Parents bombarded the College with phone calls. Students and faculty vacated campus. College Avenue looked like a ghost town.
It all happened during the spring 2020 semester at Franklin & Marshall during the COVID-19 public health crisis. But the same was true in March 1979, when a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pa., forced the College to shut down for one week. The College closed its doors beginning at 6 p.m. on March 30, while a group of administrators set up a satellite office in Washington, D.C., to do emergency work and contingency planning. The Department of Physics set up a radioactivity monitoring station on campus to detect radiation, which never made the 25-mile journey to Lancaster. College officials decided to resume classes on April 9—forcing faculty, students and professional staff to adjust their syllabi and work schedules, but not to the extent that COVID-19 has required the F&M community to adjust to new ways of working and learning in 2020.