ST. LOUIS — Students at Saint Louis University will wrap up their fall semester soon.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university decided to begin classes a week early, on Aug. 17, and end classes Thanksgiving week, with final exams taking place online the week of Nov. 30.
“Our decision to end classes by Thanksgiving was driven by concerns about a second wave of COVID-19 in the late fall, which has occurred,” said President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. “But most important in SLU’s successful fall semester has been the willingness of our students, faculty and staff to make essential adjustments, follow campus safeguards and care for each other.”
Safeguards at the university included a strict policy for face masks, requirements for social distancing and group gatherings, continued remote working for all non-essential employees, cancellation of all in-person events on campus, and limited access to campus for visitors.
SLU also reduced housing density on campus and set aside space for approximately 150 students to isolate or quarantine on campus.
“Our faculty have done everything possible to ensure we finished the fall semester as we planned,” said Interim Provost Michael Lewis, Ph.D. “In many cases that meant making adjustments during the term, including help for students who had to move from in-person to online instruction during the semester.”
According to a release from SLU, in August, all 3,500 residential students were tested for COVID-19 before they moved into campus housing. In September, SLU began weekly random testing of 10% of all residential students showing no signs of infection.
SLU also launched a rapid contact tracing program staffed by students pursuing master’s degrees in public health.
“While the semester was not without its challenges, I am so proud of how our students responded to the myriad of changes to life on campus and in the classroom,” said Debra Lohe, Ph.D., interim vice president for student development. “We were in conversation with student leaders throughout the semester and their insights and recommendations helped make our success possible.”
The spring semester will start Jan. 28, 2021, which is several weeks later than usual. SLU said it is planning for another hybrid semester in the spring with students on-campus.
“We will use the lessons we have learned from the fall semester in our planning for the spring,” Pestello said. “We know that the coronavirus will still be with us, but we will work to enhance the campus experience while doing everything possible to continue to keep our students, faculty and staff safe.”