Community Update: COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and Fall Semester Details

Fall Semester COVID-19 Update


COVID-19 Preparedness Plan - August 2020

Dear St. Catherine Community,

The auto repair shop a block from our house has this sign posted: “IF IT DOESN’T CHALLENGE YOU, IT DOESN’T CHANGE YOU.”  Today when I walked the campus, I thought of one of the key phrases from Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower: “GOD IS CHANGE.”

Each of you reading this has been changed in some way by the COVID-19 experience we have had so far; I know I have. On the days it feels simply overwhelming because of the depth and swiftness of change we have all gone through, I remember that we do not face this challenge alone. We face it together – each with our own way of thinking about it, absorbing it, and trying to help in the best way we can.

If ever there was the opportunity to be even kinder, even more compassionate, even more patient, it is now. We have made it through spring and summer semester, we have planned the best we know how for the fall semester (which is detailed below), and we can all pray and hope that by spring 2021, our learnings will have been great and our challenges lessened just a bit.

Our goal for the fall semester is to take a cautious and conservative approach to return to an engaged, vibrant campus carefully over time and as it is safe to do so. The health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff remain at the center of our decisions, and we remain committed to and guided by our mission to educate women to lead and influence and values of academic excellence, community, integrity, social justice, and reflection.

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

The St. Catherine University COVID-19 Preparedness Plan outlines policies and procedures developed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection and a recurrent surge of infections on our campus and in our communities as we plan for the physical return of students, faculty, and staff. The plan provides our overarching approach to maintaining a safe and healthy environment, and provides flexibility for us to update and adapt the plan as needed to meet changing needs as they arise. The plan does not provide all of the details about the fall nor does it address specific examples or instances that may arise. A detailed set of guidelines is being prepared for faculty and will be sent soon.

Implementation of this plan will be a community effort that requires full cooperation of everyone in our St. Kate’s community. As such, we ask that all members of our community read and familiarize themselves with the plan. It is a long document because our planning touches every aspect of our St. Kate’s life. We will be hosting Fall Information Forums to discuss the University’s plans in response to COVID-19. During these forums, we will provide more information about what to expect this fall and answer questions. Additional details, including how to RSVP, will be sent separately. 

  • Returning Student Forum: Tuesday, August 18, 5 p.m.

  • Faculty and Staff Forum: Thursday, August 20, 12 p.m.

We will also host additional meetings in late August for those faculty who will be teaching face-to-face courses this fall.

St. Kate’s community members are also invited to submit your questions online via our feedback form. You may also email us at

We all owe special and deep thanks to the Safely Returning to Campus Committee (SRC) co-chairs – Dr. Amy Kelly, Lynda Szymanski, and Pat Pratt-Cook – for their leadership and guidance in developing this plan, and to all those who contributed to its creation.

Health and Wellness Policies and Expectations

In accordance with state, MDH, and ACHA guidelines, as well as recommendations by the Safely Returning to Campus Committee, the University has implemented several health and wellness policies, which can be viewed online. In addition, per updated recommendations from MDH, we are strongly encouraging all students to engage in a quarantine-like practice for 14 days before arrival on campus including avoiding bars, parties, and groups of 10 or more people. 

As you prepare for fall semester, please note these highlights from the policy:

  • Daily Symptom Screening: All faculty, staff, and students are required to complete the Daily Symptom Self Check each day prior to coming to campus.

  • Mask Requirement: St. Kate’s implemented mask requirements as part of Phase 1 of our Safely Returning Campus Plan for the summer term, and will maintain this requirement through the fall semester. Additionally, the Governor's Executive Order 20-81 on July 25, requires the wearing of a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless alone.

  • Social Distancing: All students, faculty, and staff must adhere to social distance recommendations of six feet between people.  

  • Testing: On-campus testing will be available for all students, faculty, and staff by appointment at the Health and Wellness Clinic.  

  • Visitors Policy: Visitors are not allowed on campus. This includes family of faculty and staff (e.g., spouses, children) and friends or family of student residents. 

  • Reporting: All students, faculty, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are required to fill out the COVID-19 Diagnosis Notification Form.

    • Regular updates regarding COVID-19 infections in the St. Kate’s community will be available on the St. Kate’s COVID-19 webpage. These updates are in development and will be available soon. 

    • Please remember to respect the privacy of those in our community, including following all HIPAA and FERPA guidelines, which protect private health information and student data. 

Fall Courses 

On July 1, the University shared details regarding fall courses, which align with the preparedness plan. Courses will be delivered in three formats (face-to-face, hybrid, and online), with face-to-face courses prioritized based on the need to have access to specialized equipment and/or lab spaces that require physical attendance in class. 

Student Services

All student services will continue to offer support and services for the fall semester. Most services will remain online, with select offices offering limited in-person services by appointment and specified office hours. More detailed information will be available closer to the start of the semester. 


IT has a variety of assets available for checkout for those teaching or taking online courses, including laptops, tablets, video cameras, headsets, software, and connectivity solutions. Requests can be made by submitting the Coronavirus Technology Request form in ServiceNow. 

Fall Athletics

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) has postponed all competition for cross country, soccer, and volleyball until the spring season in 2021. Competition will be allowed for the sports of golf and tennis (considered low-risk sports by the NCAA), and the MIAC Championships for golf will take place as scheduled. Practice and training will still take place for all sports during the fall season and student-athletes will adhere to phasing protocols established by the NCAA and MIAC.

Fall Travel

All University-related domestic and international travel is suspended for the fall semester. Requests for exceptions need to be submitted to the Senior Leadership Team.

Fall Employee Update

In accordance with the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and MDH recommendations, we are also taking a conservative approach to how we bring faculty and staff back to campus. For the fall 2020 semester, we will have faculty and staff on campus in a limited capacity to support those students who will be on campus. This will include those whose work requires them to be on campus regularly as well as those who will have limited on-campus schedules for the fall. Additionally, work responsibilities may require employees to come to campus periodically to complete University business. The majority of employees will continue to work remotely through the end of fall semester. A separate message with additional details will be sent to employees regarding work expectations, resources, and other relevant details. 

Campus Buildings and Spaces

  • Building Access: Campus buildings will remain locked. Employees and students will continue to have access by using their ID badges. This allows us to manage campus traffic and assist with contact tracing. 

  • Common Spaces: Following the preparedness plan and MDH guidelines for groups and gatherings, some common spaces will be closed or have reduced capacities to ensure social distancing. This includes classrooms, lab spaces, library, meeting and study rooms, Chapel, and performance centers. More detailed information will be available closer to the start of the semester. 

  • Admissions and Campus Tours: Admissions teams and Athletics will host campus tours using guidelines approved by the SRC and following all state and city guidelines. Admissions counselors are also conducting appointments both in-person and virtually.  

  • Residence Halls: Student residents will return to campus August 27-Sept 7 as part of a staggered move-in process. Students received an email on August 7 with information about signing up for a move-in appointment and move-in guidelines to ensure social distancing.

University and Community Events

The University will continue to follow Minnesota’s guidelines for events and gatherings, as well as additional guidelines from the Safely Returning to Campus Committee. 

  • The University will not host any outside events from external organizations. 

  • Internal community events for students, faculty, and staff will be evaluated individually, with priority given to groups with academic needs. Events with permission to proceed will abide by group sizes and social distancing requirements.

  • The Chapel will be open for weddings, funerals, and religious services per MDH guidelines. It will not be open for general use. 

  • New student orientation will be held virtually this year, with the exception of a small number of in-person sessions for new first-year students in the College for Women. 

We are appreciative of the care and understanding you have all brought to this work to date to ensure we are creating a healthy, inclusive community together. Each of us is responsible for following all health and safety guidelines, and helping reinforce and remind each other of them, keeping in our minds our love of the dear neighbor and one another.

I hope you and those you love are safe and well.


Becky Roloff



Previous Updates

Note: You can find these and other past messages at