USF opened campus buildings on August 3, 2020  and fall semester classes began on August 24, 2020. The university is adhering to the “Restore Illinois” guidelines presented by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, as well as the “best practices” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Will County Health Department.

To facilitate a safe and healthy return to campus, USF created a preparedness plan, approved by the Will County Health Department, that offers details on the guidelines and practices that will be in place and adhered to upon re-opening. For a quick overview of the plan, please review the university’s Fall 2020 Opening booklet. For detailed explanations on the various components of the university’s preparedness plan, please click on the appropriate content areas provided below or access an electronic version of the plan, available on the MyUSF portal. 

This preparedness plan goes into effect August 1 and will apply to all members of the USF community: students, faculty, administrators, staff, business partners (e.g., Ricoh, ABM), and all campus visitors.

As Saints United, we each have a part to play in keeping one another safe, and it is imperative our entire community understand and fulfill their role to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.  Everyone will be required to sign electronically a Statement of USF Community Expectations sent through the USF portal before returning to campus.  This Statement outlines principles all members of our community will be asked to agree to as a condition of returning to and remaining on any of the USF campuses.

I acknowledge that I have reviewed the expectations and information about USF’s practices and procedures as they relate to returning to the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of USF is to protect all individuals by establishing recommendations to minimize the risk of exposure and mitigate the effects of the virus within the community.

During this year of COMPASSION, I will demonstrate a greater mindfulness of others. I am committed to the safety and health of the USF community, both our students and employees, and pledge to:

  1. Wear a face covering and wear my USF ID.
  2. Exercise appropriate physical distancing.
  3. Practice frequent hand hygiene.
  4. Self-screen daily and take proper action if exposed.

I pledge to accept the responsibility to abide by the recommendations in order to keep my USF community and me as safe as possible.

 

Signature:                                                                       

Date:                           

 

USF believes that constant education and reminders to all will be necessary to help instill a culture of compliance with best practices.  It is hoped that if anyone fails to be compliant, those who observe the problem should first offer a friendly reminder, then tell the person that they are in violation of employee policy/student conduct rules, and subject to disciplinary action

The university is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for all employees. Vice Presidents should develop a return-to-work plan for their divisions in consultation with Human Resources as necessary. Return-to-work plans should consider staffing needs as well as facilities and operational needs. For academic units, department chairs and program directors will work with their deans and Human Resources partners.

Supervisors are encouraged to consider staffing approaches that always accomplish department objectives as well as ensuring adequate coverage in student-facing areas, while limiting potential for virus transmission, such as physical distancing provided by individual offices.  All employees are encouraged to return to work on campus after July 31.  Because USF is a service business – serving our students first and foremost and one another – it is our presence that creates a welcoming environment for all our students.

Employees who are in a high-risk group for COVID-19 or who live with someone or otherwise have significant contact with someone in a high-risk group should contact Human Resources to discuss a request for reasonable modification. Individuals should consult with their health care providers about their level of risk and need for a modification. Human Resources will work with the employee and their supervisors or deans on appropriate modifications, which may include remote work.

According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions (including pregnancy) may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
  • People with HIV
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Chronic lung disease (Including COPD)
  • Diabetes (Type 2)
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Severe obesity
  • Being immunocompromised
  • Chronic kidney disease (treated with dialysis)
  • Sickle cel

USF will consider a remote work option should the pandemic warrant the need for such at the discretion of the Vice President of the division and the Director of the department. 

Remote work is a temporary, informal arrangement between an employee and supervisor to work from a non-office location.  USF considers remote work to be a viable, flexible work option when both the employee and the job responsibilities are well-suited for it. Remote work is not an entitlement and it is not a university-wide benefit.

Temporary work from home guidelines and agreement for administrators and staff is located on the portal under Human Resources department.

The highest priority for USF is safety as students choose to return to campus.  Though there is a different risk than staying at home, some students value a face to face modality as well as an on-campus experience.  For many, USF serves as “home” and as the cultural and social anchor of their college experience.  USF following the CDC, public health and higher education officials have outlined ways to mitigate that risk.

Resident Students

Residence Education will communicate with all resident students prior to their arrival to inform them of the expectations to take responsibility for their own health and safety, to do their part to contribute to a healthy community living environment, and to follow university health and safety protocols. To view the COVID Housing Agreement visit: https://www.stfrancis.edu/the-usf-2020-2021-housing-agreement/ . The university has and will continue to take measures to mitigate disease and will provide education to support student responsibility for health and safety.

USF is working closely with CDC and IDPH guidelines to provide the core elements of a residential living and learning environment within the parameters of public health recommendations. Measures are being put into place include, but are not limited to:

  • In accordance with CDC and IDPH recommendations, Residence hall rooms will default to single occupancy. Residents will have an option for one roommate with signed waiver for Fall 2020.
  • Residence Education is holding up to ten beds with private bathrooms for quarantine and isolation housing on campus.
  • Placement of hand sanitizers and self-cleaning products, as well as regular cleaning of common areas and common bathrooms at least twice daily, conducted by ABM personnel.
  • Education on mitigation measures, and expectations that resident students wear face coverings in community settings. These measures will also include information about steps students should take if they become ill.
  • Residential guests will be limited to one at a time in public spaces. A residential guest is defined as an individual who does not live within the building. This includes residents of other buildings, nonresidential students, friends and family. All guests are expected to practice social distancing and wear face coverings. These guests can visit in public spaces such as ground floor lounges or open areas in the quad.
  • Room guest limitations of other students living in the same building as the room they are visiting are still limited based on the number of students who can socially distance within a room. The expectation of social distancing and mask wearing still holds.
    • Single Room Type: No more than 2 people in room
    • Double Room Type: No more than 3 people
    • Triple Room Type: No more than 4 people
    • Apartment and suite spaces: 1 additional in building resident per resident of occupying space

