As you know, we are living in unique and uncertain times. None of us can know what the future holds, but at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, we know this – we are excited to welcome you back to campus for fall 2020. We are working hard and are confident that the academic and non-academic program will be the excellent, rigorous, and collegial experience that drew you to our community and that we all cherish.
COVID-19, the virus responsible for the current global pandemic, is highly contagious and potentially lethal. Current research suggests it primarily spreads through respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. However, the full extent of how the virus transmits is unknown. Many people who contract the virus may be asymptomatic and therefore spread it unknowingly. There is no vaccine currently available for the virus and no known treatment for all of the adverse effects attributed to it.
Saint Mary’s is engaged in numerous efforts to prevent, mitigate, and respond to the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. Efforts include increased cleaning, implementation of mask-wearing protocols, social distancing measures, and other recommended mitigation strategies. The university will not require or perform widespread COVID-19 antibody or virus testing of students, employees, or visitors.
Despite the university’s best efforts, it is impossible to eliminate the risk of positive cases or an outbreak on our campuses. We cannot guarantee people present on our campuses will not be exposed to or become infected with COVID-19. The risk of exposure and possible infection is real and present in any community environment where large numbers of people are regularly interacting, including college campuses.
While acknowledging this information about COVID-19, please understand a few things are certain:
- Saint Mary’s holds as paramount the health, safety, and welfare of every member of its community.
- Having said that, none of us can guarantee what shape COVID-19 will take, and none of us – including Saint Mary’s – can guarantee a COVID-19-free environment. This is simply not feasible. It would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
- Taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections (or any other spread of virus) at Saint Mary’s is a shared responsibility. Every member of our community – including you – must do their part. This means adhering to national, state, and local health guidelines and requirements, and adhering to those measures Saint Mary’s deems safe and appropriate for its campus. Specific information has been provided about required self-screening for COVID-19, social distancing, wearing masks or other facial coverings, not attending class if sick, and isolating and quarantining when required. You agree to do all of this not just for yourself, but for the safety of others, and because this is consistent with the spirit of Saint Mary’s.
- In complete transparency, then, you understand if you return to the physical campus of Saint Mary’s, there is a risk you may contract COVID-19. We certainly do not wish this on anyone, and we are taking all recommended steps to mitigate this risk, but we cannot categorically guarantee this will not happen. By coming onto campus, you understand this is possible. Again, we want to be transparent with everyone.
We eagerly await your return to campus. Together, we are stronger. Together, we will be steadfast and resilient. Together, we are Saint Mary’s.
Tim Gossen, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs