November 5: Presidents' Message to Employees

Dear CSB and SJU Employees, 

The holidays are approaching, marking the conclusion of a fall semester no one could have imagined. As interim presidents, we are acutely aware that COVID-19 has altered the campus experience. We, too, were looking forward to fall lectures, concerts, sporting events and meals with students. We know what our employees, students and families are missing.

Being on campus, however, has helped us see the deepest qualities of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s: grace, kindness, generosity, and courage. On campus our students and employees wear masks and practice social distancing to protect each other. Faculty members are committed to being present for each student. Everyone makes eye contact, and we can see the smiles and the care beneath the masks. Our community is rising to the occasion and there is a sense of peace on our campuses that comes from within. 

During the past week, we have experienced a bit of a surge of Coronavirus on campus. We anticipated this could occur, with Halloween and with a surge throughout the State of Minnesota.

With many students going home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we want to make sure our employees, students and families are safe. Working with the Minnesota Department of Health, we will offer free COVID-19 testing on our campuses next week. We want every student to be tested, and we encourage employees to consider getting tested as well. This is important for the Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, our families, and the public health of Minnesota.

Next week, there will be a testing site on campus for students, faculty and staff. Mass testing can help us get in front of the surge in cases and help prevent further spread. More details will be forthcoming.

In the event of surges, the experts tell us to limit contacts. We are going to do that for the next two weeks. We will be restricting visits between residence halls and taking other measures, which are outlined in a letter to students from the vice presidents of student development.

At the same time, we are intent on maintaining the academic experience for our students and faculty. The libraries will remain open, and students are encouraged to attend class in person. We have not traced a single case of COVID-19 to transmission within the classroom.

Employees should continue to adhere to the CSB/SJU COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Staff working on campus should continue to report on campus, unless you are advised differently by your supervisor. Per the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, continue to conduct meetings with colleagues and students electronically, whenever possible.

Earlier, we used the words courage and grace. Our community is responding to this pandemic with courage. We will stick together. Our students have told us they wish to be on campus and remain together through the completion of this semester. With grace, we will be able to do that.

Sincerely,   

Laurie Hamen, J.D.                             Eugene McAllister, Ph.D.
CSB Interim President                        SJU Interim President