Last updated July 9, 2020
Dear St. Mary’s University community,
To provide you with important, reliable and timely updates about the new coronavirus, COVID-19, St. Mary’s University has created this emergency updates webpage as the primary source of information for the University community. This webpage will be updated as new information becomes available.
- The University is prepared to work with every student, as best as possible, to accommodate their needs during the fall semester and to ensure their academic progress. While we hope it will not be necessary, St. Mary’s is prepared to pivot on course delivery methods and provide alternative move-in dates for campus housing, if needed.
- The University is adjusting the Fall 2020 schedule to begin and end earlier to allow for the best possibility of an uninterrupted semester. Undergraduate and graduate classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, and end before Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20. The last day of finals will be Wednesday, Nov. 25. School of Law classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 12 (first-year students), and Monday, Aug. 17 (second- and third-year students), and end, including final exams, before Thanksgiving, the week of Nov. 23. There will be no fall semester break to minimize travel and provide extra class time.
- For Residence Hall information, please visit our FAQ on the Fall 2020 Housing Information.
- For additional information, visit the Student Information and Frequently Asked Questions tab below.
- University Ministry invites the campus community to gather in prayer at home. Masses will continue to be livestreamed from the University Ministry Facebook page at 11 a.m. on Sundays through July from Assumption Chapel.
- St. Mary’s has made ACT or SAT testing requirements optional for incoming freshmen.
- St. Mary’s University has temporarily made the GRE and GMAT graduate school entry exams optional for most graduate programs.
- Join St. Mary’s efforts to assist students who have an immediate need with a gift to the Student Emergency Fund. Donate through Rattlers Helping Rattlers campaign.
For Residence Hall information, please visit our FAQ on the Fall 2020 Housing Information.
No Late Payment Fees and Hold Threshold Raised:
The University did not assess late payment fees for past due payments for the Spring semester from March 15 through May 15, 2020. The registration hold threshold was raised to accommodate students. Business Office staff are also available to discuss any concerns regarding your student account status. Please contact them at 210-436-3731 or at email@example.com for assistance with questions on balances, payment due dates and holds.
FAFSA Changes for Undergraduate Students:
Students’ financial circumstances may have changed from the tax year used to complete the FAFSA for receiving state and federal aid. Financial Assistance Counselors are helping students process such changes. To see how this might affect you, please refer to www.stmarytx.edu/admission/financial-aid/.
Housing and Meal Plan Refunds:
- Housing: Students who moved out of their residence hall room received a prorated credit to their student account for the Spring 2020 semester. The prorated amount will be for the remaining 45 days of room charges, as of March 23, 2020. This amount varied based on the residence hall in which you lived. The reimbursement amount you received was also impacted by you and/or your family’s contribution to your housing charges. This means that any student who had institutional scholarships or other grants/programs to pay for housing will see an adjustment to those scholarships, grants or programs. The final credit you received will be the remaining amount after any unpaid bills or charges on your student account.
- Meal Plans: Students received a prorated credit for any unused amount of their Rattler 5 or Rattler 7 meal plan, which is six weeks. Any unused dining dollars was also refunded. Commuter meal plans received a student account credit for unused swipes and dining dollars.
Registration for Summer and Fall Classes
- Registration for Fall and Summer will be handled via online registration access. Students should check their email for up to date information. The schedule for online registration access can be found on Gateway. Questions regarding registration can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 210-431-6789.
- PIN for Registration: Academic advising has been moved online. Students must be advised before receiving their registration pin. Current students should review their St. Mary’s email for more information on Priority Advising and Registration. The Office of Academic Advising will email readmitted students instructions for online advising and registration. Questions regarding academic advising can be emailed to Academic.Advising@stmarytx.edu.
- Rattler Success Center: Peer tutoring and coaching are available through St. Mary’s Zoom platform. Students can access the tutoring and coaching schedule and make appointments by navigating to our Rattler Success Center page on Gateway where RSC online guidelines are available as well as the tutor and coaches Zoom meeting ID numbers and links. PLTL is no longer available because labs for these courses were canceled. However, tutor leaders will be available to answer questions online through Zoom. Writing Center appointments are also available online. We recommend making appointments through Zoom as soon as possible on Gateway. Writing Tutors will also be available to assist with editing through email. Students can email their papers to email@example.com and a tutor will return the paper with notes within 24 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Residence Hall and Room-and-Board Questions
How has the University decided to handle room and board or other reimbursements?
Students who moved out of their residence hall room received a prorated credit to their student account for the Spring 2020 semester. The prorated amount was for the remaining 45 days of room charges, as of March 23, 2020. This amount varied based on the residence hall the student lived in.
Students received a prorated credit for any unused amount of their Rattler 5 or Rattler 7 meal plan. Any unused dining dollars were also refunded. Commuter meal plans received credit for unused swipes and dining dollars.
What should international students do if they cannot return home?
A small number of international students who cannot return home will remain on campus, and we will continue to care for them. They will be permitted to stay into the summer semester as this health emergency continues.
Can the University provide aid for student travel expenses or for students in need of emergency funding for food and rent?
We have resources in the Student Emergency Fund (see Student Emergency Fund Form) to assist students in financial need.
Campus Services Questions
Will food continue to be served on campus?
- All Aramark dining operations are closed until August.
Will the libraries be open?
Beginning Saturday, March 21, Cotrell Learning Commons in Blume Library will remain open. Services from the Technical Support Center (including technology training) will be by appointment only from Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Support after 5 p.m. and on weekends will be handled remotely through video chat or by phone.
