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Prepared SCU: Plan for Fall 2020


Dear Santa Clara University Community,

Less than two weeks ago, we ended our spring quarter with a virtual celebration as we proudly honored our undergraduate Class of 2020. Today, we write to you as we look ahead and continue our planning for the fall. Our next academic year will be unlike any other in Santa Clara’s history and will be guided by two principles: (1) protect the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, and (2) offer a rigorous, transformational education in the long tradition of Jesuit education. While grounded in these principles, our planning and preparations have also been data-driven, relying on the best scientific resources and public health guidance available, as well as our own faculty experts. 

We know how eager many of our students, staff, and faculty are to return to campus. We previously indicated that we would be providing updates on our plans for fall 2020 to our community by mid-summer. However, given the keen interest in the developing plan, much of which is still underway, we have opted to share decisions and updates as they become available—starting with some key items we share today. 

Our in-progress blueprint for a phased reopening of our campus is Prepared SCU: Plan for Fall 2020, with details on health and safety, teaching and learning, plans for campus life, and workforce guidance. We want to reiterate this plan could still be disrupted by factors out of our control, including future health orders from state and local public health authorities. Based on rapidly changing conditions and the need for strict safety protocols, this fall will be very different than a typical term. Please consult our website regularly for the latest information.

Our goal in all of our planning is to be nimble, to open campus to the best of our ability within mandated restrictions imposed by the state and county, and to robustly prepare for all likely scenarios and contingencies. We are grateful for the efforts of the more than 130 faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to get our campus ready for re-opening.


PREPARED SCU: Health and Safety

Physical facilities: Extensive health and safety planning has started around reconfiguring our classrooms, offices, and other campus spaces to accommodate physical distancing requirements. For example, traffic flow in hallways will be marked to limit congestion and we are conceptualizing how to safely utilize outdoor spaces. The University will implement more robust cleaning and sanitization of buildings, classes and public spaces. Additionally, we are outfitting cleaning supply stations in all classrooms and work areas so all students, faculty, and staff can help in sanitizing work surfaces. We are also implementing all HVAC recommendations from national and federal authorities. 

Mandatory actions, including face coverings on campus: To reduce the spread of the virus in our community, we will be putting in place a number of actions as recommended by our health experts and medical authorities in our country and state. These actions will be part of our commitment to each other to all do our part in stopping the spread of the virus. All students, faculty, and staff will be expected to:

  • Complete daily symptom screenings using an online form.
  • Not come to campus if you are sick or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Participate in SCU’s COVID-19 and contact tracing program.
  • Wear face coverings at all times on campus - indoors and outdoors.
    • Note: Face coverings do not eliminate the need to follow social-distancing practices - face coverings and social distancing complement each other.
  • Practice social distancing (6-feet minimum) at all times - indoors and outdoors.
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Practice good cough and sneeze hygiene.
  • Adhere to SCU's phased campus return strategy.
  • Participate in contact tracing, as needed, and periodic testing. (Additional testing information for the entire campus will be available in July.) 

Daily Symptom Checking, Screening, Testing, and Tracing: Testing will be a critical part of how we keep our community safe. All campus-based faculty, staff, and students will need to participate in an initial test, testing when they or a close contact experience symptoms, and other possible testing. We also will have a short quarantine period and initial test for all students, which will be available on campus through Cowell Health Center as well as a larger program (through a third-party provider). Finally, all community members who might be ill or have been near someone who was ill are also expected to test, notify SCU of their test results, and self-quarantine.

Given ongoing community transmission in our county, we expect to see positive cases on campus. Our planning and preparations include quarantine and isolation in addition to testing and contact tracing when cases of COVID-19 occur on campus. In an effort to ensure the safest campus environment possible, we will focus efforts and prioritize isolation/quarantine resources for students who live in an SCU residence hall or neighborhood unit. Students who live in proximity to campus in non-SCU housing may be offered space in SCU isolation space if available.

Housing and Dining: Residence halls and on-campus dining facilities will be modified to reduce density and reduce the likelihood of transmission. Take-out dining options will be expanded, and residence hall occupancy will be reduced, based on guidance from the CDC and our local health authorities. Please expect to receive more specific details on this by mid-July, including a new housing assignment process and move-in plans that support safety and social distancing. Stay tuned for more information including detailed FAQs and opportunity to sign up for webinars on these topics.



We are grateful for the flexibility and hard work of our staff and faculty.  To the extent possible, staff should continue to work remotely unless their job requires their presence on campus or they are unable to work remotely. With safety as our guiding principle, we will begin a phased return to campus that strives to protect all members of our community. At each phase, new populations may get clearance to re-occupy campus and additional campus buildings and work areas may be activated. Unless employees have been previously approved by a vice president or dean to perform an essential task on campus during the shelter-in-place period, they should not return to campus until they have been notified by their respective operating unit and supervisor to do so. Please note more information is on the website.

Supervisors will be asked to lead the implementation of the Prepared SCU: How We Work plan within their respective work areas. Numerous strategies will be employed to reduce transmission of COVID-19 among our community and promote a safer workplace, among them a continued emphasis on remote work where possible, alternating work or break shifts, enhanced disinfection, and employing quarantine or isolation practices for symptomatic or COVID-19-positive cases. Other protective changes may be made in the physical workspace as well, including removing tables, chairs or desks to ensure 6-feet of separation between employees, installing “sneeze” guards/barriers at reception and transaction desks where close-contact interactions occur, or decreased maximum room occupancies. Various resources on these topics are available or will be posted shortly on the Prepared SCU website.


