A sequence of unprecedented events in March 2020 changed life as we knew it at Cardinal Stritch University. On March 16, 2020, we transitioned all of our courses to online delivery as COVID-19 began to spread across the United States. Faculty and staff, with the exception of those staff who were identified as essential, began working remotely. Then a series of executive orders from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers led to the shutdown of campus on March 18, 2020.
“The resilience our students, faculty and staff showed was admirable,” said Interim President Dr. Dan Scholz. “We were forced to learn and work in new ways, but in true Stritch fashion, we worked together to meet the myriad challenges and deliver on our promise to our students to provide a transformational education.”
As the spring and summer passed, Dr. Scholz identified University leaders who began planning for the Fall semester. Three committees—Campus Life, Academic Delivery and Public Health and Safety—provided guidance and recommendations on how best to prepare for the safe return of students, staff, faculty and guests. Several factors were considered while deciding on the changes that needed to be implemented, including the delicate balance of providing a positive collegiate experience for students and prioritizing the safety and health of the University community as a whole. While everyone’s physical safety is paramount, Dr. Scholz ensured the plans were equally attentive to the mental and emotional well-being of our campus community.
The Stritch Unstopped plan that was introduced in June 2020 includes comprehensive protocols and procedures to maintain an environment that protects our students, faculty, staff and guests from the COVID-19 virus.
The University’s ongoing response to COVID-19 is based on evolving information; decisions and actions are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American College Health Association (ACHA), the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the North Shore Health Department (NSHD). A COVID-19 Response Team meets regularly to review and address a variety of issues and make recommendations to University leaders.
In shaping Stritch Unstopped, and as we continue to adapt our protocols, we are mindful of how our Franciscan values must guide our plans. We fortify our decisions and actions based on recommendations from the CDC, ACHA, DHS and NSHD, while maintaining our commitment to creating a caring community, showing compassion, making peace and reverencing all of creation.
“Opening campus to students, faculty, staff and guests was possible as a result of everyone’s commitment to creating a safe and healthy environment,” said Dr. Scholz. “It took all of us making Stritch Unstopped that resulted in a successful Fall semester and a hope-filled Spring semester.”