Southwestern University

Emergency Information

You have reached the emergency communications site for Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. In case of a campus emergency and/or sustained network outage, emergency information and communications will be posted here.


COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

March 24, 5:00 p.m.

Dear SU resident,

Today, Williamson County has issued a Stay Home Stay Safe Order for all individuals in Williamson County. This Order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and will continue through 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020. In response to that order, the residence halls have been locked and card access suspended.

If you are close to Georgetown and want to come to campus today, Tuesday March 24, to complete your checkout, please contact the Housing Office at 512.863.1624. We will work with you to coordinate a staggered time for you to return to campus today (Tuesday) to complete your checkout.

If you are currently on campus and in the process of moving out, please complete your move-out before 11:59 p.m. tonight.

For those of you who have received a housing exemption approval, more information will be coming regarding the Stay Home Stay Safe Order and how it impacts you.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, all scheduled checkout times have been postponed due to the Williamson County Stay Home Stay Safe Order. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. After April 13, presuming the order is lifted, we will resume the checkouts and advise you of the revised process.

After 11:59 p.m. tonight, we ask that you not return to campus until we advise you differently. Because of the Stay Home Stay Safe Order, staffing and services on campus will be limited to essential employees.

Sincerely,

Joe Watkins
Director of Residence Life


COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

    • Spring Break has been extended through Sunday, March 29.
    • Distance learning goes into effect March 30.
      This action is being taken in response to the news of diagnosed cases of Coronavirus in Williamson County. More information will be coming to you soon from your professors as well as from staff who will remain available to assist you in your coursework. If you have questions about a specific class do not hesitate to contact your professor.
    • Residence halls closed for the spring semester at noon on Sunday, March 22. Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, all scheduled checkout times have been postponed due to the Williamson County Stay Home Stay Safe Order. The order took effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, and will continue through 11:59 p.m. on April 13. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. After April 13, presuming the order is lifted, we will resume the checkouts and advise you of the revised process. For those of you who have received a housing exemption approval, more information will be coming regarding the Stay Home Stay Safe Order and how it impacts you.
    • Room and board will be prorated for the semester. Details of the refund process will be communicated to both students and parents in a direct communication over the next week.
    • Commencement is postponed. 
      Williamson County has ordered a ban on all events, as well as dining in common areas of restaurants and bars, which necessitates that we postpone Commencement. We will be reaching out to the graduating class so that together we can find a proper way to honor the class and their achievements at Southwestern.
    • Continue to practice cold and flu prevention measures.
    • Review the Coronavirus FAQs , and contact Shelley Story, Dean of Students if you need additional information or assistance.
    • Check your email or this page for updates.
    • Following the extended Spring Break, beginning Monday, March 30, Southwestern will deliver coursework to students through distance learning. Contact Julie Sievers of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, for information on preparing for distance learning.
    • We will hold faculty development sessions so you can learn about new technologies or teaching strategies that can help you adapt course learning goals.
    • If you have plans for personal travel before the end of the semester let the University know. See “How to Report Travel.”
    • University sponsored travel for faculty is suspended until further notice. 
    • COVID-19 testing, when medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidelines, has been added to all three of the University’s group medical plans as preventive care coverage. Call the number on the back of your Blue Cross ID card for specific benefit questions prior to obtaining services.  If you have any other questions, please call the University’s Benefits Coordinator, Cynthia Nguyen, at Ext. 1807 in the Human Resources department.
    • Continue to practice cold and flu prevention measures.
    • Review the Coronavirus FAQs , and contact Julie Cowley, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, if you need additional information or assistance.
    • Check your email or this page for updates.
    • Williamson County has issued a “stay-at-home” order for all residents. The order states that all residents should only leave home for essential activity, essential business, essential government functions, and critical care functions. This order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, and will continue through 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020. For Southwestern University the order means we will suspend all on-campus operations with the exception of those that are essential and cannot be conducted remotely. Please note that these actions don’t represent a closure of Southwestern - academic and business operations continue. The President and President’s Staff have worked with their teams to determine a list of “essential employees” who need access to the campus in order to keep the university operational. Most Southwestern employees will be able to continue their work from home and will not require the “essential employee” designation.
    • If you are sick, do not come to work. Contact your supervisor to make necessary arrangements.
    • Discuss your schedule with your supervisor. Talk to your supervisor to understand their expectations and to let them know if you have extenuating circumstances that require you to work remotely or care for a loved one.
    • University sponsored travel for staff is suspended until further notice.
    • If you have plans for personal travel before the end of the semester, let the University know. See “How to Report Travel.”
    • COVID-19 testing, when medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidelines, has been added to all three of the University’s group medical plans as preventive care coverage. Call the number on the back of your Blue Cross ID card for specific benefit questions prior to obtaining services. If you have any other questions, please call the University’s Benefits Coordinator, Cynthia Nguyen, at Ext. 1807 in the Human Resources department.
    • Continue to practice cold and flu prevention measures.
    • Review the Coronavirus FAQs , and contact Elma Benavides, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, if you need additional information or assistance.
    • Check your email or this page for updates.
  • During the COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS outbreak, we are taking the precautionary step of asking members of our community to let the University know where they are traveling. All faculty and staff are asked to register all planned professional and personal travel between now and the end of the semester by completing the form at the appropriate link below as soon as possible.