Residence Education will continue community building this year. However, the community building will be done with safety in mind. This includes limiting gatherings, adhering to social distancing and hosting virtual engagement where appropriate. For common spaces there will be posted limitations with continued expectation of social distancing and face coverings

  • Building Computer Labs – No more than 3 people at a time
  • Community Kitchens: No more than 2 people at a time
  • Laundry Rooms: No more than 2 people at a time
  • Lounges: Must be able to practice social distancing in these spaces
  • Bathrooms: Confirm entering the space doesn’t prohibit others from social distancing

Move-in Process: Freshman and transfer students will move in with staggered assigned times on August 21st. Returning students also will move in with staggered move in times on August 22nd and August 23rd. Check in will take place in Marian Hall. Regularly cleaned and monitored carts will be provided for assistance with move in. Students will be encouraged to check in digitally via their own cellular devices. Regularly cleaned and monitored laptops will also be provided for digital check-in if needed. USF will not have move-in volunteers to limit the number of people in the residential spaces during this time.

Student athletes and student leadership groups including but not limited to the following will move in with staggered times throughout August.

  • Fall Sports
  • RA/MA/SA’s
  • Orientation Board
  • Duns Scotus Honors students
  • International students
  • Peer Ministers
  • Student employees (Security, Ambassadors, Dining, Tutors for training and work purpose only)

 Isolation: Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or loss of taste/smell) should contact their health care provider immediately and should refrain from any unnecessary contact with others, including attendance at class, social events, etc. until they can be tested and are known to be negative. If their health care provider recommends testing, the student should enter isolation. USF will provide space in a house or apartment for the student to isolate.

Students needing isolation housing should contact Safety and Security at 815-740-3200. Students will need to bring all necessary supplies, including clothing, bedding, toiletries, and academic supplies when they enter isolation. Meals will be delivered twice daily and Residence Education and/or Wellness Center staff will contact students in isolation twice daily. The University of St. Francis will follow guidelines established by the CDC to determine when it is safe for a student to discontinue isolation. It will likely be at least 14 days since the last exposure.

Quarantine: Students who have been determined to have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to quarantine themselves for 14 days. While in quarantine, students should not leave their residence and should refrain from any unnecessary contact with others. If a student develops symptoms while in quarantine, they should contact their health care provider immediately. Students who develop symptoms while in quarantine will immediately be considered to be in isolation and will be moved to isolation housing if needed. Students who do not develop symptoms after 14 days will be able to leave quarantine. Students in quarantine will still be expected to fully participate remotely in class possible.

Quarantine-in-place: Students living in spaces with private bathrooms will quarantine in place. Students should not leave their residence once they are notified that they must quarantine. Meals will be delivered twice daily and Residence Education and/or Wellness Center staff will contact students in quarantine twice daily.

Alternative Quarantine housing: Students living in residence halls with communal bathrooms will be provided a temporary space with a private bathroom to quarantine. Students will need to bring all necessary supplies, including clothing, bedding, toiletries, and academic supplies when they enter quarantine.  Meals will be delivered twice daily and Residence Education and/or Wellness Center staff will contact students in quarantine twice daily.

Quarantine-at-home: When students return to campus in August, they will be asked if they can safely return to quarantine at home should the need arise during the academic year. If a student can return home and is determined to need to quarantine, they will be asked to return home to quarantine.  Students will need to bring all necessary academic supplies when they return home.  Students who develop symptoms should then isolate themselves while at home. Students who do not develop symptoms after 14 days will be able to return to campus (See conditions in 4.5.1).

Pre-Quarantine sequester is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Students who have been determined to have had close contact with a person suspected, but not yet confirmed, of having COVID-19 will be asked to sequester in place until test results are available for the person suspected of being infected. Students in sequester should leave their room only to use the bathroom and should wear a mask while outside of the room except to brush their teeth or shower. Students should also avoid interaction with others in the hallway or the restroom. Meals will be delivered to their room. Students in sequester will still be expected to fully participate remotely in class possible. If the test results are positive, the student will immediately begin to quarantine. If the test results are negative, the student can resume normal activities. Where students share a room with a roommate both students will need to sequester together until test results are available.

 
Commuter Students

In addition to the expectation that commuter students follow this plan and commit to self-screening before coming to campus, wearing face coverings and other guidance, USF holds commuter students accountable to the same general practices as residential students whenever on campus.

International Students

USF will follow the CDC guidelines for students who come to campus from abroad.  Our International Program Office (IPO) is communicating with international students that are not currently in the U.S. to plan their return so that they have the required fourteen days to quarantine before attending class or engaging with others on the campus.  For those who will need to travel directly to the university and have a housing contract USF will provide a room after July 31 (but no board) to self-quarantine.

Now more than ever, the university needs its entire community to adhere to best practices for protecting their own health and the health of others. As such, all students, faculty, administrators and staff as well as visitors on campus will be expected to follow health and safety general practices.  

Observing these general practices is done more out of concern for the health and safety of one’s self and others more than a requirement.  Supervisors will be responsible for implementing and monitoring these general practices in their areas and to address violations with their employees.  If necessary, concerns would be reported to Human Resources and the Vice President for their area.

With face coverings, it might be more difficult to recognize one another.  For security reasons, USF suggests everyone always wears their employee/student ID as we return to campus starting August 1.