Blume Library will continue academic services, but areas other than the Cotrell Learning Commons will not be open to visitors. Similarly, the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library will close to visitors. Visit the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library webpage for additional information about services.
Can I still visit the gym?
Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center (including swimming pool and fitness center) has suspended operations and temporarily closed.
What other services have updated hours and availability?
Please visit the Emergency Notifications March 19 update for the complete list.
How do I register for classes?
Information about temporary online registrar services is available on Gateway.
Will the Barnes & Noble Bookstore still be open?
What technical resources are available to me to continue my studies online?
Resources for participating in online classes can be found on Gateway.
How will St. Mary’s handle courses that include labs or other typically in-class components?
Faculty will communicate directly with students so that students know how each course will proceed during the online instruction period. It is possible that some class activities, like labs, will be postponed or modified during the remote instruction period.
How will students find out information about class times for online courses?
The faculty will provide direction to the students in their courses.
Will professors have on-campus office hours?
The University discourages in-person meetings. The University encourages the use of email, phone and teleconferencing tools, like Zoom, as alternative meeting methods.
How do I address concerns about a professor’s lack of response via email or Canvas?
You may contact the professor’s Dean via email with your concern.
Has the Academic Calendar changed?
Yes, the academic calendar for Fall 2020 has been updated. The University is adjusting the Fall 2020 schedule to begin and end earlier to allow for the best possibility of an uninterrupted semester. Undergraduate and graduate classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, and end before Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20. The last day of finals will be Wednesday, Nov. 25. School of Law classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 12 (first-year students), and Monday, Aug. 17 (second- and third-year students), and end, including final exams, before Thanksgiving, the week of Nov. 23. There will be no fall semester break to minimize travel and provide extra class time.
What should students do if they need tutoring?
The Rattler Success Center has posted guidelines for online tutoring and peer coaching on Gateway.
Are there plans for summer or fall semesters to continue online?
Faculty will teach Summer courses online. The University will provide additional information about Fall classes in the coming weeks. Fall classes will be held using a variety of teaching and learning styles that are adaptable and optimal for accommodating incidents of quarantine and illness, unique situational needs, as well as international students who are unable to travel to the United States.
Commencement and class ring questions
How did St. Mary’s handle its Spring Commencement ceremonies?
The Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, Baccalaureate Mass and the Rattler Ring Ceremony were canceled. Students are welcome to walk in December or May 2021.
How will I collect my class ring?
A message to School of Law students from Dean Patricia Roberts, J.D.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
I know this is not the summer any of us expected, and that you are faced with difficult decisions about the fall, as well as uncertainty regarding your health and well-being and that of your families. It is a frightening and frustrating time. Please know that the safety of our community is paramount on my mind and will continue to be until we have an effective and widely-available vaccine. Until then, we must plan to the best of our ability given the changing circumstances. This is the first of weekly updates you will be receiving regarding our real-time planning.
With current health and safety concerns for students, faculty and staff, as well as their families, higher education delivery models are becoming more flexible this fall. In coordination with the University, I have been working with a small committee comprised of Deans Ramona Lampley and Colin Marks, Professors Mike Ariens, André Hampton, Genevieve Hébert Fajardo and Victoria Mather to actively plan options for you to continue your legal education online or in person. The election to be online or in person will be yours, assuming circumstances surrounding the virus in five weeks allow an in-person experience. Our safety planning includes social distancing, heightened levels of disinfection, directional signage, modified scheduling, the wearing of masks on campus and generous use of plexiglass. For those who choose to do so, the plans we are making should allow students to take classes on campus in a way that comports with leading health and safety guidelines. No one will be required to put their health or their family’s health at risk for the sake of the law school or their legal education.
Despite the precautions in place, however, we know that the circumstances of some students and faculty will prevent them from participating in on-campus classes. For those unable to join us on campus, the majority of classes will be synchronously Zoomed and recorded. We are investing in additional high-quality audio and video technology in our classrooms in order to ensure this is the case. In addition, by the end of July, all full-time faculty not already experienced in doing so will be certified in online teaching in the event a move to online teaching becomes necessary based on community health conditions. We are ready for a significantly improved online experience from that which occurred suddenly at the end of Spring 2020, with the benefit of faculty training and the summer months for preparation. We are taking necessary precautions to be ready for in-person classes as well. Our intent is to meet the challenges of the fall semester, no matter what they are by the time the academic year begins.
Surveying Students, Faculty and Staff
To assist in fall planning, we have surveyed our faculty and the University has reached out to staff, to ensure that those who are unable to be on campus, or are concerned about coming to campus, will teach or work remotely. We also surveyed the incoming 1Ls, and as a result of faculty and student responses, will have one-third of the first-year curriculum taught remotely, with the other sessions live and socially distant with masks. First-year students who opt out of live classes entirely will be taught in a remote section of each first-year course. Having completed 1L planning with careful attention to social distancing, we now know when our classrooms will be available and for how many students given the 6-foot distance required between them, so we can turn to modifying the upper-class schedule.
The upper-class curriculum planning is a bit more challenging, as it includes large required courses and experiential learning courses. We are currently revising the upper-level schedule to include a healthy number of online courses and to partition high-enrollment classes so that we can accommodate the social distancing requirements. A fully modified schedule indicating live or in-person delivery will be ready later this month. We intend for every class that is offered live to also be Zoomed synchronously and recorded for asynchronous review in the event illness keeps a student from attending in real-time. Classes that launched with an online design will also be recorded in the event a student must catch up due to illness or caring for family. Faculty have been instructed to have a limited asynchronous component supplementing their courses, whether live or in person. Assuming it is safe to do so, there will be both live and remote classes as part of the schedule. For your planning purposes, you will be able to continue your legal education entirely remotely this fall if you choose to do so.
