It's May 1, another milestone with spring on our doorsteps! Typically, May marks a month of celebrations such as commencement, end-of-the-year gatherings, and graduation festivities. Instead, the campus and extended sites' hallways and classrooms are eerily quiet. But we have much to celebrate! Much to be thankful for; we have exemplified our Benedictine Values in ways we never imagined. Our situation has brought new meaning to these words: Love of Learning, Hospitality, Stewardship, Community and Respect. And new meaning to what it means "to be present," how we exemplified this before COVID-19, and what we hope to do differently once we can gather together.
What new ways have you experienced these values? What new perspectives and blessings have we found in our lives? As you think about these questions, please be sure to read the wonderful End of the Year Blessing from Campus Ministry written by Mark Hakes, which is attached. Thank you Mark, for your wise words!
We learned this week from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz that the Stay at Home order has been extended to May 18, with some retail reopening for curb-side pickup. To learn more about the latest announcements, you can view the governor's address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5w5-F10Mf4
As one headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education put it, "Planning for the Fall Is Like Driving Through a Dense Fog"! Thankfully, we have an outstanding cross-functional group of folks working through the mist to create and analyze several potential scenarios for how we return to CSS in the fall term. These Rapid Response Teams and subcommittees will be presenting their recommendations to the Cabinet by May 15. Our goal is to move forward with a decision for all by mid-June.
The Office of Higher Education and Minnesota Department of Health will want to ensure we have a solid plan in place that takes into consideration the recommendations from the MDH. Several St. Scholastica employees have volunteered to serve on the MHD small-group planning teams around creating guidelines.
As part of Phase One in managing an expected significant financial deficit caused by the pandemic situation, the administration rolled out the voluntary program for employees this week. A big thank you to Terri Van Reese, HR staff and Marty Parsons for their work in putting this program together (see email from Marty Parsons). For steps already taken in Phase One, please refer to last week's communication.
And in full transparency, we are considering other measures if we need to move to a Phase Two to address our financials. However, we are leaning into our Benedictine Values at this point to see how together, the voluntary program can help us with our financial issues. I thank you in advance for your consideration!
The Committee continues to meet regularly. The team is now focused on creating a ‘Return to Campus' plan for employees, led by Terri Van Reese and Mike Turner. We are taking a "slow migration" approach to this, with flexibility and a focus on the needs of the employees. Best practice guidelines, training and procedures for safe return are a top priority.
You can access the live update on summer event cancelations and postponements through this link: The Summer Events Schedule.
Did you participate in the Feast of St. Benedict online retreat on our value of the year, respect? Good news! The retreat content will remain available to you. Didn't get a chance to register for the retreat? Or registered but didn't accept the invitation to Classroom? No worries! If you already registered but did not accept the invitation, simply go to that email and accept the invitation and you will be all set. If you have not registered but would like to view the materials, please contact Sister Kathleen Del Monte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, talk about Saints! Several of our nursing alumni are volunteering to help treat COVID-19 patients in New York City. Here's aKBJR-TV Channel 6 piece on 2016 grad Molly Jazdzewski. Here's a story fromWDIO-TV Channel 10 about Vui Aipperspach. And here's a piece on Firestar Charette from the Twin Cities' KARE-TV Channel 11. I couldn't be prouder!
Have a wonderful weekend - please remember that balance in life is so important, especially during this new reality. Enjoy the warm weather the State is expecting to see this weekend, be good to yourself and find some time to relax! Stay well!
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 a remarkable and resilient people!
A few updates to share with you:
Have a wonderful weekend, take time to enjoy the outdoors (safely) and thank you again for all your hard work.
This week we heard from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz that the state's stay-at-home order is extended to May 4. This precautionary move will allow our healthcare community more time to prepare for the expected COVID-19 surge and to keep our communities safe. Although this is not the news we were hoping for, we have seen the positive impact this order has had on mitigating the spread of the virus. So, we'll stay the course and hope for the best.
We have a few updates for you as we close out the third week back from our extended spring break:
Our team continues to meet regularly. Among the developments:
A reminder that the IT Help Desk is regularly open 7 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week. However, this week it is closed on Sunday, April 12, in observance of Easter. Please email email@example.com — you can also leave a message (218) 723-5911.
Our HR team has put together a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) with new updates regarding benefits coverage for those immediately impacted by COVID-19, as well as information about the CARES Act and related benefit changes, and Wellness info for employees. Please see the attached document or go to http://www.css.edu/administration/safety-and-security/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.html#benefits.
The Department of Education will be providing specific guidelines for the federal funding being distributed to higher education. You can refer to these links to see the distribution to higher education institutions: U.S. DoE chart of fund distribution. In addition, there's a letter from Secretary DeVos: DeVos Letter with limited guidance. The College of St. Scholastica is expecting a little over $2.2 million dollars in relief to offset the impact of COVID-19; however, this is still being finalized. Specific guidance will be forthcoming through NIACU in the coming days.
This season continues to challenge us. Yet our educational mission is moving forward in spite of the dislocations and uncertainties, thanks to your remarkable dedication, focus and flexibility. I am so proud to call you my colleagues!
Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter, and continued good health for you and your loved ones. And remember, #SaintsRiseUp!
In times of crisis our most fundamental beliefs are tested, and this can lead to a deep sense of clarity about what is important to us as a community of educators and learners. We work to advance our mission: Shaped by the Catholic Benedictine heritage, The College of St. Scholastica provides intellectual and moral preparation for responsible living and meaningful work. What undergirds this statement is our commitment to our Benedictine Values: Community, Hospitality, Stewardship, Respect and Love of Learning. We are a values-driven organization, and now more than ever, this clarity shines bright thanks to the wonderful work you all are doing!
We draw on our rich history of overcoming adversity and innovating forward. We are also blessed to have the prayers, love and support of our sponsors, the Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery, helping us through this difficult time. Thank you, Prioress Sister Beverly Raway, for your inspiring words this week: Message from the Monastery. The Sisters are also offering insights and encouragement for us in The Benedictine Way, updated daily Monday through Friday on our Cor welcome page.
Pandemic Planning: The College's Pandemic Planning Team continues to hold daily briefings as needed to work out logistics and share information. Thank you, Mike Turner, for leading this group.
"Keep Teaching": Over the past three weeks, our faculty members have successfully migrated over 800 courses to distance-based education. This was, and continues to be, no small feat! Thank you for the ongoing work and commitment to our students' learning. This tremendous effort has not gone unnoticed in the wider world — see the "Good media coverage" section below.
Emergency Funds: The St. Scholastica Student Government Association voted unanimously to provide $50,000 in emergency funding to assist students with critical needs. The Student Affairs division will lead the process and procedures for requests. Any questions should be routed to Megan Perry-Spears. In addition to this funding, the Advancement Office has also identified funds through Sponsor A Saint to help with retention efforts. We are very grateful to the SGA and to our donors for their generosity!
Mental Health and the JED Campus: I am pleased to announce that the JED Mental Health initiative will be moving forward for the coming academic year, thanks to the generosity of the SGA along with several key Board of Trustee members. The JED Foundation partners with colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems.
Enrollment: We are beginning to feel some impact to our enrollment projections for summer and fall, which we are attributing to the COVID-19 event. We are seeing a general slow-down at both regional and national levels, as institutions switch gears from traditional admissions tactics to virtual practices. Many of our professional programs and online offerings are seeing steady summer numbers, where some are experiencing applicants delaying their start dates. It's still early, and the impacts of COVID-19 are unclear at this point, but our Enrollment Management team has stepped up in remarkable ways in shifting their outreach and engagement to virtual environments.
Financial Modeling: We expect that COVID-19 will impact our financial situation for FY21 and potentially beyond, but how and what that will look like are unknown at this point. We expect to receive relief through the federal stimulus packages, some of which are still under development. We also know that in the past, events like a recession have resulted in adults returning to college to pursue different career options. To be ready for potential situations, both short- and long-term, I have asked our finance team, in partnership with Cabinet leadership, to prepare for multiple scenarios.
Open Forum: We will host an Open Forum via Zoom from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 23, to share what we know about the financial situation. (It will be recorded.) By that time, we will have a better sense of the state and national outlook, what the overall economic picture might be, and what actions we will be taking to ensure we meet our mission. As always, we lead with our Benedictine Values and with deep confidence in the amazing talents of our faculty and staff as we navigate forward.
Good media coverage: We have seen numerous cases recently of Saints Rising Up as thought leaders and examples of civic-minded action. We have drawn positive media coverage as a result! Here's a sampling of recent news items:
Finally, please be sure to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Take advantage of our resources and the amazing opportunities we now have available. Check out: Saints Life Goes Virtual for ways our Student Affairs team are supporting our students.
Keep your spirits up and know that we will get through this together! I couldn't be prouder of our Saints family! Blessings and peace to you all.
First and foremost, thank you for the heroic efforts over the past week as our students returned after the extended spring break. It took the whole team, and you did it! A special and huge shout out to our Duluth based facilities staff, IT, security, residential living teams, our athletic staff, for working through many challenging logistics to ensure our college remains as safe as possible. Please reach out and thank these individuals, for the extra support and assistance that they have provided — it's been encouraging and inspiring.
In today's update we have important informational items for you, including resources, new policies, and finance and human resources updates at the end of this communication. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to your supervisor.
We acknowledge that the pandemic has caused a great deal of stress in the lives of our employees and students. Our Human Resources staff have put together a number of resources for you in the attached document. We will have our special spot to house "mind, body, spirit" resources in the near future on COR; AVP Sr. Kathleen Del Monte is working with a team to put this in place. So, stay tuned! Please reach out if you need assistance! We are a Saints family, and together we will get through this.
In light of challenges facing our students in this new virtual learning environment, on Monday afternoon (March 23, 2020) the CSS Faculty Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt a Credit/No Credit grading policy option for students for the Spring 2020 semester.
The policy was adopted as follows:
Undergraduate Students: For the Spring 2020 semester, undergraduate students will have the option of using either the A/F or the CR/NC (credit/no credit) grading system for each course in which they are enrolled. If a student elects 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.
