolls about 100,000 students at some 20 campuses throughout the state, had previously planned to resume live classroom instruction on April 6 but said it needed to take more dramatic action “based on on evolving federal guidance and statewide mitigation plans announced by Gov. Tom Wolf around the growing coronavirus pandemic.”

As the nation's economic crisis deepened, the state Department of Labor and Industry said unemployment compensation claims exceeded 70,000 on Tuesday alone after hitting 50,000 on Monday. In the entire first week of March, the state received barely 12,000 claims, according to federal data.

Cases confirmed in Pennsylvania exceeded 130 as of Wednesday, rising by 37, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. About two-thirds of confirmed cases have been in southeastern Pennsylvania. The majority of testing is now being done by private labs.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.


As it told students to remain home, Penn State also announced Wednesday that commencement will be postponed.

The university’s president, Eric J. Barron, said the school will honor its graduates in some form.

“Graduation is a significant milestone for our students and while it may not be the same as our traditional ceremony, we are committed to finding the best way possible to recognize the achievements of our graduates,” he said.

Officials said students will be told when they can return to pick up personal belongings inside campus residences. Exams will take place remotely.

The school says tens of thousands of students have already signed up for remote learning.

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