Face Coverings

Face masks or face covering must be worn by all students, staff, faculty, administration and visitors while on the USF campus, except when alone in a private room (office, residence hall room) or in a private vehicle. Appropriate and limited exceptions may be made, for example while eating in the dining areas.

Important Notes:

  • Face coverings do NOT replace the need for physical distancing
  • Students will be asked to leave class if they do not have an appropriate face covering on
  • Both students and instructors will wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing throughout the entire class
  • Disposable face coverings will be made for situations that cloth ones are ill-advised (e.g. labs or wherever chemicals are being used)
  • Face coverings or any personal protective equipment should not be shared with another person
  • Consider carrying a spare face covering in case something happens to one

A starter kit will be provided to all students, faculty, administrators and staff.  The USF logo cloth face coverings should be sterilized after each use. 

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  Current CDC findings state that face shields have not been deemed effective and therefore, are only to be used in conjunction with a face covering or when other methods of protection are not available or appropriate.

Proper use and care of cloth face coverings:

  • Putting on the face covering
    • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering
    • Ensure the face covering fits over the nose and under the chin
    • Loop straps around the ears or tie straps behind head/neck
    • Throughout the process avoid touching the front of the face covering
  • Taking off the face covering
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering
    • When taking off the face covering, loop your fingers into the straps and pull the straps away from the ears, or untie the straps
    • Wash hands immediately after removing
  • Care, storage and laundering:
    • Keep face covering mask stored in a paper bag when not in use
    • Cloth face coverings should be replaced immediately if soiled, damaged (i.e. ripped, punctured) or visibly contaminated
    • Cloth face coverings may not be used more than one day at a time and must be sterilized after each use.
  • Sterilization
    • Wash in washing machine on HOT and hang dry or,
    • Hand wash with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, rinse and hang dry or,
    • Soak for 5 minutes in bleach mixture (1 gallon water and 1/3 cup bleach), rinse and hang dry

Please note: Disposable masks are designed for single use and cannot be cleaned between use.

USF will consider reasonable requests for individuals who cannot medically tolerate masks or other face coverings.  Reasonable modifications may include taking classes online and working remotely. Students should contact the Dean of Students who will work with the Wellness Center and/or Office of Disability, as appropriate. Faculty, administrators and staff should contact Human Resources. 

Physical Distancing

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best practices we can utilize to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and to slow the spread. Knowing that individuals can spread the virus without showing any symptoms and that infectious air particles are the most likely way to spread the virus, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if they have no symptoms. Physical distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at a higher risk of getting ill.

  • Stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from others (per current CDC guidelines)
  • Stay out of crowded places. On- or off-campus large gatherings/parties should be avoided unless strict adherence to physical distancing and face covering protocols can be observed until such time guidance would deem that they do not put the community at significantly greater risk.

Physical distancing is being implemented throughout campus:

  • Classrooms
  • Maximum occupancy has been determined for every classroom using the 6ft (2m) physical distancing guidelines
  • Many larger meeting spaces (e.g. Presidents room, Moes room, Turk Theatre, etc.) are being retrofitted into classrooms to accommodate larger classes
  • Desks, tables and chairs have been removed, relocated or taped off to accommodate physical distancing
  • Revised capacity limits for rooms must be observed as posted.
  • Meetings
  • Meetings will be conducted electronically, when feasible, if meetings need to be held in person, attendance will be limited to 50 participants or less to accommodate physical distancing. (according to the IL Reopening Plan)
  • Technology for remote work and virtual events will be used more frequently than is typical with on-campus operations.
  • Common Areas
  • Floor markings will be placed to demonstrate 6ft (2m) distance between individuals in locations where lines typically form
  • Tables and chairs have been removed, relocated or taped off to accommodate physical distancing
  • Revised room capacity limits will be posted by the entrance to all rooms/areas
  • Limiting occupancy in common areas and establish self-cleaning protocols for such shared spaces
  • Traffic Flow
  • Use stairs for vertical circulation rather than the elevators which have very limited occupancy.
  • Hallways are not used for congregating but for movement to maintain necessary physical distancing.

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is an integral part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Practicing hand hygiene, which includes the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR, i.e., hand sanitizer) or hand washing is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens. All community members are expected to wash or sanitize their hands regularly in accordance with public health guidance (CDC).

Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially before eating, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC also recommends washing hands after you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by others, such as door handles, elevator buttons, tables, or after adjusting face covering.

Hand sanitizer dispensers (with approved sanitizer fluids) have been installed around campus in classrooms, high traffic areas, and shuttle buses.

Respiratory/Cough Etiquette

To prevent the transmission of all respiratory infections (including COVID-19 and influenza), we expect community members to implement appropriate respiratory/cough etiquette as a standard precaution. Per the CDC, the following measures to contain respiratory secretions are recommended for all individuals:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use.
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Perform hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic hand wash) after having contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials.

Self- Screening for Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19 and Self-Reporting Daily

As Saints United, we each have a part to play in keeping one another safe, and it is imperative our entire community understand and fulfill their role to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.  In the past many (students and employees) have come to campus with a cold/illness intending to “tough it out” or “I’m not that sick.” Moving forward WE must build a new culture, in which WE protect each other from sickness, by staying home and remoting in. With this in mind, WE (students, faculty, administrators and staff) are expected to self-screen for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 daily. 

USF plans on utilizing a technology platform, which will be accessible to everyone in the university community. This platform will confidentially ask if any COVID-19 symptoms are present and then provide a clear message on what to do (e.g. come to campus, see your doctor, etc.). All students, faculty, administrators and staff will be expected to complete the questionnaire every day (ideally prior to coming to campus). Compliance is unlikely to be universal but will be monitored to ensure the community takes this need seriously. It could be helpful to keep a personal daily “close contact” log to facilitate investigation/contact tracing in the event that an individual develops COVID-19 illness.

Contact Tracing

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine until recovered, however to help determine the risk of potential exposure to others on campus, the Will County Health Department will conduct contact tracing through on-campus class attendance, athletic attendance, symptom screening, and talking with the individual who tested positive for any other potential exposures.  A trained health department contact tracer will then notify anyone who should isolate or self-quarantine. 

Information to share with contact tracer:

  • The date they first experienced symptoms
  • The testing date and location
  • The date test results were received
  • The last day they were on campus
  • The area(s) of campus where they have spent extensive time, both in the last two (2) days (for contact tracing) and over the last seven (7) days (for cleaning purposes)
  • The identities of USF students, staff, faculty, and administrators with whom they have had close contact.

COVID-19 Testing

Considerations for USF’s decisions on COVID-19 testing related to symptom monitoring and testing are informed by research data and guidelines from the CDC, IDPH, Will County health officials, and the American College Health Association.

The recommendations for COVID-19 testing continue to evolve, and, at the present time, CDC does not recommend entry testing of all returning students, faculty, administrators and staff.  Testing will assess a person’s infection status only at a single point in time. A person who tests negative in the morning may become infected in the afternoon, the next day, or the next week. Given this, the University will not require mass testing but is focusing on the critical importance of its prevention, mitigation, and monitoring efforts.  USF expects community members to follow personal safety practices at all times.

The only students required to be tested for COVID-19 will be student-athletes per NAIA guidelines.  Student-athletes will be mandated to be tested no more than seven days prior to their first competition of the season.  For further details, refer to Section 11.0 of this document.

The Wellness Center is currently prioritizing testing of symptomatic students for COVID-19 using molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests administered by Physicians Immediate Care in Joliet.  USF has arranged transportation, if necessary, to Physicians Immediate Care via an arranged service such as Medicar.  Additional contact tracing/expanded testing of asymptomatic individuals may be utilized in specific situations, such as localized clusters of COVID-19 cases on campus and other appropriate situations. This approach is consistent with the current recommendations of IDPH and the American College Health Association (ACHA). According to ACHA, “screening large numbers of students will likely produce no substantial public health benefit, and at very high cost.”

Employees who are sick should contact their primary health care provider for testing.

Temperature Checks

The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 present at illness onset vary, however fever, cough and shortness of breath are commonly reported. Therefore, in addition to daily symptom checks we will also get our temperature taken at building entrances and significant monitoring points (e.g. residence hall desk, weight room, etc.) through contactless temperature scanners. This information will not be stored, if a person registers an elevated temperature, they will not be able to enter the building.

  • Fever: any temperature 100.4o F (38o C) or higher
  • No fever: temperature below 100.4o F (38o C)

Additionally, contactless temperature scanners will be at building entrances and significant monitoring points (i.e. residence hall desks, weight room) to detect anyone that has an elevated temperature (100.4 o or higher) upon arrival at campus.  This information will not be stored.  If a person registers an elevated temperature, they will not be able to enter the building.

Privacy and Confidentiality

USF will treat medical information received by the contact tracer as confidential and will share information only as needed to ensure compliance with public health guidelines, directives and this plan. Names of impacted individuals will never be shared in public communications.

All community members are expected to help maintain the privacy and anonymity of individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure. Individuals who are able to identify the individual based on the circumstances are expected to be discreet. For example, it is okay to share you are quarantining due to a direct contact with an individual with COVID-19, but do not share the individual’s name. We want to be respectful and supportive of all community members through this crisis.

In accordance with the Clery Act, USF will inform the community if there is a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 on campus that could pose an immediate threat to the health or safety of the campus community. The determination of whether cases are linked and constitute an outbreak will be made in accordance with Clery Act and public health guidance.

Proper Actions if Exposed

Rapid case investigation and contact tracing are critical to containment strategies to limit the scope of any outbreaks of infection. Those containment strategies include isolation of identified cases and quarantine of close contacts of identified cases that occurred within 48 hours prior to symptom onset.

“Close contact” is currently defined by CDC as:

  • Living in the same household or residence hall room as a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19,
  • Providing care in a household for a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19,
  • Within 6 feet of a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes or more within 48 hours prior to the development of symptoms,
  • In direct contact with secretions from a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 or who was diagnosed with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed or sneezed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

Isolation and Quarantine

Containment strategies currently defined by CDC are:

Isolation: used to separate people infected with the virus from people who are not infected.

Quarantine: used to keep someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 but is not ill away from others.

Members of the USF community diagnosed with COVID-19 are expected to follow the CDC isolation guidelines to help protect the health of the greater community and prevent disease transmission. They should work under the care and direction of their medical provider to determine when they are able to return to campus or to the classroom. In general, individuals are expected to stay home until they receive a written medical release (employees submit documentation to HR@stfrancis.edu, and students submit documentation to Dean of Students, mrockafellow@stfrancis.edu):

  • Fever free for 72 hours without the use of medication, AND
  • Other Symptoms have begun to improve, AND
  • Additional 7 days of isolation, OR
  • 10 days have passed since symptoms began (whichever is longer).
  • If Asymptomatic, 10 days since the positive COVID test.

All members of the USF community should comply with recommendations to stay home and quarantine if feeling sick or if they have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Fourteen days of quarantine is required for any students or employees who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Residential students who are not able to isolate or quarantine off campus will be moved to temporary isolation/quarantine rooms. Residence Education has a coordinated care protocol with Dining, Health Services, Dean of Students, and the Wellness Center for students in need of this housing. Students will receive support to continue with their academics while in isolation or quarantine.  USF is not able to provide isolation or quarantine housing to students living off campus.

Faculty, administrators and staff will be supported to work remotely to the degree they are able while in isolation or quarantine.

If You Develop Symptoms or Been Diagnosed with COVID-19 (Isolation)

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are waiting for test results, or have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19 you need to follow CDC guidelines and isolate yourself from others.

  • Stay at home or in your residence hall room until it is safe to be around others
  • Student – contact your primary care provider or the Wellness Center 815-740-3399 for further advice
  • Employee – contact your supervisor (phone or e-mail) as soon as possible to report your absence and contact your primary care provider
  • If you are confirmed for COVID-19
    • Student – report this to Wellness Center
    • Employees – report this to Human Resources

The confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis will be reported to local and/or state health authorities by the health care provider that conducted the test. USF may also share the information provided by students and employees directly with IDPH. USF will work closely with state and local health officials on any recommended measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. USF community members who have been in direct contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis may be contacted by both USF and state or local health officials as part of contact tracing efforts.

 If You Have Been Around Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)

If you feel healthy but recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 within the past 7 days delay returning to campus for 14 days after your last exposure. Monitor symptoms and check your temperature twice a day.

Cleaning and Sanitization

Cleaning surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice for preventing COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings. The university has established cleaning protocols consistent with CDC, IDPH and ABM guidance, which include measures such as:

  • Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects in common areas. This includes cleaning objects and surfaces such as tables, desks, countertops, common area furniture, handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs, light switches, computers, vending/ATM machines, toilets, faucets and sinks. Disinfection cleaning by ABM will be done with EPA-registered disinfectants approved for use against the virus.
  • Frequently touched surfaces in high-traffic common areas will be cleaned at least twice daily by the ABM. Frequently touched surfaces in areas with less traffic will be cleaned once daily. Please note this change will limit other work and services performed by custodial staff. For example, private office areas may be vacuumed less. Staff can assist by moving waste to hallway receptacles and by utilizing the self-use cleaning station supplies to clean personal spaces. Resident students are responsible for cleaning their personal spaces.
  • Community members will be asked to safely assist by cleaning in areas they use with provided cleaning supplies, such as classroom desks, seats and podiums.
  • Drinking fountains will be shut down to prevent mouth contact with the spout. Everyone is encouraged to use reusable bottles and refill them without contact at the working filling stations.
  • Maintenance staff will use various combinations of engineering controls, administrative controls, safe work practices and additional personal protective equipment when working or cleaning in an area that has been assessed as a higher risk exposure area.
  • Virex II 256 will be the primary disinfectant, as approved by the CDC and EPA.
  • Electrostatic Spraying Equipment utilized in classrooms/meeting spaces.

Students, faculty, administrators and staff may not use another person’s personal protective equipment, phone, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, workstations, offices or other personal work tools and equipment. Shared equipment, such as copiers, printers, microwaves, should be properly disinfected.

USF will follow the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting area for a confirmed COVID-19 case: 

  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area if possible.
  • Wait 24 hours before cleaning or disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls.
  • Vacuum the space if needed with high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter, if available.
    • Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms.
    • Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
  • Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use.
    • Students and employees who were not within close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
  • If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
  • Continue routine cleaning and disinfection. This includes everyday practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment.

To support community members who cannot work or attend class due to illness or quarantine, St. Francis will provide flexible leave policies.

Students

USF has faculty-approved attendance policies that were developed before the era of COVID-19. Since the arrival of the pandemic, faculty have been flexible in accommodating student needs that relate to COVID-19.  During this pandemic:

  • Faculty are asked to take attendance in all courses and/or to include activities that measure student attendance/engagement. This not only holds students accountable but may also help with identifying students in distress or assisting, if needed, with contact tracing efforts.
  • Faculty should clearly outline attendance expectations in their syllabi.
  • Faculty are asked to work with students who are unable to adhere to class attendance policies that would make sense under typical conditions.
  • Students may be unable to attend class sessions in person if they are 1) a member of an at-risk group, 2) in isolation or quarantine due to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19, 3) caring for a child or someone who is ill, or 4) unable to travel to campus.
  • Additionally, students may be unable to attend in-person or online class sessions if they are ill or require a modification.
  • Students are expected to communicate with their professors about absences in a timely manner, i.e. before class sessions. Students should also be proactive about working with their professors to make up missed coursework.
  • If students are unable to finish coursework within a term or semester due to illness, they may be eligible for an incomplete grade based on current policy.
  • Each college/school/department will develop specific policies regarding whether remote access to classes will be regularly available for all students or reserved for students with a clearly defined and approved reason.

Students who are in a high-risk group for COVID-19, who live with someone in a high-risk group, or who are otherwise unable to come to campus will have opportunities for online coursework. If a required course is not available in a fully online setting, departments and deans will work with students to ensure they are able to enroll in courses that allow them to continue making progress toward their degree.

The student appeal process will be used should a student have a concern.  An ad hoc COVID-19 committee (appropriately staffed e.g. with Office of Disability Services, Wellness Center, Office of Institutional Diversity) will review the concern in a manner consist with the ordinary process.

