SaintsRiseUp Safe Return | Campus Reopening Updates

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs

In response to COVID-19, the College is operating fully online through the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Only approved faculty, staff and students are permitted to be on campus at this time.

The College plans to reopen the Duluth and extended campuses this fall, including residence halls. Courses on those campuses will be taught using a mixture of in-person and virtual methods for the fall semester. Students in our fully online programs will not experience any change to the delivery of their courses. 

For more details on this and other updates, go to css.edu/coronavirus

Q: Will the College reopen for fall semester?

A: The College plans to reopen the Duluth and extended campuses this fall, including residence halls. Courses on those campuses will be taught using a mixture of in-person and virtual methods for the fall semester. Students in our fully online programs will not experience any change to the delivery of their courses. 

This plan remains flexible and could change if pandemic circumstances require it. The safety of our students, faculty and staff will remain our top priority. We will continue to closely monitor guidance provided by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Q: Will the College maintain its original academic calendar for the 2020-21 school year?

A: We are planning on a regular academic calendar, with classes starting on Sept. 8 for the fall semester. However, this may change if pandemic circumstances require it. The safety of our students, faculty and staff will remain our top priority. 


Q: Will there be campus activities and events? Will clubs be able to meet? 

A: The College is creating the Saints Rise Up Steering Committee and multiple work groups that include faculty, staff and students, to develop timelines and work plans for our return to campus. The committee’s work will include planning for social distancing on campuses, including configuration of classrooms, gathering spaces, offices, co-curricular activities, etc.


Q: What sorts of safety measures will be in place? 

A: The College will follow health and safety guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. The Saints Rise Up Steering Committee and multiple work groups that include faculty, staff and students will work together to develop timelines and work plans for our return to campus. The committee’s work will include planning for social distancing on campuses, including configuration of classrooms, gathering spaces, offices, co-curricular activities, etc.


Q: What will happen if there is a spike on COVID-19 cases?

A: We have drawn upon the best information available and are confident in our plan, however, it is contingent upon developments and could be changed if pandemic circumstances require it. The safety of our students, faculty and staff will remain our top priority. 


Q: The College was not able to hold an in-person Commencement for this spring’s graduates. Will it be doing so in the future?

A: Based upon feedback from our students and from academic affairs, we will combine spring and fall commencements and hold celebrations in December. Watch for updates.


Q: When will faculty and staff return to campus?

A: The Saints Rise Up Steering Committee, in partnership with the Pandemic Response Team and Human Resources, is developing a plan for employees to return to work safely. We are being guided by the Minnesota Department of Health and other experts in putting together these plans.


Q: What is the status of College-related travel?

A: The College has suspended all international and domestic travel.


Q: What are the College's plans for classes and activities this summer?

A: 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. Updates will be offered at css.edu/coronavirus. Updates for Mitchell Auditorium events are posted on spotlight.css.edu.


Q: Is the Mitchell Auditorium available for event rental?

A: Mitchell Auditorium events are canceled through the end of May and decisions about June and July are being made on a rolling basis. The College is allowing plans for appropriate Mitchell Auditorium events to proceed with the understanding that the College reserves the right to cancel any event if circumstances require it. We plan to open campus this fall to our residential and on-campus students on the Duluth and extended campuses. Decisions about rental events at the Mitchell Auditorium this fall will be made on a case-by-base basis.  


Q: This must be a financial disruption. Is the College receiving any help from federal funds?

A: The College successfully submitted a grant request for the first half of our CARES Act funding from the federal government. This installment is targeted for emergency funds for students. There were 2,141 CSS students who qualified for funding from the CARES Act.

Students who do not qualify have access to emergency funds that can be requested through student affairs by contacting Megan Perry Spears mperryspears@css.edu.

The second half of the initial CARES Act Stabilization funds will partially offset operational expenses incurred due to COVID-19.


Q: How is the College monitoring who comes and goes from campus?

