Dear Seminary Community,
In the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19, what remains certain is the Seminary’s commitment to your wellbeing and the wellbeing of our broader community. I am grateful to the team of dedicated colleagues that have been working diligently on our behalf to plan and respond to this rapidly-evolving public health issue.
There are no known cases of COVID-19 on campus. At this stage, the best thing that we can do to prevent the spread of the virus is to take proactive measures to limit the occasions for potential exposure by reducing the number and size of gatherings within our community. These measures of “social distancing” are important not only for our own campus, but to do everything we can to slow the spread of infection in order to serve the public good as citizens of a global community.
For this reason, we are taking several measures:
- We will move to digital instruction for all classes for the rest of the spring semester.
- We will extend the Seminary’s reading period for one more week, through March 22, in order to prepare for this shift. Virtual classes will begin on Monday, March 23. Faculty and students will receive additional details from Dean Lapsley later today.
- Effective immediately, we are cancelling all public events, lectures, and chapel worship services through May 1.
- The Seminary Library will remain open for the Seminary community, though will be closed to the public.
- Student housing and dining services will remain open for those who choose to stay on campus. Students who choose to leave campus through the end of the semester will be reimbursed for unused portions of room and board. The Dean of Students will be in touch with additional details and further updates about campus life in the coming days.
- Regular Seminary operations will proceed, but there may be some reduction in services. There will be further guidance issued later this week about how these new guidelines will impact employees and operations.
- Guest lodging at the Erdman Center will be closed, effective March 16, until further notice.
- All Seminary-sponsored travel will be suspended through the end of March, at which time we will assess these guidelines moving forward.
This represents a considerable disruption for our residential community. Yet we are called to adapt in order to care for our neighbors and practice stewardship of public health, mindful that our decisions have consequences far beyond our campus.
You will be receiving additional information in the days ahead, and you can always refer to the alerts page. We have an exceptional team of people, representing every department in the Seminary, that is convening daily and working diligently to ensure that our essential operations will continue and that the educational experience will remain of high quality. The chapel office and student counseling office also stand ready to support your spiritual health.
We can have confidence in these plans, yet our faith rests in the peace that comes only from Jesus Christ. In these Lenten days, we remember that we do not need to dwell in the fear that fills our anxious world, but can abide in the promise that God’s perfect love is enough for us and for the world that God so loves.
Grace and peace,
M. Craig Barnes