COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS FALL 2020

Effective July 17, 2020

As we prepare our community for a return to campus, there are a number of things we want you to know as we celebrate the opening of the fall semester. As you know, this landscape is ever-evolving, and there may be changes throughout the summer and fall. We ask for your grace and flexibility as we continue to strengthen our community.

More significantly, we have been in close and ongoing collaboration with the Gaston County Health Department and with the CaroMont Health organization. Our partnership with CaroMont in particular will provide us with access to necessary resources (testing, PPE, etc.) and updated pandemic information.

Testing

Currently, the college does not plan to require testing of students or employees before arriving on campus. We will require testing (see below) when symptoms occur or when there is significant “close contact” with a positive tested community member. Close contact is defined as between individuals beyond fifteen minutes without social distancing or PPE.  Additionally, presently the college will not require students to quarantine upon arrival from other states or countries.

What to pack

Please bring with you: facial coverings (more than one, so that you can wash them frequently); hand sanitizer (check for recommended ingredients); thermometers, and sanitizing wipes if possible.

Orientation

Orientation this year will look a little different and we appreciate your patience. We will employ a hybrid model of online content and small group programming. Students will be receiving an invitation to our online orientation course by August 1. Please complete all modules prior to coming to campus. Orientation weekend (August 14-17, 2020) will primarily be done in small groups with appropriate measures and social distancing incorporated. We consistently hear from students that small group time is one of the most valuable components of the orientation process so it will be critical that all participants abide by all guidelines and procedures.

 

Moving-In

In an effort to limit the number of people on campus and ensure a smooth and safe move-in experience for our new and returning students, residential students may only bring with them two helpers. Additionally, all new students will be assigned a time for move-in and will be guided through the process by student assistants. All students and helpers must wear a facial covering during the move-in process. Guests will be asked to leave on Friday afternoon, after move-in is complete and orientation has begun, and by Sunday afternoon for returning residents. We understand that this is a momentous occasion for you and your family but we appreciate your understanding and cooperation throughout this process.

Symptom-Tracking    

In addition to good hygienic practices and social distancing, all members of the Belmont Abbey College community will be expected to use a mobile screening app that is being developed and finalized now. More information and an invitation to download the app will be coming shortly. 

In addition to general health care, this app will allow for EVERY community member to engage in a simple question-based health assessment/health attestation each day. Our Wellness Center staff will monitor those who may be experiencing COVID symptoms and communicate next steps for a more robust health screening if symptoms are observed. 

Social Distancing (6-Foot Minimum)

We are modifying shared spaces including classrooms, dining facilities, residence halls, and other building spaces with staggered seating and adding some physical barriers to allow people to operate in the workplace while still maintaining a healthy physical distance from colleagues, community members and visitors. The outdoors provides the best environment for congregation in small groups while retaining a healthy social distance. If socially distanced outdoors, you do not have to wear a facial covering, though usage is still recommended.  

Masking

Community members must wear a mask for indoor classroom activities, dining (when not eating), and other official gatherings, appointments, and meetings. Masks are also required in congregating areas (i.e., outside classrooms) when social distancing cannot reasonably be observed. The college does not require masking when traveling inside, to, and from buildings/classroom settings but strongly recommends its availability given that unexpected meetings may prevent the maintenance of social distancing and mass congregating may occur. Participants in individual office meetings may mask or not at the discretion of the participants given the context (meeting length, physical space, number of participants, etc.) of the meeting. Community members will gracefully accept the requests for masking as needed.

Increased Sanitization

We have implemented heightened cleaning measures to ensure the strength of our community. We will disinfect common areas more frequently and provide complimentary sanitization products (wipes, hand sanitizing stations, etc.) in our spaces including classroom buildings and residence halls. In addition, we are analyzing the feasibility of other sanitization enhancements including HVAC system filters and UV lighting.

Entrance/Exit

Some buildings will have designated entrance and exit points as well as traffic flow requirements to mitigate the close contact of community members. All students, faculty and staff are asked to follow these directions closely.