A: The Duluth campus has implemented a check-in policy for employees and visitors. Please work with your supervisors if you have a need to access the Duluth campus sites. A minimum of 24 hours advanced notice is required so that the access request can be approved by the appropriate individuals, and so that arrangements can be made to support your visit if it is approved. Access requests that are received without 24 hours advanced notice may not be approved. The check-in station is inside the doors of Tower Hall that are on the Mitchell Auditorium side, toward Lake Superior.


Q: Are campus visits by prospective students still happening?

A: For now, all campus visits are being offered virtually. Visit css.edu/visit for more information.


Q: What’s happening with the Monastery and Benedictine Living Community?

A: The Benedictine Living Community of Duluth (BLCD) has strictly limited access. The St. Scholastica Monastery has limited their access as well. The Scholastica Monastery is no longer accessible through Tower Hall. Visitors must check in using the external entrance to the Monastery. Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel is open to Monastery members only.


COVID-19 Employee Benefits FAQ and Information for CSS Faculty/Staff.

General Benefits

Q: If my spouse loses their job or is furloughed, can I make changes to my benefits elections?

A: Yes. The IRS allows employees to make changes to their benefit elections due to Qualifying Life Events including losing employment based coverage. If you would like to make a change to your benefits elections, please complete the attached Benefits Enrollment/Change form and email to rwakefield@css.edu.


Q: Does the College have a plan for how COVID-19 might affect sick time, family leave, etc.?

A: Yes. See the College’s Pandemic Illness Leave Policies.


Q: Will the College continue to process payroll?

A: Yes. However, if you receive a paper paycheck there may be delays in getting paid. We encourage you to sign up for direct deposit; contact Human Resources.


Health Insurance

Q: Is the COVID-19 test covered under my health insurance?

A: When a test is administered, the cost of the test and associated visit is covered 100 percent. If you have questions about benefits and coverage, call Member Services at 1-866-443-9352.

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you can take screening assessments available online at Doctor on Demand or call your primary care clinic.

CareLine is also available 24/7 at no cost to members. The number is 1-800-551-0859.


Q: Is treatment of COVID-19 covered under my health insurance?

A: If you and/or a covered dependent are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow your provider's instructions following diagnosis. Most people isolate at home during their illness and limit contact with others. If inpatient or outpatient treatment is needed, you will not pay a deductible or co-insurance if you see an in-network provider between March 1 and May 31, 2020. If you have questions about benefits and coverage, call Member Services at 1-866-443-9352.


Q: Can I get my prescriptions filled sooner or in a larger supply?

A: The public health emergency declaration has the following impacts on the pharmacy benefit:

  • Removes the "refill too soon" (RTS) edits. Members will now be able to get medication refills sooner than they normally would.
    • The RTS edits are also lifted for Schedule II controlled substances such as opioids. However, they will be monitored closely for fraud and abuse.
    • Other claims processing edits will still apply. These include quantity limits, as well as prior authorization and step-therapy requirements.
  • Allows for the maximum extended day supply (90 days) of a medication at the time of refill.
Members are encouraged to have at least a 30-day supply of prescription medications and frequently used health supplies, like allergy medications.
  • Talk with your provider or pharmacist about getting a 90-day supply of your medications at your refill.

Q: Can my prescriptions be mailed to me?

A: Yes. It may be hard to get to the pharmacy each month. Mail order pharmacy delivers your meds quickly and easily to you. To get started call 612-623-4002 or 800-591-0011 or visit healthpartners.com/mailorder.


Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts

Q: Can I change my dependent care flexible spending amount due to COVID-19?

A: For qualifying events, you do have the option to make mid-year contribution changes to your Dependent Care Account. Contributions can be decreased or increased up to the allowable IRS maximum. You may also elect to completely discontinue contributions to your account. The following are examples of the most common Dependent Care Account qualifying events occurring due to COVID-19:

  • Change in daycare provider
  • Change in the employment status of employee or employee's spouse(e.g. changing from full-time to part time, or job loss)
  • Change in cost or coverage of dependent care (e.g. child-care center charges a different rate or temporary closes).

