Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Update – March 25, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Update – March 25, 2020

Dear St. Kate’s Community, 

Thank you to every member of our St. Catherine community. And community we are, albeit virtual for this time. Because of our shared mission, vision, values, and our “love of God and the dear neighbor, without distinction,” we come into this time as a strong community.  

Today, Governor Walz announced a “Stay at Home” executive order: All persons currently living within the State of Minnesota are ordered to stay at home or in their place of residence, effective 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27, and be in effect through Friday, April 10, at 5:00 p.m.

How does this change what we are already doing? Social distancing recommendations encouraged us to limit our close contact with others, and to groups of less than ten people. With this “stay at home” order, our medical director advised that best practice is to limit close contact to five (5) individuals for the duration of the order — not five individuals at a time, but the same five individuals total. 

This executive order excludes “Educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions, if operating under rules for social distancing.” We will send a separate communication tomorrow to faculty and staff regarding how this impacts employees.

As promised from our first COVID-19 communication on March 12, we offer the following thorough update based on this new order and our plans as a university. These times call for all of us to be as nimble as possible and demand we practice open and frequent communication. We have used bold headers for ease of referencing and reading, but ask you to please read all of the information so we can all have a deep knowledge of the plans.

You can also find this information, all of our previous messages, and FAQs online at stkate.edu/coronavirus-info, which is updated regularly. Please send your questions to healthresponse@stkate.edu.

Academic and Course Updates

While we are working and attending classes remotely, the University remains open and operational, and we will continue as planned for the spring semester.

  • Online classes – All courses will be fully online starting Monday, March 30 for the spring term. Faculty have worked very diligently through the extended spring break to move all lecture/didactic courses online. Students will receive communication, if they have not already, from faculty regarding the schedule and procedures for online instruction for each class. Students should contact their program directors, department chairs, or deans if experiencing non-technical concerns with classes, or email academicaffairs@stkate.edu.
  • Getting support – We have prepared a series of FAQs to assist you in getting connected, accessing the internet, and how to use online tools and software. If you need additional support, please contact the St. Kate’s Helpdesk through the Coronavirus Technology Form (preferred) or call  651-690-6402.  Due to call center staffing and phone capacity constraints, please use the form for non-immediate needs. 
  • Summer session – We know that some of you may be planning ahead already. Summer registration is open, and you will be receiving email updates regarding available classes and when you can register. We anticipate most, if not all, summer courses will be offered online.  
  • Spring 2020 Grading –  We understand that students have concerns regarding completion of course requirements and grading based on the adjustment to online education. We are working to ensure the rigor of our courses and optimizing student learning and support. 
    • Students currently have the following three options for grades: a standard letter grade; a petition for an incomplete; and a request for a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade
    • The current incomplete grade policy requires that the "student must be making satisfactory progress in the course and must have completed 75% of the course requirements at the time the petition is filed." This policy will be relaxed this semester. Although students have not yet completed 75% of the full-semester courses, they will still be eligible to submit a request for an incomplete if they cannot complete the course requirements. 
    • Students will need to work individually with their faculty member(s) to determine whether there are options for completing the course work in an alternate format before exploring an incomplete grade. 
    • Our current satisfactory/unsatisfactory policy remains in effect.
  • Study Abroad – All Global Studies and study abroad summer programs have been canceled. 

Please see the Student Update message sent March 18 for additional details on academics and classes.

Commencement Spring 2020

Commencement means a great deal to all of us, thus we are postponing our May 22-23, 2020 graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies for all three colleges: College for Women, College for Adults, Graduate College. We identified three options, pending the status of the COVID-19 public health guidelines.  

Options: 

  1. Hold commencement ceremonies on August 28-29, 2020. 
  2. If we are unable to hold ceremonies in August, we will combine spring 2020 commencement celebrations with the winter 2020 ceremony on December 16-17, 2020.
  3. If we are unable to hold December ceremonies, we will combine all ceremonies into the May 2021 celebration (ie. extended ceremonies with May 2020, December 2020, and May 2021 graduates). 