Behavioral Signage

The college will remind the community of new cleaning standards, capacity protocols, masking, and social distancing reminders with strategically-placed signage. These will be consistent cues to community members and guests that the well-being of our community depends on our individual responsibilities.

Classroom and Instructional Delivery
The semester will begin in August as scheduled, with Evening classes beginning on Monday, August 17th, and Day classes beginning on Tuesday, August 18th. 

Wherever possible and necessary, academic spaces will maintain appropriate social distancing guided by current local and state mandates. The classroom seating has been modified to accommodate this.

When classrooms are not large enough for adequate social distancing, students will be split into cohorts. One cohort will attend class in-person while the other cohort(s) attends remotely via videoconference (Zoom) on one day and switch the cohorts for the next day of class. Classroom technology is being upgraded in every classroom to facilitate the delivery of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. 

To minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak of COVID-19 in late Fall and to help minimize community exposure from off-campus travel, the semester’s academic calendar has been modified as follows:. 

  • Classes will be held on Labor Day and the College will be open.
  • Fall Break (October 15th and 16th) has been changed to a regular class day on October 15th and a Community Service day on October 16th. 
  • Face-to-face classes will end on Friday November 20th, and residential students will return home. Classes held after the Thanksgiving break, beginning on Monday November 30th, will be held remotely and include final exams which will conclude on December 11th.

Dining / Holy Grounds

In order to operate the Dining Hall in the safest fashion, the College will only be offering one meal plan option for the fall 2020 semester. The plan includes 19 meals per week and $200 Crusader Cash. Portion sizes will increase, and the plan will allow multiple visits per meal period if desired.

On a scale of least, mid, and most physically distanced, the semester will begin on a mid-level. Dining Services will arrange tables for effective physical distancing. We will eliminate self-serve stations and replace them with associate-served options. We will wrap or associate-serve desserts. 

The Dining Hall will offer dine-in seating for 80 people indoors and 48 people outdoors. Carry out meals, “text to order” options, and the accommodation of special diet requests will occur. Holy Grounds will offer dine-in seating for 40 people with mobile ordering capabilities.  Both locations will no longer accept cash, plus contactless transactions as a new payment method exist.

We have placed plexi-glass health shield barriers at all registers and points of service.  In addition to daily temperature and wellness checks, all associates will wear masks and gloves replacing them every 30 minutes or less. Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting will occur every 30 minutes. We will use only disposable cutlery and dishware.

Hours of Operation  

Location Hours
Dining Hall

Monday – Friday

7:00 AM – 10:30 AM

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

3:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Dining Hall

Saturday

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Dining Hall

Sunday

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Holy Grounds Cafe

Monday – Friday

7:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Holy Grounds Cafe

Saturday and Sunday

Closed
Holy Grounds Grill

Monday

11:30 AM – 2:00 PM

(mobile ordering only)

3:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Holy Grounds Grill

Tuesday – Thursday

11:30 AM – 2:00 PM

(mobile ordering only)

3:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Holy Grounds Grill

Friday

11:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Holy Grounds Grill

Saturday

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Holy Grounds Grill

Sunday

Closed

For the fall semester, Belmont Abbey College will not allow outside guests in the residence halls, except for move-in and move-out purposes. Campus visitors may meet students in non-residential public or outside areas on campus, but are not permitted in residence halls at any time. Residence hall parlors, kitchens and other common spaces will either be closed or have occupancy limits posted.  Guests are defined as individuals not assigned to the specific living space (ie room, suite, or apartment). Visitors are defined as individuals not assigned to the specific living space and of the opposite sex. In addition, we are requesting students to not congregate or loiter in the rooms, hallways, breezeways, balconies, or common areas of the residence halls which could impede students’ ability to social distance in the shared spaces.

Residential suites will be treated as “family units” and residents of that suite can visit within it. Inter-hall visitation policies are suspended for the fall semester to limit the potential spread of the virus. Students looking to socialize should do so outside and within the guidelines of social distancing and masking.