Graduate Students: For graduate programs, the decision to offer students the option to change their grading basis should be determined by each program in consultation with the school dean. When programs choose to make the option available, students will have the option of using either the A/F or the CR/NC grading system for each course in which they are enrolled. If a student elects the CR/NC system, they will earn 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.
Student Affairs in collaboration with Enrollment Management has established a campus housing and dining refund/reimbursement policy as follows:
I have received numerous questions about what impact the COVID-19 event is having on the College's financial situation. As of now, we are working through our FY20 budget process and preparing for FY21. Because the COVID-19 event is an unprecedented situation, we are having to re-think our financial modeling. There are numerous factors and scenarios that could and will impact us, and we are working through those to determine projections for our next fiscal year.
At this time much is unknown; however, we are blessed to have an outstanding finance team helping us develop this work moving forward. We plan to host a virtual open forum in April, at which time we will have a lot more information about the global, national and state realities, and a greater understanding of the economic and financial landscape, including how the federal emergency relief package, and what the future financial picture holds for us. So, I ask you for your patience and support as we work through this.
We value all of our employees, and understand that all of you are working in very different environments, whether you are working remotely, working on campus to ensure our operations, and that all of you are juggling many personal and professional challenges. I am grateful for the Board's support in our decision to keep our employees as "whole" as possible as we work through this crisis.
Thank you again for your tremendous efforts across all of our campuses and extended sites! It's been a proud week to be a Saint!
I will leave you with this wonderful video celebrating Saints Friday and our students first week back:
Be safe, enjoy your weekend! #SaintsRiseUp!
We hope this message finds you safe and healthy! Saints Rise Up, we will get through this together. This is an update for those students who are on campus residents, and/or have a meal plan or dining dollars with the college. We are making every effort to support students to the fullest extent possible during this pandemic. Keep healthy!
If you are a current residential student who is not approved to continue to live on campus after March 30, 2020, you will receive a prorated credit for the remainder of your spring 2020 semester housing contract effective March 19, 2020. All students with meal plans and/or dining dollars will receive a 40% credit of the unused balance as of March 19, 2020. If you receive institutional scholarships or funding to cover the cost of your room and/or board your credit will be reduced by that amount. You do not need to submit a request for this credit, it will be automatically applied to your student account. If you have an outstanding balance it will be used to pay that first before any refund is issued.
If you do not have direct deposit set up for a student account refund we would encourage you to do that.
The credit for room and board will be processed by the end of the semester and you will receive documentation of how your credit was calculated at that time.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Today, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home from Friday, March 27, 2020 through Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm. He provided a great deal of information and rationale on the positive impact this executive order will have in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and allowing more time for healthcare systems to prepare. A copy of the order is attached, should you want to read it in its entirety.
The order takes effect at midnight Friday, March 27, 2020 and is the state's most aggressive move yet against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As a Saints community, we can be encouraged by the fact that we have already put measures in place that reflect the essence of Gov. Walz's Executive Order as it relates specifically to higher education. Through migrating our courses online, working remotely, studying remotely, we are "staying at home."
You recall we have just revised our guidelines effective Friday, March 27, with further restrictions and permissions required to enter the Duluth campus Tower Hall. This is in line with the intent of the Order, as it relates to higher education in section 6.w of the document. I recommend you refer to Pandemic Planning Committee email distributed Tuesday, March 24 to re-familiarize yourselves with those updated procedures. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your area Vice President.
Under our Benedictine values of community and stewardship, I urge all of us to heed the Governor's Executive Order with utmost seriousness. We can be proud that the Governor's decision was made thoughtfully, with the best information possible, in consultation with the state's leaders in medicine, health care technology and manufacturing, law enforcement, education and government.
Now is the time for us to reaffirm our solidarity with our fellow Saints, with our neighbors, and with all Minnesotans. #SaintsRiseUp! Please, take care of yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors in line with social distancing protocols. Keep us abreast of things should you need support, or if you have any questions.
Each day has brought us new learnings, and I know we have the wisdom and the will to see this situation through. I am so proud to be a part of the Saints community and to serve alongside you all, and thank you for putting forth your best effort!
As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, we are adapting our policies to continue to protect the health and safety of our learning community members.
To that end, we are more stringently restricting access to the Duluth campus for all faculty, staff and students who do not have exemptions to remain in the residence halls.
Starting Friday, March 27, only essential employees will be allowed on campus. Essential employees must report for work through the Tower Hall checkpoint. If you are not certain whether you have the "essential employee" designation, contact your supervisor or vice president.
If you have equipment or material you must pick up from campus in order to work or continue your studies remotely, you must do so by 8 p.m. Thursday, March 26. You must check in at the Tower Hall check-point. No non-essential employees or students will be allowed on campus starting Friday. The check-point hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
These are not guidelines or suggestions. This is a directive that is a mandatory condition of employment and continued good standing as a student.
Faculty and staff, you may need to serve as a "point of contact" for students and visitors who need to come to campus. Please read on.
Students and visitors will need to be escorted from the Tower Hall check-in on the ground floor.
