Gustavus Extends Online Learning Through Spring Semester

Posted on March 17th, 2020 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Important Update on Gustavus Response to COVID-19
DATE: March 17, 2020

Members of the Gustavus Community,

I write today with an updated announcement on Gustavus measures in response to the fast-developing COVID-19 situation. First, however, I want to offer a personal note to members of our community.  

In times of uncertainty, we have always relied on each other. After a tornado devastated our campus in 1998, the greater Gustavus community responded with an outpouring of support and our students were able to finish their coursework. Today we are faced with a similar challenge–a global pandemic that is affecting not only our college, but all facets of daily life at home and abroad.

The College has made the difficult decision to extend its period of online learning through the end of the spring semester. Students are required to leave campus by Sunday, March 22. Individuals with extenuating circumstances may petition to stay on campus. Please read the forthcoming email from the Dean of Students Office for more specific information. We are also implementing work-from-home practices for as many employees as possible and significantly reducing on-campus services and building access.

Throughout this quickly-developing situation, we have followed guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal government is now asking citizens to limit gatherings to less than 10 people, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced yesterday that public spaces such as restaurants, bars, and entertainment facilities are closed to in-person service. Our primary goal remains the health and wellbeing of all members of our community. Right now, that means taking action to help slow the community spread of COVID-19.

It is with a deep sense of sadness that I write this message today. All along, we had hoped to resume normal operations and in-person classes in a few short weeks. As we prepare to face this situation together, there are three things I want you to know:

  • We will ensure that no student lacks food, a safe place to live, or access to online learning.
  • We will be sensitive to our employees’ needs.
  • We acknowledge that this is a time of disruption. We will take all reasonable steps to make this challenging period manageable for all members of the Gustavus community.

Our vision statement calls for us to act on the great challenges of our time. Sometimes that ambitious charge feels more abstract than real. Today, however, our commitment to acting on the great challenges of our time is immediately at hand. Today, we must answer that call.

Gustavus students, and seniors in particular, I feel for you during this difficult time. At Gustavus, so much of our learning is done in community–in classes and labs and residence halls, in rehearsals and at athletic practices–and that has been taken away from you. I ask that you remain engaged and committed to learning, and to each other, during this period of change.

Gustavus faculty, I know that you care deeply for our students and value face-to-face interactions, classroom dialogue, and hands-on learning. I also know that you will continue to care for and support our students in learning and growing even if we are not together in Saint Peter. Thank you for your commitment to helping our students complete their coursework.

Gustavus staff, you provide the behind-the-scenes effort that makes our community of learning possible. You connect with our students, support our faculty, and provide the home-away-from-home that makes our campus warm and welcoming to all.

Now is our time to step up and be good stewards of the Gustavus community as well as our local, state, national, and world community. We must aggressively practice social distancing to flatten the curve of this pandemic to protect our healthcare system and the most vulnerable among us.

I am grateful to all of you for your partnership, flexibility, and courage in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of one another and the community that we all hold dear.

Please watch for additional communications specifically to students, faculty, staff. The official College announcement is below.

Yours in community,

President Bergman

Gustavus Extends Online Learning Through Spring Semester

SAINT PETER, Minn. (March 17, 2020) — Gustavus Adolphus College will continue its suspension of in-person classes through the remainder of the academic year due to COVID-19, President Rebecca M. Bergman announced today. The College is currently preparing for a transition to online course delivery, which will commence on Monday, March 30 and continue for the rest of spring semester. Please see the information below for transition details.

Residential Life

Students are being asked to leave campus as soon as possible unless they petition the College and are approved to remain in the residence halls. The Dean of Students Office will contact students with further information, including housing and meal plan cost adjustments.

Commencement Exercises

Gustavus will hold on-campus commencement exercises for the Class of 2020. While we hope this takes place on Saturday, May 30, the College is committed to celebrating the accomplishments of our soon-to-be graduates with an on-campus ceremony when circumstances allow.

Essential Services and Building Access

Dining Service will be open to employees and students with permission to remain in campus housing; hours and offerings may be limited. Health Service and the Counseling Center will be staffed; students are encouraged to call to discuss available services. Campus Safety will continue to ensure a safe and secure campus. Gustavus Technology Services (GTS) will be available by phone at 507-933-6111.

Most campus buildings will be closed to students.

Events and Visitors

All events at Gustavus, whether sponsored by the College or an outside group, are canceled or postponed until further notice.

The campus is closed to all visitors and guests.

Faculty and Staff Information

Gustavus employees will continue to receive their normal pay and benefits through May 31 and will not be asked to use PTO/vacation in the event of personal illness or COVID-19 related responsibilities.

Faculty members should continue to prepare for online course delivery for the rest of the semester.

Staff employees will receive further guidance about preparing to work from home (if applicable) or providing staffing for continuing operations. Employees may be asked to assist with duties outside of their current responsibilities. If circumstances allow, staff employees may be recalled to on-campus work.

The College acknowledges that this is a fast-developing situation and will continue to monitor guidance from appropriate national, state, and local authorities. Additional communication will be sent to students, faculty, and staff as necessary.


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