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September COVID-19 Update

August 31, 2021

Dear Members of Our UD Community,

We have gotten off to a tremendous start this semester. It has been wonderful to spend time with you on campus — the joy of being together again is palpable. Unfortunately, we are going to need to interrupt the great beginnings we have made so that we can sustain our objective of being present with each other as much as possible throughout the semester. We have an unwelcome visitor among us: The Delta variant of COVID-19 has wormed its way into our community, and we are going to need to adjust a few things to bid it adieu.

Effective tomorrow, Wednesday, at 8 a.m., we will be pausing in-person classes and many in-person activities on our Irving campus through Sunday, Sept. 12, due to a marked increase in positive COVID cases among students over the past two days.

At least 25 students have tested positive for COVID since Monday after experiencing a variety of symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, et cetera) associated with COVID — in most cases, the symptoms were not severe, but one student had to be taken to the ER — and we anticipate more will be coming in for testing in the next few days. While a number of students are isolating off campus, the number isolating on campus in the designated beds that had been set aside has reached capacity. Should additional students test positive, the university will assist students in identifying a location off campus to self-isolate.

Our goal is to resume in-person classes and activities on Monday, Sept. 13. We will assess the feasibility of that goal early next week to determine whether we will need to extend slightly our hiatus from in-person classes. The determinative factor for that assessment will be consideration of whether the rate of COVID cases has slowed sufficiently. Our hope is that this temporary pause will enable us to significantly slow the current spread of COVID in our community so that we can resume in-person classes for the remainder of the semester.

What exactly does this ‘pause’ entail?

For undergraduate students: Wednesday, Sept. 1, and Thursday, Sept. 2, will be transition days to allow time for faculty to switch gears and for students, should they so wish, to travel home. There will be no in-person or synchronous (that is, live) classes during the transition days, but professors may continue to provide online asynchronous (that is, recorded) class assignments as they determine best. Students should look for communication from each of their professors over the next two days regarding plans and expectations. Following the transition, all undergraduate classes will be provided in an online format from Friday, Sept. 3, through Friday, Sept. 10.

For graduate students: Professors will immediately shift to synchronous or asynchronous online delivery beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Friday, Sept. 10.

To repeat, professors will be notifying their students regarding the particular manner in which they intend to shift to online learning and what their expectations are.

For employees: University offices will remain open, but with minimal on-campus staffing. In other words, university offices frequented by students, particularly during this time at the beginning of the semester, must ensure an employee is present during normal business hours to provide in-person assistance. Other staff should plan to work remotely through this pause, with the expectation of returning to normal Sept. 13. Staff members should look to their immediate supervisors for guidance.

Per our COVID contingency plans, during this pause, there will be some restrictions on campus activities for residential students and staff on campus:

  • Students may pick up meals at the cafeteria tomorrow, but the dining room will be closed. Grab-and-go meals will begin on Thursday, Sept. 2. The Cap Bar will remain open for grab-and-go service.
  • Masks will be required at all times while indoors, except while in your private dorm room with your roommate or while in a private office alone. Social distancing and frequent hand-washing are still strongly encouraged.
  • No outside guests or visitors will be permitted on campus, with the exception of essential vendors.
  • NCAA athletics will continue, but with no spectators.
  • Outdoor club sports will continue. Masking is strongly encouraged when participating in outdoor activities that involve close contact.
  • The gym, weight room and fitness center will be open provided proper staffing is available, but capacity will be limited, and masks are required.
  • Mass and sacraments will continue in the Church of the Incarnation according to the normal schedule, but masks will be required.
  • The library will be closed to in-person service. Virtual library services will be available.
  • With the upcoming long Labor Day weekend, students will have an opportunity to travel home should they wish, and we want to encourage those students who remain on campus to engage in outdoor activities. Outdoor activities do not require masks.

While we certainly would prefer not to have this interruption to the semester we have begun so well, I trust that we can, together, deal with this outbreak swiftly and well in order to return to in-person classes soon. Thank you for your help in making this possible.

Please join me in prayer, under the intercession of Our Lady, so that this situation is quickly resolved, and for the health and well-being of all in our community over the coming week. Stay tuned for an update next week.

Pres Sanford Signature
Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy