March 27 COVID-19 update
March 27, 2020
Greetings Saints Community,
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, and 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.
1. Mental Health Resources for Employees: 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; Associate Vice President for Mission Integration Sister 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.
2. Pandemic/COVID-19 Spring Semester 2020 Grading Policy: 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.
- All students will have seven days after the date on which final grades are posted to choose to move their courses to CR/NC grading should they decide to do so.
- It is important that students understand the short- and long-term implications of their choice to switch to the CR/NC option. ALL STUDENTS should talk with their academic advisors and faculty before making their final decisions.
3. Pandemic/COVID-19 Refund/Reimbursement Policy for room and board: Student Affairs, in collaboration with Enrollment Management, has established a campus housing and dining refund/reimbursement policy as follows:
- Current residential students who are not approved to continue to live on campus after March 30, 2020 will receive a prorated credit for the remainder of the 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.
- For students who have received institutional scholarships or funding to cover the cost of room and/or board, the applied credit will be reduced by that amount. For students with outstanding balances, the credit will be used to cover those charges before any refund is issued.
- This process will be completed automatically and will be processed by the end of the semester.
4. Finance UpdateI 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 the impact of 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.
- Expenditures and P-Cards: As we review our expenses and take account of our FY20 budget, we are taking measures to ensure our fiscal management under these uncertain times. Moving forward, all expenditures require Vice President approval prior to purchase, including P-Card transactions.
5. Human Resources Update:
We value all of our employees, and understand that all of you are working in very different environments, whether you are working remotely or 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.
- Executive Searches: We have decided to suspend the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Chief Human Resources Officer position searches at this time. The VPAA position will be reconsidered in mid-May. With regard to the CHRO position, we will reconsider at a later date, and until then, Human Resources will report to the Interim Vice President for Finance, Marty Parsons, for oversight and support.
- General Hiring: As we move forward, the Vice Presidents have been asked to assess and reassess the all hiring requests carefully in light of the uncertainties that lie ahead.
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!