Students: you must be pre-approved by a St. Scholastica "point of contact" employee to enter campus, including to pick up materials. You will need to identify that person to Security and provide that person's contact information. Before the visit, the "point of contact" person must send an email to the Security Group containing your name, date, time, and reason for the visit. Your "point of contact" employee will need to escort you from the check-in point. Work with your professor or student employment supervisor to establish this status. When your appointment is complete, you are expected to immediately leave campus.
This protocol also applies to visitors to campus. Faculty and staff are expected to educate visitors on this process.
Non-approved visits: Access will not be permitted to anyone for any unapproved visits.
Our community has pulled together in positive and innovative ways in response to the COVID-19 challenge. We can take pride in the hard work many have done, and are doing, to ensure our community's health and well-being. We ask that you continue to be vigilant in helping to prevent the spread of the virus. Maintain social distancing and follow the guidelines established by the CDC on how to protect yourself: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html
Thank you — and please, if you have questions or concerns, please contact the Cabinet member/Vice President of your area.
As we continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, we feel that we are in a new reality of sorts. The pandemic has shifted the contours of our work, our home experience, our outward behavior and our inner emotional landscape. Uncertainty and fear can bring out less-than-the-best in our characters. Now is the time to draw on our strengths from truths that do not change, the values from our Catholic Benedictine heritage that guide us no matter how life circumstances evolve. We have a wellspring of wisdom that other higher educational institutions do not: our founders and sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery.
The Sisters want you to know that they are praying for and support you in a special way during these challenging times. I am pleased to report that they are now providing brief messages of hope and support to the College community daily, via the Benedictine Way feature on our Cor home page. We will also be sending these out via Facebook and Twitter.
Pandemic planning announcements: With the quickly evolving situation, I have asked that the Pandemic Response Team send out time-sensitive critical information to share with you as needed. Please look for these as separate communications. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz will continue to make decisions that may affect our College operations, and it's essential you are all informed.
Employees should work remotely: A reminder that all employees should be working remotely unless their work requires otherwise. This is not a personal decision but one that has met the approval of your supervisor. Please abide by this to keep our community safe.
Encouraging developments are emerging all around us. I find myself impressed, moved, and energized by the innovative solutions of our learning community. There are so many positive developments to appreciate.
Moving courses online: My deepest thanks to our faculty members for the extraordinary work they have been doing to migrate their courses to virtual platforms. This is an enormous undertaking. I am grateful for all that you are doing, through unprecedented circumstances, to embody the love of learning. The Keep Teaching Team has provided thoughtful leadership and expertise. Trainings have been developed, websites created, consultations conducted, and courses adapted. Help has come from the Center for Teaching and Learning, Center for Instructional Design, Assessment, Center for Equal Access, the Library and Information Technology. Know that your efforts are appreciated, even by the media as seen in this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune!
As our colleague Kevin Quarmby, Assistant Professor of English, so eloquently stated last week, "The tiny lens on our desktops and laptops and mobile devices offers students a window into our worlds. We owe it to them to remember that they, too, are experiencing our world in isolation. Technology allows us to break through the barrier of isolated dull receptivity to nurture the next generation of collaborative thinkers and doers.”
Student Activities steps up: Student Activities staff members have taken their department online, building a new page of resources for students as they make the adjustment to virtual education. The new Saints Life page features virtual activities, resources for spiritual and emotional wellness and mental health, academic connections and various other tips and helpful information. SA staff are creating daily videos with useful updates.
Most students move out — but not all: Residence Life and Athletic staff, along with Security, have been doing a great job of coordinating student move-out efforts, a process that is currently scheduled to run until March 30. They are patiently helping our students through stressful circumstances while at the same time ensuring a professional and efficient process. I am grateful to all staff, including from our dining services, who are making sure that those students who remain in campus housing feel welcome and supported.
Welcoming accepted students, virtually: On Saturday, we hosted 70 prospective Future Saints and did 12 individual financial aid Zoom appointments for our first Virtual Accepted Student Day. Hats off to our Admissions Team members for devising creative ways to bring the campus visit experience online as we continue to demonstrate our values of hospitality and community in evolving ways.
Give to CSS Day a big success: March 19 was the annual Give to CSS Day. Even in the midst of uncertainty, there was an unprecedented showing of support for our Saints! 214 donors gave over $76,000, making Give to CSS Day 2020 our best yet, raising $10,000 more than 2019. Before noon we had 100 donors and two campaigns fulfill their matching dollars. Social media feedback throughout the day was also very positive and more active than normal. I also want to express thanks to the campaign leaders who planned and promoted their initiatives. This is a great example of employees, donors and alumni illustrating what happens when #SaintsRiseUp.
‘Downward Dog' in your living room: Our Campus Recreation staff are boldly taking on the challenge of creating opportunities for fitness, connection and fellowship, all online. Fitness classes, including yoga and various other workouts that can be done around the house, are now being offered online through Zoom. Getting together for group exercise is a great way to boost your mood and combat the anxiety that we're all feeling during these unsettling times!
Attractive backgrounds: When you're in all those Zoom meetings, why not have a background that shows yours Saints pride?
