USF moves to temporary online-only classes as a COVID-19 precaution

March 11, 2020

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – University of Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, sent a letter to the campus community today detailing the university’s plans to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Here is the letter:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The University of Saint Francis has been monitoring the continuing concern over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preparing for ways to help ensure the best possible safety and health of the USF community. Please read this letter carefully and in its entirety as it addresses several issues and plans for the weeks ahead.

After much discussion about the best approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, USF will move classes and labs at its Fort Wayne campus and USF Crown Point site to an online format for at least the next two weeks.

While this move to online classes may be challenging and inconvenient, by avoiding face-to-face interactions, the chances of students and others contracting COVID-19 should be reduced.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 among USF students, faculty or staff, but it has spread to various areas of Indiana and the university wants to limit the potential of any exposure that would affect our campus community.  This decision is in line with the preparations announced by the university on March 5 and posted at https://news.sf.edu/2020/03/05/coronavirus/.

I ask for your patience and cooperation as we navigate the path ahead.

The USF plan includes:

CLASSES: All classes and labs on the Fort Wayne campus and the USF Crown Point site will be changed to an online format, beginning March 16 and continuing for at least two weeks. Separate guidance will be provided by individual academic programs for students in clinical experiences or internships. On or before March 25, the university will announce whether to resume in-person classes for the week beginning March 30 or continue online-only instruction. There are no changes in Virtual Campus courses.

STUDENTS IN RESIDENCE HALLS: Students in the residence halls have the option of choosing whether to return to campus or not after spring break, which ends Sunday, March 15. Residence halls will be open for those who choose not to return to their permanent homes. The library, laboratories and dining hall will also remain open, with posted hours. All resident students will receive additional communication detailing how they must register their intentions on whether they need to remain in residence halls. Further information will be available at https://news.sf.edu/category/coronavirus.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING SITUATIONS: Individual programs will communicate with students about their participation in clinicals, practicums and other experiential learning situations.

LAB WORK: Faculty will devise a method for virtual laboratories or work with their program directors, chairs and deans on alternate plans.

FACULTY: The Fort Wayne campus and USF Crown Point site remain open.  Faculty members are not required to come to campus or go to their site if they can work on their courses remotely. Faculty can come to campus or go to their site to conduct work they cannot do remotely.

STAFF: The health and well-being of our staff is also a main priority of the university. Currently, regular campus operations will continue, and staff will work as usual.  The university is monitoring the situation locally and preparing to possibly transition staff to work remotely if warranted.

ATHLETICS: Athletic spring competition will continue as scheduled for the time being. The university will monitor the situation and make decisions about future events as needed.

OTHER EVENTS: Other campus events will be addressed and adjusted on a case-by-case basis.

OTHER SITES: There is no change in course instruction at St. Elizabeth School of Nursing in Lafayette.

As the situation develops further, USF will communicate updates in a timely manner. As information is updated, it will be available via the University News page at https://news.sf.edu/category/coronavirus. Students, faculty and staff should check regularly in the coming days for updates and additional guidance.

I would remind everyone of the precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for personal care. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing. You should also avoid touching your face, avoid contact with sick people and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. These are some of the small acts that can make a big difference in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

USF is taking extreme precautions on campus with regular and extensive cleaning.  Signs are posted on campus encouraging personal health actions and other steps recommended by the CDC.

Thank you for your support of USF, your commitment to our Franciscan values and your commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. As we face the uncertainty of this health situation, I am grateful for the ability to work together as we move forward.  Please pray for everyone affected by COVID-19 throughout the world and for wisdom to deal with the decisions that need to be made.

Peace and many blessings, Sister Elise

Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF
President, University of Saint Francis

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership and School of Creative Arts. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the university’s business and music technology programs while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis campus experience includes 16 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships and is recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.