Bradford crisis causes curriculum adjustment

Salynda Hogsett, Contributing Writer

On Feb. 23, a water main broke near the Pitt-Bradford entrance, releasing nearly 5 million gallons of water from the municipal water system and leading to loss of water service for approximately 18,000 people.

Due to the loss of water, Pitt-Bradford officials canceled classes for the week and encouraged students to go home.

The water has now been restored, but problems remain for Pitt-Bradford students and faculty.

“I went dark for the week,” said Lizbeth Matz, a Pitt-Bradford associate business-management professor.

When she left school Monday evening, Matz said she had no clue she would not be coming back for the rest of the week.

That evening, university officials canceled all Tuesday classes. The next morning, they shut down the campus for the rest of the week.

All campus buildings except residence halls and the commons buildings were closed.

“I left everything in my office,” Matz said, “laptop, textbooks, everything.”

She wasn’t able to update her students on what changes were going to be made to the schedule.

“We’ve been scrambling to figure out how to make [the classes] up,” she said.

However, not all professors are having these issues. Due to good communication early on in the crisis, David Merwine, the Pitt-Bradford biology program director, said that his students are keeping up well with the changes.

Merwine was able to communicate early on with his students about what would happen once they got back to school and what they should prepare for.

He was able to tell his students as early as Wednesday what was going on and how classes were going to be changed.

“My biggest problem has been rescheduling our weekly quizzes,” he said.

However, Merwine is confident that his class schedule will allow him to make up days quickly. He pointed out that his class structure makes it fairly easy for him to make up some days.

“I tend to go hard in the beginning of the semester and then make some cushion toward the end just in case something like this happens.”

He has been able to lecture on review days and push classes around to make up for lost time.

Some programs, however, don’t have the freedom to push classes around to make up for lost time. The nursing program is one example.

Tammy Haley, Pitt-Bradford nursing and radiological studies director, said the hardest part has been making up clinical hours.

“Now they have to reschedule two eight-hour days of clinicals,” said Haley.

Other than rescheduling clinical hours, Haley said that she thought that there was great communication within the program.

Professors and students were able to keep in touch via email, and professors were able to record lectures so students could watch them at home.

“Some students were even able to use the time to catch up on work they were behind in,” said Haley. “Our students and staff are some of the most driven and dedicated students on this campus.”

While students and staff are working together to get the work done, some students have had other problems.

Since spring break began on Saturday, some students who live further away were not able to come back for just a week of classes due to transportation issues.

Fortunately, there are only a few students in this situation, said Merwine, and staff are working with them to keep them up to speed on what’s going on and what they should do to make sure they are on track with their work.

Merwine admitted, though, that he had some worries.

“I worry that they will lose focus,” he said, “That’s a three-week break.”