Welcome Back, Bellarmine

Dear Bellarmine Students and Families,

Since March, when we moved teaching and learning online to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we have been eagerly anticipating the day when the Bellarmine community could reconvene in person.

I am delighted, therefore, to announce that we will reopen campus and welcome students back for classes on Aug. 20. We can’t wait to greet our new first-year students and reconnect with sophomores through graduate students. For those of us in higher education, nothing is more hopeful, more renewing, than fall semester.

You will notice some changes this semester designed to minimize exposure to, and potential spread of, the COVID-19 virus. I am proud of the approach we are taking to reopening, which balances our desire to provide students with a robust, in-person university experience with the need for health-conscious policies.

A Steering Committee on Contingency Planning that is co-chaired by Bellarmine’s senior vice president and the dean of our School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences has been working tirelessly since May to develop these policies, which adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kentucky public health officials.

The biggest change is to the academic calendar. In order to minimize back-and-forth student travel—and therefore reduce opportunities for students to contract or spread the virus—we will end classroom instruction by the week before Thanksgiving by eliminating the Labor Day holiday and fall break. Once students go home for Thanksgiving, they will remain at home through the end of the calendar year. Final exams will be conducted online. (Students who have a reason to remain in the residence halls, such as winter season student-athletes, will be able to do so.)

We will ensure that students and faculty are appropriately distanced from each other in all classroom settings, whether that’s a lecture or a lab. Our faculty are also busy this summer developing flexible hybrid courses that combine in-person and online delivery that will ensure students have the personal attention that makes the Bellarmine educational experience special.

We will also practice distancing in all public areas, including dining halls, where you will find more “grab-and-go” options than before. Community members will wear face coverings in community areas—in fact, we will be providing Bellarmine-branded face coverings for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff so that we can be stylish and safe.

Students will still be able to participate in our wide variety of extracurricular activities, although some may be meeting in smaller groups than usual.

Ensuring a healthy return to campus will require some adaptations. But at Bellarmine, where we have an average student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1 and a focus on the individual success of each student, we are in a much better position to make this pivot than larger schools. Some factors are beyond our control, of course. We will continually monitor news and guidance from Kentucky public health officials and the CDC, and we will keep you updated on this website. For now, however, we are positive, prepared, and optimistic. We remain fully committed to continuing the essential work of educating students in mind, body, and spirit for meaningful lives, rewarding careers, ethical leadership, and service to improve the human condition—while taking the precautions that will keep our entire community healthy.

We look forward to seeing you in August!

Susan M. Donovan, Ph.D.
Bellarmine President

Keeping Our Campus Healthy


Classroom Experience


Maintaining Connection and Community


Key Dates

Fall 2020 Semester Academic Calendar

  • Aug. 14 and 15: First-year students Move-In
  • Aug. 17-19: Returning students Move-In
  • Aug. 20: Classes begin
  • Sept. 4, Oaks Day: Classes in session
  • Sept. 5, Derby Day: Classes in session
  • Sept. 7, Labor Day: Classes in session
  • Oct. 10-13 (formerly fall break): Classes in session
  • Nov. 21: Last day of classes
  • Nov. 23-29: Thanksgiving holiday
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 2: Study days
  • Dec. 3-9: Final exams online
  • Dec. 16: Fall 2020 degrees posted 
  • Dec. 19: 2020 Commencement ceremony at Freedom Hall

While our planning is currently focused on returning for the Fall 2020 semester, we expect our Spring 2021 semester to be an on-campus experience, shaped by the latest guidance from health officials about the status of COVID-19 at that time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Face Covering Requirements

In accordance with federal and state regulations, Bellarmine is requiring faculty, staff and students to wear a face covering while in public and common spaces on campus. The university will provide washable cloth face coverings to students. Students do not have to use the face covering provided as long as you have some sort of cloth covering that covers your mouth and nose.

What is a public place?

  • Classrooms, labs and practice rooms
  • Academic and support offices
  • Meeting spaces
  • Dining hall and other on-campus eating establishments, but not while eating or drinking
  • Hallways and lobby areas of academic and administrative buildings
  • Traveling outside to and from locations on campus when you cannot practice distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Public restrooms
  • Common areas such as lobbies, kitchens or communal bathrooms in the residence halls

What if I have a health concern about wearing a face covering?

Where do I not have to wear a face covering on campus?

  • Inside your residence hall room if you are a residential student
  • Traveling outside to and from locations when practicing physical distancing

What if I don’t have a face covering on in public places?

  • You will be asked to leave places such as classrooms, dining facilities, events and even work until you are wearing your face covering. Habitual non-compliance may result in student participation in the university’s conduct process.

Face covering distribution

The university will issue face coverings to all faculty, staff and students. If you have forgotten or lost your face covering, disposable face coverings can be found at Health Services or the Office of Public Safety. Residential students will receive their face coverings at their move-in date and commuter students can pick up their coverings prior to classes beginning.

How to properly wear a face covering

Putting on a face covering
Wash hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer before applying face covering. Touch the face covering as little as possible to avoid cross-contamination. Once it’s in place, do your best not to touch the outside of the covering or touch your face. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after inadvertently touching your face covering. We recommend not placing it around your neck or up on your forehead.

How to properly wear a face covering
Your face covering should always cover both your nose and mouth.

Removing a face covering
To safely remove your face covering, first wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching either the outside or the inside of the covering a much as possible. Remove by the ties or area that has not been near your mouth or nose. Do not shake the covering once you have taken it off.

Care, storage and laundering of a face covering
Keep face coverings in a paper bag or a sealable plastic bag. Replace your face coverings if they become soiled, damaged or visibly contaminated. It is recommended not to use a cloth face covering more than once a day without washing it. Wash your face covering in the sink or the washing machine with hot water and detergent. Make sure you wash your hands before touching your freshly laundered face covering.

Read more about face coverings by visiting the CDC website.

COVID-19 Screening and Testing

July 27, 2020 Update

Bellarmine University and Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness highly recommend voluntary COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff 14 days before arriving to campus.  Check with your local health care provider and insurance provider for access to testing resources. We understand testing times and availability vary greatly across the country. If you are unable to test, we strongly encourage all community members to limit unnecessary travel and other potential exposures and quarantine for 14 days prior to arriving on campus.  Kentucky Governor’s guidance is also that anyone who has recently traveled to or is coming from states with 15% test positivity rate or greater also quarantine for 14 days. You can find states’ testing rates here. We ask that you do that prior to your arrival to campus regardless of testing. All students are required to complete a COVID-19 screen ten days prior to their arrival to campus. Information will be shared with them via-email.

On-Going Health Checks

Anyone who comes to campus will be required to fill out a health form which requires a temperature check. Temperature checks should be conducted at home prior to arrival on campus as much as possible. However, there will be designated offices on campus that may conduct temperature checks, should the visitor need them.

Living on Campus

Over the Summer

During the past few months, as the Residence Halls were vacant, our custodial crew has been working full time to thoroughly clean and disinfect each dormitory room. In addition to normal daily cleaning, the crews have treated surface areas with a disinfectant proven effective against SARS related Coronavirus, restrooms have been deep cleaned and floors vacuumed.

Those dorms being used by Governor Scholar students have received nightly cleaning and each Saturday the restrooms are deep cleaned.


The three-year residential policy remains in place. If a you feel that moving to the residence hall poses a health risk, or if you’ve experienced a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, you may apply for a housing exemption to pursue off-campus accommodations. 

All residents can participate in this year’s new Drop-and-Go program, which allows you to deliver belongings to your room prior to your move-in appointment. Drop-and-Go appointments will be available Sunday, August 9, through Wednesday, August 12. You can sign up for a Drop-and-Go appointment in your housing portal.

First-year students will move in August 14 and 15; returning students will move in August 17-19.