    For more information on the travel registry:

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot/warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    • In the absence of soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
    • Handwashing is especially important before eating and after using the bathroom.
    • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
    • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
    • Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, cell phones, keyboards, light switches, etc.).
    • Stay at home if you are sick (fever, shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms).
    • Avoid large crowds.
    • Stay home if someone with whom you have regular contact is diagnosed with the Coronavirus.
  • March 19, 10:00 a.m. Message from President Knobel

    It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the details of several very difficult decisions Southwestern University has ma­­de as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

    For Students

    Distance learning goes into effect March 30. Based upon the news of the first diagnosed cases of Coronavirus in Williamson County, our home county, we have determined that starting on March 30 it will be necessary for our students to complete spring semester­­­ through distance learning. Our faculty is already putting distance learning curricula in place. Our professors will communicate to their students all information regarding grading policies and assignments. If students have specific questions about a class I urge you to contact your professor.

    As Dean Gaunder communicated to you yesterday, the changes you might experience with distance learning include, but are not necessarily limited to, more frequent communication via email, greater use of Moodle, and/or class discussions/lectures via Google Hangouts Meet.

    The goal of the University is to keep courses as similar as possible to their original design, in many cases faculty will have to make significant adjustments and everyone will have to try new ways of doing things. More information will be coming to you soon from your professors as well as from staff who remain available to assist you in your coursework.

    Commencement is postponed. Williamson County has ordered a ban on all public events, as well as dining in common areas of restaurants and bars. This ban has been mandated through May 11, 2020. Unfortunately, this necessitates that we postpone Commencement, which was scheduled for May 9. We are heartbroken to have this long-held and meaningful tradition interrupted in this way. We will be reaching out to representatives of the graduating class so that together we can find a proper way to honor the class and their great achievements at Southwestern. Members of the Class of 2020, please look for a preliminary survey in your email in the next few days.

    All other campus events are also cancelled starting immediately.

    Residence halls will close on March 22. In light of these decisions and our concerns about protecting the health of our students, faculty and staff, university housing will close for the spring semester effective Sunday, March 22 at noon. Students who are currently on campus should vacate their rooms before that time. In order to adhere to social distancing protocols, we will stagger the move out and checkout process for the remainder of our on-campus students until Sunday, March 29. Our goal with this timeline is to minimize disruption during the distance learning period which begins March 30. You may reserve a time to check out through an online process that we will share with residential communities via email by noon today, March 19.

    If returning to campus to move out before March 30 presents a significant hardship or if you have absolutely no other option for safe housing, you may apply for an exemption using this form . Limited exceptions will be made for only the most difficult of circumstances.

    Room and board will be prorated for the semester. Details of this process will be communicated to both students and parents in a direct communication over the next few weeks.

    For Faculty

    Continue preparations for distance learning. I urge faculty to continue the process of adjusting your courses for remote teaching. 

    Reach out to students. This is an uncertain time for all of us, but especially our student body. I ask each of you to keep your students apprised of your plans and changes to your courses as you adapt to remote teaching. Please provide extra support to our students as we all step into this unfamiliar territory.

    Attend faculty development sessions . We are holding faculty development sessions so you can learn about new technologies or teaching strategies that can help them adapt course learning goals.  Changes you might experience include, but are not necessarily limited to, more frequent communication with students via email, greater use of Moodle, and/or class discussions/lectures via Google Hangouts Meet

    For Staff

    Thank you for your dedication. The burden falls on you to m aintain critical mission services on campus such as facilities management, public safety, core administrative functions, IT support for online learning, and essential business operations . Each department has set up work schedules to encourage social distance while maintaining essential services.

    If you are sick, stay at home. Your health and wellness are important to us. Please remember it is just as important to protect the health of your co-workers. Contact your supervisor to make arrangements to work remotely. Contact Elma Benavides, Associate Vice President for Human Resources, if you need additional information or assistance.

    Discuss your schedule with your supervisor. Although we will not have students on campus for the rest of the semester, there are many ongoing operations that will need to be staffed. Please talk to your supervisor to understand their expectations and to let them know if you have extenuating circumstances that require you to work remotely or care for a loved one.

    Continue to practice virus prevention measures. Review the Coronavirus FAQs on the website for more information about symptoms and prevention  

    For the entire Southwestern Community

    Our lives have changed dramatically. I, along with our university leadership team, understand the COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly challenging for everyone. We have not made these decisions lightly or without a great deal of deliberation. We will continue to keep you updated on all relevant information and decisions. Please visit our website for ongoing updates.  

    Our Southwestern community is very special. I ask each of you to support one another as well as our family, friends, and neighbors during these trying times.  