If you would like to make a change to your benefits elections, please complete the attached Benefits Enrollment/Change form and email to rwakefield@css.edu.


Q: Can I change my health care flexible spending amount due to COVID-19?

A: The COVID-19 situation provides several possible reasons to allow an election change. For example, you may make a change due to:

  • Change in your or your spouse's employment status
  • FMLA leave
  • Substantial change in employer benefits/costs

If you would like to make a change to your benefits elections, please complete the attached Benefits Enrollment/Change form and email to rwakefield@css.edu.


Q: If I have increased medical costs due to the COVID-19, can I increase my health care flexible spending election amount?

A: Unfortunately, no, an increase in medical expenses does not qualify as a reason to increase your flexible spending election amount.


Q: Can I make a change to my Health Savings Account election amount?

A: Yes. You can update your elections at any time, for any reason. If you would like to make a change to your election, please email rwakefield@css.edu.


Q: Has the IRS expanded the eligible expenses list due to COVID-19?

A: Yes. General-Purpose health care flexible spending and health savings accounts can now be used to purchase over-the-counter medical products, including those needed in quarantine and social distancing, and feminine hygiene products, without a prescription from a physician. This change is retroactive to January 1, 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed.


TIAA Retirement Plan

The CARES Act allows retirement plan participants to have greater access to their savings if they are impacted by the coronavirus. TIAA systems and employees are ready to accommodate those who seek access to coronavirus related distributions, which are defined as a distribution or loan made to an individual:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 on a test approved by the CDC
  • Whose spouse or dependent is described as above, or who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of:
    • Being quarantined
    • Being furloughed, laid off or having work hours reduced as a result of the virus or disease
    • Being unable to work due to lack of childcare due to such virus or disease
    • Closing or reduced hours of a business owned by such individual as a result of such virus or disease
  • Other factors as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate

Please see the chart below, the TIAA website or call TIAA at 1-800-842-2776 for more information.

Financial Event Flexibility Provided by Cares Act Eligibility
Making a plan/account distribution/ withdrawal May be able to take a plan/retirement withdrawal through December 31, 2020 without the 20% mandatory federal tax withholding or 10% early withdrawal penalty Those impacted by Coronavirus (see above)
Taking a retirement plan loan Through September 23, 2020, eligible loan amounts are revised from 50% to 100% of vested balance, up to $100,000 (still requires collateral for collateralized loans). Through December 31, 2020, participants can request a suspension of loan repayments of up to one year. Those impacted by Coronavirus (see above)
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2020 RMDs may be suspended for 2020, allowing opportunity to recoup any market loss and savings to build back up. Everyone
IRA contributions deadline For 2019, tax year IRA contributions deadline extended to July 15. Everyone

Q: I think that I should change my retirement contributions. What should I do?

A: If you are already contributing to your TIAA retirement account on a voluntary basis, you can change your voluntary contribution at any time. Here's how:

Log into Banner Web (link is on the top of Cor)

  • Go to the Employee Services tab
  • Go to Benefits and Deductions
  • Go to Retirement Plans
  • Under Retirement — Supplemental, click on Update
  • Change your withholding amount

If you are not contributing on a voluntary basis and would like to begin, please contact Rachelle Wakefield at rwakefield@css.edu


Q: With changes in the market, I'm concerned about my retirement investments. How can I get help?

A: You can discuss your personal financial situation with an experienced TIAA Financial Consultant on a confidential basis. To protect your health and safety during the Coronavirus outbreak, TIAA is conducting appointments by phone and online. You may schedule an appointment with a TIAA consultant online at Meet at TIAA.


Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Employee Wellness Resources

Q: What EAP services are available?

