Dear Members of the Santa Clara University Community,
As the new term begins, we are aware of how much we miss being together in person. We write today with important news regarding our plans for undergraduate on-campus housing for this term. The COVID-19 situation in the Bay Area continued to worsen in early January such that, despite our best efforts and planning, we must cancel plans to bring students back to live in campus housing in winter term. We are instead focusing our planning on moving students in for spring 2021, with target move-in dates starting the week of March 22.
First, we want to convey our deep empathy with the disappointment and sadness we know this news will bring to so many of you. Our decision was made after extensive discernment among our leadership and in consultation with county and University health experts. A key determinant in making this difficult decision was the continued high level of COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County, with hospitalizations, ICU-bed occupancy, and transmissibility of the virus remaining very high and the Stay at Home order still in effect. Against this backdrop and many restrictions, even if students don’t get COVID-19, should they need any urgent care or hospitalization for any reason, they would be entering an overtaxed, highly stressed healthcare system.
Some have asked if we could consider move-in later in the quarter. Unfortunately, while the situation may begin to ease by the latter weeks of the quarter, moving students into housing amid strict quarantine rules and upcoming finals would be highly disruptive.
Our Commitment to Spring Move-in: Both our on-campus and county public-health specialists say that in the coming months, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and other measures should result in reduced transmission rates and a much-needed easing of pressure on our healthcare system. That should enable us to safely open our campus starting in spring 2021, with move-in dates possible as early as March 26 (note that our quarter runs for 10 weeks with residence halls closing June 10). Please expect an update on this by early February.
Emergency Housing: As we did in fall 2020, we are reaching out to students in need to ensure that those who may have safety, housing insecurity, financial or academic issues that require emergency housing are taken care of. Housing for student-athletes will be phased-in in order to permit them to compete for possible participation in league and NCAA tournament play.
Academics: The January 4 - March 19 dates for the winter quarter 2020-21 undergraduate academic calendar remain unchanged. We intend to offer a limited selection of hybrid/modified face-to-face classes as soon as permitted by county public health orders.
On-campus Facilities: As the county restrictions ease, we will be updating our community on availability of various on-campus facilities. The Library plans to offer reservable study space in the Learning Commons when safety conditions allow.
Testing and off-campus COVID clusters: As communicated in Friday’s email to students, our university-provided testing last week revealed an uptick in positive cases among our off-campus resident students—72 positive results so far (twice as many positives as occurred during Week 1’s Entry Testing of more than 1700 tests). Each one of us plays a critical role in helping keep our community safe and not further delaying the safe re-opening of campus. The University expects students to comply with any health order that pertains to the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19. For those students in off-campus housing or living nearby, we encourage regular, weekly testing provided by the University.
Housing Assignments, Refunds and more
We know students who had planned to live on campus, and their families, have practical questions about what this decision means for their housing status for spring, financial deadlines, and more. All winter housing charges will be fully credited on accounts in the next two weeks. Additional information can be found in the Housing and Dining FAQ.
The housing assignments that were communicated for winter/spring housing will remain intact for spring term. In addition, we likely will be able to offer spring term housing space to new applicants. The Housing Office will communicate about spring housing confirmation, new applications, deadlines, move-in protocols and timelines as well as other details in mid to late February.
We know all too well that these days have been enormously challenging— particularly for our students, whom we miss very much. To our students, please know you are the heartbeat of our campus, and we remain committed to doing all we can to bring you safely back. We appreciate your patience and resilience as we navigate what we hope is the final leg of the pandemic before we begin our long-awaited safe reopening.
Please continue to stay safe and informed through our Prepared SCU website and email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Take care and God bless.
Lisa A. Kloppenberg
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kevin F. O’Brien, S.J.