June 8: Message to SJU Parents

Dear SJU Parents,

As we approach our return to campus in the fall, I want to offer parents an update on how we are preparing for the return of our students, your sons.  We are intent on offering the Saint John’s University experience, while ensuring our community is safe.


Keeping our students, faculty and staff healthy and safe is our highest priority.  We will follow the guidance of the Federal Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health.  Saint John’s will work with medical professionals to plan for the daily monitoring, counseling and care of our students.

We intend to protect your son by making sure those around him are healthy and acting quickly if someone might not be completely healthy. The centerpiece of our commitment to your son’s safety is testing, tracking and treatment.   We will ask all members of our community to check key indicators, such as temperature, every day.  If a student exhibits symptom or even feels uncomfortable, he will meet with medical staff.   The medical experts will guide a student through a medical triage that may lead to quarantine or even isolation in dedicated facilities.

The University will be communicating to all members of our community about expectations regarding wearing of masks and engaging in appropriate social distancing.  We have established stricter standards for cleaning and sanitizing common spaces.  

Students will be able to participate in class activities, including lectures, remotely.

We will be asking each student to sign a personal responsibility statement.  We expect him to take this pledge very seriously.  We will ask that you review the statement also and discuss with your son.

A detailed response plan to the COVID-19 challenge will be posted shortly on the University’s website.

The Classroom 

As part of our social distancing commitment, we will offer classes a little bit differently this fall.   The classes, the content, the credits, and the applicability of the course for graduate education, including medical school, are the same. 

However, we are making two changes to our coursework.  First, we are equipping every classroom with cameras and microphones so that a student might be able to participate remotely.

Second, our faculty has spent a great deal of time considering how to better protect our students while offering classes in person.  The plan is simple. Rather than have a student, or hundreds of students, rushing in an out of classrooms several times during the day, with no time for cleaning, each student will take only one class at a time, much more intensively.  So rather than taking four courses simultaneously over a semester, the student will take those four courses, one at a time. 

You and your son will be hearing more from us about the classroom and what is known as the “block plan.”


We know these are perilous economic times.  We want every Johnnie back on campus. If your family financial circumstances have changed or you are financially stressed, please let us know.  We would like to accommodate you.  Please contact the Director of Financial Aid, Robert Piechota, [email protected] or 320-363-2189.

It is going to be a challenging time for all of us this fall.  We will have to changes some things to keep everyone safe, but we will keep our eyes focused on the most important thing we do: the intellectual, emotional and spiritual formation of young men

We will be offering the Saint John’s experience in this new environment.  You should know the faculty residents have unanimously committed to being in the dorms and apartments.  Some of the men, mostly monks, are in their 70s, yet they are committed to being there for our students.  That is the Saint John’s promise.

Last year at a dinner with freshman, a young man said to me, “I know what Saint John’s wants, they want me to be a good man.”  He was right.  And we are not going to let COVID-19 stop us.   I can’t wait to have all our students back on campus.  We have important work to do. 


Eugene McAllister, Ph.D.

Interim President