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.