We will ask upper-class students in the coming week to let us know your preference for learning this fall. A survey will be sent out that gives you the following options: A) I would prefer 100% remote law school courses for the Fall 2020 semester with optional in-person experiences that may occur on campus; or, B) I would prefer in-person face-to-face teaching for the majority of my law school coursework for the Fall 2020 semester, assuming it is possible from a health and safety perspective. While every effort will be made to offer every class in a manner that is also remote, in some rare circumstances that may not be possible. You will know which classes, if any, fall into that category when the revised schedule is released.
Fall On-Campus Experience
Being on campus will be different this fall, as you have read in emails from President Tom Mengler. You will need to wear a face covering while on campus. You will need to remain socially distant. Student organizations will meet via Zoom, and your student services will be provided that way (for instance, the Office of Career Strategy has a robust schedule of fall activities that they are designing for online participation and delivery). We will be utilizing the Law Commons and the Law Alumni Room in the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library as classrooms and anticipate closing the second floor of the law library from students in order to limit interaction with staff. Coming to campus will largely be to participate in class, then students will leave campus unless outside in a socially distant manner. We are relying heavily on the University’s guidance as a result of the expertise they have employed with an epidemiologist and consultants from Metro Health.
Updates Moving Forward
This is a fluid situation given the developing law and public health guidance, and the current and alarming spike of cases of COVID-19 in Texas. If circumstances become such that students cannot safely come to campus, your courses will all be offered remotely. Now that we have many of the plans in place and are near finished with all the class schedules, we will update you on a weekly basis to let you know whether there are any changes in the current planning. Ultimately, it is the health and safety of the community that will determine how classes are delivered in the fall.
I wish we had the opportunity to meet and have this discussion in person, but I am eager to share with you where we are with our planning now that it is far enough along. My apologies for not having done so sooner — it’s been quite a first month!
Please complete the survey when you receive it. Until then, wear your mask and stay socially distant. I will update you again next week.
Blessings to you and your families,
School of Law Office of Career Strategy
The Office of Career Strategy is continuing to provide its full range of services to students, alumni and employers – virtually. For general questions or assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students and alumni wishing to make an advising appointment or schedule a mock interview can continue to use CORE to do so. Employers can post opportunities in the CORE job bank as well.
Sarita Kenedy East Law Library
The Sarita Kenedy East Law Library is closed until further notice. Law library staff will be working remotely to provide services to students and the faculty of the law school. Service hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
International Summer Law Programs
The School of Law’s two summer programs have been suspended for Summer 2020. These include the Institute on Chinese Law and Business in Beijing as well as the Institute on World Legal Problems in Innsbruck, Austria.
For Law Students
To promote the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff participating in team activities, the St. Mary’s University Department of Athletics has developed the following requirements for St. Mary’s Athletics to implement for the resumption of athletic activities for University student-athletes.
For up-to-date information on incidents of the COVID-19 virus among the campus community, please visit Gateway.
COVID-19 Incident Updates
While members of our community typically experience illness and flu-like symptoms this time of year, COVID-19 can only develop if exposed to a COVID-19 carrier. If you are feeling unwell, take the normal recommended precautions. The symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus infection include a fever of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher, a dry cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
Students should complete the St. Mary’s University COVID-19 Illness Student Self-Reporting Form if they have:
- Symptoms (fever of 100.4 F or higher, cough and/or shortness of breath), AND
- Have been in close contact with an individual that is confirmed positive for COVID-19; AND/OR
- Traveled to a high-risk location that has multiple community-transmitted confirmed cases
For additional questions, students can call the Student Health Center at 210-436-3506.
If you are a member of the faculty or staff experiencing flu-like symptoms, stay at home and contact your health care provider.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional information about the coronavirus and influenza.
Everyone should follow the same general precautions recommended during flu seasons, avoid contact with people who are sick and stay home if you have a respiratory illness or a fever. The steps below are the current recommendations by the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services to help limit the spread of viruses including the flu and common cold.
- Wear your mask. Wearing a mask is required on campus. The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
- Get a flu shot. Flu vaccines are available to students at the Student Health Center. Call 210-436-3506 for an appointment or for more information.
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your cough or sneeze. Toss used tissues in a wastebasket and wash your hands afterward.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Limit handshaking.
- Wipe down exercise equipment, doorknobs, keyboards, telephone handles, etc., on a frequent basis throughout the day with disinfectant wipes or sprays.
Are you wondering when or whether you should get tested for COVID-19? Read this post about a few things UT Health San Antonio infectious disease experts want you to know about testing.
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is impacting more younger adults. UT Health Physicians’ Chief Medical Officer shared in a video some effective ways to help flatten the curve.
Please join us in taking the Protect St. Mary’s Pledge to keep our community healthy.
Here are several resources available to community members year-round:
- As a reminder, St. Mary’s has resources to support the mental, emotional and physical well-being of our campus community. Please remember that St. Mary’s University offers multiple services and resources in support of the community during this time of need.
- The Student Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling for all enrolled students. For the remainder of the semester, all in-person counseling and psychiatric sessions have been suspended. The Wellness Lab is closed. The Student Counseling Center is continuing services using Zoom or phone appointments to provide telehealth counseling and psychiatric sessions. Both Zoom and telephone sessions are HIPAA-compliant. A counselor on duty is also available 24 hours a day via phone at 210-825-3622. You can also read the Student Counseling Center’s top 11 tips for wellness during the transition to online education.
