April 17 COVID-19 update

COVID-19

COVID-19

Greetings College Community!

Happy Friday! Spring is in the air as we celebrate a season of renewal and hope - something we definitely could use these days. My deepest appreciation for the tremendous ongoing work of the faculty, staff and our students as we move through the last weeks of the semester.  Here we are at the end of week 4 of our virtual environment, and you all continue to Rise Up to meet the challenges.

What we yearn for most, we can't have right now - to be together in person to celebrate important milestones like commencement, to work side-by-side in classrooms, in our clinical settings and labs, and to cheer on our student athletes - to name a few that come to mind.  If we have discovered, or perhaps rediscovered anything, it's a deep appreciation of our humanity, our love for learning, our love for each other, and the importance of the human connection.  Stay connected, stay strong: you are remarkable and resilient people!

A few updates to share with you:
Open Forum: Hold the Date·       
A reminder that the Cabinet will be holding a college-wide Open Forum, on Thursday, April 23rd from 1:30 - 3 pm. Please mark your calendars. This will be held via Zoom. Please stay tuned for an invitation to attend.

Summer Schedule and Events:

·       With Gov. Walz's extension of Stay at Home, and the continued modeling for the State, the decision has been made to continue to deliver our courses and student services online through the summer. 

·       We are also in the process of canceling summer activities and events on a rolling timeline. Most face-to-face Duluth-based events have been cancelled through the end of May. We will be providing a link to a running list of events on our COVID-19 information page next week so you can track what is going on.

Fall Semester Speculation:

·       We are very aware of the national and state-wide higher education conversations regarding fall semester and what FY21 as a whole might look like. Administration is working collaboratively as we model out scenarios and keep a watchful eye on the COVID-19 projections. Our timeline for decision making will most likely take us to June 15, at which time we will be in a better position to project a clearer outlook for fall.  We do not want to make decisions too early, but at the same time, our incoming and returning students need answers so that they can make decisions as well.

Commencement and other celebrations:

•   With exceptional feedback from our students and from academic affairs, we have made the decision to combine spring and fall commencements and hold the celebration in December (tentatively December 19).  The event will take place at the DECC.  The day's schedule will be determined over the next several weeks, looking for the most meaningful way to accommodate undergraduate, non-traditional, graduate and online learners and keep the day manageable in terms of the ceremony's length. 

CARES Act Funding

·       The College has successfully submitted the grant request for the first half of our CARES Act funding coming from the federal government. This first installment totals $1,137,462.00 and is targeted for emergency funds for students. The federal guidelines for these funds are still forthcoming, so distribution will not occur immediately. Requirements include regular reporting, adhering to strict purpose and process guidelines, and acknowledging that institutions can expect an audit to ensure compliance. A team representing finance, student affairs and enrollment are working up scenarios of how students will be supported, dollar amounts, process, and so on. Federal guidelines are expected next week.

Update on Pandemic Team Planning

·       The remaining students on the Duluth campus have moved to the apartments and Somers Hall has been vacated. Students who still have belongings in Somers Hall have been invited to retrieve their items before Monday.

·       The College of St. Scholastica is working with the St. Louis County Emergency Operation Center to house "critical employees" who are supporting the fight against the COVID-19 virus in Duluth and the St. Louis County region. Starting Monday, a small group of these employees will move into Somers Hall. While these employees are with the College, strict controls, daily health screening and isolation requirements are in place to ensure the safety of the critical employees and the St. Scholastica community.

Academic Affairs

·       Academic Affairs continues to adjust to the reality of a rapid transition in course delivery. There have been questions from the faculty about this year's end of course evaluation surveys and the implications of these surveys regarding promotion and tenure. As many of you know, Academic Affairs experienced a "glitch" with the student satisfaction survey system in the fall which created a very low response rate in many cases. Additionally, with the disruption due to COVID-19 there are concerns about the validity of spring course evaluation surveys. After discussion with the Faculty Welfare and Promotion and Tenure Committees it has been decided that end of course evaluation surveys will be conducted but that results will be given to faculty to use as they see fit. Moreover, it will be OPTIONAL whether faculty want to include 2019-2020 student end of course evaluation survey results with their promotion and tenure documentation. Academic Affairs continues to look at all data to learn from this experience, make adjustments and improve the student learning and experience.

Student Affairs

·       Student Affairs has been creating ways to stay connected and supportive of each other during this time. These include the creation of an eclectic coronavirus playlist (songs selected by the staff, thanks to Teresa Guerrero for coordinating), a Student Affairs coronavirus cookbook (with recipes from the staff, thanks to Brittany Heilman for coordinating), and a planned division wide virtual retreat. Student Affairs also sent out a Newsletter to all faculty, staff, and students, to keep communicating information and resources. Here is the cookbook.

Information Technologies

·       IT is committed to ensure your success in remote teaching and learning. The helpdesk is open and available to answer any questions or troubleshoot any problems. helpdesk@css.edu  If you have special projects or needs, please email Ben Adams, CIO - badams7@css.edu

Have a wonderful weekend, take time to enjoy the outdoors (safely) and thank you again for all your hard work.

#SaintsRiseUp!
Barbara