Return to the Rock

Return to the Rock

Return to the Rock

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rockhurst University’s Pathways Planning Task Force has developed, in coordination with local and national health authorities, a set of protocols aimed at allowing in-person campus activities to resume in the fall 2020 semester. The Pathways Planning Task Force is:

  • Doug Dunham, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs (co-chair)
  • Matt Quick, Ph.D., vice president of student development and athletics (co-chair)
  • Jennifer Friend, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Hubert Benitez, Ph.D., vice president for strategic planning and academic innovation
  • Paula Shorter, Ph.D., associate provost for enrollment services
  • Jeremy O’Connor, Ph.D., associate professor of management
  • Mark Hetzler, associate vice president for student development
  • Gary Burns, director of athletics
  • Jason Riordan, associate vice president of facilities operations
  • Gerald Moench, chief financial officer
  • Katherine Frohoff, director of university relations

The information below provides anticipated schedules, answers to frequently asked questions and further information for students, faculty, staff and families as we approach our return to campus. Find previous information about the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Please note that in the spirit of “cura personalis,” or care for the whole person, the University asks that all members of the Rockhurst community help take responsibility for the continued well-being of campus by following requirements regarding mask-wearing, hand washing and sanitizing, social distancing and illness reporting.

Because awareness is pivotal in maintaining the health of campus, the University requests that any member of the campus community that has been exposed 15 minutes or more within six feet of a person with COVID, under investigation as a possible COVID-19 case, or who has been identified as either a presumptive positive or a tested positive, to report that information to the University via an email address,

The schedule for the fall 2020 semester has been adjusted in the interest of minimizing the risk to campus.

Schedule for the Fall 2020 Semester

Aug. 18-21 — New student resident hall move-in.

Aug. 21-23 — Returning student resident hall move-in.

Aug. 24 — Fall 2020 classes begin.

Sept. 7 — Labor Day (no classes and University offices closed).

Nov. 20 — Residence halls close for most students.

Nov. 23-24 — Fall break (no classes and University offices closed).

Nov. 25-27 — Thanksgiving break (no classes and University offices closed). Most students will not return to campus following the break — the remainder of fall 2020 instruction and final exams will take place remotely.

Dec. 4 — Last day of classes for the fall 2020 semester.

Dec. 7-10 — Final exams.



Campus Operations and Facilities

What steps are being taken to ensure campus health?

Rockhurst University’s Pathways Planning Task Force continues to consult with the Kansas City Health Department, Kansas City Mayor’s Office, MRI Global, Saint Luke’s Health System and other specialists to develop protocols to facilitate our safe return to campus.

First, all University students and staff will be required to complete an initial virtual course on COVID-19 precautions and protocols. Additional information will be available soon.

Changes have also been made to campus facilities to accommodate social distancing requirements. Plastic shields have been installed in work areas where frequent in-person interactions take place. Students, faculty and staff are asked to actively monitor their own health each day, and self-quarantine and seek medical evaluation and treatment if they have any of the symptoms affiliated with COVID-19 (i.e., fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea). The University is 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. A kit, containing two cloth masks and a hand sanitizer, will be issued to all students.

University facilities personnel will put in place enhanced cleaning protocols and common areas and high-touch areas will be cleaned twice daily by facilities. Employee offices and cubicle areas will be cleaned nightly by facilities.

Critically, students, faculty and staff will also be required to take steps to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus, including maintaining social distancing at all times and following proper handwashing and sanitizing protocols. Mask wearing will be required within University buildings and recommended outside where possible (see question below for more guidance). Meetings should be conducted virtually unless considered critical.

Will there be requirements for social distancing or mask wearing on campus?

Yes. All students, employees and guests will be required to wear a facial covering while inside all buildings (except when alone 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 or if they are unable to remove it without assistance. Students, faculty and staff will also be expected to observe six feet of social distance in shared areas, and adjustments will be made to campus furniture to promote observation of these guidelines.