- University Ministry provides pastoral care, chaplaincy services, prayer support, faith formation, and referrals to campus and community resources.
- University employees may access support through the Human Resources Office and the University’s Employee Assistance Program. You can contact Human Resources at 210-436-3725 or our Employee Assistance Program at 1-888-238-6232.
- If you are concerned about a student, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at email@example.com or call 210-436-3331.
- We have resources in the Student Emergency Fund (see Student Emergency Fund Form) to assist students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an unexpected situation.
- For additional resources, including support for individuals experiencing food insecurity, please see our food assistance PDF or directly reach out to the San Antonio Food Bank and Catholic Charities of San Antonio.
- The School of Law’s Consumer Protection Clinic has information on mortgage relief and student loans. For additional assistance, visit the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) or call the City’s Risk Mitigation Hotline at 210-207-5910.
- The St. Mary’s University School of Law is launching a hotline for South Texas residents experiencing housing issues — especially renters — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those seeking assistance can call the hotline at 210-570-6135 and leave a message with their full name, phone number and a brief description of the legal problem. Callers will receive a return call and go through a short screening process. Information about the hotline is available in both English and Spanish.
Support and Resources
On June 8, 2020, the University will begin the process to reopen and prepare for the return of students to campus for the Fall 2020 Semester. To be successful, we will need every member of the St. Mary’s community – faculty, staff, students and Trustees – to pledge to take responsibility to protect oneself, each other, and the St. Mary’s and San Antonio community by following public health and University guidance. As a family cares for its own, I urge everyone in the St. Mary’s community to work together to support a healthy living and learning environment.
On Monday, June 8, 2020, office supervisors will return to work to assist with assessing their areas and implementing measures and reminders to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. The safety precautions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
- Participate in social distancing of 6 feet.
- Wear face masks on campus.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Monitor your health and stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid touching your face.
As we focus on implementing safety precautions on campus, here are some additional details.
- Employees should follow social distancing recommendations and separate workspaces by at least 6 feet. If this is not readily achievable, an alternating schedule for employees should be considered and recommended to the supervising member on the Leadership Council for approval.
- Classrooms will be limited to the appropriate number of people to accommodate social distancing measures, which may include no students occupying front row seats.
- Office supervisors should ensure social distancing signage is posted as needed to direct traffic and serve as reminders in public spaces. (Social distancing signage will be available through the Facilities Department.)
- Whenever possible, social distancing measures between yourself and others should be followed while on campus (indoor and outdoor spaces).
- Pedestrian signage may be posted in areas to assist with social distancing, such as one-way entries and exits and hallway directions for traffic flow.
- Only people with mobility impairments or transporting heavy items should use campus elevators.
Face masks and protective shields:
- Everyone is expected to wear cloth face masks on campus when in public spaces and other areas when appropriate, including when social distancing is not achievable. A St. Mary’s-branded cloth face mask will be provided to every student, faculty and staff member.
- Office supervisors, in consultation with Facilities, should ensure plexiglass shields or other protective barriers are provided where appropriate in offices.
Personal health and safety:
Employees are responsible for monitoring and maintaining their health.
- Self-temperature checks are encouraged before arriving on campus each day. If your temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should stay home.
- SHED – Sleep, hydration, exercise and diet to stay healthy.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover coughs and sneezes inside your elbow or with a tissue, and properly dispose of the tissue in a closed container.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Clean and disinfect personal spaces often.
- If traveling, please follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others.
COVID-19 symptoms and contact-tracing:
- Employees who have symptoms of the COVID-19 virus should notify their supervisor and stay home and follow CDC-recommended steps before returning to work.
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 or who have come in close contact with someone with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC-recommended precautions.
- Employees are encouraged to keep a log of people they meet daily for COVID-19 contact-tracing purposes.
Protecting vulnerable employees and employees’ sick-leave policy:
- For employees who are considered at-risk, there will be an evaluation process for continuing a telework arrangement, if job responsibilities provide that opportunity.
- The University is working to provide an addendum to the current employee sick-leave policy to encourage staying home when feeling ill or accommodate those with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
- Facilities will regularly clean and disinfect offices and common areas but employees are encouraged to clean their own spaces as frequently as needed. Office supervisors are encouraged to implement routines of regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, including door handles and shared equipment in their areas.
- Facilities is working on a schedule for cleaning classrooms throughout the day following classes.
- Hand-sanitizer stations will be available throughout the campus.
- Meetings via teleconferencing are encouraged to minimize the use and cleaning of conference rooms.
- Large gatherings will be limited to space capacity using social distancing measures.
- Office doors should be left open to minimize touching of door handles.
- Individually wrapped food and bottled water is encouraged in shared spaces.
- Where appropriate and applicable, campus HVAC systems will be adjusted to enhance filtration capabilities, limit or eliminate air recirculation and increase the HVAC run times to enhance the virus-protection possible through these systems.
- Public restrooms will have automatic-flushers installed.
- Aramark operations have been suspended and the St. Mary’s Barnes & Noble store will continue with online services through the summer months.
Work Teams Developing Protocols
The three work teams – instructional delivery, student services and campus space management – are meeting to develop protocols for the campus to guide our focus on maintaining the health and safety of our community and delivering quality learning opportunities.
The campus space management team is working on plans for opening common areas and addressing social distancing measures for passageways and entry points. They will develop recommendations for signage, reminders, etc., throughout the campus.