Employees

Employees may be unable to come to campus if they are 1) a member of a high-risk group or live with someone in a high-risk group, 2) in isolation or quarantine due to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19, or 3) caring for a child or someone who is ill.  If a modification is necessary for the employee to temporarily work from home, a note indicating such from the employee’s doctor needs to be submitted to Human Resources.

Faculty members who are not seeking a modification due to elevated risk but who would prefer to teach fully online in fall should consult with their department chair and/or dean to discuss options that balance their preferences with the needs of their program and their college. Guidance and process for making these requests will come from deans.

USF has numerous paid and unpaid leave options in place for all employees who are not able to work due to illness or quarantine. Employees who are quarantined but able to work from home are expected to do so. Employees who are not able to work may use available leave time.

  • If an employee is unable to work due to illness or quarantine, your time away from work should be recorded using the SICK earnings code and writing COVID in the comments section.
  • Short Term Disability would be available if an employee remains ill and needs to stay home after 21 calendar days (known as the benefit waiting period).  This 3-week benefit waiting period will be covered with an employee’s earned leave time (Sick hours and, if not enough, earned Vacation hours).  Employees should contact Human Resources to start the short-term disability process through Guardian at the beginning of the initial illness.
  • An employee who is sick, whose family members are sick or if the employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need may be entitled to leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) or FMLA under certain circumstances.  A bona fide need for leave would be for care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19. The FFCRA provides a certain amount of paid or partially paid time off. The FMLA, which could be used in connection with the FFCRA, entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month rolling back calendar year for family or medical reasons. 

USF is committed to creating a safe instructional experience for students and faculty, while continuing to provide the holistic and personalized education for which the university is known.  Various plans are in motion to prepare for welcoming faculty and students back in the fall.

The Faculty Development Work Group is putting together peer-to-peer (synchronous) training sessions from July 20 to August 14. In addition, a Canvas course is being created with curated video (asynchronous) and text links for all professional development topics; this will be made available to all faculty members on Monday, July 20.

This section provides an overview of instructional plans that relate to all academic programs, including those at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Further details will be provided by Academic Affairs, deans and department chairs/program directors. Students and faculty who have specific questions should contact the dean or department chair.

Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

The University calendar has been altered to adapt to COVID-19 and to provide a larger gap between the end of the Fall 2020 term and the beginning of the Spring 2021 term.  Specifically,

  • USF’s Fall Break (originally scheduled for October 19th through 23rd) is being moved and shortened to Tuesday & Wednesday, October 6-7th.  This means the semester will now end one week earlier on Friday, December 11th.
  • All on-campus, face-to-face classes will move to an online format after Thanksgiving Break, which begins on November 26th.  This change applies to the two final weeks of the semester (the last week of classes and finals week).
  • Shortening the semester in this way moves commencement to Saturday, December 12th.

Student athletes in fall and winter sports will be able to stay on campus and participate in late season games, as necessary.

The Academic Task Force, in consultation with their colleagues and Deans, developed plans for Fall 2020 instructional experiences that took into consideration:

  • The in-person learning component is highly valued by students in many of our programs, who seek it out as part of the “USF experience,” and being on campus and in the classroom provide crucial social and intellectual support for many of our students, especially those who have experienced marginalization.
  • In-person instructional experiences have been designed around the health and safety protocols outlined in Section 4.1-5 of this plan.
  • Some faculty and students will not be able to come to campus for teaching and learning due to their own health-related risks or that of someone they live with.
  • We may have periods of short-term or extended absences for students and faculty during fall, which we will need to accommodate.
  • A spike in COVID-19 cases in the fall or other factors could require a return to fully virtual teaching and learning. There may be limited exceptions for activities that cannot be done virtually, that are considered indispensable to the university’s core mission, and that can be conducted within rigorous standards of safety and welfare.
  • Altering the gap between classes from twenty minutes to thirty to allow for more time for cleaning and “aerosols” generated simply through speaking to settle (minimum of 17 minutes).

Course Delivery Models for Fall 2020

Transition time between classes has been extended to 30 minutes versus 20 minutes as in the past.

Course ModalityModality CodeDescription
OnsiteAClass will meet on site on posted days/times with necessary practices including face coverings and physical distancing as required by USF
Blended OnsiteYClass will be a blend of onsite class meetings and remote learning via asynchronous online or live video
OnlineZInstruction will be via asynchronous (not live) online activities with no onsite class meetings
Live VideoVClass will meet using live streaming video at the scheduled class times; there will be no onsite class meetings

Technology to Support Instructional Models

USF has implemented a variety of technology and equipment upgrades including increased data network speeds to support more seamless transitions between hybrid, live, and asynchronous audiovisual classes and meetings, software for remote test proctoring, recommendations through our bookstore for student computer needs, and new laptops for any full-time faculty members.  Standards for student connectivity to our new multi-mode course offerings have also been adopted and are available at the Tech Support web site for future reference.

Fall 2020 Off-Campus Instructional and Field Experiences

Each college will establish protocols for its Fall 2020 off-campus instructional and field experiences, including service learning, internships, clinicals, and volunteering, in alignment with public health guidelines and the guidelines of the host organization.

If you are enrolled in an off-site or clinical experience (e.g., nursing clinical or student teaching), your instructor will be contacting you with information about how the course will be conducted.

Fall 2020 Study Abroad Experiences

All study abroad experiences have been cancelled for Fall 2020.

USF’s contracted food service supplier has strategies to support physical distancing in all dining locations working through guidelines from CDC, IDPH and the state licensing agency to create the safest dining environment feasible.  Dining Services will take a multipronged approach to providing an enjoyable and safe dining experience when students, faculty, administrators and staff return to campus in the fall. Patrons will notice many changes – from fewer tables and chairs and line control mechanisms, to the use of Plexiglas shields and new cashless payment options.