PREPARED SCU: Teaching and Learning

Fall Undergraduate Calendar: As Provost Kloppenberg emailed to campus, the Sept. 21-Dec. 4 dates for the 2020-21 undergraduate academic calendar are unchanged. Students will complete the first nine weeks of the quarter on campus, with students not returning to campus after Thanksgiving, but instead taking Week 10 classes and finals remotely. This will help to reduce both the risks associated with travel during flu season as well as exposure of our community to the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Fall Study Abroad Program: As communicated previously, upon the recommendation of Santa Clara University’s Crisis Abroad Task Force, we have made the difficult decision to extend the cancellation of fall 2020 study abroad programs to include those with departure dates on or after September 1. Thus, all fall study abroad programs are cancelled this year.

Graduate and Professional schools: We have announced that graduate programs will be largely online, and will operate on calendars specific to their needs. Students will be notified about the schedules and specifics directly by their schools and programs. 

Blended and Virtual Courses: SCU undergraduate students can expect a variety of learning environments when they return to campus in the fall. We plan to adapt all courses in ways that will provide our students with a healthy and safe learning environment, maximum flexibility, and more options than previously available to engage with instructors and peers through different learning modalities.

Some courses will have content delivered virtually, with a blend of synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (pre-recorded) content, and opportunities for synchronous virtual engagement with faculty. Any student may choose to take some or all classes fully online (if fully online, some students may choose to forgo the on-campus experience). Many course offerings will include a blend of in-person and online instruction. Instruction in blended courses might consist of any or a combination of the following:

  • Hy-Flex (fully synchronous model): Faculty teach courses in-person with some students joining in person and others joining remotely
  • Flipped Classroom (asynchronous/synchronous mix): Lectures or other learning materials are shared with students for independent learning, followed by in-person and synchronous online class meetings
  • Dual Classroom (asynchronous/synchronous mix): Students take turns attending class in person; e.g., the instructor might teach the same synchronous lesson twice, while one portion of the class works independently or in groups on asynchronous material
  • Labs and Specialty Courses: Science and engineering labs, studio art, music, theatre and dance, and other areas that often require high-touch, close-contact interactions will be restructured to meet rigorous safety standards. Many will be offered in person with modifications designed to meet the challenges associated with in-person instruction in each of these disciplines. 


Class Schedules and Registration: We are exploring a number of strategies to provide in-person learning environments that are healthy, safe and optimal for learning. We are implementing enhanced safety measures in buildings and classrooms, including the appropriate flow of pedestrian traffic. We will follow best practices for social distancing in order to achieve the appropriate capacity and density level in each instructional space. Given the impact these factors will have on our classroom availability and capacity, we are also looking into expanding class times and identifying all potential instructional spaces on campus. Given the complexities and planning involved, a detailed update on class schedules and registration will be sent in August. 

Resumption of Research: SCU’s research resumption strategy aligns itself with the larger campus return schedule which emphasizes a reduced campus population for some extended period of time, gradually increasing the level of activity and density of our research spaces over four Research Resumption Stages. All research that can be done remotely should continue to be performed in this manner, including most general office activities, computational, theoretical, and non-experimental research, seminars, group meetings, etc. The initial stages of return are intended to focus on, and support, those research activities that require an on-campus presence. SCU’s Research Resumption Plan will prioritize a return to occupancy of on-campus experimental research labs, studios, and other areas that require an on-campus presence to perform research.


PREPARED SCU: The Student Experience

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Santa Clara University is busy adapting its rich array of student-life offerings to accommodate necessary safety precautions as we plan for a phased reopening of campus. We are busy planning and conceptualizing community-building activities and various virtual events, finding ways to safely utilize outdoor spaces, and creating opportunities for student engagement. Although we must modify our behavior to ensure everyone’s safety, we will use creative approaches to facilitate programs and events to further foster connections and relationships. Whether you will be with us in person in the fall or joining us through virtual offerings, we will offer our same, high-impact experiences that are a hallmark of the Santa Clara experience.

Athletics: Athletics continues to work under the guidance of their Santa Clara team physicians along with the West Coast Conference and NCAA. We will share more about fall sports soon.


PREPARED SCU: Our Path Forward Together

An enormous amount of work has already gone into this plan and more work is still underway. Our planning ensures that the essential work of the university—our teaching, research, learning, and service to the common good—continues. Our mission as a Jesuit university is all the more vital today as we address racial and other systemic injustice and form our students to be people of compassion, conviction, and conscience.

With the uncertainty of this pandemic and its ongoing spread, we are reminded how interdependent we are and the urgent need to work together to ensure the safety of our entire community. As individuals, we all share the responsibility and commitment to protect each other, and we all have an important role to play in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 on our campus. Every small act—even wearing a face covering—signals our care and concern for others.

Our leadership will continue to update you frequently on decisions and information on the fall including residential housing, testing, tracing, classroom and ongoing facilities planning and protocols. We encourage you to check our website frequently for updates. 

Clear-headed, calm, and generous in spirit, we will get through these challenging times with God’s help and the help of one another. Thank you for your support of Santa Clara. We wish you a healthy and safe summer.



Kevin F. O'Brien, S.J.

Lisa Kloppenberg
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs