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Campus Reopening - Spring 2021


Statement by President Hibbs - December 29, 2020

Dear UD Community,

We hope you are enjoying some well-earned rest after a compressed but in many ways more intense fall semester. We express our gratitude to the staff, faculty, and students who made sacrifices, large and small, to enable UD to be among a very small percentage of schools that opened for residential living and with the vast majority of classes in-person.

Earlier this month, we were happy to celebrate the accomplishments of nearly 250 students and their families who returned to campus for Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement. The Mass occurred outside on the Mall while the graduation ceremony itself was held in a large hall at the Irving Convention Center. While more subdued given the pandemic, it was such a pleasure to honor our graduates’ accomplishments and see the pride and joy of families present.

Since the end of the fall semester, our COVID-19 Preparedness Committee has continued its efforts to evaluate policies and practices for the spring.

At present, we are planning to continue most of the same COVID-19 protection measures this spring that were in place this past fall -- wearing masks indoors, maintaining six-feet social distance, and encouraging personal hygiene protocols. We will once again require COVID-19 testing for residential students prior to move-in, and will conduct random testing of residential and off-campus students throughout the semester. [The Spring 2021 Academic Calendar can be found here.]

We will continue our policy of holding no large events on campus, which includes a greatly reduced Groundhog Day with activities limited to only current students. We look forward to the day when we can once again celebrate this beloved tradition on campus with alumni, family and friends.

Our fall Rome semester was an incredible success, albeit with a slightly modified and shortened schedule. Dr. Peter Hatlie and his team continue to work diligently to accommodate Italian COVID-19 regulations in preparation for a successful spring Rome experience. We look forward to welcoming our spring Romers to the Due Santi campus.

We are also very pleased that our student athletes will resume competitive play in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). The SCAC has put in place robust COVID-19 testing policies and protocols based on extensive discussions with medical and scientific experts in accordance with NCAA guidelines.

We will continue to evaluate and adjust our policies as circumstances change. For now, let’s continue our commitment to upholding the Groundhog Pledge into the spring, and renew our commitment “to live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,” as St. Paul urges in Ephesians.

We look forward to welcoming students back to Irving and Rome in January, and until then, may God richly bless you and your families during this Christmas season.

Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83

The Groundhog Pledge

All members of the University community--faculty, staff, students--will be asked to sign the Groundhog Pledge prior to their return to campus this fall.

University of Dallas
The Groundhog Pledge
Academic Year 2020-21

I pledge to take responsibility for my own health, the protection of others and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the UD community.

I pledge to:

  • Reduce potential exposure by adopting the following behaviors at least 14 days before I arrive on campus: practice social distancing (at least 6 feet apart), wash hands often or use hand sanitizer when appropriate, wear a mask and avoid touching my face
  • Wear a mask at all times when I am in a University building (except when I am in my dorm room with my roommate, sleeping, or eating), and wear a mask outside if I am not able to remain 6 feet apart from another person
  • Wash my hands often or use hand sanitizer, especially after sneezing or coughing or touching a high-contact object like a doorknob or computer
  • Follow instructions and directional signs for entering buildings, classrooms, and other common university areas
  • Actively participate in COVID-related training and stay informed of updates UD communicates
  • Minimize visitors on campus and mitigate risks while I am off-campus by maintaining social distancing, washing my hands frequently and wearing a mask when I am in close proximity to others
  • Monitor any symptoms of the virus throughout the fall semester. Symptoms may include: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, temperature greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If I experience symptoms, I will notify Student Health Services or my personal doctor immediately and follow the recommended steps to self-isolate until I am diagnosed or given a clean bill of health
  • Be mindful that other individuals may be in a high-risk category and therefore more susceptible to COVID
  • Encourage my friends to uphold this pledge for their health and safety and that of others in our community

I acknowledge that my individual effort and that of every other person on campus contributes to the likelihood of UD remaining open for this semester. I agree to do my part to promote the common good and well-being of my friends, colleagues, and the UD community by staying true to my Groundhog Pledge.

Take the
Groundhog Pledge

COVID-19 Medical Management and Containment

COVID-19 testing:

  • All residential students will be tested, using rapid result testing, upon their return to campus and prior to admittance in on-campus housing. If a residential student tests positive for COVID-19 he/she will not be permitted to move into University housing.
  • The University will test all commuter students after the semester begins.
  • The University will test all UD students using random sampling through the course of the semester to continue to monitor the existence of COVID-19 on campus.

Health Center expansion: The Health Center will remain in the campus ministry space to accommodate COVID-19 testing and students sick with COVID-19.

Health Center supplies: The Health Center will maintain a stock of masks available to students.

Health Center services: The Health Center will continue to provide health services for all UD students. The Health Center has hired additional medical technicians and will work with the Dallas County Health and Human Services to assist with essential services and contact tracing for the duration of the Spring semester.

Contact tracing: The University will promptly isolate COVID-19 positive individuals and implement a contact tracing protocol to identify potentially infected individuals. People who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted immediately and will be asked to quarantine.