Planned strategies include:

  • Maintain physical distancing in dining areas, including but not limited to:
  • Revised occupancy capacities with fewer tables and chairs
  • Encouraging the use of to-go meals
  • Adjusted staffing levels and increased cleaning rotations
  • Line control staff to help manage the number of patrons in a serving area at a time, as well as the use of floor markers, one-way service lines, etc.
  • Practice good hygiene and reduce the risk of exposure to germs, such as:
  • Requiring the use of masks or other face covering when not eating, including while in line to receive food
  • Hand sanitizers at entrances and exits
  • Cashless payment options as available, contactless credit card readers and mobile ordering
  • Removal of reusable options (mugs, coffees, sodas, etc.) and self-service items
    • Replacing small wares (napkins, utensils) with prepackaged items
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas throughout the day

USF Department of Athletics is partnering with officials from NAIA and the CCAC to address testing and contingency plans for fall sporting events.  A more detailed document is available from the NAIA website.

All student-athletes and coaches must receive a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no more than seven days prior to the first competition. If a student or coach tests positive during initial testing, he or she must receive a negative test result prior to returning to competition. If a student or coach is unable to test during seven-day window prior to the first competition, he or she then must be withheld until a test can be conducted and must receive a negative test result before his or her first competition.

Student athletes will hear from their coaches about steps that will allow them to train and compete safely.  Beginning August 15, per NAIA, coaches, student-athletes and those in close contact with student-athletes are required to be screened each day a practice or team activity occurs. 

For competition, all game-day participants (student-athletes, coaches, support staff, officials, etc.) are required to be screened within six hours of the beginning of the contest. All screening must be done by an athletic trainer or designated healthcare professional. The screening process will identify student-athletes, staff or other game-day participants who should be withheld from participation and referred for further evaluation or COVID-19 testing.

USF does not expect to hold large athletic events with large capacity crowds given the limitation of gatherings of fifty (50) individuals.  Other options could include required spacing or broadcast-only events.

Due to the limited number of individuals able to use the weight room and fitness center on campus at one time (10 in each area) , access times to these areas for general student and staff use will be posted at the entrance to these areas as well as at the main entrance to the Sullivan Center at the beginning of each month.  Users are expected to maintain physical distancing and clean equipment prior to and after each use with sanitation supplies provided.  Inwood Athletic Club is also available for student and staff usage.  Club access regulations can be found on the Joliet Park District website or by calling 815-741-7275.  Alumni and other outside guests will not be able to use these facilities until further notification.

The university will continue to offer traditional support services to students. Support services, including student life, Academic Resource Center, and Counseling from the Wellness Center may be offered in-person or remotely. Health and safety protocols will be followed.

USF Wellness and Counseling Centers (Joliet campuses)

The USF Wellness Center located in Tower Hall, Room S213 (815-740-3399) has an RN available Monday – Thursday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.  It will maintain typical (non-COVID-19) health services.  The Counseling Center is located on Motherhouse third floor, Rm. 310, and can be reached at 815-740-3598.

COVID-19 causes many to experience issues such as anxiety, depression, etc.  The Counseling Center is there to help with group and individual services.  As with any health need, it is best to seek services early.  The Center will continue to provide for needs during this pandemic.  The staff will stagger appointments to facilitate physical distancing during face to face visits as well as coordinate remote connections.

In order not to add to the health concerns from the COVID-19 virus and further reduce the stress on our local health system this fall, employees are encouraged to get a seasonal flu shot. Seasonal flu shots for the campus community (students, faculty, administrators and staff) will be provided this year.

Counseling Service (Albuquerque campus)

Students at the Albuquerque, NM campus may access counseling services through The Solutions Group at 505-254-3555.

The link to the NMDOH testing information is https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html.  The NMDOH has an array of resources available at https://cv.nmhealth.org/.

Student engagement activities must follow university health and safety protocols. Management of extracurricular activities including intramurals, club programs, etc. will be evaluated by appropriate offices to determine which can occur safely under the physical distance guidelines.  Those that cannot will not be allowed.  There will be no campus large gatherings/parties until such time USF concludes that they do not put the community at significantly greater risk.

  • Student clubs and organizations will be encouraged to engage online through virtual fairs and meetings. Clubs will continue to manage club rosters, communication and marketing. Any in-person meetings will be required to follow university guidance and policies, including use of face coverings and physical distancing.
  • Campus-wide programming will also be encouraged to engage online, with some events having the potential for in-person components (e.g., using multiple rooms with streaming for events or trainings, shifting in-person games to larger halls, etc.).
  • Off-campus programming/experiences will require approvals and must follow university guidelines for transportation, site expectations, setup and waivers.
  • In-person events and programs must follow university guidelines such as physical distancing, cleaning processes and others.

To continue to protect the community, all campus events have been canceled through August 1. This includes all internal and external clients and groups.

Events and reservations will continue to follow IDPH and CDC guidance on physical distancing, as well as room and meeting capacities through the fall. USF will work with event hosts on options for physical distancing events and following IDPH guidelines in Phase IV of a maximum of 50 individuals.  The EVENTS SET-UP FORM has been updated to include additional questions for health and safety.  This will include some necessary tracking method for contact tracing.

All university-sponsored travel for professional development has been suspended until further notice. Community members who are considering personal travel should read the CDC’s travel health notices and be prepared for isolation or quarantine before returning to campus. USF may impose travel-based quarantines based on public health guidance and information on community transmission. Students who travel internationally or who are coming to the U.S. from a foreign country are expected to follow CDC and/or State Department guidance on quarantine.

