Planning for Our Return to Campus

Monday, June 15, 2020

Rockhurst Students and Families, 

I hope your summer is off to a fantastic start and that you and your family are keeping safe and healthy. A few weeks ago, I sent information about the establishment of our Pathway Planning Task Force (PPTF) and the work it is doing to prepare us for a return to campus throughout the summer and fall. Today, I’m providing an update on some of the decisions that have been made. 

As we have seen during the past three months, COVID-19 is a dynamic health pandemic with conditions changing daily. As you read the following information, it is imperative to remember that the University will adjust its plans and activity based on the directives of local, state and federal authorities, advice from external health consultants and best practices. The University cannot eliminate COVID-19, however, we have established resources and protocols that, when implemented in a consistent and comprehensive way, can lead to a significant decline in the acquisition and transmission of the virus. 

We plan to begin the fall semester on ground at both the Troost Avenue and Westport Road campuses. The PPTF is actively consulting with the Kansas City Health Department, Kansas City Mayor’s Office, MRI Global, Saint Luke’s Health System and other specialists to develop the protocols that will facilitate a safe return to campus. At the same time, we are developing a matrix in conjunction with these experts that will guide decision making for any contingencies that may arise, such as a spike in cases in our area. We have also surveyed students and faculty to inform our plans and to help us better answer your questions. 

Following is an overview of our Return to the Rock plan based on submissions from the four work groups within the PPTF: Teaching and Learning; Student Experience and Community Engagement; Personal Protective Equipment and Health Education; and Financial, Legal and Human Resources. Our work will continue throughout this summer and we ask for your patience, knowing that we will not be able to answer all of your questions at this time. Please read carefully through the following detailed information. Graduate students will receive additional information during the next two weeks from their academic programs. 

Return to the Rock, Fall 2020 

Fall Schedule  

  • We will start classes as scheduled Monday Aug. 24. New student move-in will take place over four days during assigned four-hour blocks in the morning and afternoon from Tuesday, Aug. 18, through Friday, Aug. 21. Likewise, move-in for returning students will occur Friday, Aug. 21, through Sunday, Aug. 23, during assigned move-in times. Residential students should expect to receive their move-in assignments no later than the middle of July.  
  • While Labor Day will remain a day off, we encourage students, faculty and staff to reduce travel and remain in Kansas City to help prevent transmission of the virus. A reduction in travel for the remainder of the semester would further reduce opportunities for transmission of the virus. 
  • We will reschedule fall break to reduce the number of students traveling and risking exposure to the virus. The two days of fall break will be shifted into the week of Thanksgiving — Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24 — to allow students to have the entire week of Thanksgiving off with their families. (Wednesday, Nov. 25, was already scheduled as a no-class day.)  
  • Residence halls will close for most students the Friday evening, Nov. 20.  
  • Most students (except for those who have courses or experiences that REQUIRE in-person instruction or other activities) will complete the last week of instruction after Thanksgiving and then take their finals remotely the following week.  

Precautionary Measures and Protocols 

  • All students, employees and guests will be required to wear a facial covering while inside all buildings (except when in their personal residential or office space, eating or exercising), and will be strongly encouraged to wear a facial covering outside of buildings (with the exception of those staff doing physical labor). Individuals should not wear a facial covering if they have trouble breathing, any inability to tolerate wearing it, or if they are unable to remove it without assistance.  
  • Furniture in all classrooms, lobbies, study areas and meeting rooms will be reduced in number and positioned to promote social distancing guidelines.  
  • We will ask everyone to commit to regular handwashing, use of hand sanitizer, social distancing, wearing face coverings and thorough cleaning of personal spaces.  
  • We will expect everyone to actively monitor their health — and to quarantine and seek medical evaluation and treatment if they have any of the symptoms affiliated with COVID-19 (i.e., fever, respiratory issues, loss of taste, etc.). We are researching use of a phone app that assists with this daily process of self-evaluation. Non-contact, wall-mounted thermometers will be installed in various locations across campus for self-evaluation, though it is recommended that each student possess and use their own thermometer. 
  • The University will require all students and university employees to take an initial course related to COVID-19 precautionary measures and protocols. Additional training may be required for those who fail to follow the established community standards. 
  • We have a case management system in place for any student or employee that is suspected of having or confirmed with COVID-19 to assist with self-care, tracing, and related disinfection and quarantining efforts.  
  • We are exploring COVID-19 testing options and at this time, we are not inclined to do “baseline” testing of all students and employees.  However, we are developing options for “symptom-based” testing as well as exploring the feasibility of targeted/surveillance testing (i.e., residential, athletic, and academic cohort groups that have physical contact due to skill-building aspects of their educational experience).  More details will be shared later. 

Residential Experience  

  • We intend to open the residential system with normal occupancy. Townhouse Village, On-Campus Houses, Rock Row and Kateri Community assignments have been made. We intend to complete residence hall room assignments around the first of July.  
  • We plan to set aside two wings of two floors to quarantine exposed individuals if needed, and we are reserving approximately 15 rooms with private bathrooms to isolate those suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19.  
  • There will be guest limitations for each residential building and unit. The specifics of these will be included in future Residence Life communications.  
  • Students who have medical conditions that place them at greater risk may request disability accommodation from the residential living requirement (i.e. freshmen and sophomores) through the Disability Resource Center.  

Dining Experience  

  • Food will be served by Chartwell’s employees in “to-go” containers and university employees will be encouraged to eat in their offices.  
  • Seating in dining areas will be primarily reserved for commuter students. We are exploring how to offer additional seating options and updates will be shared in future communications.  
  • Meal plans will be adjusted to reflect this new method of delivery. Hawk dollars will be added to most plans to enhance the dining experience and options. 

Classroom Experience  

  • Students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.  
  • We will modify the instructional methodology of courses with too many students to adequately socially distance in a classroom to be a combination of online learning and face-to-face learning. This will require us to split the face-to-face portion of the class into two to three sessions. 
  • Students who need accommodations should apply to the Disability Resources Center.  

Recreational Facilities  

  • Most likely, The MAC (Magis Activity Center) will not open until the beginning of the fall semester. Health promotion protocols are being developed and the building will need to be staffed by students.  
  • We hope to open the workout space in Massman, the tennis courts, and playing fields for current students and employees in July. Those who use these will need to follow strict health guidelines. Additional information will be forthcoming. 

We are looking forward very much to the time when we can be together again this fall and we are ready to welcome all of our incoming students who will be new to the Rock and Saint Luke’s College. We will continue to provide updates as our plans progress. Although you will notice some differences on campus as we work to safeguard against the virus, our dedication to providing a high-quality Jesuit education and a caring, inclusive environment remains the same.  

Sincerely, 

Matthew D. Quick, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Vice President 
Student Development and Athletics