Coronavirus Community Update – April 17, 2020

Coronavirus Community Update – April 17, 2020

Dear St. Catherine Community, 

As we come to the fourth week of working, teaching, and learning online, I offer my ongoing appreciation for how difficult this has been on all of us and how proud I am of our community for meeting the challenges. We all have the opportunity to show grace, tenacity, and sheer willpower in the work each of us does every day. 

Living Inclusive Excellence

We also have the opportunity to reach out and stand up for the members of our community, whether directly associated with St. Kate’s or not, who are facing harassment, xenophobia, and racism based on COVID-19. There is always the search by some for a person or group to blame for a situation for which one does not want to take responsibility. That is not leadership. That is not influencing. It is cowardice and in this case, racist. Please speak out when these situations occur, whether it involves St. Kate’s or not. Stand up in a positive way for all the people who are being targeted with lies about the source and spread of  the pandemic. We all share the public policy responsibility for the health of our community; we are all part of the solution.

Below are a number of important updates on a variety of topics that are pieces of the plan that help us prepare for and  imagine a better situation down the road. While they are very important, and very practical, they are not as important as remembering that in each and every act you do, you have the opportunity to build a true and deep community with everyone around you.

CARES Act

As many of you may have heard, on March 27, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act was signed into law. This law provides funding to a variety of groups, including colleges and universities, as well as debt relief actions for those with government issued student loans. This week we have learned more about the federal government's CARES act and the guidelines around it.

St. Catherine University will receive $2.6 million of funding through this act. The law specifies half of these funds be directed to cover the University’s expenses and needs as a result of COVID-19; the other half is to be distributed as emergency grants for students to help cover expenses related to COVID-19. We are working hard right now to take stock of these needs, the total impact of the need, and the best way to allocate these funds to our students. We  will continue to update you as we learn more and as we implement programs related to this funding.

Spring 2020 Grading Policy

We are sensitive to the challenges that the online transition as a result of COVID-19 have raised for students. A revised grading policy has been developed for Spring 2020 to allow for flexibility and to meet students where they are at during this time. Students are strongly encouraged to connect with academic advisors and faculty advisors if they are concerned about their grades or to explore alternatives for the semester. 

Summer and Fall Classes

  • Registration is now open for both summer and fall courses. Academic Advisors are available to answer questions and book appointments. They can be reached at  academicadvising@stkate.edu. You can also reach out to your faculty advisor. 
  • The majority of summer courses have been moved online, and we continue to add more online offerings. Continue to check the schedule for additional online courses.  
  • As of now, the University plans to be back to normal operations for the fall semester, including allowing students to return to campus. We will continue to monitor the situation and follow recommendations from the CDC, Minnesota Department of Health, and Governor’s office. We will provide an update on any changes to this plan if the recommendations from these organizations warrant it. If we need to be online for fall semester, we are prepared to make that change.   

Use of Zoom for University Business Not Permitted

A message was sent earlier today regarding the use of Zoom for University business. Beginning today, all uses of Zoom to conduct University business (e.g. classes, meetings, tutorials, events, department discussions, office hours) are not permitted UNLESS you have an approved exception from Information Technology

Summer Travel

Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts and in an effort to contain costs, all University-related travel, both domestic and international, will be suspended through August 31. We will reassess this policy in July for fall travel. Requests for exceptions will be reviewed and decided by the Incident Management Team. The request should be made through your leadership structure, who will forward it to the Incident Management Team.

Happy Friday

While I’m sure it has never happened to you, my day got away from me and this particular task did not get done. So, I bless and release myself. I look forward to the promised warmth of the day tomorrow and hope you are too.

Becky Roloff
President