Saint Mary’s extends spring break to March 20, suspends all in-person classes while providing option to return to campus
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Saint Mary’s will extend spring break until March 20, providing faculty time to prepare online courses, the College announced in an email Wednesday. All in-person classes are suspended from March 23 to at least April 13, and students will be provided with online coursework.
This announcement follows the suspension of all in-person classes at Notre Dame and several other Indiana universities, in the midst of the continued spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“To be clear, all students must take their courses online,” interim president Nancy Nekvasil said in the email. “An email with further instruction regarding coursework will be sent to students next week.”
Titi Ufomata, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will contact faculty regarding the preparation of these online courses.
Students in clinical programs will hear from their departments.
Registration for fall courses has also been pushed back to March 23. The remaining Saint Mary’s study abroad programs are not suspended at this time, Nekvasil said.
“We continue to work with our study abroad programs and host institutions to develop the best course of action relating to the remainder of the semester,” she said. “Know that this is a dynamic situation and we are monitoring the CDC, the State Department, and the World Health Organization very carefully.”
All non-essential faculty and staff domestic and international travel is suspended at this time.
Though classes will be held remotely, students in the residence halls are provided the the option to return to campus.
“Our campus will remain open,” Nekvasil said. “Administrative offices will remain operational, as well as campus safety. Staff will continue reporting to work as usual.”
All students — those remaining at home and those returning to campus — will be required to complete their coursework online. Students returning to the College will be asked to fill out a travel information form scheduled to be provided soon.
The Noble Family dining hall will remain open with adjusted service hours, though its “configuration … will be modified in response to the recommended social distancing guidelines.”
All other campus dining options will be closed.
“Some essential student personnel who are currently not on campus will be asked to return to campus and will be directly notified,” Nekvasil said. “Following social distancing recommendations, non-essential interactions between staff and students should be avoided.”
Those who regularly visit the convent are asked to refrain from doing so until notified.
“Some of our most vulnerable campus residents are our Sisters,” Nekvasil said. “We do not want to expose them unnecessarily.”
Larger gatherings and group events are to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Meet Me on the Avenue, a prospective student event has been re-scheduled for April 19, and Junior Moms Weekend has been cancelled. All registration fees will be refunded.
“The College has taken proactive steps to try to minimize the risks for our community,” Nekvasil said. “Other future College events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
Further information will be provided by Linda Timm, interim vice president for student affairs.
“Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful of practicing healthy habits,” Nekvasil said. “Unfortunately the fear that comes with a threat to communities, such as we see with coronavirus, often leads individuals to target certain ethnic groups resulting in incidents of bias and harassment. I will uphold my commitment to respecting the dignity of every individual and expect all members of the Saint Mary’s family to do the same.”