At this time, lounge and lobby areas are available for student use. School-provided furniture and equipment has been arranged for social distancing and must be left in place. Additionally, students should observe the following social distancing guidelines:

  1. No more than 10 people in the common area
  2. Wearing a mask is strongly encouraged
  3. Maintain 6 feet distance between all individuals

Residential Bathroom Cleaning

Housekeeping staff are updating and implementing cleaning procedures in line with industry standards and CDC guidance. Housing staff cleans bathrooms and suite hallways each week day in the O’Connell, Poellath, Raphael Arthur, St. Benedict, and St. Scholastica Residence Halls. In the Cuthbert Allen Apartments, the bathrooms are cleaned once per week. Students are required to keep these areas free of personal belongings (no personal items should be left in the bathrooms on countertops, on floors, etc.) to allow for staff to thoroughly clean and sanitize the surfaces. 

Testing

Community members who through an exhibition of symptoms and health screening seem likely to have contracted the virus, must take a COVID test. CaroMont or Gaston County Health Department services will provide testing off-campus in most cases. Positive tests will require a self-isolation for 10 calendar days from the time of the test or until the release of a doctor. Students with a positive test must self-isolate at home unless otherwise requested and granted to stay on campus.

Tracing and Follow-Up

Positive tests are automatically communicated to Gaston County Health Department. The GCHD then assumes the responsibility for contact tracing. In most cases, individuals who have come in “close contact” with a positive testing individual must also take a test. Close contact is understood as exposure for fifteen minutes or more without social distancing or PPE.

At its very core, Belmont Abbey College is a community committed to grace and love, guiding each other to be a blessing to one another, serving as stewards and vessels of the true, the beautiful and the good. We strive to order our minds and actions towards “the good of all concerned” (RB prol:47).  

 In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Belmont Abbey College encourages all students, faculty, and staff to live out this core and especially the Benedictine Hallmark of Discipline. Discipline here is described as a way of focusing energy and attention on what matters most. To this end, this agreement encourages a commitment in attending to the needs and health of everyone in our community while showing respect and care for those concerned about the transmission of the Coronavirus. 

As a vital member of our community, it is important that we honor commitments to one another for the good of each person and to the continued thriving of Belmont Abbey College. Thus, we encourage the following to ensure a safe and healthy environment:

  •     A commitment to follow appropriate hygiene practices
  •     A commitment to social/physical distancing in various settings
  •     A commitment to abide by requests to utilize masks 
  •     A commitment to continual self-monitoring for health

We are asking each community member to embrace this covenant so that our community may continue to prosper. 

Community members who have personal circumstances that place them or other members of their family at risk will be given the opportunity for an exemption from campus for the fall semester. Exemption requests for students should be directed to Tom MacAlester, Dean of Students; exemption requests for employees should be directed to Cheryl Trotter, Human Resources.

Commonly Asked Questions

We will be testing any symptomatic members of the Belmont Abbey College community.

At this time, North Carolina does not have a mandatory 14-day quarantine for interstate travelers. We encourage those who will be traveling to campus to use the 14 days prior to the weekend of August 14 as a self-monitoring period. Should you or anyone planning to help you move to campus experience any symptoms, please do not come to campus until you are symptom free (please notify Residence Life should this be an issue for you).

We are working closely with CaroMont Health to provide testing to the Belmont Abbey College community. There are multiple testing locations close to campus that we can connect students to.

No. As in all cases, we will only be requiring testing of those who are exhibiting symptoms.

At this time there are no restrictions for students and other community members. However, in order to protect the campus community, students should be cautious when leaving campus and take care to maintain social distancing when they do.

In order to promote social distancing and comply with safety guidelines, visitation and guests are not permitted. Guests are defined as individuals not assigned to the specific living space (ie room, suite, or apartment). Visitors are defined as individuals not assigned to the specific living space and of the opposite sex. In addition, we are requesting students to not congregate or loiter in the rooms, hallways, breezeways, or common areas of the residence halls which could impede students’ ability to social distance in the shared spaces.

Housekeeping and cleaning staff will increase the level and intensity of nightly cleanings in the classrooms and classroom buildings.
Visitors and guests are not permitted at this time including parents unless absolutely necessary for moving in and moving out of the residence halls.

At this time, we will continue to abide by our current policies for withdrawal.

Under the guidance from the Gaston County Health Department and CaroMont Health, masking can drastically reduce the level of transmission, especially if all parties are masked. With this in mind, masks will be required in all official operations of the College and where social distancing cannot be maintained. Our College contains high and low risk populations so it is critical that all members of our community care for the health and safety of one another through appropriate masking.

We recommend a computer with WiFi and webcam capabilities as well as headphones or headset (if roommate is Zooming in class as well so as to not disturb). We discourage the use/purchase of Chromebooks at this time given some of the limitations in relation to remote learning environments. For a complete description of IT information for students, please consult the IT Support website.

Positive cases of COVID-19 will be asked to return home if reasonably possible. Students and parents are encouraged to keep an open line of communication through the semester and establish a plan if they need to return home. The College does have some beds available for quarantine if home is not an option.

Yes, tutoring will be available both in-person (at a reduced capacity) and well as enhancements for remote tutoring.

Housekeeping and cleaning staff will be increasing the level of cleaning in residence hall bathrooms and shared spaces. As communicated from Residence Life, students are encouraged to bring their own cleaning wipes and products for their rooms. Cleaning of campus and personal spaces will take collaboration and personal responsibility.

No. A student who is exempted from fall 2020 will not be charged for room and board.

June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

I hope you and your families are well.

Despite the health and economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything at the Abbey has been going extraordinarily well. There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 within the Abbey community, thank God, and we are actively engaged in preparing for the Fall opening in order to lessen the chance of any occurrence in the future. Belmont Abbey College has made the decision to open its residential and commuter campus this Fall for in-person instruction.

The President’s Cabinet, which includes leaders and experts from every area of the College community, has created sub committees and working groups to plan and prepare for the Fall opening. One important aspect of our preparation has been the incorporation of guiding principles rooted in our Catholic and Benedictine mission and tradition. By employing prudent, reasonable, and practical measures along with the appropriate exercise of each member’s free will, personal responsibility, and concern for safety, I am hopeful that we can minimize the spread of the virus while continuing to live in, and build up, the community we have all come to love and cherish.

To this end, effective June 1, 2020, the College has established protocol and policy for the reopening of the campus. Belmont Abbey College will take reasonable precautions, abide by federal, state, and local government mandates regarding COVID-19 restrictions, and continue to monitor and respond to recognized health agencies regarding COVID-19 recommendations. 

RELEVANT FALL DATES (chronologically)

Students participating on Fall sports teams will move-in on August 11, 2020. Conference Carolinas, and its member institutions, are committed to playing a full conference schedule including championship games.

Orientation and new student move-in begins on August 14, 2020. Physical distancing will be incorporated into the various programs. Move-in procedures for new and returning students will incorporate physical distancing and other procedures to promote both safety and hospitality. There will be no more than two students assigned to a residence hall room. Dining services will be conducted in a manner to minimize virus spread including modifications to eating spaces, take-out services, and server-provided meals. 

Evening classes will begin on Monday, August 17, 2020, and day classes will begin on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Classrooms, laboratories, and library facilities will follow the College’s updated safety guidelines which include new flex classroom arrangements to increase physical distance while preserving instructional integrity.

Classes will be held on Labor Day, September 7, 2020. Fall Break (October 15th and 16th) has been changed to a regular class day on October 15th and a community service day on October 16th. Face-to-face classes will end on Friday November 20, 2020, and residential students will return home at that time. Classes held after the Thanksgiving break, beginning on Monday November 30, 2020, will be held remotely and include final exams which will conclude on December 11, 2020.

