Our entire community remains in my prayers as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a university that remains “in-session” for our students (albeit remotely for learning and many services), we face complex challenges during this time.  On the one hand, we want to do everything we can to enhance our students’ learning and support their well-being. On the other hand, we want to keep our community as safe as possible. Thus, I begin by expressing my gratitude.

Important Acknowledgment

I am so grateful to our employees who have worked long, tireless seemingly unending hours to keep our university running and safe during this unprecedented and historic time.

  • Our front-line workers doing everything from preparing meals to answering phones…
  • Our Public Safety officers securing the campus and gently reminding everyone of social distancing practices…
  • Our faculty who shifted an ENTIRE university to online learning in a matter of days…
  • Our health service workers trying to meet the needs of our students and employees during a time of high anxiety…
  • Our support staff who have gone above and beyond their normal duties to provide around-the-clock support…
  • Our employee parents who are juggling work demands while taking care of children who now are home from school…

“Thank you” doesn’t even begin to express the appreciation your colleagues and I have for all of you. Performing your work while dealing with incredible amounts of anxiety and stress has not been easy, and I am so thankful for the strength and grace you have shown. None of this would be possible without your efforts.

Employment Questions

We are committed to keeping our employees’ pay uninterrupted and consistent for all employees for as long as possible. We are working on a plan that will provide more information for all employees, including students.  Please look for this information in the coming days.

Travel Advisory

Effective immediately, all university-related travel (both domestic and international) is suspended until further notice. Additionally, we know many of you are weighing personal travel plans right now with Spring Break fast approaching. We are strongly encouraging everyone to carefully consider the risks associated with any travel. A separate communication outlining the university’s guidelines will be forthcoming; please be on the lookout for this note, as it carries implications for students who are moving out of residence halls, students granted exemptions to remain living on campus, and employees.

Update and Clarification

We have an update and a clarifications from yesterday’s communication:

  • Please note that this morning all Catholic Masses in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis were suspended. To comply with this directive, all Masses at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas have been suspended until further notice.
  • Regarding our refund policy for room and board – we will be offering refunds for commuter meal plans. eXpress accounts are not eligible for refunds.

Center for Well-Being Updates

The Center for Well-Being remains open. Please call ahead or see their website for details about their health services, mental health services, and health promotion programs.

A Final Word

We know many of you are feeling on edge. This situation is making all of us feel various emotions, from worry and concern to mental exhaustion and anger.

Please remember – no matter how far social distancing guidelines tell us we should stand apart; we are a community that must stand together. Reports are showing a rising number of incidents of discrimination being directed toward individuals based on race and ethnicity. WE MUST NEVER allow our fears to cause us to assign blame to any person or group of people based on their skin color, ethnicity or home country. This behavior stands against everything we want for the future of St. Thomas – and our world – and can never be tolerated. I urge all of you to lean on each other for support and continue to show compassion for all.

To borrow the ending of a prayer by Laura Kelly Fanucci:  “When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way – better for each other because of the worst.”

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