March 18, 2020: COVID-19 Update
To Members of the Stritch Community:
In order to ensure that that Students, Faculty and Staff receive clear and consistent information regarding the University’s actions in response to COVID-19, I ask that all in the Community look to these Updates as the primary source for factual information. Any other authorized University source will be identified by the Office of the President. The uncertainty and anxiety that affect all of us at some level during this challenging time can result in miscommunication and poor communication, which, in turn, result in rumor, speculation, confusion and more anxiety. So, it is critical to stay alert, stay engaged, and stay informed. Given all of the most current information regarding COVID-19, the following decisions have been made – decisions reflecting the best interests of our students, faculty and staff.
First, I must reiterate: There are NO diagnosed cases of COVID-19 on campus. Though a number of our students were diagnosed with the norovirus (the flu) last weekend, all are now on the mend and feeling much better.
Regarding Our Students:
- All classes have been online since Monday, March 16. We utilize the Canvas platform. If any students have had difficulty signing on to the Canvas platform to access your classes and/or assignments, please contact your instructor or the Dean immediately.
- Given current announcements and orders from the Governor’s Office (these are posted at the COVID-19 landing page), we have decided to continue online classes through the end of the spring semester. Additional information regarding exams, the completion of internships, field experiences and clinicals will be provided through regular updates from your Dean or program supervisor. Next week we also will be providing updates regarding the end of the academic year, commencement and the summer term.
- About 50 students remain on campus. We are working closely with all residential students to ensure they have what they need to complete their academic work. We also are working with Food Service to ensure the continuation of all meals and access to other necessities. Cleaning Services will be on campus each day to ensure all bathrooms and common areas are cleaned and sanitized.
- Though we have not received any order from State or local officials requiring us to “shelter in place,” all students housed on campus should stay on campus to ensure the welfare of everyone who is living and working at Stritch during this time. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin now exceeds 100. Students who choose to leave campus and then return are not being attentive to their own well-being, the well-being of other students, or the well-being of those staff present to care for them. If you need a break for some fresh air, you can walk around campus, but should not go beyond. If you absolutely must leave campus to go to Pick ‘n Save, please take the precautions noted below.
- It also is important to remember to follow the strongly recommended precautions: wash your hands – avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose if you have not washed your hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Maintain social distancing: this means that no more than 10 should gather together, and that each person should maintain a distance of 6 feet from another. Students should not share snacks or food from the same packaging.
- We have taken a number of measures to ensure, as reasonably as is possible, the security of our students and staff. We are utilizing the same procedures that are in place during long holiday breaks: all buildings not in use are locked. All doors in Bonaventure Hall, Duns Scotus and Roger Bacon are locked. All students remaining on campus will enter the residence hall by using their access code, which should not be shared with anyone else. Anyone who is not authorized to enter campus or campus buildings will be required to leave. Campus Security is regularly monitoring all buildings and campus grounds.
- A number of students, following discussions with their families, may elect to try and get home. These students will be working closely with staff to ensure they can travel and get home safely. We also will be determining the ability to easily move remaining students from Assisi Hall to Clare Hall through the end of the semester.
During this challenging time, we will continue to offer services through the Counseling and Health Centers. Please see the information below from Mary Beth Wisniewski:
Because we are a part of a caring and supportive community, I am writing to reach-out and remind you that we offer free and confidential counseling services at Stritch. Our main goal is to be here for students and be a supportive outlet for you. Heidi Aringer and I are the counselors at Stritch and if we can be of any help, please feel free to email us with days and times to connect.
While the current instruction mode is online, we want you to know that we are still here to talk through issues of anxiety during these times uncertainty, and for any other issues you may want to discuss. This is a free service to all of our students, and we encourage you reach out as needed. Lastly, don’t forget to follow the Health and Wellness Center on Instagram at @stritch_healthwell for updates and wellness tips!
Health and Wellness Procedures Counseling
After consultation with several local counselors, and review of licensing rules, we have created the following processes for counseling during this time of online/distance learning and social distancing:
- For all students residing in Wisconsin, we can provide telehealth counseling services. We have the capability to use Doxy.me, a free HIPPA approved site. We will also offer the option of phone calls.
- For students who reside outside Wisconsin, we will offer to consult, assess and refer. We will have limited sessions (typically 1-3) to assist them in identifying issues and connecting with local resources. Due to liability insurance and licensing rules, we cannot provide out-of-state services.
- Email is not a confidential method of communication; therefore, we will limit email use for counseling clients to setting up appointments and forwarding resources. We have updated our email signatures to include a statement on confidentiality.
- On-campus students will have access to counseling through telehealth and on-campus social-distancing approved measures as appropriate to Stritch and national protocols.
- Sally La Rosa will be taking phone calls for phone triage. This method is consistent with past practice in Health Services, so it should be fairly transparent to students. On an individual basis, Sally can determine to use Doxy.me or come to campus as needed and as appropriate to our Stritch and national response.
- I want to sincerely thank all of our students for your cooperation and thoughtfulness during this time.
Regarding Our Faculty:
- All Faculty are working remotely as they conduct classes via Canvas. I want to express my sincere thanks to all Faculty and Staff who have worked quickly and diligently to ensure that classes were up and running on Canvas on March 16. Your efforts on behalf of our students and the University have been extraordinary.
- Any member of the Faculty who believes they need access to campus for any reason must contact their Dean and Dr. Dan Scholz for authorization.
Regarding Our Staff:
- We have made the decision to further reduce the number of essential staff on campus. All staff who have not been notified by their supervisor that they remain essential will be working remotely until otherwise notified. You also will be expected to work with your supervisor to identify/report daily work and projects.
- Campus Security will be monitoring all entrances identified as access points for essential staff. Any staff member who believes they need access to campus for any reason must contact their direct supervisor and respective Vice President for authorization.
- We will be using our best efforts, both on site and remotely, to ensure that University operations continue throughout the semester.
- I also want to sincerely thank all members of the staff who have been working tirelessly to ensure that our students are cared for and that University operations continue uninterrupted.
As a reminder, please check your email and the Stritch COVID-19 landing page for additional information. We will get through this period – together.
As I have said in prior updates, it is critical during this period of heightened stress, concern and anxiety that all of us keep in mind the Four Franciscan Values that have defined this institution for almost 100 years: Showing Compassion, Creating a Caring Community, Reverencing Creation and Making Peace. Each of us bear the ongoing responsibility to reflect those Values through our interactions and communications with others on campus. We must expect the best from ourselves and offer the best of ourselves to others. Be well.
Kathleen A. Rinehart, J.D.