Thankfully, the COVID transmission numbers have significantly decreased in our county and region. After reviewing and considering CDC guidelines, we are putting forth the following protocols for June and July.
- No masks or physical distancing is required for fully vaccinated faculty and staff; masks indoors are required for faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated.
- No masks are required outside.
- Visitors to campus will be asked to wear masks indoors.
We are still discussing protocols for our limited camps and will communicate with those involved directly. We hope to make decisions on these very soon.
Since reducing campus density is no longer necessary, we are asking that staff who are working remotely return to the office starting July 1 if not sooner. However, if remote work is reasonable for your work and acceptable with your supervisor, reasonable accommodations could be made to create a hybrid schedule as has already been done in certain offices on campus.
Ave Crux Spes Unica,
Justin Watson Monica Markovich
Provost Vice President for Finance
Dear faculty and staff,
We hope this message finds you healthy and well. When we announced that we were moving to distance learning on March 7th, never did we nor could we imagine how the following months would transpire nor the length of time that we would be apart. We know that the sudden transition required significant adjustments, flexibility, and herculean efforts to do your work in new ways, while worrying and caring for the health and safety of your loved ones. We did all of this while being physically separated and abiding by our stay at home order, knowing that our sacrifice was for the common good of all. Please know of our deep gratitude for all that you have done, and continue to do, to serve our community and fulfill our mission. We know that it was tremendously difficult, and we are in awe of the strength, grit, and tenacity of our community that was once again on display these past months.
Reopening campus and welcoming students back in August will require each of us to call upon the same characteristics: flexibility, tenacity, strength, grit. It will require adaptations and sacrifices from all of us – faculty, staff, and students. Thank you for your patience and your commitment to honoring these expectations, some of which will require us to adjust some of our usual Holy Cross expectations and campus way of life. However, just as drive-by events or virtual sing-alongs have emerged nationwide, and mask-wearing and physical distancing have become much more commonplace, we have every confidence you will bring creativity and ingenuity to the ways you teach, work, and connect to continue to foster an intellectual and residential community that forms Scholars, Citizens, Leaders, and Disciples.
Many of you have had the chance to watch Father Tyson’s video that was shared with the community earlier this week. As he mentioned, we continue to work with our tri-campus partners as well as local, state, and national health officials and we have developed a number of expectations, procedures, and protocols to help ensure a safe semester for everyone. This letter will provide an overview of those expectations. The health and safety practices that are detailed here in this letter are designed to minimize the possibility of COVID-19 infection for all, and especially to avoid exposure for those among us who are most vulnerable to severe illness.
Holy Cross, like Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, is proceeding with caution with our return to campus and beginning conservatively in terms of modifications to facilities, programs, and services. The safety of you, our faculty, and our staff is our top priority, and what scientists know about transmission of the virus continues to evolve. We will continually monitor the effectiveness and necessity of our protocols. We will add additional measures if needed based on the best available medical advice. On the other hand, if we can safely relax some guidelines over time, we will do so.
We thank the members of the reopening committee who have worked diligently to review information, provide input, and develop protocols. We write today to share with you updates on a number of ongoing efforts regarding communications, public health protocols, and policies and decisions that affect our work together. As always, we welcome your input and feedback. This letter is meant for both faculty and staff, and various parts will be more or less relevant for some of you – but we want to provide a full picture to all of you. We will publish the full guidelines and provide an electronic and hard copy to all faculty and staff.
Returning to Campus
While you are still welcome and encouraged to work from home, we are slowly starting to see you return to campus, and it is wonderful to be together again. As the dean of faculty, Dave Lutz, has already communicated, faculty are expected to return to campus August 3. Similarly, staff are expected to return to campus by August 3. However, due to many office setups for many administrative and operational functions of the College, some staff may be asked to work remotely on a part-time basis in order to reduce office density and protect the health and safety of the community. If this is an expectation for you, it will be communicated directly to you by your supervisor.
In addition starting July 6, when you come to campus the following will be expected of you:
Daily Health Checks
All faculty, staff, and students will be expected to perform a health check using an app procured by the College prior to coming to campus (or in the case of students, leaving their dorm room). This app will help the College keep a pulse on the health of the community and provide guidance to those not feeling well. It is anticipated that the app will roll out later in July. In the meantime, we ask that you perform a daily health check using the symptom guidelines set by the CDC, or one of the many free COVID-19 health screening apps available for smartphones. If you present with any symptoms, or just generally do not feel well, do not come to campus. Any faculty or staff who is presenting with symptoms while on campus will be asked to return home. This is not the time to “push through” symptoms.
Masks and Physical Distancing
It has been shown that physical distance and mask wearing both individually reduce the spread of the virus, and together are especially effective. When a distance of a minimum of six feet is not possible or when people are in an enclosed space for an extended period of time, a face covering is crucial.
In light of this, Holy Cross has adopted the following policies:
- All students, faculty, and staff in a College campus space will be expected to wear face coverings at all times when they are, or may be, in the presence of other individuals within a building, except when alone in a private room (office, residence hall room) or in a private vehicle.
- Students will be expected to cloth wear face coverings in all common areas of the residence halls, but not within their own room.
- Visitors to campus will be expected to wear face coverings at all times.
The College will be issuing all members of the Holy Cross community a minimum of two face masks. We also encourage you to purchase additional of your choosing.
The College will provide hand sanitizing stations at the main entrances of all buildings and in high-traffic common areas throughout campus. In addition, the facilities team will be cleaning highly trafficked areas and high-touch surfaces more frequently. The College has also purchased an electro-static sprayer that allows us to disinfect large spaces such as Ave Brew Cafe or Driscoll Lounge quickly and effectively. It will be used daily.
The College invites and encourages all faculty, staff, and students to be active participants in helping to keep our spaces disinfected. We will provide sanitizing wipes and sanitizing sprays in high traffic areas such as lounges, classrooms, and meeting rooms. Please feel free to use these to wipe down the space before and after use to help reduce the spread of the virus. We also encourage you to wipe down your own workspaces and offices frequently.
The College will also be moving to MERV-13 air filters for all of our buildings with a central HVAC system. These systems will also be set to maximize fresh air intake within the design limits of the equipment. This may mean that it takes additional energy to cool and heat our buildings, and we ask for your patience with the air temperature.
Protocols for classrooms and other instructional spaces
We have established a number of protocols that will govern classrooms and other instructional spaces:
- Facilities is adjusting each classroom to maximize social distancing between students, as well as between students and faculty. Some furniture may be removed, and the layout of a particular classroom may be sub-optimal for your preference.
- Six feet of social distance will not be possible in all classrooms, which is why facemasks are critical.
- Faculty will have the option of wearing a face mask or a face shield, which will be provided by the College.
- Faculty are encouraged to consider opening classroom windows and/or doors when practical to increase air flow.
- Cleaning protocols aimed at preventing COVID-19 will be implemented in all instructional spaces.
Physical Space Modifications
In addition to classrooms, facilities will be modifying communal spaces such as lounges and conference rooms where possible to encourage physical distancing. This may mean moving, removing, or exchanging furniture.
The College will install plastic sneeze guards in certain places such as reception desks or cash registers. In addition, the College will provide stand-alone, portable plastic sneeze guards that rest on desk for office and classroom use as an added measure of safety for any full-time faculty and staff who request them. In order to secure sufficient quantities, we ask that you submit a request for a sneeze guard to [email protected] no later than Wednesday, July 8th. We will also provide portable sneeze guards that adjuncts may “check-out” for single or semester use.
Since it is harder to contract the virus outside, the College is also securing tents for the semester to provide outdoor meeting spaces. These tents may be used in variety of ways including for meetings, student activities, and dining.
For internal meetings, the meeting chair set a meeting be in person or virtual using MS Teams. Anyone who is working off campus should not come in for the meeting, but rather attend virtually. Masks or face coverings are to be worn during in person meetings. Given different on-campus schedules for the fall, it is recommended that meetings be scheduled rather than “drop-in” whenever possible.
