Dear Seattle University Community,
I want to start by expressing my deepest appreciation for all you are doing as, together, we continue to navigate the unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Caring for one another is important during this time of heightened uncertainty and concern.
Your health, safety and well-being are paramount. Seattle University has been, is and will continue to act according to guidance and directives from public health and elected officials, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s most recent directive to universities and colleges, and the most up-to-date information available. With the situation changing by the hour and day, the university remains positioned to adapt as circumstances might necessitate.
While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our campus community at the time of this writing, we are fully committed to supporting regional, national and global public health efforts to slow the spread of the virus and promote social distancing. The situation in the Seattle area is particularly acute right now with COVID-19 spreading in King and nearby counties. Public health officials expect the case count to double every five to seven days in the near term. It is critical that we support and implement mitigation strategies to combat the pandemic and help reduce the number of people likely to be infected.
Today, I am announcing that Seattle University is extending its suspension of in-person classes through the Spring Quarter (and remainder of the semester for the School of Law). All classes will be conducted through virtual or remote instruction. Coursework for students will be conducted over a nine-week period beginning April 6 to allow an additional week of preparation prior to the start of the quarter and finals week will remain as scheduled, June 9-13.
As we transition to virtual instruction, we remain committed to providing high-quality academic learning, enriching co-curricular experiences and critical student support services throughout the quarter. Seattle University’s Center for Digital Learning and Innovation continues to develop faculty resources and will soon share with faculty updated information about this support.
We will continue to take a student-centered approach as we move forward, supporting students as they progress toward degrees and suspending policies as needed where they, through no fault of the student, impede academic success and progress toward completion. We are also aware of particular challenges this situation creates for students needing clinical placements and field supervision, particularly those leading to licensure, and will issue more specific guidance regarding these situations.
Students currently on campus or nearby are asked to move out of their residence halls as soon as possible and no later than April 4. Residence halls and food services will remain open to those needing an exception and who are approved to continue living on campus due to extenuating circumstances. Dean of Students James Willette is providing additional information in an email to students and parents this afternoon, including details about support from staff in Housing and Residence Life (HRL), refunds and more. Recognizing current challenges, concerns and restrictions relating to travel, HRL staff will work with students not currently on campus on a case-by-case basis to coordinate moving out at a date later than April 4 if needed.
Campus will remain open through the Spring Quarter, although we expect to further scale down the physical presence of faculty and staff for the time being. Vice President for Human Resources Michelle Clements will continue to provide information relating to work arrangements.
I believe the measures we are taking are the right ones at this time for the health and safety of our students and community. We will move as quickly as possible to address all facets involved with these measures and will continue to share additional information and details with you, including additional adjustments to the academic calendar necessary for moving to a nine-week quarter. We will decide and make known whether we will hold our spring commencement ceremony within the next three weeks. In the meantime, the most recent updates and information can be found on the university’s COVID-19 website.
In this uncertain and unsettling time, I am greatly heartened by all that you have done in these past few weeks to support one another and our campus community as a whole. I am grateful to our faculty, who have adapted their teaching to the reality before us. I am thankful to our staff, who have been invaluable in meeting the needs of our campus community under evolving and challenging circumstances. And finally, I am grateful to our students for their flexibility, continued commitment to their studies and to each other and for being the daily reminders they are why we are all here and why a Seattle University education matters always and especially in times like this.
I want you to know that I am praying for our entire university community and for our shared endeavors. Thank you for all you do for Seattle U. Please be safe and well.
Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.