Mental health resources for all Saints: Finally, please remember, your mental and emotional health are of utmost importance at this time. I recognize that many of us are continuing to work while balancing concerns about the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones, as well as our society at large. We are living through a crisis of historic proportions. I am so proud of the way that everyone in our Saints community has stepped up during this time, and I want you to feel fully supported with the full range of mental health resources we have available.
Take care and stay well,
Our semester has been upended in so many ways. Certainly, our world has not faced a challenge as complex as what is before us in many decades.
I am so proud of the response of our Saints community and the many ways you are creating solutions in a rapidly changing environment. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the semester in a safe and positive way, and as a family dedicated to our mission.
Today I would like to communicate a number of decisions we are making to ensure the safety of the College and our community at large.
Commencement Announcement: Based on the most recent recommendations regarding limits to gatherings and to protect the health of our graduates, their families, alumni, and employees, we will not hold this year's on-campus Commencement events scheduled for May 10.
Instead, we are exploring alternative solutions to honor our graduates, whether that means a rescheduled date in the future or an alternative virtual experience. I wanted to get this information to you as soon as possible, so that our graduating Saints and their families, along with our wonderful alumni, can make appropriate plans.
Virtual Learning Environment Extended: The College has decided to extend online/virtual learning through the end of the spring semester. With the uncertainty of COVID-19's spread, we want to be proactive and make this decision early to reduce anxiety and uncertainties for our students, faculty and staff. We will be monitoring the situation and will provide updates regarding summer session as we learn more.
Face-to-face/non-virtual Events Canceled: Face-to-face events scheduled for the Duluth campus and Extended Sites are canceled through the end of the semester. Some events will move to virtual delivery. Stay tuned as we continue to work creatively to share these events with our CSS community.
Work Remotely: Starting Monday, March 23, all employees must work remotely unless their jobs require them to be on campus. Most of our employees have transitioned to off-campus arrangements, and I thank you for that. If you are working remotely and are experiencing issues, we are ready to support you; please contact your supervisor. If you are unclear about expectations regarding working on campus vs remotely, discuss with your supervisor as soon as possible.
Technology and Help are Available: The College is committed to ensuring all employees have technology resources to complete work tasks, including hardware, software, internet access and assistance. If you are having difficulty using any technology, please reach out to the help desk: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have the resources you need, including full internet access, please reach out to Ben Adams, CIO: email@example.com and cc your supervisor.
Suspension of College Domestic Travel: We are suspending all College-sponsored domestic travel. All employees are strongly encouraged to cancel personal travel to areas of our country at high risk for COVID-19. If your personal travel takes you to areas of the country that have been heavily hit by COVID-19, you should inform your supervisor and monitor your health closely.
Donations to Storm's Cupboard: Our food pantry is still active and our students on campus are using it. If you would like to drop off food, please contact Security firstname.lastname@example.org and the officer will make arrangements for safe drop-off at the Tower Hall entrance.
Mental Health Support: This is a difficult time for everyone; please reach out if you need assistance. Don't wait until you are in crisis. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services offer 24/7 telephone counseling at 1-866-326-7194, or contact our HR office for more information.
Human Resources Pandemic Leave Policy: The Cabinet has updated this policy and it is now available through this link. It's very important that you as an employee stay in close contact with your supervisor about any concerns you may have, or if you need to share information regarding your health.
Residential Life Updates: With the decision to extend online/virtual learning through the remainder of the spring semester, we are giving students who have left the residential halls a chance to come to campus and retrieve their belongings if they are able to do so. This procedure is scheduled for March 20 - March 30. Note: Students who have been approved to stay on campus due to extenuating circumstances will remain in the residence halls. Students will receive an email from the Director of Residential Life Elliott Johnston, outlining the process for picking up belongings. There are options regarding the scheduling for pick up as well as CDC guidelines that will be implemented to ensure the safety of those returning to collect their things. Students, parents and guardians who have questions should contact Elliott at email@example.com or Dean of Students Megan Perry-Spears at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The College is working diligently on a process to address the housing and meal plans/dining dollars for students no longer living in the residential halls for the duration of this semester. Each student's situation is different in terms of their account status and financial aid, so we are conducting a thorough review of each individual's case. We will soon have this review done, and will communicate how and when this process will happen. Thank you for your patience.
Testing Saints Alert: Please know we will be testing our emergency alert systems regularly. We know this can be stressful but we need to be sure that our systems are in place and working well so that we can notify you in the event of an emergency situation.
Leadership Update: The College's Pandemic Planning Committee and the Cabinet are meeting regularly via Zoom. We are in touch with the Minnesota Department of Health and are abiding by their guidelines as well as those of the CDC.
We are very aware of how counterintuitive this entire situation feels. After all, the College is in the “people business.” Our Benedictine values of community and hospitality reflect this. Being away from our students and from our colleagues is very hard to accept. Please know we are working hard to create ways to stay engaged, to support one another as best we can. Already students and employees are finding creative ways to stay in touch. If you have good ideas, please share them! We have a very active Facebook and Twitter presence.
And know that inspiring work is continuing — even the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis has noticed!
Thank you for all you have done, and will do in the coming days and weeks, to carry forward our precious educational mission. I will check in with you again soon.