The team focused on instructional delivery is discussing how to help faculty prepare well for teaching our students this fall through the development of a summer training and development program. Faculty who complete the summer “Prepared to Pivot” program – which will be rolled out later this week – will receive a wide-lens webcam or Bluetooth headset to assist with hybrid/online instruction. Many courses are expected to be delivered through a hyflex type format that provides students with opportunities for learning in a dynamic way, both in-person and online.
The student engagement and residential team is working on plans for hosting student activities using proper CDC and campus health and safety guidelines. They are developing additional protocols, including pledges, for students and resident students.
- Faculty can find support for building high-quality online/on-campus courses for students this fall through the Prepared to Pivot summer professional development initiative.
- The University is offering a temporary Telecommuting/Remote Work Program, which requires the approval of the individual’s supervising member on the Executive Council. Additional information can be found in the Employee Hub on Gateway.
- For additional questions about the Temporary Work From Home and Alternative Scheduling program, contact the office of Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-436-3725.
- For additional tips on transitioning to working from home, the American Psychological Association has shared a variety of advice for newly remote workers.
- Employees enrolled in BlueCross and BlueShield of Texas can access virtual doctor visits (PDF), which has been recommended by the CDC.
July 7, 2020, 3:30 p.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
St. Mary’s University faculty have been preparing for the fall semester by adapting and changing instructional delivery of the majority of our courses for students to take remotely while continuing to provide the St. Mary’s experience of academic rigor, personalization, active and engaged learning, and community.
To meet the needs of every student throughout the semester, faculty have prepared themselves and their courses to be delivered virtually from the classroom in real time. Professors have become certified in online teaching and participated in professional development and training programs — so that every class on the course schedule can be taken remotely. The University has also installed some new classroom technology to help ensure a seamless fall semester.
As a result of our preparations, we are offering courses in three options. The University also has adapted the class attendance policy to accommodate the flexibility needed to navigate the fall semester.
- Online (OL): Online courses are not taught in real time, but will follow course syllabi and deadlines provided by professors. These remote courses may include pre-recorded lectures, video uploads, class chats and individual meetings with professors. For example, a professor may load a week’s worth of content that a student will study and respond to within appropriate deadlines. The number of OL courses will be very limited.
- Virtual (V): Students participate in virtual courses remotely and in real time on the scheduled class day and time. These classes neither meet in person nor on campus. Professors will teach in real time or live from the classroom, lab or an alternative location. Virtual courses may also include video recordings, class chats and one-on-one meetings with professors. For example, if a course is normally taught at 9:10 a.m. in person, students in a virtual course will log on at 9:10 a.m. to view a live video lecture.
- In-Person Virtual (IPV): These courses are designed to be flexible (in person or virtual). Students registering for in-person courses may choose to be on campus in the classroom for instruction. At the same time, the professor may be teaching other students participating in the class virtually. In-person classes will be much smaller than usual in order to practice social distancing. Students may be limited to attending in-person classes on a rotating basis, for example, every Thursday for a Tuesday-Thursday course. Students participating in person may flex to the virtual (V) format as needed to accommodate changes in their situation. More information about how often a student may attend an in-person class will be available on a student’s course schedule soon.
The University is prepared to accommodate everyone — students and faculty — as needed for those impacted by the pandemic. We are in the process of contacting international students to assist them in meeting compliance with the newly issued federal requirement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement so they may continue their studies at St. Mary’s.
The revised fall semester course schedule will be available by Monday, July 20. The schedule will identify the format of the course — Online (OL), Virtual (V) or In-Person Virtual (IPV). Students who have already registered will continue as currently scheduled. Students can add and drop courses via Gateway or by contacting their academic adviser. If you are signed up for an In-Person Virtual (IPV) course, you will be notified before classes begin about when to be on campus for in-person classes.
The Offices of the Registrar and Academic Advising are here to assist you.
Opportunities to help you discover, affirm and cultivate your unique talents and gifts are still at the heart of the St. Mary’s experience. Whether in person or remote, faculty and staff are available in the Rattler Success Center, Community Engagement, STRIVE Career Services, Student Counseling Center, Student Life and University Ministry. Together, these offices and faculty and staff across campus will be providing opportunities important to building community.
Our commitment remains the same — that our students receive an educational experience grounded in faith and the Marianist charism, which will prepare each for successful careers of leadership on behalf of the common good.
We invite you to read more about how faculty members across the University are implementing the lessons they’ve learned from transitioning online in the spring to ensure a quality learning experience for all students.
June 30, 2020, 12:20 p.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
As we continue to prepare for the fall semester, I am writing to provide you with detailed information about our plans. We have undertaken our planning with two priorities in mind: the health and safety of St. Mary’s community and the quality of our students’ educational experiences.
We have, for example, retained an epidemiologist and worked closely with the crisis management team of San Antonio’s University Hospital, asking them to assess our health and safety plans. As cases of COVID-19 increase in San Antonio, we will continue to follow the guidance of government and public health officials and the health experts we have retained; and we will alter our plans as necessary to help mitigate the spread of the virus on campus and in the greater community. The steps we will be taking this fall at St. Mary’s are the same steps that you and your families are taking in your personal and work lives.
Our academic objectives for our students remain the same — that our students receive an educational experience grounded in faith and the Marianist charism, which will prepare them for successful careers of leadership on behalf of the common good.
We eagerly look forward to students returning to campus even as we modify our educational and campus environments. The fall semester will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11 (School of Law classes, Wednesday, Aug. 12), and will end before Thanksgiving. There will be no fall semester break.
The University is prepared to work with every student, as best as possible, to accommodate their needs during the fall semester and to ensure their academic progress. While we hope it will not be necessary, St. Mary’s is prepared to pivot on course delivery methods and provide alternative move-in dates for campus housing, if needed.
