Gradual Reopening of Campus

Dear St. Thomas faculty and staff,

Thank you to those who were able to join me last Wednesday for the One University Town Hall. I loved seeing so many of your faces! I also enjoyed the chance to talk about the ways we are preparing to welcome students back to St. Thomas in the fall and to share my hopes for our future.

Last week, Gov. Tim Walz shared more details about lifting some of the restrictions in place related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of this announcement can be found here on the state of Minnesota’s website.

Consistent with the governor’s guidance, and in close consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), we are working on a gradual plan to enable faculty and staff to return to campus throughout several phases over the summer. This plan will include measures that will allow us to maintain social distancing practices and thoroughly sanitize common areas. The plan will also include provisions for accommodating faculty and staff who are in high-risk groups.

Timelines for our return to campus phases are being finalized, and we will keep you apprised of updates as they are available. In the meantime, the governor’s recent guidance reiterates that for all businesses, including essential businesses like St. Thomas, employees who can fulfill their work from home should continue to do so. Therefore, our employees who are able to perform their job duties remotely should continue doing so until further notice.

As this changes with the needs of particular units, it is important for you to be in close contact with your supervisor and/or academic unit leader about plans for your unit and when you are needed on campus.

To prepare for a successful reopening of campus, we will be implementing the following health and safety protocols:

  • Our physical facilities will accommodate social distancing (capacity limits for classrooms will be lowered, tables spaced out and signage displayed reminding people to remain 6 feet apart).
  • We are creating a culture of wearing masks on campus.
  • Plexiglass barriers are being installed at high-visited areas such as service desks, reception desks or retail checkout areas to keep people safe and apart.
  • Multiple hand sanitizing stations are being installed throughout campus.
  • Move-in days will occur over a longer period of time and be staged to avoid large congregations of students arriving at the same time.
  • We will follow MDH guidelines for residence hall accommodations and dining facilities.
  • COVID-19 testing on campus is currently in place at the Center for Well-Being. Additional capacity for testing and contact tracing is anticipated prior to fall.
  • A designated location has been established to safely isolate and care for sick students that test positive or show symptoms of COVID-19.

Please stay supportive of each other and keep our students in your prayers as they complete their finals, journey into the summer and, for some, graduate and become our newest alumni. We are almost at the end of the academic year, and everyone should feel incredibly proud of how St. Thomas has rallied behind our students and continued to serve our mission of preparing morally responsible leaders who advance the common good.

I am inspired by and extremely grateful for all your hard work, particularly over the past few months. You are amazing! Please take good care of yourself and stay healthy.

 

With warmest regards,

Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.

President