Meetings with off-campus guests
We strongly encourage meetings with off campus guests be held virtually using MS Teams whenever possible and practicable. If it is not possible to hold the meeting virtually, all visitors to campus should complete a daily health check and must wear a mask. When practical, meetings could be held outside
Faculty Office Hours
Faculty with offices may hold office hours and meetings with students in their offices or via MS Teams. However, faculty who do not have offices must meet with students via MS Teams or if practicable, outside or another open area.
One of the hallmarks of Holy Cross is our dining hall and communal meals together as one community. In order to try to preserve this important aspect of campus life, Campus Dining is adjusting dining hall and Ave Brew policies and offerings in accordance with best industry food service practices. In the dining hall, disposable ware will be used, self-service buffets will be replaced with individually portioned, served buffets, and other modifications to the space will be made to ensure that we can dine together safely. In addition, hours will be extended, and outdoor dining will be available near the dining hall and Grab and Go options will be available.
The College’s efforts to minimize COVID-19 infections and safeguard the health of the entire Holy Cross community depend on a package of measures and protocols. One important element of that package is to curtail travel to and from campus as much as possible, in order to lessen the introduction of new sources of infection. This is the primary reason for the significant adjustment to our academic calendar, with the fall semester now beginning with classes on August 10 and running straight through the completion of final exams by November 20. This is also the reason that College-related travel will be strictly limited throughout the fall 2020 semester. Only travel that is deemed essential will be approved. Before returning to campus after approved travel, those traveling may be required to quarantine in order to help safeguard our campus community.
Further, we are requesting and strongly urging that students, faculty and staff will avoid personal travel away from campus, their homes, or the local area during the fall 2020 semester except under exceptional circumstances (e.g., sick family member). Again, this expectation is based on our need to work together for the safety of the entire community.
One of the biggest adjustments for many of us this spring, and even this summer, was how we prayed and worshipped together. We are eager to be able to pray together once again as a community. However, this too will look different:
Starting at the beginning of the semester, 12:25pm daily mass and 7:30pm Sunday mass will be offered following all diocesan guidelines. However, we are limiting attendance at these masses to the College community. In order to protect their high risk population, the 5pm daily mass and Sunday morning mass is only available to residents of Holy Cross Village. Members of the College community should not attend them.
Testing and Contact Tracing
We are facilitating the testing of all students prior to their return to campus. We will also provide free on-campus testing for all students. A team of staff have agreed to be on the contact tracing and support team, which will be led by Tom DeHorn, and have already begun training. This team will work with and support students from their initial COVID-19 test through quarantine, and if needed, supported isolation. The College has a number of rooms available for isolation.
Any faculty and staff who have symptoms or have had close contact (15 minutes of contact with less than six feet of separation and no mask) with a person who has COVID-19 should contact their doctor to be tested, let Gwen DeMaegd know, and quarantine at home even if no symptoms are present. If any faculty or staff tests positive for COVID-19, report the positive test result to Gwen DeMaegd and remain isolated according to your doctor’s order and the CDC guidelines. The College will then begin contact tracing at the College as is deemed necessary and appropriate. The College will modify its sick leave policy through the end of at least 2020 so that any time taken for quarantine, isolation, or in support of a dependent family member in quarantine or isolation will be paid and time off will not count against the sick bank.
We know that this is a lot of information to digest. We also realize some items require significant and sometimes painful changes to ways we interacted on campus prior to the pandemic. We are hopeful that you will approach these changes the same way you approached the sudden changes of the spring, with vigor, tenacity, and grit, and all for the common good of our community. For many it is difficult, and can even be discouraging, to adjust to so many changes at once. Let us cling to Hope, knowing that these changes will not be for forever, but that they will allow us to be here on campus once again together, helping our students learn to be Scholars, Citizens, Leaders, and Disciples.
Let us end with our sincere thanks, and warm wishes for a safe and healthy long weekend.
Vice President for Finance