We need the help of every member of our community — including our incoming Rattlers — to protect against the spread of the virus. We are all in this together. The video below includes health steps from Hugo Salazar Jr., M.D., the Student Health Center Physician, which I pledge to follow and urge you to follow as well.
To care for our community’s health as we carry forward our legacy of academic excellence, here are some changes you can expect this fall at St. Mary’s University.
- Face masks are required on campus as well as in classrooms, labs, meeting rooms, offices, residence halls, chapels and indoor and outdoor activity spaces.
- A daily health check tool will be implemented for faculty, staff and students.
- Self-reporting tools for employees and students are in place for those with symptoms of COVID-19, as well as protocols for responding to reported cases and staff members trained to support contact tracing.
- Many courses will be available in a variety of formats with an option for students to complete all courses online. Other formats will include hybrid courses that combine in-person experiences with an online component (via Zoom, for example) and courses that may be taken entirely online (via Zoom). In all courses, students will interact with their professors and engage in a personalized and effective learning environment.
- Student services — such as the Rattler Success Center, Registrar, Business Office, Financial Aid, Student Counseling Services, the Student Health Center and Student Accessibility Services — will be accessible both in person and remotely.
- Faculty office hours and access to labs and classrooms have been modified to promote student wellness and to facilitate academic success.
- Most residence halls will be limited to single occupancy. There will be no more than two students per bathroom.
- A designated residence hall will be available for students to self-isolate who test positive for the virus.
- Residence Life will provide final housing assignments along with information about moving in, health and safety measures in the halls and what to expect living on campus this fall in a separate message to resident students in early July.
- The campus is being populated with appropriate signage and reminders for social distancing and healthy practices as well as hand-sanitizing stations.
- Classrooms and labs will be sanitized each evening. Air filters designed to mitigate the spread of viruses have been installed in classrooms and residential buildings.
- Campus dining locations will be open but will be modified to support the health and safety of all community members. Modifications include reduced seating, increased use of disposable plates and cups, and removing self-service stations.
- Group gatherings will be limited to indoor and outdoor space capacities following social distancing and guidance from local government and health authorities.
- While on campus this fall, you will encounter community health ambassadors, trained student leaders who have committed to reminding community members to be safe and follow health and safety guidelines on campus.
As I noted previously, our University leadership is in regular contact with local officials, and we will work within the boundaries of government guidelines and recommended protocols to keep the health and safety of our entire campus community a top priority.
Since 1852 when the Marianists arrived in San Antonio, St. Mary’s has cared for its students, faculty and staff as a family cares for its own. Expect the same from me and my colleagues during these difficult times. I urge us all, now more than ever, to work together as a community that cares for others, as much as we care for ourselves.
I look forward to welcoming you to the beginning of the fall semester. May God bless you.
June 28, 2020, 12:15 p.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
All Non-Essential Employees Should Work From Home This Week
With the surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases and the emergency alert sent yesterday to residents of the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, I ask all non-essential employees to stay home and comply with the request. If you are unsure about your status, please contact your supervisor.
Please plan to work from home next week – the week of Monday, June 29, 2020. Thank you for your efforts to protect your family and our community.
Stay safe and healthy, and may God bless each of you.
May 26, 2020, 1 p.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
Preparing for the Fall
St. Mary’s University will welcome students back to campus this fall. We will do so within the boundaries of government guidelines and with the health and safety of our campus community as a top priority.
Campus offices will need to be ready to provide both in-person and remote services on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. In the coming weeks, as offices slowly begin to reopen with in-person services, we will be working with departmental heads to implement proper protocols and begin to bring staff back to campus as soon as local City and County officials lift stay-home orders.
Adjusting the Fall Semester: We are adjusting the fall schedule to begin and end earlier to allow for the best possibility of an uninterrupted semester. Undergraduate and graduate classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, and end before Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 20. The last day of finals will be Wednesday, Nov. 25.
School of Law classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 12 (first-year students), and Monday, Aug. 17 (second- and third-year students), and end, including final exams, before Thanksgiving, the week of Nov. 23.
There will be no fall semester break to minimize travel and provide extra class time.
Adapting and Flexing Courses: Classes will be held using a variety of teaching and learning styles that are adaptable and optimal for accommodating incidents of quarantine and illness, unique situational needs, as well as international students who are unable to travel to the United States.
Training Faculty: Faculty completion of the University’s Online Teaching Certification Program is key to supporting the flexible and dynamic buildout for all courses this fall. Academic Technology Services will provide training and consultation throughout the summer, as well as peer-to-peer learning opportunities for course development in preparation for the fall semester.
Engaging Student Activities: Student services will be available in person and remotely. We are developing plans for engaging students in co-curricular activities using new and innovative approaches while following social distancing guidelines. Large gatherings for events and activities will be modified or suspended during the fall semester.
Wearing Face Masks: Face masks will be a requirement on campus. We are adding multiple layers of protection to keep the campus safe, which includes implementing social distancing measures, providing proper cleaning and disinfecting, installing plexiglass shields in appropriate locations, and posting signage and reminders about social distancing, hand-washing, mask wearing.
Living on Campus: Residence halls will not be filled to maximum capacity. Appropriate COVID-19 contact tracing, testing, quarantine and isolation protocols will be enacted to minimize the potential for exposure to the virus, as well as enhanced cleaning of all spaces.
Out-of-town students will have priority for on-campus housing, but our goal is to accommodate everyone. The University advises staying on campus instead of an apartment and will refund room and board if applicable government mandates for closing the campus are issued.