Student with COVID-19: If a residential student is diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she will be isolated in a designated space on campus, or in overflow space off-campus. If a commuter student is diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she will be asked to isolate in his/her own home, and given instructions on how to do so. The student’s parents/family will be contacted immediately. Meals and health care services (including assessment of mental health) will be provided while the student is isolated. Additionally, contactless laundry services will be provided to the students. Re-entry into campus life will occur after at least 3 days have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications, improved respiratory symptoms), and at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.

Phased Plan for Closing Campus: We will have a phased plan for closing down various aspects of campus life should the need arise due to an increased incidence of COVID-19.

Quarantine: Students exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine in their dorm room or off-campus living in accordance with then-current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Phased Plan for Closing Campus: We will have a phased plan for closing down various aspects of campus life should the need arise if the incidence of COVID-19 starts to increase.

Accommodations for high-risk individuals:

  • Faculty have the option of virtual teaching and hybrid classes; classroom space will provide for social distancing and masks will be required during all classes (including outdoor classes).
  • Students have the option of enrolling in all online/virtual classes (should a student exercise this option, he/she will not be permitted to live on campus); will be provided with a single dorm room upon providing evidence of an underlying medical condition that makes the student more susceptible to COVID-19.
  • Employees will have the option of flexible worksites (telecommuting), flexible work hours if possible (staggered shifts); sharing office equipment/high-touch materials (phones, desks, work tools and equipment) is discouraged.

Training: The University will provide COVID-19-specific health and hygiene training for supervisors/employees/faculty (how to wear a mask, when to use hand sanitizer, what to do if you or someone you work with gets sick, identify high-risk individuals) and throughout the Spring semester to provide up-to-date COVID-19 risk factors and recommended protective behaviors.

Campus Communications

Emergency Alerts: Should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus, the University marketing and communications team, in accord with the University health clinic, may send out an emergency alert through the RAVE system. Regardless of whether or not this method of communication is chosen, the University’s COVID website will be updated daily with COVID case numbers and updates in order to keep the University community informed.

In general: 

  • The University will continue to update the Campus Reopening COVID-19 website.
  • Should any member of the University community have any questions or concerns related to the University COVID-19 policies and procedures, please contact the office of the Executive Vice President John Plotts at 972-721-5053. Executive Vice President John Plotts is the primary COVID-19 campus administrator.

Health and Hygiene

Daily health monitoring:  Daily health monitoring: All members of the University community are encouraged to monitor their health condition every day by evaluating whether they have COVID-19 symptoms, such as those recognized by the CDC:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

The University will provide no-touch thermometers in dormitories and in the Student Health Center. 

Masks: All members of the University community and guests and visitors to campus are required to wear a mask in all buildings on campus, except when an individual is alone in a dorm room (or with a roommate), in an office, or private vehicle, or while eating (in which case there should be 6 feet between individuals). Mask wearing is not required in outdoor spaces, unless it is impossible to social distance (defined as 6 feet apart from another person). Students who do not follow this policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the University Code of Conduct. Anyone who does not wear a mask at a University-sponsored event or class will be asked to leave. Similarly, faculty and staff who do not follow this policy will be subject to discipline, and guests and visitors who fail to wear a mask in University buildings will be asked to leave campus.

  • This mandatory mask policy will be regularly evaluated, and if possible, loosened, if the incidence of COVID-19 declines in Dallas County and/or is minimal on campus during the Spring semester.

Water fountains: Drinking fountains have been changed on campus so that you can no longer drink from the fountain but can fill up your water bottle. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize the use of water dispensers, minimize waste, and stay hydrated.

Travel policy: No professional, University-sponsored, travel is permitted during the Spring semester. To obtain an exemption, a faculty member or employee may obtain approval from the Vice President-level senior staff member of the University administration.

Hand-washing: All members of the UD community are encouraged to wash their hands under running water whenever possible for at least 20 seconds.

Hand sanitizer: Free-standing sanitizing stations will be located throughout campus. Sanitizing wipes will be available at the entrance to classrooms so that students and professors can wipe down their chair/desks as desired. to help sanitize. Cleaning products will be provided for employee and faculty use in every office on campus.

Social distancing: Please maintain 6 feet distance between yourself and another person while on campus-- in classrooms, elevators, stairwells, hallways, public spaces, library. Follow the directional signage.

Coughing etiquette: Cough away from people and into a tissue or your elbow.

Facilities and Cleaning

Schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection (daytime and nighttime protocols)

  • The night custodial cleaners will clean all offices: vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, pulling trash. They will disinfect frequently touched items, including:
    • door handles
    • palm areas on doors
    • open flat empty countertops
    • glass panes
  • They will not touch anything on an individual work station. Employees are responsible for cleaning individual office items--keyboard, mouse, phone, filing cabinet drawer handles, office equipment, and chair.
  • If an office contains a meeting room, the table top will be cleaned and disinfected, carpet vacuumed, trash pulled.
  • Daytime custodial cleaners will clean restrooms, door knobs/handles, drinking fountains, and stair rails throughout the day.
  • Hallway items such as drinking fountains are disinfected each night and at least once during daytime business hours.
  • We encourage employees to frequently wash their hands daily using soap, water and the 20-second washing method. The number of employees that can occupy a restroom is limited to the number of stall/fixtures designed in that restroom. We will not tape off toilets or urinals or sinks, unless they require repair.
  • Any time an employee must touch any items outside their own office/work area, we recommend they wash their hands or use sanitizer until it is feasible to wash their hands with soap and water.