We will continue to update the community on a regular basis and notify students, faculty, and staff if any member of the community tests positive for COVID-19. Students or faculty members who may need specific accommodations for the Fall semester due to existing health or medical conditions should contact Dr. David Williams, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Staff members with similar requests should contact their direct supervisor. Reasonable accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

I am profoundly grateful to you and the entire Abbey community for your sacrifice, perseverance, and resourcefulness in overcoming the many challenges of living through a pandemic. You are what makes the Abbey a special place.

I look forward to seeing you on-campus very soon. You, your families, and all of your good work will continue to be remembered each evening during our family Rosary.

God bless,

Dr. William K. Thierfelder
President

President Thierfelder
COVID-19 Principles and Protocols
Revised Academic Calendar 2020-2021

Belmont Abbey College COVID-19 Principles and Protocols

Welcome! As you join or return to the Belmont Abbey College campus for the Fall 2020 semester, we are mindful of the many blessings of community present at the Abbey. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reviewing our current operations so that students, faculty, and staff can return to campus in-person this August. We are so looking forward to seeing you!

This review and the following guidelines are built upon the Benedictine Hallmarks, concern for safety and the exercise of free will and personal responsibility.

Benedictine institutions have been challenged in many centuries, and the particular Hallmarks that guide us now in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are hospitality, stewardship, and conversatio.

  • Hospitality looks to serve the good (mind, body, and soul) of all who come to our campus community: how everything can best be arranged for all to flourish. This calls us now to take prudent actions in classrooms, residence halls, and playing fields to safeguard our individual and collective health while we continue the teaching, learning, and growth for which we all join together as a College.
  • Stewardship looks to the wise exercise of responsibility, not only over material resources but also in responsibilities to others. Maintaining the practices that limit the spread of the pandemic is a service given to everyone in our community, regardless of one’s personal risk from the disease.
  • Conversatio looks to the ongoing process of formation where each of us engages our specific situation and makes wise, though sometimes difficult, choices in the pursuit of excellence and virtue. In our present circumstances, prudent decision-making may call for different responses and actions from students, faculty, and staff to better enable our community to overcome the pandemic related challenges we face.

For this purpose, the College establishes the following protocol and policy effective June 1, 2020 until such time as conditions warrant its amendment or removal.

Belmont Abbey College will take reasonable precautions to renew operations in August, 2020. Belmont Abbey College will abide by federal, state, and local government mandates regarding Covid-19 restrictions. Belmont Abbey College will continue to monitor and respond to recognized health agencies regarding Covid-19 recommendations including:

  • Establish new on-campus protocols related to  cleaning procedures and accommodations for members of the College community  to reduce the incidence of the virus on  campus.  For example, the College’s Department of Maintenance and Facilities has increased daily physical cleaning of high touch surfaces and has added new hand sanitizer stations around campus. Further, the College’s dining services provider has implemented safety and service enhancements based on three alternatives that will allow for future changes in guidance from federal,state, and local authorities. 
  • Continue to communicate policy changes to the college community on a regular and consistent basis; and 
  • Notify students, faculty and staff as soon as possible if any member of the community tests positive for  Covid-19.
  • The College recommends the following basic prevention measures which may change from time to time as additional information and guidance from relevant agencies becomes available:
    • Frequent and thorough hand washing.
    • Anyone in the campus community with mild flu-like symptoms should self-isolate for two weeks. 
    • Follow respiratory etiquette by covering mouth and nose during coughs and sneezes.
    • Discourage the use of other individual’s phones, desks, or any other personal tools and equipment, when possible.
  • Community members including students who have been away for the summer, upon returning to campus in the Fall, will attest that they are not currently experiencing flu-like symptoms. A symptom check will be included in the on-campus process.
  • Community members who develop flu-like symptoms should self-monitor and self-isolate as is reasonably prudent in the short term. When symptoms occur, students should report that information to the Wellness Center; faculty and staff should report that information to their supervisors. Such information should be reported as soon as possible.
  • The College will fully cooperate with state and county monitoring practices for positive cases and will expect any community member to do the same.
  • A positive COVID-19 test will result in a communication being sent to close contacts of the student, faculty, or staff member to monitor them for symptoms. Anonymity of the person will be maintained as much as possible.

