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Presidential Notice - COVID-19 Student Update: March 14

by James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President Mar 14, 2020

Some students will be permitted to return to residence halls — all others asked not to return to campus until further notice.

Dear Students,

I write to share some more important information.  But, first, I say THANK YOU for the way you are handling this disruptive and unprecedented challenge to your DeSales experience.  I have heard from many of you in the past few days, and I am proud of your patience and understanding in this labile national emergency.  Rallying around our Salesian mission, and in the words of our patron, St. Francis de Sales, we will continue to “do all through love and nothing through fear.” 

For our undergraduates, I have contacted Samantha Mullin, president of the Student Government Association. She has asked Joseph Freemont, vice president of mission, and Kayla Homan, senior class president, to join in a conference call this evening to discuss your student concerns with me. Having the input of your elected leadership is helpful as we prepare for the weeks and months ahead.  

I am confident that our graduate program directors and ACCESS staff are fielding concerns and answering questions from their respective programs.  

I hope you recall from my email of Thursday, March 12: “One important learning for us as we navigate the University through this crisis is how new, relevant, and urgent information comes quickly and regularly.”  This insight resounds with great volume. Since Thursday when I last wrote to you, President Trump declared a national emergency, and Governor Wolf announced the shutdown of all Pennsylvania K-12 schools for two weeks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Based upon this new information, and the number of our community members that this will impact, I share the following as a result:

  • Those students whose only option for safe housing and secure food is on campus will be permitted to return to their residence halls beginning on Sunday, March 15. Also, exceptions are being made for students who need to be on campus for clinical rotations, internships, or other academic requirements. Our student life staff has contacted all students who registered for a return to campus to understand their needs and discuss options. If you do not meet one of these aforementioned exceptions, you will be asked not to return to campus until further notice.
  • The Labuda Center is closed until Wednesday, March 18, for deep cleaning as a measure consistent with our emergency response protocols. After consultation with a primary care physician, an employee from that building with flu-like symptoms was asked to be tested for the COVID-19 virus as a precaution.  Therefore, Performing Arts students who were given permission to return to campus are asked to come no sooner than Wednesday morning.
  • In the coming weeks, we will address the issue of refunds for room and board in a fair and equitable way for all students living in campus residence halls.
  • In terms of issues related to the student life experience, Linda Zerbe, vice president for student life, will soon post a memo on our dedicated web page with relevant information in an FAQ format.

Again, my first concern is the safety of all members of the University community—especially our students.  We recognize that many details still need to be worked out, and emerging questions will be addressed moving forward. This is an extraordinary moment in our history as we face this rapidly evolving public health crisis. I deeply appreciate your support and patience.

James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84

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