Minimize sharing of materials:

  • If you are required to share materials with another person we recommend that you do so with gloved hands, or share as little as possible.

Air quality:

  • The Energy Management System (EMS) is set to run at full capacity at all times.
  • The chemical University custodial services uses on campus (H2Orange 2 Hyper-concentrate) is a general-purpose cleaner that is hydrogen peroxide based, gives off minimal vapors, and does not leave a heavy chemical scent in the area.

Physical Barriers

  • Plexiglass barriers have been installed on many reception countertops to provide a physical guard against nuclei spatter.
  • Any time a person approaches an employee desk, the employee is to don their face covering, whether the visitor has one or not.


Dorm rooms:

  • Students will continue to live in double rooms across campus. We are reducing the number of students in freshmen triples and quads, but have maintained them in Clark because there exist individual rooms within the suites. Excess furniture will be removed from each room to allow for better social-distancing.

Common area policies:

  • Masks are required in all common dorm areas. Social distancing is encouraged.


Aramark Dining Re-Open Plan

  • Eat-in: The number of people eating in dining facilities at the same time will be restricted. Dining furniture will be placed in a socially distanced position, seats 6 ft apart, and some seats will be removed. Tables and chairs will be cleaned and disinfected between use.
  • Take-out and grab-and-go/pre-packaged options will be available.
  • Disposable utensils/dishes will be offered.
  • There will be no self-serve dining. All food will be served by Aramark employees.
  • Delivery food service will be provided for students who are isolated/quarantined.
  • Masks are required except when eating. 

Classes and Classrooms

Physical distancing plan:

  • Classroom layouts have been modified (distance between students in class—in fixed seat classrooms, students use only every third seat, in non-fixed classrooms, students will be seated in a way that allows for each student to have at least six (6) feet between the student and another person; professors will be a minimum of 6 feet away from students). Generally, the policy is going to be six (6) feet of social distancing in classrooms with six (6) feet of distance for the teachers (which will be marked clearly for them). It is recommended that the distance between students be increased for small group discussions as there is more conversation.
  • Outdoor classes: All students must remain masked during classes held outdoors. Faculty must stand 6 feet away from students and need not wear a mask if teaching outdoors.
  • For contact tracing purposes, there will be assigned seating and mandatory attendance-taking in each class.
  • No food and drinks will be allowed in classrooms, and masks must be worn.
    Five extra minutes between classes for cleaning and spacing: Students will be encouraged to allow the first five minutes after class for leaving in a safe fashion and the next five minutes will be for entering the classroom.
  • Clear Masks: When possible, faculty will wear clear masks while teaching. If a hearing-impaired student is enrolled in the class, the professor must wear a clear mask while teaching.
  • Directional signs for ingress/egress: The University will place signs for entrance and exit into each building and, wherever applicable, classroom.


  • The University will adhere to Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Competition Guidelines. Each school is to confirm their teams’ readiness for competition to include gameday screening.
  • Officials will complete a COVID-19 screening prior to arrival on campus and will submit to a temperature check upon arrival on campus. 
  • No spectators will be permitted. 

The SCAC is finalizing Spring athletic competition guidelines. The University will update these plans in accordance with the SCAC final guidelines.

Events on Campus/Visitors


  • At present, no large events will be held on campus in the Spring semester, and any small club or departmentally sponsored events (meetings, talks, debates, etc.) will proceed in accordance with the University COVID-19 health protocols. Any outside speaker will be expected to follow the normal visitor check-in process.

Visitor registration and certification: see Policy GV (Guests and Visitors)

  • All visitors, guests, third party vendors and delivery services (except no touch food delivery) are assigned a check-in location where they will register (provide name, contact information, maybe take their temperature), sign a certification that they are not sick with COVID-19, etc., and be informed of the campus health and hygiene policies (specifically, the mask policy). Additionally, those who check-in in person will be given a badge to indicate they have gone through the appropriate check-in protocols.
  • Visitors will come into the visitor center, deliveries will go to the postal service (since they are already right there) and everyone else will go to the information center on the first floor of Haggar University Center. All members of the University community who check-in visitors will scan the intake form into a central system in which all visitor check-in forms are stored. The University will post robust signage all over the parking lots and on its website to make sure everyone knows they need to check in. UberEats, pizza delivery and other food delivery services must be engaged using contactless delivery. 
  • There will be no overnight guests in dorms during the Spring semester. 

Prospective Students:

  • The University will have a number of scheduled events for prospective students in the Spring, taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of all prospective students and visitors. 

Rome Campus

Please review the November 2020 Letter to Parents, outlining our plans to move forward with our Rome program this Spring.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the University’s plans for reopening campus in the fall, please write to Executive Vice President John Plotts at Thank you.