Students or faculty members who may need specific accommodations for the Fall semester due to existing health or medical conditions should contact Dr. David Williams, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, or his designee. Staff members with similar requests should contact their direct supervisor. Reasonable accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

  • The semester will begin in August as scheduled, with Evening classes beginning on Monday, August 17th, and Day classes beginning on Tuesday, August 18th. Classrooms, laboratories, and library facilities will follow the College’s updated safety guidelines.
  • Wherever possible, academic spaces will maintain appropriate physical distancing guided by current local and state mandates. When classrooms are not large enough for adequate physical distancing, students will be split into cohorts. One cohort will attend class in-person while the other cohort(s) attends remotely via videoconference (Zoom) on one day and switch the cohorts for the next day of class.
    • Classroom technology is being upgraded in every classroom to facilitate the delivery of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. 
    • Faculty or students who have been advised by medical professionals to remain in isolation should speak with Dr. David Williams or his designee to arrange for appropriate accommodations.
    • The College is not mandating the use of masks at this time, but individuals who wish to mask themselves may do so. Faculty members may request that their students wear masks.
  • To minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak of COVID-19 in late Fall and to help minimize community exposure from off-campus travel, the semester’s academic calendar has been modified as follows:. 
    • Classes will be held on Labor Day.
    • Fall Break (October 15th and 16th) has been changed to a regular class day on October 15th and a Community Service day on October 16th. 
    • Face-to-face classes will end on Friday November 20th, and residential students will return home. Classes held after the Thanksgiving break, beginning on Monday November 30th, will be held remotely and include final exams which will conclude on December 11th.

In preparation for a safe return of collegiate sports in the 2020-21 academic year, the Belmont Abbey College Department of Athletics has created several committees to assess and update athletic policies and procedures on an on-going basis. These working groups will monitor state and local mandates, NCAA and Conference Carolinas guidelines, and make recommendations to the Director of Athletics to improve current athletic policies and procedures at Belmont Abbey College. Additionally:

  • Fall sport move-in day remains August 11, 2020 as planned.
  • Practices and competition will resume  in-person and on a traditional basis beginning in August as NCAA and conference mandates allow.
  • Physical distancing will be implemented in training areas, treatment areas, and locker room spaces.
  • Enhanced cleaning of spaces will occur to minimize virus spread.

Since COVID-19 related developments remain fluid and guidance from federal, state, and local entities will continue to evolve on a daily and weekly basis, we will communicate any significant changes that occur. Coaches, athletic trainers, and staff will provide students with information and updates in the following areas: 

  • Student and Staff awareness, education, and training.
  • Pre-participation screening and risk assessment.
  • Isolation and quarantine procedures for affected individuals.
  • Athletic facility sanitation protocols
  • Daily athletics operations (home games, practices, workouts, etc.)
  • Travel for competitions and other athletics-related business.
  • Relative sport risk assessment and related sport-specific modifications.

As in other areas of the College, response to the pandemic will result in modifications to operations in Student Life offices and services. All members of the Office of Student Life are actively engaged in updating our 2020-2021 operations and procedures which include:

  • New student orientation activities in August
  • Residence hall move-in processes for new and returning students
  • Wellness Center (health and counseling) daily operations including updates to spaces, virtual screenings, appropriate communications, and community education
  • Large and small group activities and creative community building while being sensitive to physical distancing and the welfare of others.

As plans and guidelines evolve, we will update the College Community on both content and implementation. Additionally:

  • Orientation begins on August 14, 2020 as planned. Physical distancing will be incorporated into the various programs.
  • Move-in procedures for new and returning students will incorporate physical distancing and other procedures to promote both safety and hospitality.
  • There will be no more than two students assigned to a residence hall room. Rooms will be formatted to encourage physical distancing. Additionally, bathroom spaces will receive appropriate cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Dining services will be conducted in a manner to minimize virus spread including eating spaces, take-out services, and server-provided meals.
  • Clubs and other student activities will continue and will include physical distancing practices.