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May 28, 2020
Planning is ongoing to reopen the Seattle University campus for the return of students this fall. While additional details on the university’s approach are expected later in June, the decision has been made to begin fall quarter classes on Sept. 9 with new and returning students beginning to arrive the week of Aug. 31. The quarter will end on Nov. 24, a shift of two weeks sooner than the traditional start and end of the quarter.
In announcing the decision, President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., emphasized the university will continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
“By moving up the start and conclusion of our fall term we seek to significantly reduce the number of students needing to travel back and forth in November and December and being exposed to and potentially spreading infectious diseases like the flu and COVID-19,” says Sundborg.
The School of Law, which is on a semester system, will start as scheduled on Aug. 24 and end on Nov. 25.
While many decisions for academic instruction and co-curricular programs are still being made, Seattle U’s goal is to offer as much in-person learning and student experiences as safely possible, supported by a mix of hybrid and virtual instruction as needed.
Regardless of the mode of delivery, Sundborg says, “A Jesuit education is about meeting students where they are through a highly personalized, values-based approach that is rooted in care, excellence and inclusion.”
He noted that students have expressed a high level of satisfaction in surveys for the way faculty have conducted remote classes this spring as a result of the transition to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With planning now focused on the resumption of in-person activities, Sundborg reiterated guiding principles for protecting the campus community.
“Caring for one another is a part of who we are and will continue to be central to our decision making. We are carefully considering accommodations to help protect our most at-risk and vulnerable community members and their families, as well as to serve students who may need to be in isolation or quarantine,” says Sundborg. “We must also be mindful of our responsibility to the wider community and as society reopens to the new normal. We must all work to manage and minimize the risks of COVID-19 while treatments are being developed to reduce its severity and duration and while we await a widely available vaccine.”
All planning is being carried out consistent with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan for reopening the state of Washington in phases and public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and state and county health departments, including guidance specific to higher education.
University planning teams are making good progress on reopening plans including de-densifying campus, implementing physical distancing, enhanced safety measures (e.g., PPE, face coverings, additional hand sanitizing stations, frequent cleaning and disinfecting) and protocols for screening, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine.
Planning decisions also are factoring in the high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability that remains around COVID-19.
“This situation requires flexibility, nimbleness, creativity and innovative approaches. If we need to again transition to fully virtual instruction due to a resurgence of COVID-19, we will adapt as necessary,” says Sundborg.
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