Saint Mary’s withdraws option to remain in residence halls during COVID-19 campus changes, excluding select students
Observer Staff Report | Friday, March 13, 2020
Saint Mary’s students will no longer be provided the option to remain in their residence halls until at least April 13, interim President Nancy Nekvasil announced in email Friday. Junior and senior nursing students in clinicals, senior student teachers, international students and a select group of Residence Assistants, Ministry Assistants and IT student employees are excluded from this change.
“In the past 24 hours, circumstances have changed dramatically regarding the coronavirus pandemic,” Nekvasil said. “Consensus among public health officials is that if organizations act decisively to minimize the risk of transmission, it can greatly reduce the severity of the outbreak. It is our responsibility to help slow the spread of the virus, both at Saint Mary’s and in our greater community.”
This update follows the extension of spring break to March 20, and the implementation of online coursework starting March 23 through at least April 13. In the original announcement, students were offered the choice to return home during this time or remain in the dorms. This is no longer the case.
Students “who believe they have a special circumstance” are instructed to contact interim vice president for student affairs Linda Timm.
“Unless you have permission to be on campus, do not visit,” Nekvasil said.
Those who have filled out online forms detailing plans to return to campus for various reasons may not be accommodated, she said, unless they meet the required criteria.
In response to student concerns, the College has created a list of FAQs on their website. Additional questions should be directed to the office of student affairs.
Students may return to retrieve their personal belongings, the webpage states, but will not be allowed to stay the night and must be out of the dorms by noon Tuesday.
“The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is a top priority,” Nekvasil said. “We will continue to assess the situation and provide further updates as they are warranted. I am confident that, as we continue to work together, we will do what is necessary in these unprecedented times.”