Important Campus Changes Due to the Coronavirus

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dear Rockhurst University Companions,

If you are following the news about the coronavirus, you know that the situation continues to evolve rapidly and that many colleges and universities are adapting their day-to-day operations to safeguard campus communities.

As of now, there are still no suspected or known cases on the Rockhurst University campus. There has only been one reported case in the Kansas City metropolitan area, in Johnson County, Kansas, and only one case in Missouri, in the St. Louis area. However, according to health authorities, it is likely that we will continue to see the number of cases grow throughout the country before there is a decline.

A cross-disciplinary team has been meeting at Rockhurst frequently during the past several weeks to evaluate the situation and make recommendations in accordance with our mission and core values to President’s Cabinet. Please read the following message carefully so that you will be well informed about our next steps. In an effort to better protect our campus, we are implementing the following measures:

Academics

  • Face-to-face classes will be suspended for a minimum of two weeks, through Saturday, March 28. Courses will be conducted remotely beginning Monday, March 16. Updates will be provided frequently. Instructors have been asked to communicate the details with students so they will know what to expect. In some cases, classes will meet remotely at the same time they normally do. In other cases, students may complete assignments on their own and interact with instructors individually.
  • Faculty will inform students how they will conduct office hours.

Residence Life

  • Students are strongly encouraged to stay away from campus until face-to-face classes have resumed. If students need to return to campus to retrieve personal items, instructions will be sent by Residence Life this afternoon
  • Student residences will remain open to serve those who have limited housing and food options, students who have essential employment on or off campus, RU students who have courses at UMKC and Research College of Nursing, student athletes in spring competition, international students, students who have clinical/practicum/internship commitments, or students with other extenuating circumstances. Residents who plan to stay on campus will need to register with Residence Life – and additional instructions will be forthcoming this afternoon.
  • Dining options will be reduced and a schedule will be announced this afternoon

Operations

  • Campus offices will remain open for normal business hours and staff should report to work.
  • Any member of the campus community who has traveled to a country with a CDC level 2 or higher designation or a city or county with a declared public health emergency, or who has had contact with someone meeting these criteria, will not be permitted on campus until completing a 14-day self-quarantine.

University-sponsored Travel

  • All University-sponsored travel, domestic and international, must be approved by the appropriate member of President’s Cabinet as essential through the rest of the semester.

Events

  • All University events with more than 50 attendees will be canceled through March 31. Program directors have the discretion to cancel events beyond that if they deem it prudent.

The above steps are consistent with new guidance released by the CDC and available at coronavirus.gov. We continue to maintain our own coronavirus web page: www.rockhurst.edu/coronavirus,which provides links to campus communications and resources about the coronavirus. Please continue to check this page and monitor your Rockhurst email for updates. We realize you likely have many questions and we may have additional information and resources for you as soon as tomorrow.  The University’s crisis management team has established three working groups – modified course delivery, residential/student experience, and employee/business continuity.  These groups anticipate sending additional emails as well as populating the Question and Answer section of RU coronavirus website over time in response to the natural concerns and questions that will arise.

“Cura Personalis”

We are making all decisions based on our core mission and values. It is extremely important that each of us practices care and concern for one another (“cura personalis” or “care for the whole person”) in all of our communications and interactions and that we continue to seek out facts rather than spreading false or hurtful comments.

Crises such as coronavirus test social trust as well as science. We must not become suspicious of others based on their race, social status or whether they have been exposed to the coronavirus or have recovered from it. 

During times of uncertainty, you may experience fear or anxiety. If you want to speak with someone about your feelings or concerns, there are resources available to you. If you are a student, you can contact the Counseling Center and if you are a faculty or staff member, help is available through the Employee Assistance Program.

While our face-to-face interactions may need to be suspended, we will not suspend who we are — being members of a community committed to our values as a Jesuit community. Whether we are physically together or engaging one another virtually, let us remain committed to thinking about and praying for one another. When students, faculty, staff, and alumni speak about what makes Rockhurst distinctive, the consistent comment is about a sense of belonging and being members of a community that is committed to the well being of one another.

As a Jesuit university, we are also committed to being global citizens. Let’s pray for a resolution to this health crisis faced by the world community. May our prayers rise for those who have succumbed to or suffer physically from the virus. And, let us pray for those scientists, physicians, nurses, and all health professionals who are attending to the suffering and seeking a vaccine to loosen the grip of the virus.

This virus requires us to remain vigilant and prudent. Additionally, we need to look out for one another and check in on one another. Be a source of consolation to one another and allow others to console you. This is how “cura personalis” is lived. This is what it means to be a companion in our Jesuit enterprise in higher education.

Peace and prayers,

Thomas B. Curran, S.J.
President