If health precautions are taken and general practices are observed, field trips will be allowed.

Inter-campus shuttle service will begin on August 24, 2020. The University’s shuttle service will adhere to the guidance of APPA (Association of Physical Plant Administrators) regarding ridership numbers and operating standards recommendations.  The health and safety measures that have been adopted include:

  • Electrostatic cleaning units have been purchased and will be used on our shuttle buses for deep cleaning/sanitizing daily.
  • All passengers will be required to wear face covering. Plexiglas shields between the driver and passengers will in place on each shuttle.
  • Reduced passenger capacity on each shuttle to ensure adequate physical distancing of passengers
  • Hand sanitizer available on all shuttles.
  • Drivers will regularly sanitize high-touch point surfaces and bring in fresh air from the outside (roll down windows) for increased air exchange in these enclosed spaces.

The University of St. Francis is committed to ensuring a safe environment for its visitors to campus. These visitors will also have important roles to play in safeguarding the health of our community members. As such, the university will require all visitors to follow all university established protocols while on campus.

As with community members, any visitor who is sick is expected to stay home and not come to campus. All visitors and guests will be required to wear face coverings while on campus, use hand sanitizer/wash hands, have their temperature taken upon arrival on campus, and answer health screening questions before coming to campus.  If a visitor answers “yes” to any of these questions, they may not enter or remain on campus.

University Ministry will reopen the St. Joseph Chapel in the Motherhouse as well as the Tower Hall and St. Clare campus chapels once the Ministry team is approved as such by the Diocese of Joliet.  Physical distancing practices will be enforced, steps will be taken to reduce the number of common objects attendees may touch, and sanitization and cleaning protocols will be followed.

Daily Mass will begin on August 3rd. Capacity is limited in accordance with state and diocesan guidance.

 Among other steps, the following actions have or will be taken:

  • Eucharistic celebrations will be in accordance with state directives limiting the size of group gatherings.
  • Hymnals have been put into storage.
  • Holy water fonts will remain empty.
  • Signage, aisle markers and pew limits will be used to enforce physical distancing.
  • Cleaning will take place between services.
  • Face coverings will be required for attendees.
  • Only cantors will sing; congregational singing will be discontinued.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available and Eucharistic ministers must use it before distribution.
  • The chalice will not be offered.

The university is developing plans to respond to a possible surge in cases on campus or in the community. Such plans will be consistent with public health guidance and directives. A surge in cases or other external factors may affect campus operations, including changes to dining or residence hall operations or a possible need to return to online classes and closure of residence hall(s). Factors that will be considered include:

  • Government directives, e.g. mandate from local, state, federal government or health department.
  • Level of transmission, e.g. 5% of students living on campus infected (suggested number locally).
  • Identified percentage of face-to-face employees are infected
  • Options for reducing transmission risks
  • Community compliance with protocols
  • Community compliance with protocols and the ability of the university to effectively manage on-campus cases
  • Local hospitals have reached an identified percentage of occupancy for bed

If a surge in cases locally or nationally causes USF to put some or all classes online, USF will be prepared to continue and complete courses online. Tuition and fees will not be refunded. If residence halls are closed, charges for residence hall rooms and meal plans generally will be prorated. The university refund schedule will be updated to reflect refund policies in the event of residence hall closures.

The University will communicate with constituents as quickly, thoroughly and accurately as possible regarding COVID-related planning, preparedness, and policy. This Preparedness Plan will be communicated to all students, faculty, administrators and staff as well as visitors by posting the Plan on the University’s website and promoting through email and social media. Additional communication and training regarding COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures will be ongoing through a variety of means, including:

  • Campus signage
  • New employee and new student orientations
  • Direct communication from USF and supervisors
  • Communication with students as they prepare to move to campus and start classes
  • Ongoing communications to the community as circumstances and regulations related to COVID-19 and this plan change

In order that all communications convey accurate and timely information, send a unified message, are simple and clear, and align with the core mission and values of USF, the Crisis Management Team will have the final oversight before any campus area sends a message regarding COVID-19 initiatives. Click here to see previously-issued COVID-19 emergency alerts and communications from spring and summer.

The health of our community is paramount as we return to campus. USF students, faculty, administrators and staff are expected to comply with this plan and all accompanying policies and procedures. The first step in creating a community that adheres to these policies is education. Prior to returning to campus, the university will provide education for all students, faculty, administrators and staff about the spread of COVID-19, mitigation strategies, and the rationale for campus policies and procedures related to COVID-19.

We recognize that building a culture takes time. It is important that ALL members of our community take personal responsibility for their actions, follow their own personal safety plans, and remind each other of the importance of protocols such as wearing masks or other face coverings, health and safety practices such as hand-washing and physical distancing.

Students are expected to uphold all policies, plans and protocols related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Students who are repeatedly documented for being noncompliant with COVID-19 established expectations or who engage in egregious violations will enter the student conduct process and may be subject to discipline in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. These expectations extend to students who live off-campus in our neighborhood.

Employees are also expected to uphold all policies, plans and protocols related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We are trusting that employees will willingly comply with and promote COVID-19 established expectations.  Employees who violate established health and safety expectations may be subject to discipline in accordance with the USF policy manual.

Students, faculty, administrators and staff will be required to sign a form “Statement of USF Community Expectations” acknowledging that they have read, understood and commit to following these protocols whenever on campus during the full extent of this pandemic.

As Saints United, “In my actions, I am St. Francis.  Together, we are St. Francis!”