July 6, 2020

Dear Parents:

The 4th of July is always a punctuation point for me — the end of the first summer session, midway through our summer orientation programs, and a month away from the early return to campus of athletes and student leaders. It seems like a good time, therefore, to update you on Dominican’s COVID-19 related preparations for Fall 2020, especially in light of the state’s recent decision to move to Restore Illinois, Phase Four.

We are all hopeful about the move to Phase Four, reopening schools, stores and restaurants, and allowing gatherings of up to 50 people, but I want to assure you that Dominican’s vigilance concerning the health of students, faculty and staff continues. Our focus always has been on how to make a safe campus even safer, while retaining those characteristics that define a relationship-centered liberal arts education. Everything is being put in place to make that possible. Let me be more specific.

First and foremost, you should know that both of Dominican’s campuses have been reconfigured to allow for as many face-to-face classes as possible while maintaining appropriate social distancing protocols. Most freshmen classes are in person, though students can choose a blend of face-to-face, hybrid or fully online classes, depending upon their needs and schedules. Interestingly enough, last semester, most Dominican students gave faculty high marks for their online course experience, though it is not our preferred delivery.

Managing density is key to campus wellbeing, and so, we also have reconfigured the library, the dining hall, the chapel, and large public spaces in order to reduce crowding. Highly trafficked services, like StarsConnect, the fitness center, the Cyber Cafe and the bookstore will have scheduled access. And, if your daughter or son is planning to live in the residence halls, you already know that we will house most students in singles, priced at the lower double room rate.

Our “resocialization” plan for athletics is extensive as required by the NCAA and by our intercollegiate conference. Athletics administration and coaches are working directly with student athletes on those protocols. In the meantime, let me tell you now, that there will be no fans (or Presidents!), allowed in the stands this fall, though events will be live-streamed, as usual.

My homework assignment for you as parents is to prepare yourselves and your students for the “new normal.” Rest assured that Dominican is taking every precaution to keep students, faculty and staff safe — requiring face masks, adding hand sanitizers throughout campus, installing Plexiglas shields at high service points, directing hallway traffic, etc. In addition, we are working with a local hospital partner for educational and oversight purposes and to identify appropriate testing strategies; but a healthy campus is ultimately a shared responsibility, one that starts with active symptom monitoring at home and requires daily vigilance and a cooperative attitude on campus. I ask for your understanding of the risks --- and your active engagement in encouraging student compliance.

All that said, in six weeks Dominican University looks forward to welcoming one of its largest freshman classes ever to campus. If the enthusiasm evident in our early orientation programs is any indication, it is a spirited class, anxious to start what will be a distinctively memorable year. Me, too.

Thank you for your confidence in our very special academic community. Stay healthy.

Sincerely,

Donna M. Carroll
President


Fall 2020 Semester

Updated June 24, 2020

How is the University working to ensure the safety of all students?

The university has established a COVID response team comprised of administrators and health providers that work closely with local health systems and the Illinois Department of Health to institute measures that ensure student, staff and faculty wellbeing. The team has established symptom monitoring and mitigation strategies, COVID testing, and contact tracing strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Some of those measures include:

  • Organization of classrooms to ensure 6 feet of social distance between all students and faculty
  • Single occupancy option for all resident students
  • Onsite nurse practitioners under physician oversight ready to respond to student health needs
  • Installation of Plexiglas shields at strategic high-traffic areas and main student service points
  • Installing antimicrobial film on high-touch surfaces
  • COVID symptom monitoring (preventative measure)
  • COVID testing strategy
  • Contact tracing
How is the University working to ensure the safety of resident students?

The university has adopted a single occupancy strategy which allows for safe social distancing within the residence halls. Our single occupancy strategy works to reduce density in the residence halls.

How will single occupancy affect the cost of living on campus?

Single rooms will be priced at the lower double room rate. Some double rooms will also be available, at the reduced price of a triple room, to a limited number of students who opt to live with a roommate.

Will courses be offered in a face-to-face format?

Yes. Dominican will hold face-to-face classes this fall with courses available in multiple modalities. Face-to-face classes with safety-conscious physical distancing protocols in place, hybrid classes, or fully online classes—some with fixed, scheduled online meeting times, and some without—will all be offered. You’ll work with your advisor to determine a schedule that meets your specific need. Our intentionally small classes have an average of just 16 students, so you can feel confident in your safety in any case.

What is the university doing to proactively mitigate the spread of COVID-19?

Some of the strategies include:

Face coverings/masks: Face masks or face coverings must be worn by all students when in the presence of others and in public settings where other safe social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., common workspaces, meeting rooms, classrooms, etc.).

  • Dominican-branded, washable cloth masks will be made available for all faculty, staff and students.
  • Disposable masks will be provided by the university, at all Welcome and Information Desk (WID) locations around campus.

Social Distancing: Keeping a safe distance between you and others is one of the best tools for avoiding exposure to the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. All Dominican community members on campus must follow these social distancing practices:

  • Always maintaining at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people at all times
  • Wear a mask at all times when in group settings, traversing hallways, and in close proximity of others

Cleaning Practices and Safety Measures: Dominican will conduct a continuous deep cleaning process of all buildings in accordance with Illinois Department of Health and Center for Disease Control Standards.

Hand Sanitizers: Hand sanitizer stations throughout campus are available and more than 100 additional stations will be accessible to students. Sanitizing wipes stations are mounted in key areas, particularly near elevators. Additionally, large sanitizing gel containers are available at all main student service points.

Gloves: Gloves are not required, except for food handlers, janitorial workers and staff in the Wellness Center.

Community Hallway Flow Management: When navigating hallways, faculty, staff and students are expected to walk on the right side. Blue arrow floor decals will serve as reminders.

What happens if there is a suspected COVID case?

The university has established a contact tracing policy as guided by the Illinois Department of Health to trace a student’s points of contact and identify individuals with whom they have come into contact.

Utilizing contact tracing practices, those who may have come into contact with the virus will be provided COVID testing to assess if they have contracted the virus. Individuals who test positive would then follow the university quarantine strategy implemented and monitored by the COVID response team.

How long will students need to quarantine if they have a positive COVID-19 test?

COVID positive individuals will be required to isolate for 14 days (commuter students—at their home residence; resident students—in university residence COVID single occupancy room).

Will the university provide quarantine/isolation rooms for students with COVID-19?  

Yes. The university has reserved quarantine and isolation rooms for students who test positive for COVID-19. To ensure we mitigate for the spread of the virus, in accordance to Illinois Department of Health, we have established protocols for students to receive medical care, food service, and the ability to engage remotely in classes if appropriate.

Will quarantined students be provided meals?

Yes. Students will receive meals delivered to their room by staff with appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of the virus.

Will students who need to miss time from class be given extensions if impacted by COVID-19?

Yes. Students will be allowed excused absences from class if impacted by COVID

Will students be required to symptom monitor?

Yes. Students are expected to self-monitor daily and only come to campus or leave their residence if they are free of any of the symptoms related to COVID-19 as determined by the CDC to include: 

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New loss of taste or smell

Dominican offers students an easy-to-use symptom self-reporting form which allows for our Wellness Center to track self-reported symptoms and support students with any symptoms defined by CDC to be associated with COVID-19.

Will the dining hall be open? 

Yes. The Dining Hall will be open in a modified schedule with safe social distancing and food service precautions taken to prevent exposure and spreading of COVID-19.

Are all events/activities canceled? 

No. We are working with student organization leaders to develop virtual engagement opportunities where possible to further the mission of their organization and create community among students. Gatherings on campus will follow state guidelines (Restore Illinois phased approach).

Will the Wellness Center open this fall? 

Yes. The Wellness Center will be open to support students. Please visit Wellness Center Online or call (708) 524-6229 to schedule an appointment. 

What departments and resources will be  available this fall?   

The University is currently open and resources will be available in person and online to support student academic success. Our Student Success and Engagement team tracks and analyzes huge amounts of data in real time to identify students who may need additional support and takes action—fast. During the Coronavirus closure, student support continued uninterrupted and will continue to be accessible both on ground and online. This includes:

  • NowPow: An electronic tool which allows Student Success and Engagement to pool resources for students and families in the communities they reside.
  • Student Self-Reporting: Students may self-report any academic or socially related challenge they may be experiencing through our Star Tracker system.  
  • Tutoring: Students can schedule an appointment in person or online with the Writing Lab or Math Clinic for extra support or work with a student tutor for guidance on nearly any discipline.  
  • Advising: Your advising team is here to help you craft a college roadmap that maximizes your success. Meet with an advisor via Zoom or an in-person, pre-scheduled appointment during orientation.
  • Multicultural Center: Join us for community building, online dialogues about important issues, and more.
  • Library: The Rebecca Crown Library will be open to current students and equipped with appropriate social distancing protocols to ensure safe studying.  
What about other high-impact opportunities?

Yes. Dominican is committed to offering opportunities beyond the classroom for hands-on learning. Ensuring state guidelines, we will continue to offer these opportunities in both online and on-campus formats, including undergraduate research opportunities, civic engagement, and career development supports.

What happens if the state reverts back to a prior phase of Restore Illinois?

Should the university need to move to remote education due to Illinois reverting back to earlier Restore Illinois phases, select class and lab fees, room and board, and parking fees will be revisited for impacted students.

Will your NCAA division III teams be competing this fall?

Yes. Dominican University’s 14 varsity athletic teams will return to campus and competition in August. The Department of Athletics is working on a comprehensive re-socialization plan that includes procedures for practices, games and athletic space on campus. Measures will be taken to manage density, especially in high traffic areas and shared space.

What safety precautions are in place for student-athletes?

Dominican University’s student-athletes will receive education on the COVID-19 virus, and related mental health issues, in an attempt to control its spread. Student-athletes will be asked to sign a pledge, committing to personal hygiene and other measures to limit spread and exposure of the virus.

Will fans be permitted at home competitions?

For now, our home events will not include spectators, but please check back regularly for updates. In the meantime, all home contests are being live streamed on the athletics website, DUstars.com. We look forward to welcoming our fans back just as soon as we can.