The 2020 Move-In Guide can be found on the Residence Life website. If you have housing-related questions, please reach out to Residence Life at reslife@bellarmine.edu.

Dining Options on Campus
Our dining facilities will follow the Kentucky Healthy at Work guidelines, with lower capacity and increased surface cleaning. The BITE+ app will allow you to order and pay online to pick up and carry out meals. Look for clear signage in Café Ogle directing the flow of people and marking physical distance requirements. 

Our University Dining Hall (UDH) has been overhauled; many convenient pre-packaged items will be available, and to-go boxes will be allowed and encouraged.  

Seating and capacity in our dining facilities will continue to be directed by the state guidelines for restaurants. 
Student Life

July 29, 2020 Update

Campus life will continue to be vibrant with a variety of virtual and smaller in-person opportunities for connection and community, whether that is through student organizations, late knight and weekend programming, or campus traditions. To help better connect you to engagement opportunities this fall and personalize your student experience, we invite you to take the Student Activities Interest Questionnaire if you have not already done so. We will continue to use Engage to promote campus events and student organization happenings—there will even be a feature noting if the experience is in-person or virtual.

Student activities, programs, and events are imperative for student engagement and a highlight of the campus experience. Bellarmine will strive to maintain these elements of our campus culture, while keeping members of our community safe and healthy. We must think creatively to reimagine our campus experiences to accommodate physical distancing and preventative measures, and we must acknowledge that not every program will be able to happen like it used to. Experiences will be subject to the determination of what is possible in a restrictive environment and what needs to be delayed. Further, we encourage programmatic engagement for each RSO and University department to be offered in multiple modalities (i.e. in-person and virtually) and be classified into one of four categories:

  • Definite– experiences that should be available at the beginning of the fall semester
  • Delay– experiences that can be offered later in the fall semester
  • Reschedule– experiences that may need to be reintroduced in spring 2021 or later
  • Reimagine– experiences that should be available throughout the academic year with adjustments to accommodate CDC, state, and University guidelines for COVID-19 (i.e. physically distant in-person, smaller or multiple groups, or virtually)

RSO Sponsored Events

  • All campus events should reflect University values and follow the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Students will adhere to all CDC, state, and University guidelines, as well as tenants agreed upon in the Bellarmine Knights Pledge and Acknowledgment (COVID-19), including but not limited to physical distancing, face coverings, and screenings.
  • Activities, events and meetings will largely be conducted in small groups and online. Large or campus-wide gatherings will be difficult as physical distancing practices must be maintained and face coverings must be worn in public spaces on campus.
  • Event and room reservation requests must be submitted through Engage and will be individually evaluated to determine if the event can be offered virtually or through a combination of in-person and virtual modalities.
  • Outdoor spaces or smaller classrooms/conference rooms may be available for students and student organizations upon reservation. Additional parameters and guidelines may be enforced, such as:
    • Time limitations or restrictions
    • Limited available seating
    • Reduced room/event capacity to ensure physical distancing
    • Cleaning and disinfectant protocols before, during, and after each event
  • Students hosting events will clearly communicate to participants expectations of health safety, as well as inherent health risks associated with activities.

Enforcement of Policies

Bellarmine acknowledges the existence of both rights and responsibilities of each student and the role each member plays in ensuring the vitality of our community. Students are individually and collectively responsible for their behavior and fully accountable for their actions both on and off campus. Any student, faculty, or staff member may submit a report to the Dean of Students (502.272.8150) against any person believed to be in violation of any of the guidelines or policies from the University, Kentucky Public Health Department, or Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Special Events

August 3, 2020 Update

In order to adjust to these unprecedented times, Bellarmine University will be unable to host external events for the fall semester.  This difficult decision has been made from an abundance of caution. This decision limits the amount of people exposed to campus while providing ample space and time to keep our students engaged on campus.
We appreciate your understanding and continued support of the University and look forward to having you return to campus when safe for all.