How will Campus Dining Services adjust their operations to accommodate social distancing requirements?

Seating in dining areas will be reserved in an effort to accommodate primarily commuter students (i.e. those who must eat in the Thomas More Dining Room). The University will be also adding additional seating for eating and other purposes via three tents – located by the Perch, the Einstein’s deck and the pergola near the Kinerk Commons.

Food will be served by Rockhurst Dining Services 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 and only two guests will be allowed per table in dining areas. 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.

How will residence halls accommodate new requirements?

Residence halls will be open at normal capacity, but adjustments will be made to promote social distancing requirements in shared areas. Residence Life staff plan to set aside two wings of two floors to quarantine exposed individuals if needed and 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

Will campus amenities such as the MAC be open in the fall?

The MAC (Magis Activity Center) will most likely 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.  

The University hopes to be able to open the workout space in Massman Hall, 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.

Will visitors be allowed on campus and in residence halls?

Residents are asked to limit the number of guests in their residence halls. Specific guidance will be released at a later date.

Will events be allowed on campus?

Yes. Events will be allowed on campus, provided guests can adhere to six-foot-social distancing and 50-percent capacity requirements outlined by authorities in the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

Are faculty and staff expected to return to campus full-time?

Rockhurst employees will return to campus with a phased approach beginning July 13. Department leaders will discuss specifics with their direct reports. These requirements are subject to change as circumstances continue to evolve. Employees who are unable to return to campus should contact Human Resources to request an accommodation at Find a more complete list of frequently asked questions here.



How will the schedule for the fall semester be adjusted?

In-person, on-campus courses are scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 24. However, changes are planned to the fall semester in the interest of reducing travel-related risk of COVID-19 spread on campus. The two days of fall break will be rescheduled to 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 day without classes). Residence halls will close to most students on Friday, Nov. 20, and 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.

I need help with my studies — what resources will be available?

The University will have several options available for students in need of academic assistance. The Greenlease Library has online support and resources, the Aylward-Dunn Learning Center offers instructional support and tutoring for students. Students with specific accessibility-related needs should contact the Disability Resource Center.

Will there be remote or online course options?

In addition to the regularly available online and remote course options, the University will also 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 splitting the face-to-face portion of the class into two to three sessions.


General FAQ

How will the University share information on an ongoing basis?

The University will send communication to students, faculty and staff via email. This page will also be updated with the latest information and communication as it becomes available.

Should I report to the University if I have symptoms related to COVID-19?

Yes. The University is requesting that any member of the campus community who meet the following criteria should submit that information to

  • Person exposed to an individual with COVID:  Any person who has been within six feet of a person with a positive/confirmed case of COVID for at least 15 minutes.
  • Person under investigation: Any person who is under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19, or who was under investigation but tested negative for the virus.  
  • Presumptive positive case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus, but testing was conducted at the local or state level. Currently, presumptive positive cases must have a sample undergo confirmatory testing at the CDC.  
  • Laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus at the CDC laboratory.  

The University will contact those who report their information by phone to learn some additional details about your situation and arrange for follow-up. The intent of this information sharing is twofold:  

  • First, to care for University companions during this challenging time.  
  • Second, the University has a desire to take reasonable steps to notify individuals from the Rockhurst community who may have been exposed – and also do a deeper cleaning of any spaces that a member of the community might have occupied while infected.  

The follow-up process with those who might make a report has been reviewed, approved, and applauded by the Kansas City Department of Health. Only a limited number of RU staff members will have access to the information that is shared on a need-to-know basis – the proper and respectful use of personal information is critical.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

While the University is not offering testing at this, testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms is available both through local CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Students, faculty and staff should also check with their local health departments to see if symptomatic or asymptomatic testing is available.


Campus Communications Regarding Return to the Rock

The following communications have been sent regarding plans to return to campus life:

June 12, 2020 — Return to the Rock Fall Plans
June 12, 2020 — Planning Our Return to Campus
July 1, 2020 — July and August Updates