June 23, 2020: Message from the President on Return to Campus Plan

Hello to everyone in the Villanova community. Today, I'm happy to be sharing our plan for the fall semester. This semester will be in person and on-campus, but it will be unlike any in our 178th year history. It will look different. It will feel different and how we do things will be different. But what's unchanged is our commitment to you, the members of the Villanova community, and to making Villanova a special place to live, learn, and work.

Many things will be changing. But today, I'm going to focus on five areas, health and safety, academics, living and working on campus, events, programs, and meetings, and athletics and recreation.

First is health and safety. For a successful returned campus, it will require all of us working together to achieve a common goal. That's why I'm asking everyone to agree to Community First, the CARITAS Commitment. This commitment reinforces that we are in this together and the extent to which we follow the recommended protective measures, physical distancing, staying at home when you are sick, hand-washing, and wearing a mask will have a major impact on our ability to prevent the virus from affecting our community and our campus.

We have the ability to test students and quarantine them on campus through the Student Health Center, which will also oversee contact tracing. If a student does test positive, we have a process in place that will allow them to continue their class work remotely while recovering or while in quarantine.

This fall, the academic calendar will be adjusted slightly to limit possible disruptions caused by COVID-19. Classes will start on August 17th. There will be no fall break. Classes will end on November 24th before the Thanksgiving break. Final exams will be online after Thanksgiving. Undergraduate students will move in the week of August 10th. Specific dates and times will be communicated in the coming weeks. We are planning on holding classes in person and classrooms have been reassessed for physical distancing, which does present some challenges. However, we are being creative and looking at a number of options. Longer class days, a hybrid approach, where half the class meets on alternating days with virtual delivery supplementing in-class instruction. And, as an option for faculty and students requesting accommodations, some courses will be offered 100% online. More details on how this affects specific courses is forthcoming, but in-class instruction is the plan and our priority.

Living and working on campus. These are two critically important areas for our community. Yes, students will be able to live on campus with a roommate. More details will be communicated soon. In dining halls, there will be noticeable changes to allow for physical distancing. This may include assigned dining halls, grab and go options, and limited seating. Similar modifications to provide protection for students and employees are being made for office spaces and operational changes, such as alternating days and telecommuting, are being considered. We will also be flexible given childcare, eldercare, and healthcare needs.

The majority of annual fall events and programs, such as orientation, St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service, and homecoming, just to name a few, will be unlike years past. This is due in part to physical distancing guidelines, as well as the need to maximize space to conduct classes. However, I am confident that our community members will find creative ways to allow the spirit of these programs to continue.

The scenario around athletics and recreation remains very fluid. We anticipate that our varsity teams will compete, but details surrounding safety requirements and fan participation are still being finalized. Club sports and intramurals are currently on hold. And our athletic staff is exploring safe ways to operate and manage the university fitness centers and recreational space.

Now, I know I haven't answered every situation or question that you may have. In the coming weeks, you will receive additional information about all aspects of our reopening in August, and how we plan to manage the fall semester. All of this information and more will become available over the next month on Villanova's COVID-19 website. There is still much work ahead and continued patience and flexibility will be essential for our successful, albeit different, return to campus. If we all do our part, I know we can have an incredible fall semester. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you in the fall with your mask. Go Cats.