Stay well and know we hold you all in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time.
Since last Friday our world has moved in directions that we have not experienced in living memory. The COVID-19 outbreak is occupying much of our daily routines, whether that is at work or in our personal lives.
I am proud of how Minnesota is working quickly to contain and minimize the threat of COVID-19 during these unprecedented times, but we also understand that extraordinary measures put in place will affect many of our families, neighbors, and communities. As a learning community we will lead with our Benedictine Values, support one another, show compassion, kindness, and understanding, and lend help where we can.
A few updates for you:
Academic Affairs: Faculty, along with support staff and Academic Council, are working diligently to move our academic offerings into virtual learning space with online training and consultation now ongoing. This is a large lift and we appreciate all the efforts of the Center for Teaching and Learning, IT Staff, support staff and others who are helping to move this forward. As with any change, we have experienced challenges, but these are being resolved as best as we can.
Our Ireland Study Abroad students and accompanying faculty have returned home after a very grueling trip back. Our Scholastica students studying under second party arrangements have also been called back from a number of places around the world. All of these individuals will be under the 14-day self-quarantine upon return.
Athletics: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors announced this afternoon, Monday, March 16, that they have unanimously voted to cancel all remaining regular season conference contests for the 2020 spring sports season including the sports of baseball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis. In addition, the Council unanimously voted to cancel the postseason tournaments and championship events for 2020 spring sports including baseball, softball, men's tennis, women's tennis, men's outdoor track and field and women's outdoor track and field. We anticipate that the NCAA may allow an additional year of eligibility given the circumstances and we'll be looking forward to that news. St. Scholastica has also canceled all non-conference competitions as well. Please know this is a big blow to our student athletes, our wonderful coaching staff and the athletic department as a whole. I thank all the assistant directors and coaches, Franco Bari our Athletic Director, and those support staff in the athletic department for caring for our student athletes at this difficult time.
Payroll: The finance team has been working to ensure a seamless process for payroll and have tested the process thoroughly. We believe things should move forward smoothly on Friday. If any employee is experience issues regarding their paychecks, please contact Marty Parsons email@example.com or Jill Larson firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Mail Services on the Duluth campus: Mailroom and Receiving services will continue normal operations at this time during the hours of 8am to 4pm Monday thru Friday. Employees and Departments may pick up their mail as usual and make arrangements with the mail room for any package deliveries or invoices they are expecting.
Students that are remaining on campus may pick up their mail from their mailbox. Those students not on campus but are expecting mail may request their mail to be forwarded to them by emailing Keith Haugen email@example.com
As for first class mail, if students have bills, paychecks or other important mail delivered to their CSS Box, they can email Thomas Brekke firstname.lastname@example.org to have their mail forwarded. If students do not have automatic or online payments set up for their monthly bills, this would be the perfect time to consider this option. This option also applies to direct deposit for payroll and refund checks.
We will continue to process outgoing mail on campus. For those working from home and do a number of first-class mailings, you can charge stamps (rolls of 100 or sheets of 20) out from the mailroom to have on hand at home. Employees can also order stamps directly on the USPS website using their P-card and have the postage order delivered to their home.
Any special delivery instructions departments have they may contact Keith Haugen directly.
HR Pandemic Policy: The Cabinet will be approving the final version of the HR Pandemic Policy this week. It will be sent out and posted to our HR homepage and at css.edu/coronavirus. I would ask that you read this policy carefully, consult with your supervisor and/or send any questions you have to Rachelle Wakefield (email@example.com). We have had a lot of questions about working from home, especially in light of the K-12 and charter schools closing, and other issues that might emerge as COVID-19 unfolds. We understand that our college community is experiencing extraordinary circumstances, and our goal is to work together to the best of our ability and in the spirit of our Benedictine Values to find flexible solutions to individual circumstances.
Mental Health and Well Being: During this stressful time, we are working to ensure mental health services are available for our students. IT has secured HIPPA compliant Zoom software to be used by our counseling staff. This is a big improvement!
Student health services on the Duluth campus are open regular hours however, the staff is awaiting proper personal equipment to arrive that will allow them to see individuals in person who are ill. They are triaging by phone until then.
IT: IT has purchased a number of “mobile hotspots” for employees working off campus who have limited or no internet access. Please contact Ben Adams if you have any issues related to internet connectivity at home firstname.lastname@example.org The Help Desk is virtual available from 7 am to 9 pm. If employees working off campus need equipment, such as webcams, laptops and headsets, they can contact the Help Desk and make an appointment to have the equipment delivered. IT is also working on placement of VPN phones at home locations for employees whose jobs require a high volume of outgoing/long distance calls.
Duluth Campus Events and Student Visit Days: Enrollment Management will be moving Accepted Student Days to virtual events. In addition, our April 19 Open House will be also be a virtual experience. Individual campus visits will transition to virtual options over the next week or so.