Preparing Staff: St. Mary’s Trustee George B. Hernández Jr., President and CEO of the Bexar County Hospital District, University Health System, and local health officials from his organization are partnering with us and providing guidance to ensure we are prepared for the fall.
Developing Protocols: The University has formed three teams to develop protocols for the campus to guide our focus on maintaining the health and safety of our community and delivering quality learning opportunities. The three areas of focus are instructional delivery, student services and campus space management. More detailed information will be provided as we get closer to the fall semester.
The University and its faculty and staff are working tirelessly to ensure as smooth a fall semester as possible. In keeping with our mission, St. Mary’s will continue to provide the highest-level academic experience to our students amid these challenging times.
May 13, 2020, 9:30 a.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
Work-From-Home Program Continues through End of May
We continue to prepare for students to return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester. The University is working on drafting policies and implementing protective measures necessary for the health and safety of our campus community to support being fully operational by Aug. 1, 2020. In the meantime, starting June 1, 2020, instead of the week of May 18, we will gradually begin reopening offices and providing a blend of remote and in-person services.
Implementing proper social distancing may require some offices to continue alternating schedules for a longer period of time. Areas, such as Student Activities, will need to establish new plans for engaging students this fall. As we move forward with reopening the campus, departments and offices need to assess their areas and work with their supervising member on the Executive Council to establish necessary plans to become fully operational.
Dr. Bryan Alsip, Chief Medical Officer for the University Health System and member of the City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 Health Transition Team, has agreed to work with St. Mary’s on readiness plans for the fall semester. Trustee George Hernandez, alumnus and CEO of University Health System, introduced us to Dr. Alsip and is working closely with me as an adviser. The members of the Board of Trustees Finance Committee are meeting regularly to discuss plans and strategies to best ensure the University’s financial health on the other side of this pandemic.
While all these conversations continue, so are efforts to recruit and retain students. Many of our students are applying for and beginning to receive funds provided through the CARES Act. We hope the funds will help our students return next semester. The Admissions Team, as well as other faculty, staff and students, are working to connect personally with our 4,500 admitted freshmen students to encourage them to consider St. Mary’s University and submit their deposits. We believe local students will likely want to stay close to home, so we rolled out a new incentive – Rattler Hometown Advantage. The Hometown Advantage gives eligible Bexar County students $2,000 (per year) of additional support over and above any scholarships and financial aid they otherwise qualify to receive. The Rattler Hometown Advantage is made possible by a generous gift from our St. Mary’s University Alumni Association.
Thank you for all you are doing for St. Mary’s University.
April 30, 2020, 9 a.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
Preparing to Welcome Students Back to Campus for the Fall Semester
Let me briefly address the question on your minds: Will our students be able this coming fall to take classes in St. Mary’s classrooms on our beautiful campus and will our residence halls be open too?
We share the hopes and optimism of other colleges and universities in Texas. We, like many other universities in Texas, are planning to safely resume in-person teaching, learning and residential life for the fall semester.
Our planning team has begun its work. We do so with the understanding that resuming on-campus activities in the fall will depend on the continued decline of COVID-19 cases in Texas and in San Antonio. We are and will continue to be guided by government and public health officials.
It’s too early, therefore, to make decisions on how exactly we will safely manage teaching, living and other activities on our campus. But I want you to know that our timeline for making these decisions is the end of June – and we will communicate with you as soon as we know.
Let me assure you that our top priority will be the safety and wellness of our St. Mary’s community – students, faculty and staff.
Administrative Offices to Gradually Begin Reopening – The Week of May 18
Beginning Friday, May 1, Governor Abbott has ordered a gradual reopening of the State of Texas. St. Mary’s will comply by gradually returning to providing in-person services and operations.
However, immediately, the University will continue the work-from-home program and remote services through Friday, May 15, 2020. Beginning the week of May 18, administrative offices should be prepared to implement schedules to open offices with minimal staffing to accommodate walk-in traffic. Members of the Executive Council are working to identify the applicable offices, as well as with supervisors to ensure delivery of services in a safe and socially responsible manner.
The University will continue to enforce mitigation measures to safeguard against the virus, such as social distancing, wearing cloth face masks, providing hand sanitizer stations and limiting group gatherings. All events will remain canceled for May, June and July.
Additional measures still being addressed include the installation of plexiglass shields in some offices, the creation of protocols and policies for office, classroom and residence hall environments and schedules, isolation and sick leave protocols, food services, etc. Some of these measures will be shared as we begin our gradual reopening of offices.
Student Enrollment Incentives
Our efforts to recruit and enroll new students and retain current students continue. Overall, our fall enrollment numbers are trending favorably, but we know that can change quickly.
Many of our current and prospective students have been hit hard by the financial challenges brought by the pandemic. They may not have the resources to continue classes this summer and join us in the fall.
So many families are dealing with the economic realities of COVID-19, and we are grateful to the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, which has stepped up with a gift of $620,000. This gift, as well as CARE Act funds from the federal government, will be used to recruit new students and retain current students who otherwise might not be able to attend St. Mary’s in the fall.
Other incentives for students include:
- New St. Mary’s Graduates Enrolling in St. Mary’s Graduate Programs
The graduate student discount for alumni who received a St. Mary’s bachelor’s degree in Fall 2019, Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 will cover 50% of tuition charges for a total of 15 credit hours completed in Summer 2020, Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. (This does not include a tuition discount for the St. Mary’s University School of Law programs, the Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision, or those pursuing an undergraduate, second or additional graduate degree.)
Not just for our graduates, but for others applying to St. Mary’s, the University has temporarily made the GRE and GMAT graduate school entry exams optional tests for most graduate programs.
- New Undergraduate Students – Freshmen and Transfers
St. Mary’s has also extended a special summer discount to new undergraduate students joining the University community this fall who have submitted their enrollment deposit by May 4. Those incoming undergraduate students can take advantage of expanded summer courses online at a 50% tuition discount.
Also, the University is offering an alternate, ACT and SAT test-optional pathway to complete applications to St. Mary’s for the Fall 2020 semester.
I am grateful for the countless ways in which faculty and staff have come together to support each other and provide a St. Mary’s experience to our current students. God bless you and your families.
April 20, 2020, 10:12 a.m.
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President:
Last week, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued an addendum to the Stay Home, Work Safe order, which requires everyone to wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public places where it is difficult to keep 6 feet away from other people.
As we continue to remain compliant with the City of San Antonio’s orders for implementing protective measures against COVID-19, St. Mary’s is issuing the same requirement for wearing a face covering when on campus in public spaces or areas that involve close proximity with others.
Also, summer events and activities on campus for June and July are canceled. We hope normal activities can resume in August. Still, the University will continue to comply with the City of San Antonio’s orders, which may include recommendations on event participants and crowd size limits.
I hope you are staying healthy and safe from the COVID-19 virus and that we continue to use caution and follow the Stay Home, Work Safe order. Again, thank you for all you are doing, whether you are working or teaching from home or on campus as an essential member of the University’s staff. Together, we will get through this.
March 19, 2020, 11:02 a.m.
Beginning Saturday, March 21, many campus services will have updated hours and availability.
Please see the list of services below for additional information.
- The Diamondback Café – Daily, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 6-8 p.m.
- Student Health Center – Visit the SHC webpage for hours
- Cotrell Learning Commons – Technical Support Center (including technology training) – By Appointment Only: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Support after 5 p.m. and on weekends will be handled remotely through video chat or by phone.
Additional resources from the Technical Support Center:
Services available via email, phone, teleconference and/or online – Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
- Office of the Registrar
- Blume Library (excluding the Cotrell Learning Commons)
- Graduate Center for Excellence
- Sarita Kenedy East Law Library
- Student Counseling Center
- Rattler Success Center and the Office of Academic Advising
- Student Accessibility Services
- Office of Student Retention
- Office of Financial Aid
- Business Office
- STRIVE Career Center
- Barnes & Noble Bookstore
- Student Development – Virtual Student Engagement Activities
Suspended operations and temporarily closed facilities:
- In-person masses conducted by University Ministry
- Testing Services
- Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center (including swimming pool and fitness center)
- University Center – (conference rooms and dining areas only)
- Law Commons
- Périgueux Hall Swimming Pool
- Chick-fil-A and Chick-fil-A dining area
- The POD
- The Pub at St. Mary’s
- For access to locked buildings, please contact the University Police Department at 210-436-3330 to gain entry.
March 16, 2020, 11:52 a.m.
As of Monday, March 16, all University-paid and sponsored travel is canceled.
Faculty and Staff
The Village at St. Mary’s
Leies Hall, Rooms 101-105
Student Health Center
Charles Francis Hall, First Floor
Student Counseling Center
Center for Life Directions
210-436-3135 (for appointments)
A counselor on duty is also available 24 hours a day via phone at 210-825-3622.
Dean of Students
More Travel Information
University-Sponsored Spring Break and Summer Trips
As of March 24, all summer student study abroad programs are canceled.
The University previously canceled international spring break trips as a step to safeguard the students, faculty and staff traveling and avoid the likely challenges associated with crossing international borders and being quarantined, especially at this time.
St. Mary’s has suspended University-sponsored or supported student, faculty and staff travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Warning.
The University will continue monitoring and assessing all University-sponsored travel, international and domestic.
University-Sponsored Essential Travel
As of Monday, March 16, all University-paid and sponsored travel is canceled.
St. Mary’s strongly discourages personal travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Warning. Due to the coronavirus, if you do travel internationally, the University has new travel requirements for all faculty, staff and students, beginning immediately and until further notice.
- All individuals visiting countries under CDC Levels 2 and 3 travel restrictions, upon leaving or returning, are required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation (off-campus) period before returning to campus and to self-report. Also, avoid interaction with other members of the campus community during the isolation period.
- During the 14 days of self-isolation, students should contact the Student Health Center by phone at 210-436-3506 for updated guidance and requirements before returning to school or work. Employees should self-report by calling the Office of Human Resources at 210-210-436-3725.
- All individuals traveling internationally, including to Mexico, are required to report your travel by filling out this brief online form.
- St. Mary’s University will not provide reentry assistance for any personal travel.
If you were on a cruise in the past 14 days:
- Monitor your health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the United States.
- If a case of COVID-19 was reported on your ship during the cruise, stay home during these 14 days and practice social distancing.
Personal International Travel
Important information includes:
- St. Mary’s discourages both domestic and international travel to locations with multiple community-transmitted confirmed cases.
- Know that if you leave the country, your trip may affect your ability to return to the United States and campus.
- Travelers should consider how their planned trips may affect their ability to return to the United States and campus. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance in case a last-minute change is needed.
- Travelers should allow for additional time for airport screening measures, which generally include temperature checks and questionnaires, and should follow directives from authorities.
- No one should travel while sick. Traveling while ill may result in additional screening measures, potential entry denial and quarantine. Anyone who is sick risks spreading germs and infection to others.