A: All face-to-face meetings are suspended until further notice, but the following options are still available:

Telephonic counseling

  • Video counseling
  • In-the-moment crisis support (call the EAP at 866-326-7194)
  • All critical incident on-site counselors are now virtual
  • COVID-19 continues to be the focus of the hpeap.com homepage, and more COVID-19 focused webinars will be available under Online Seminars once recorded

Employee Assistance Program (EAP):

  • EAP phone: 1-866-326-7194
  • EAP online: hpeap.com
  • ID: healthpartners
  • Password: CSS

Q: What other employee wellness resources are available for me?

A: Below is a list of Employee Wellness resources:

Q: What should I do if I'm concerned about a student?

A: If you are worried about a student for any reason (other than Title IX-related) including COVID-19 illness, please email Dean of Students Megan Perry-Spears (mperryspears@css.edu). She will share, as appropriate, with the correct resources on the Student of Concern team. All COVID-19 related concerns will be shared by Megan Perry-Spears with CSS Health Services for follow up and management. If the concern is academic performance related, completing an Academic Progress Report (APR) may be more appropriate.


Q: How did the College make such a wide-reaching conversion to distance learning so quickly?

A: The College has long been a well-known provider of online, distance and alternative learning formats. A team led by Diane Vertin, interim vice president of academic affairs and Ryan Sandefer, associate vice president for academic affairs, developed training and assistance for faculty in migrating teaching content to online and other distance learning modalities. The College’s Center for Teaching and Learning, IT staff, experienced online faculty and staff support are all part of this ongoing team work. The response has been very positive. In fact, the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis wrote a story about our effort.


Q: How will I know if my classes for fall will be in person or online?

A: You will be informed about the modality of each of your courses later this summer.


Q: How should I prepare for online classes?

A: Communicate with your professors. Student support services will remain available as well, including academic support, and counseling for emotional health. For technical questions, the Help Desk is open and operating.

Helpful suggestions and tips are at:


Q: Were there any changes to the College’s grading policy for the spring 2020 semester?

A: We’ve updated our grading policy for the spring semester. Undergraduate students had the option to use either the A/F or the CR/NC (credit/no credit) grading system for each course in which they are enrolled. Students had until May 19 to select their preference. If a student elected the CR/NC grading system, they will earn a CR if their course grade was a C- or better. Courses taken as CR/NC during Spring 2020 will be accepted for major (and minor) requirements and there is no limit to the number of courses for which students can exercise this option.

For graduate programs, the decision to offer students the option to change their grading basis was determined by each program in consultation with the school dean. If a program chose to make the option available, students had the option of using either the A/F or the CR/NC grading system for each course in which they were enrolled. If a student chose the CR/NC system, they earned a CR if their course grade was a C or better. There is no limit to the number of courses for which students can exercise this option.


Q: What’s the status of Saints athletics events and games?

A: The Duluth campus will open in the fall for residential and on-campus students on the Duluth and extended campuses. The College will follow forthcoming NCAA and conference decisions regarding fall athletics. Watch for updates. Athletics has a COVID-19 Update webpage.


Q: How about Campus Recreation?

A: Burns Wellness Commons is closed. Campus will open in the fall for residential and on-campus students on the Duluth and extended campuses. Decisions are still being made regarding on-campus activities. Watch for updates on the Campus Recreation webpage.


Q: Is Student Health Services open? 

A: Student Health Services is open normal hours through mid-June and is accessible through their exterior entrance. If you are feeling ill, please call their office prior to visiting.

Contact Us

If you have questions, please email or call us.

COVID19info@css.edu
(218) 723-6252

If you're not feeling well, please call Student Health Services or your health provider instead of going in-person.

Student Health Service
Somers Hall, Room 42
Phone: (218) 723-6282
Fax: (218) 723-5953
studenthealthservice@css.edu

Emergency and After-Hours Contacts

Essentia Health Urgent Care
400 East Third Street
Duluth, MN
(218) 786-8364

Essentia Health Nurse Care Line
(218) 725-3110

St. Luke's Lakeview Building
915 East First Street
Duluth, MN
(218) 249-5555