Coronavirus Community Update – week of May 1, 2020
Dear St. Kate’s Community,
We are at a time of “betwixt and between” in living with the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic situation has created. If we imagine we all have a resilience and patience muscle somewhere in our body that we are making stronger every day, we will move through “betwixt and between” together. No individual can move out of this current state alone; we can only move together by taking care of the other–the dear neighbor. In that belief, I find great peace because I know I can treat everyone I meet as the dear neighbor, and in turn, trust that they are treating me the same way.
Stay-at-Home Order Extended
Yesterday, Governor Walz provided an update on how Minnesota will continue to manage COVID-19. This update included:
- An extension of the stay-at-home order to May 18.
- Advice that everyone wear non-medical cloth masks in public. We are implementing this practice immediately for the University, and ask all faculty, staff, and students to wear a mask or face covering while moving about on campus. If you are coming to the St. Paul campus, and are in need of a mask, you may pick one up at Public Safety in CdC.
Employee Remote Work
As communicated on March 26, faculty and staff will continue working remotely through the stay at home order, which is now in place through May 18. In anticipation that this order may be extended again, we have elected to remain in remote work mode through May 31. We are working with MDH to evaluate the situation and establish guidelines for if remote work is extended past this date, and will provide an update as we know more.
A revised grading policy for Spring 2020 was shared on April 17, and aims 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. The new deadline for petitioning for S/U grade options is May 8.
Summer and Fall Planning
Our top priority is to ensure that we can welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus safely and continue to deliver a strong academic experience in some form this summer, and certainly at the start of the academic year. At this point, no college or university can offer definitive answers.
We have established a Safe Return to Campus subcommittee of the Incident Management Team, led by Dr. Amy Kelly (see member list below), to evaluate and plan for how to open our campus safely and in a phased manner in collaboration with experts from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The complexity of what they have undertaken on our behalf is stunning; they will rely on all of our support and encouragement. We will be following protocols for social distancing, cleaning and sanitation guidelines, and testing and contact tracing for community members who are sick. We know these measures will need to be in place for all areas and aspects of our campus for an extended period of time.
- Summer Session: For summer, we will deliver all courses online as communicated on April 9. When the shelter in place is lifted, and relying on MDH for guidance, we hope to be able to allow small groups of students to campus for summer courses that benefit most from in-person activities. These activities must adhere to social distancing guidelines, and we will follow CDC guidelines for cleaning the spaces that are used. We are drafting policies and procedures for on campus course activity and work and will share those once they are final.
- Fall Semester: Looking forward to fall, we are looking at new approaches to class schedules, student activities, on campus housing, dining, and student services that adhere to social distancing recommendations and prioritize safety. We are evaluating the possibility of a hybrid model for class delivery, allowing in-person classes for courses that would be most beneficial in this format and maintaining an online format for courses that lend well to that learning environment. While face-to-face instruction may be preferred, we want to reassure students that quality education remains at St. Kate's. We are developing guides and resources to enhance online learning. We will continue to provide updates and more details as we know more.
We know enough about COVID-19 to anticipate the virus will be with us for some time to come. We have tremendous confidence that the collective efforts of scientists, health care providers, and public health officials are making headway against it every week. Their efforts, along with those of the Safe Return to Campus subcommittee, will allow us to eventually return to the vibrant on-campus community that we all love at St. Kate’s; we thank them all.
Meanwhile, step by step, using our collective ability to build our resilience and patience, we will move patiently and wisely out of “betwixt and between.” That is my belief and hope, and along with the promised warmth and sunshine of this coming weekend, I wish you all a very Happy Friday! To the Muslim members of our community who are celebrating the 8th day of Ramadan that lasts from Thursday, April 23 until Saturday, May 23, we thank you for sharing your spiritual practices with us that include fasting from water and food from sunrise to the sunset. It is a good reminder to all of us that the health of our souls needs attention too.
Safe Return to Campus Subcommittee
- Amy Kelly, MD, MPH
- Lynda Szymanski, PhD
- Laura Fero, PhD
- Mark Johnson
- Mike Hara
- Meghan Mason, PhD, MPH
- Eric Stacy
- Seth Snyder, PhD
- Pat Pratt-Cook