Bellarmine COVID-19 Update - March 17, 2020

Dear members of the Bellarmine community,

I am writing to you today to update you on some important decisions.  These obviously are not decisions we wanted to make, but the national situation regarding COVID-19 has changed significantly in the last 24 to 36 hours.

I know these precautions will be met with frustration and sadness, and believe me, everyone in the faculty and administration shares these feelings. We are sorry we will not be able to deliver the meaningful experiences that are normally part of the spring semester.  It may be especially difficult to understand why we are taking what seem like radical steps when right now, the effects of COVID-19 aren’t readily apparent in our city, and when people the age of our traditional student population don’t seem to be severely affected. 

But this virus is real. It is unlike anything any of us has experienced in our lifetimes. We don’t know everything about it, but we do know that its incubation period is about 14 days. I suspect that very soon its effects will be all too apparent.

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation rapidly evolves, we have made several very difficult decisions:

Online courses, which begin tomorrow, March 18, will continue for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. Academic Affairs is working with faculty to plan delivery of final exams.

To support the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated social distancing guidanceresidence halls will close to students on Saturday, March 21 at 3 p.m. Details regarding hardship requests are below, but we will work on the premise that our students should be at home unless it is a risk to personal safety.

All university events through May 15, including Senior Week activities, have been canceled or postponed. 

Commencement, scheduled for May 9, will be postponed. The graduation regalia distribution event scheduled for April 9 is canceled. We will be in touch with the Bellarmine Society and graduate students to seek guidance on our Commencement in late summer. We hope to announce the new dates for Commencement activities by the end of this week. Official graduation dates and availability of official final transcripts will not be affected by the postponement.

One of our faculty experts, Dr. Karen Golemboski, has answered a number of questions related to COVID-19. You can read more from Dr. Golemboski here

We will continue to update our coronavirus information page with the latest information for you, including up-to-date info on how to access campus services. You may also email questions@bellarmine.edu if you’re having trouble finding an answer to your question. We’ve set up that address specifically in response to this situation.

Use technology to keep in touch. We may not be together physically, but we are all in this together. As always, we are here to support you through this difficult and unprecedented time.

Please take care,
Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D.
President

CURRENT STUDENTS
With the on-campus experience ending for the semester, the residence halls will close to students on Saturday, March 21 at 3 p.m. to allow for maximum social distancing. Hardship requests for students who remain on campus and hope to remain beyond that date (even those who previously received permission to stay) must be completed on this form https://bellarmine.wufoo.com/forms/hardship-request/ by Thursday, March 19, at 3 p.m. We will work on the premise that our students should be at home unless it is a risk to personal safety.

Limited campus services will be available to students who remain on campus after Saturday, March 21, including boxed meals available for pick-up from the Palio. Café Ogle will close tomorrow, and the bookstore’s hours will be reduced to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

Residential students who wish to return to collect personal belongings should sign up for a check-out time. Students may begin to check out from the halls beginning Saturday, April 4. Please use this link https://bellarmine.wufoo.com/forms/spring-2020-express-checkout-sign-up-request/ to request a check-out time. If you are unable to return to campus in early April, we will work with you. If you have essential items in your room that you need sooner, please email reslife@bellarmine.edu.

For students who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of these sudden changes, support may be available through the student emergency aid fund

We are working to address the issue of housing and meal plan credits.  We know this is important, and we will communicate with you as soon as we have answers.

FACULTY & STAFF
Our plan remains for most employees to work from home while essential employees work on campus as needed. As we transition to completing the semester via online instruction, essential personnel will remain on campus to provide support, primarily via email, videoconference or phone. Standard office hours for on-campus employees will become 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until further notice. Our vice presidents are communicating with employees in their divisions about these work plans.

Effective today, March 17, academic and administrative buildings will lock at 6 p.m. and will require swipe-card access. If you need assistance after hours and you have authorization to access a building, please contact Public Safety at 502-272-7777.

As indicated previously, any employee with certain health considerations outlined by the CDC should speak to Human Resources if they have concerns about reporting to campus for a work assignment.