Extended sites: Our St. Cloud Campus will be closed and employees will be working from home. These employees have access to the building if needed. St. Paul site will also be closed, with key access available for employees. Our embedded sites at community colleges will follow the protocol of the Minnesota State system. For any questions, please contact Ellen Johnson at email@example.com
Facilities/Security: The College began locking down all buildings at Noon on Monday March 16th, and all visitors will need to pass through a check in procedure. The only check in location will be Tower Hall Union next to the Security office and those will be the only unlocked doors. This is to keep our campus safe!
Staff and Faculty who come on campus will not be required to pass thru this sign in procedure however they are expected to send an email to Securitycheckin@css.edu to notify us that they are on campus each day. This will allow us to track who is coming into campus on any given day and contact those on campus if there a need arises.
If Staff or Faculty are expecting or bringing any visitors to campus they will need to have them come to the check in point for pre-screening. Visitors should be met by the employee they are here to see at the check in location.
BEFORE any employee comes to campus he/she/they should conduct this self-screening procedure. Do not come to campus:
NOTE: All employees who are volunteer emergency responders (EMT, Volunteer Firemen, etc.) should not come to work if they have been exposed to persons with COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms. Please consult with your supervisor if you have questions or concerns about this.
This is a time when all of us at St. Scholastica are creating new expressions of our Benedictine value of community. I thank you sincerely for the ways in which you share in supporting others, and ask that you pay special attention to your own health and well-being. Let us know how we can help.
Barbara McDonald, Ed.D
First and foremost, I want to thank you all for your commitment to meet our mission and serve our learners under unprecedented times. Along with implementing new ways to deliver our teaching and learning mission, all of you are dealing with the impact that the COVID-19 is having on your families and friends. Please know we are here to help in anyway we can.
You will be receiving updates from us often, and I encourage you to read them and let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Things seem to be changing by the hour! An immediate priority for us has been to provide direction to those employees and students returning from international travels. As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold in a rapid way, The College of St. Scholastica is implementing policies aligned with CDC and MDH guidelines to protect and support our entire CSS Community.
Please review this memo from my office addressing the St. Scholastica COVID-19 International Travel Return Policy for those faculty and staff who are returning from travel abroad.
A very similar letter is being sent to students returning from international travels, with a second letter of guidance being sent to parents/guardians. We want you to know this so you are informed that students have received the same message.
We ask for your patience and understanding as we move forward through these uncertain times. Thank you for all you are doing — we are blessed to have one another! Let's seek the silver linings and keep each other in our thoughts and prayers.
Stay well, be well, and take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.
I am writing to you in follow up to my communication yesterday about the extension of spring break and the transition to distance learning the following week. As you are aware, institutions of higher education across the country are quickly taking similar measures and moving to a virtual environment. So, we are not alone!
In alignment with Center for Disease Control recommendations, we are asking that you adhere to the following for the sake of our entire St. Scholastica community:
I also want to clarify that all courses will resume or start, through distance learning, the week of March 23 after students complete the extended spring break. We recognize that will reduce the session by one week and will require adjustments in courses. The extra week will allow faculty to move in-person courses online and will provide time for students to transition off campus and prepare to resume their coursework.
With regard to our neighbors, please note that we are working closely with the St. Scholastica Monastery leadership as well as the Benedictine Living Community of Duluth (BLCD) aligning our safety protocols;
These guidelines will be re-evaluated and updated regularly as the situation evolves, and remain in place until such time that they are no longer needed. We will keep you informed.
During this uncertain time, we need all of our community members to work together to ensure the community's health and well-being. Let's exemplify our Benedictine Values and practice kindness, support and care for each other and our students. I am so very proud of your talents and expertise, your knowledge and your compassion. In the face of adversity, we rise up to the occasion, which has been the history of the remarkable faculty and staff who have come before us. I want to thank you all for the ways you are working hard to ensure continuity of our teaching, learning and scholarship as we move through these extraordinary times. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Best wishes for your safety and wellness,
As the COVID-19 outbreak has continued, the College's emergency preparedness teams have been closely monitoring the situation and planning our response. It's important to note that our campuses and sites are safe and that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our region. However, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly elsewhere.
In light of the World Health Organization designation today of COVID-19 as a pandemic situation, the College has moved to the next level of our pandemic planning. We are acting out an abundance of caution and in light of our Benedictine values and traditions of Community, Hospitality, Respect, Love of Learning and Stewardship. As a Catholic institution of higher education, we measure and balance our faith and reason in making proactive and prudent decisions to keep our community safe and fulfill our educational mission.
Faculty and Staff
If you have traveled to an area that is a level of concern regarding COVID-19, or are not feeling well, please do not come to work.
Please continue to watch your email for updates in the coming days and weeks. We will also continue to post updates at css.edu/coronavirus. Frequently Asked Questions will be posted by the end of the week.
Please utilize this dedicated email COVID19info@css.edu for questions you might have.
Please continue best practices for your own health and the health of those around you, following CDC guidelines.
This global pandemic represents a unique set of challenges and unknowns. We do know that #SaintsRiseUp in the face of adversity, with a strong commitment to our values and mission. We are committed to ensuring that our students successfully complete this semester and proceed on with their graduation plans.
Thank you for your patience and support as we continue efforts to keep our community safe.
Barbara McDonald, Ed.D
The College continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds in the United States and abroad. The Minnesota Department of Health is conducting weekly calls with the institutions of higher education across the state to keep us informed of the situation in our home state.
As you probably are aware, Minnesota now has two cases of COVID-19 awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, over the weekend, COVID-19 positive cases grew exponentially across the globe with U.S. cases growing as well.
In this rapidly changing context, first and foremost in our considerations is the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff and our broader community. To that end, after discussions with the Cabinet, I have made the decision to cancel/suspend all upcoming College-related and/or College-sponsored international travel for faculty, staff and students.
We are putting plans in place to address the impacts of this decision and provide the smoothest path forward for those affected. Please reach out to your supervisor or Cabinet member with any questions or concerns you might have.
Future domestic College-sponsored travel and other events are not canceled at this time. They will be monitored moving forward to ensure informed, prudent and timely decisions should additional cancellations be warranted.
The Cabinet and emergency response teams continue to meet regularly to prepare for possible impacts of COVID-19 on our operations. A few things in play at the moment include:
Please continue to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus by practicing good hygiene, including washing your hands. Utilize links provided on our COVID-19 webpage to remain informed of the rapidly changing situation.
Now is the time for us all to show support for one another as we face COVID-19 uncertainties. In the spirit of our Benedictine values, let's use our best talents and resources to solve whatever challenges might come our way.
Barbara McDonald, Ed.D
As we prepare for spring break, I'd like to update you on the College's planning regarding the COVID-19 or Novel Coronavirus.
We are working to respond effectively should COVID-19 have a direct impact within our learning community. The College's emergency preparedness and response groups are meeting regularly, including the President's Cabinet, the Community Emergency Response Team, the Infrastructure Emergency Response Team and the Pandemic Response Team, among others.
The following is effective as of March 4 and is subject to change depending upon the developing situation.
At this time, The College has decided not to cancel or cut short any current study abroad programs unless the student's location reaches a Level 3 designation in the Centers for Disease Control “risk levels.” Currently, all St. Scholastica students abroad are in areas that are Level 0, meaning at no elevated risk. Additionally, we will reach out to students individually who are abroad to offer assistance they may need. The levels' practical effects for St. Scholastica faculty, staff and students overseas are:
Future study abroad programs, scheduled for later this month and through the end of this semester, are “on hold” and are being evaluated. Decisions to continue or to cancel will be made as more information is known, and will be communicated as promptly as possible.
Concerning international conferences, internships, and other work-related business trips, faculty and staff are encouraged to reconsider travel to zones Level 1 and 2, and all College-related travel to locales labeled Level 3 is suspended.
Concerning College-related domestic travel, at present there are no restrictions. However, all faculty, staff and students should reconsider their travel plans if their destination area is experiencing high incidents of positive COVID-19 cases.
Regarding personal travel, faculty, staff and students who choose to travel for personal reasons should assess the risks of their destination using the best information available at the time of travel.
The College's primary concern is the health and safety of our people. We are committed to students' learning and the value of the education we provide, so in the event of the College canceling in-person class gatherings, our faculty members are expected to find alternate ways to meet with the students, while decreasing the need to gather in person.
This is a good time to plan how you could continue to perform duties if the College should decide that working from home is prudent. Whether you are faculty or staff, refamiliarize yourself with Banner, Cognos, Blackboard, Canva or whatever digital resources you might employ if you worked remotely. All academic courses have a Blackboard or Canva shell, though not all are enabled.
If you are interested in getting sanitizing wipes and/or hand antiseptic dispensers, call Facilities at x7079 or x6106.
Minnesota Department of Health information for schools, colleges and universities.
Currently, MDH assesses the risk of becoming sick with COVID-19, including for people in Minnesota schools, as low, and is not recommending that events or extracurricular activities be canceled. To date, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Minnesota.
Thank you for your support of your fellow Saints. My best wishes for a safe and happy spring break to one and all.
Barbara McDonald, Ed.D
The College of St. Scholastica is intently monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Senior staff are considering recommendations made by government and public health agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Health, the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association. We will stay in contact with you regarding this developing situation.
You may have seen or heard of a rumor that spread via social media this morning, claiming that a St. Scholastica student has been identified as having Coronavirus. As we send this, there is no evidence of the Coronavirus being present in Minnesota or in Duluth. If this should change, we will send additional communications to keep you informed.
Nonetheless, any time you are sick or have a fever, it's a good idea to stay in your room or home. If you are in Duluth, don't hesitate to contact or visit the Student Health Service clinic to tell them about your symptoms and get their recommendation on next steps.
It's important to be careful in choosing your sources for information going forward, because misinformation is likely to spread.
Resources for the most up-to-date information:
Please know that St. Scholastica staff will remain vigilant in closely watching this situation, and will communicate appropriately. If you have questions and concerns about your health, contact the Student Health Services.
Barbara McDonald, Ed.D
This message includes content adapted from Champlain College and other sources.
If you have questions, please email or call us.
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
Essentia Health Urgent Care
400 East Third Street
Essentia Health Nurse Care Line
St. Luke's Lakeview Building
915 East First Street