We are not planning beyond the three options above at this time. Decisions will be driven by when it is safe to have large gatherings again as determined by MDH and CDC. We will confirm dates or share updates at least eight (8) weeks in advance to allow you to plan accordingly. 

NOTE: It is very important to remember that ALL degrees will be conferred at the end of the spring semester pending the completion of all degree requirements, regardless of when the commencement ceremony is held. May completion dates will be included on student transcripts. 

Student Services

All student services will remain available during the spring semester with updated hours and modes of accessing them. Updates on these services can be found online at stkate.edu/coronavirus-info/hours-services.

Student Accounts

We understand we are all managing through an unprecedented time and this situation raises concerns about tuition costs and other financial burdens. We will do what we can to help and to provide support to you. Student Accounts is available to assist you and can be reached at studentaccounts@stkate.edu or at 651-690-6503.

  • Student Accounts will work with students who are unable to make payments on their Installment Plan due to the extenuating circumstances, and who have reached out to Student Accounts regarding their situation. Students will be able to remain on their plan throughout the terms of the agreement. 
  • Students on an Emergency Payment Plan will have a grace period if there are extenuating circumstances, and if they are in contact with Student Accounts. 
  • Installment Plans and Emergency Payment Plans do not incur monthly finance fees. 
  • Monthly finance fees will be discontinued for March, April, and May 2020.
  • Students on an Installment Plan (excluding OTA Online) or Emergency Payment Plan can have their hold lifted to allow registration for future academic terms if their payments are current.
  • Students receiving Employer Tuition Reimbursement, Third Party Payments, or Veterans Benefits can have their hold lifted to allow registration if the student has paid their out-of-pocket portion. 
  • Students with an account balance less than $1,000 are able to register for the upcoming summer and fall academic terms.

Fees and Refunds

  • Housing and Meal Plans – Information regarding prorated refunds was sent on March 23 to residential students and those on meal plans regarding refunds for spring. If you did not receive this information or have questions, please contact Student Accounts at studentaccounts@stkate.edu. 
  • Parking Fees – Prorated parking permit costs for students will be issued for commuter and residential students who have moved off-campus for the spring and summer terms. Parking tickets students received this academic year will be forgiven. Please allow 3-4 weeks for the Public Safety and Student Accounts staff to process these manual changes.

Residence Halls

Unoccupied residence halls (Carondelet, Caecilian, Crandall, St. Mary, Stanton) were closed and locked on March 23 to ensure the safety and security of those who remain on campus, and to secure the rooms and belongings for students until it is safe to retrieve them. If you need to retrieve a personal item (e.g. medication, text books) from your residential space, you must contact Residence Life at residencelife@stkate.edu to make arrangements. 

Public Safety

Public Safety is open and available to assist students, faculty, and staff. They can be reached by phone, email, and sending a message via the LiveSafe app. LiveSafe messages are a fast and easy way to reach Public Safety.  

Student Workers

For departments with student worker positions that can be done remotely, we are implementing a temporary policy to allow student workers to work remotely during the spring semester. Supervisors will be in contact with their student workers directly to assess this option with students. This information was also shared with faculty and staff on March 17 and with students on March 18.

We know that not all student worker positions can be done remotely because of the nature of the work. We will work specifically with those students to understand the situation, and how we can best help them if this causes a financial hardship. Please contact Student Affairs at studentaffairs@stkate.edu for assistance. 

Maintaining an Inclusive Community

We know and understand this is a very emotionally taxing time for many of us. This also reinforces our need to support one another and keep our community strong. We must not allow our fears to cause us to assign blame to any person or group of people based on their skin color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or home country. Harassment, xenophobia and racism based on COVID-19 or other situations are contradictory to our St. Catherine values, are not acceptable, and will not be tolerated. If anyone experiences this, you must report it to Human Resources at hr@stkate.edu. We take this very seriously, and will take all appropriate action.

Please practice patience with yourself and others. Have confidence that these days will give us the gifts of resilience and appreciation for the simple treasure of gathering together again. I hope you share my gratitude that we can continue to advance our mission through keeping St. Kate’s open and operating. I don't take that for granted and I doubt any of you do either. This is our opportunity to show what we are all capable of as we love all our dear neighbors. All will be well.

Becky Roloff
President