Important Updates From Our First Week

Dear St. Thomas students, faculty and staff,

Please see below for an important update to our Campus Preparedness Plan regarding the use of masks and cloth face coverings.
But first … we have a simple message to deliver:
Thank you.

We can’t even begin to describe the amount of work that went into preparing for this week. Months of planning, meeting, creating, debating, installing, and yes … praying …. all came to a head when we finally welcomed everyone for the start of fall classes. And we are pleased and proud to report that the first few days of our return to campus for our undergraduate and many of our graduate programs went very well! While there may have been some hiccups here and there, the reports we’re hearing indicate classes have gone smoothly, services are back up and running, and we are very pleased to see our community members wearing their masks and face coverings and doing their best to practice distancing.

We still have a long way to go, but each day is an important step on our journey. So again, thank you.

It is important for everyone to remain flexible as challenges evolve (and we do expect them to evolve). One challenge we already have discovered this week involves the use of face coverings outdoors. Several instances have been reported where people have gathered in groups in outdoor spaces without using face coverings. Please remember that the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious; even if you are outdoors, it is very important to maintain social distancing and wear your face covering when in the presence of others to reduce the risk of transmission.

Given this, we are (effective today) updating our Campus Preparedness Plan to require the use of masks and other cloth face coverings outdoors on campus when social distancing is difficult to maintain. Previously, the plan only encouraged covering outdoors in these instances; to eliminate any confusion, we are now making this behavior mandatory, with some exceptions. You may remove your mask outside if you are:
  • Maintaining an appropriate social distance from others (6 feet)
  • Away from groups of people
  • Exercising (provided appropriate social distancing is maintained)
  • Eating (provided appropriate social distancing is maintained)
We strongly encourage you to follow the same practice off campus. We cannot stress enough that our ability to remain open to in-person instruction and activities depends on everyone’s cooperation with the policies laid out in the Preparedness Plan. Thus far, we are very pleased with how most people are adhering to the plan and to state and local guidance; it needs to be a constant effort made by everyone. We need to act wisely for the common good.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation. We can do this!

Warm regards,
Karen M. Lange, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan

Wendy N. Wyatt, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan