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IUP has a total of 419 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday.

Last minute changes are happening in many places, including in the classroom.

People all over the country have had to change the way things are done. Aside from stores switching from Black Friday to a month of sales, universities have had to change the way classes are taught.

As Thanksgiving break approaches, professors at IUP have had to make choices on how to finish the semester.

Some in-person classes have decided that it may be too dangerous right after the holiday break.

One of these professors is an assistant professor in the biology department and asked not to be named.

In an email sent to their Principles of Ecology and Evolution students, they said that after Thanksgiving break, the class would not have any more labs in-person.

“As you know, the number of COVID-19 cases has been spiking around the country and at IUP in the last two weeks,” the professor said. “Thus, I no longer feel that it is safe to have students attend face-to-face for the last two weeks of lab.”

As of Tuesday, IUP reported 62 new positive COVID-19 cases. This makes for a total of 419 cases all semester. So far, 359 have recovered.

“I planned my labs so that the most important hands-on skills were covered earlier in the semester, and labs that could better translate to remote learning are later in the semester,” the professor said.

Their class will attend its final weeks through Zoom to finish the semester. They also encouraged their students to continue to social distance during their break.

As for next semester, they said they will continue with the hybrid model, but does have a backup plan.

“I am prepared to go entirely online if the situation does not improve.”

Another professor who had to make changes to their class is Dr. Randy Jesick of the journalism department.

In his class, introduction to public relations, Jesick’s students were not able to attend a professional visit due to many organizations not being fully open.

Now, his class will also not be having a final quiz or test either. Their final will be turning in their semester project instead.

Brianna Lockard (senior, communications media) said she was happy with the change.

“Not only does it give me more time, but it’s one less test I have to worry about to study for,” she said.

To make up for there being no professional visits, Jesick has brought in alumni to act as class speakers for his students.

These include people who have worked for IBM and Hershey as well as people who have their own public relations firms and organizations.

Lockard found this change useful, as well.

“I learn a lot about the fields of journalism, public relations and communications,” she said. “I also can connect with them so I can have future connections along with great advice received.”

Overall, most classes will remain the same and complete the semester as per their syllabi.

“All of my finals are the same, just online and after Thanksgiving,” Elizabeth Stash (sophomore, kinesiology) said.

This was the same for Ann Gamble (sophomore, geography).

“All of my finals are after Thanksgiving, too,” she said. “I have tests for three of them, a paper for one, and a combo of paper and a multiple-choice question test for my last class.”

Due to IUP using the same hybrid model for learning next semester, similar last-minute changes may be a possibility for finals then, too.

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