Dear St. Thomas community,
We are experiencing some of the most difficult times our society has faced in recent memory. In times like these, it is hard for daily work and routines to not feel trivial. Nevertheless, we must all remind ourselves that St. Thomas’ mission truly is needed today more than ever; we must find the strength to (as our founder said) “ever press forward.”
Our mission involves educating the whole person and revolves around personal relationships and learning from and with one another. Thus, today we are pleased to share our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan which details the steps St. Thomas will take to reopen and welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. Our COVID-19 University Action and Response Team (UART) has been developing and writing this plan for the past four weeks. The plan, which was reviewed by a panel of outside health experts last week, envisions a gradual reopening of campus beginning June 15 and aims for full reopening by Aug. 15. It includes:
- New health and safety protocols that will be in place when we return
- The process we will use to gradually reopen buildings and bring employees back
- Guidance for faculty as they work with their departments and colleges/schools to plan fall courses
- Sanitization protocols
- Contingency plans in the event of an outbreak
- And many other details
Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 remains fluid, we must treat this plan as a living document. While we expect that certain details will change as the situation evolves, we feel confident this plan will provide the foundational framework we need to welcome as many people back to campus this fall as we can safely accommodate.
So, what happens next?
Next, we need your feedback and questions, as they will help us continue to refine and improve this plan. Today, we ask you to take the following steps:
- Please review the plan when you have an opportunity. A PDF version of it is today available on OneStThomas, accessible to anyone with a stthomas.edu email address.
- Provide feedback!
- Anyone who has feedback or questions regarding university-level operations can submit them electronically through this survey link. We will keep this link live through June 17.
- If you have feedback of questions that relate to unit-level operations, please send them to your dean or supervisor (faculty/staff) or the Dean of Students Office (students) at (651) 962-6050.
- Please mark this coming Friday, June 12, from noon–1 p.m. on your calendars for a community-wide town hall hosted by us, as well as members of UART. During this town hall, we will summarize the key details and provide the chance for community members to ask questions and share feedback. An Outlook calendar invite should be arriving in your inbox shortly.
Once we have collected your feedback, UART will incorporate it into the plan as appropriate, and the plan will be posted on our public-facing website in an easier to navigate format. We will then prepare a series of materials and communications intended to help everyone prepare for the gradual return to campus over the summer months.
We must develop a culture of care for one another that protects the health and safety of all, with special attention to the most vulnerable, and that allows us to move forward with our work of advancing the common good. We thank UART for its hard work in pulling this plan together, and we look forward to working together with all of you to implement it and create our new culture of care.
With warmest regards,
Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Richard Plumb, Ph. D.
Executive Vice President and Provost