LEWISBURG — Bucknell University will be open for a new semester.

However, exactly what its 3,500 students and members of the university community will face was not entirely certain.

“President Bravman has announced that Bucknell will open in the fall,” wrote Mike Ferlazzo, university spokesman. “Specifics on the academic calendar and what that opening will look like have yet to be announced because of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ferlazzo said a number of scenarios are currently under consideration and final determination will be made in the summer.

Bucknell was quick to adapt as the threat of coronavirus emerged in late winter. A way to hold classes online was devised in relatively short order. Students were given a deadline to exit campus or apply for a waiver if it was necessary for them to stay in the Lewisburg area.

It all happened seemingly overnight, but Ferlazzo observed it largely went well. Faculty were successful using a range of technology resources including video lectures, message boards, Google Hangouts, and video conferencing via Zoom and others.

Students, according to the university website, also adapted.

Modern dance students completed final assignments from home. An interactive performance ensemble used a tool developed by a Bucknell graduate and created Indonesian-style music from afar.

Additional summer courses were also planned and will be open remotely to high school students, Bucknell alumni and others.

Ferlazzo said room and board refunds have totaled about $7.7 million for the remote learning period, but tuition remained for students completing coursework and getting academic credit. There have been isolated requests for tuition refunds.

It would be a summer of decision for athletics, a big part of the on-campus experience of almost every university. Ferlazzo said a decision would be made in conjunction with the specifics surrounding the fall opening.

The COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly leave a mark. What shape that mark will be on higher education is still unclear.

“The value of an undergraduate education may become even more critical in the economy that emerges following the pandemic,” Ferlazzo concluded. “What will no doubt change, however, is the higher education delivery model because of the pandemic. At the present time, it’s just too early to determine what that will look like, although we are exploring a number of different options.”

The university plans to confer degrees on Monday, with commencement planned for Sunday, July 19, on campus. Adjustments to the commencement date in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, would be made no later than Friday, June 5.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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