    March 17, 4:07 p.m. Update

    COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS FAQs updated

     

    March 17, 4:32 p.m. Update

    Dear students,

    I am writing today as Dean of the Faculty to give you an idea of what to expect when remote learning begins on March 30th after our extended spring break.

    As you know, distance learning is a significant departure for Southwestern. So right now, faculty are beginning the process of adjusting their courses to prepare for remote teaching.  Within the next week, they will begin reaching out to you to update you on changes to your courses and to find out how they can support your learning within whatever circumstances you find yourself.

    We are holding faculty development sessions where faculty are learning about new technologies or teaching strategies that can help them adapt course learning goals.  Changes you might experience include, but are not necessarily limited to, more frequent communication via email, greater use of Moodle, and/or class discussions/lectures via Google Hangouts Meet. 

    Although our goal is to keep courses as similar as possible to their original design, in many cases faculty will have to make significant adjustments and everyone will have to try new ways of doing things. Expect to see syllabus updates to the course schedule and some course policies as a first step to this transition. More information will be coming to you soon from your professors as well as from staff who remain available to assist you in your coursework. 

    In the meantime, we are sending you our hopes for your health and safety, and for that of your families and friends.  And we look forward to seeing and hearing from you in class soon, even at a distance. 

    With best wishes,
    Professor Gaunder


    March 12, 6:22 p.m. Update

    Dear Southwestern Community,

    These decisions are not easy, but my commitment to you is to communicate all pertinent information as quickly and effectively as possible.

    In trying to protect both the welfare of the campus community and the ability of students to complete their spring coursework, and, in some cases, their degrees, in the face of COVID-19, we have been taking a step by step approach—taking one step and then evaluating before considering the next.

    To allow for faculty to rework their courses for distance delivery and to provide us all with a better sense of the trajectory of and effective responses to COVID-19, we are extending spring break for a full week rather than two days.  Spring break will now end on Sunday, March 29.  Beginning Monday, March 30, Southwestern will deliver coursework to students through distance learning mechanisms for a period of at least two weeks, ending April 9 due to the Good Friday holiday.  During that period, we will assess whether face-to-face, on campus instruction can resume on Monday, April 13, or whether it will be more prudent to continue with distance learning.

    We have conferred with local and state health authorities and other institutions of higher education.  We have also been in communication with the NCAA, which has just announced the cancelation of winter and spring championships.  Likewise, we have been communicating with study abroad provider organizations.

    On the strength of those consultations, we are 1) suspending all athletic competition, 2) instructing all students currently studying abroad to repatriate to the United States (these students will not return to campus until cleared to do so), 3) cancelling summer study abroad programs because of international uncertainties, and 4) in the interests of social distancing, cancelling or reorganizing campus gatherings.

    Because the situation is fluid, we are discussing and assessing our operational plans every day. We will communicate as quickly as possible, any changes in the day-to-day operation of the campus. This means that we all must plan ahead to make whatever transitions may be necessary at short notice in the coming days and weeks. I have some very specific requests for all of you:

    •  Students, please do take your laptops, books and course materials with you over Spring Break in case you are detained during personal travel or the University makes changes in how your classes are delivered. You are strongly encouraged to stay away from campus during the extended Spring Break.  During this time, food service will end on Friday, March 13 and will resume on Sunday, March 29.  There will be no programming and services will be limited. If you need to remain on campus or need special assistance, please contact the Office of Student Life at 512-863-1624 or reslife@southwestern.edu .
    • Faculty, please refer to the email from Julie Sievers, Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, regarding information on faculty development and know that I appreciate all the work you are doing to prepare for contingencies. And accept my thanks for your diligence and commitment during this difficult period.
    • Staff, please watch for guidance from Human Resources to help ensure you can work remotely, should it become necessary. And know that I appreciate the long hours under stressful circumstances that you are putting in to prepare for various contingencies.

     The best and most recent information can be found on the website Emergency Information page.  I am sure you understand that as the volume of questions has increased, we are attempting to deliver answers in a way that shares information with everyone who needs them—through the FAQs  on the Emergency Information page.

    For any of you who have medical conditions that make you more vulnerable in the event of exposure to COVID-19, we want to support you in making accommodations to protect your health.  If you need additional information and assistance, students are asked to contact Shelley Story, Dean of Students; faculty are asked to contact Julie Cowley, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and staff are asked to contact Elma Benavides, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

    Finally, I ask you to Be Southwestern—treat each other with respect and think about what is best for our community as we work through this trying time. The bonds of our community are more important now than ever before. We are all working to keep one another safe and to end the Spring semester in a celebratory and successful way. I ask you to take a deep breath, do what you feel is right for you, and engage in the tough work necessary to get us through this challenge.

    Sincerely,

    Dale T. Knobel
    President


    March 11, 6:02 p.m. Update
    Southwestern University has made the decision to extend Spring Break for our students by two days in an effort to better prepare the campus for any additional actions that need to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS. This means that for students Spring Break will begin on Monday, March 16 and continue through Tuesday, March 24.

    The University strongly recommends that all students remain off campus during the entirety of Spring Break. There will be no classes or programming on campus during this period. Students also need to be aware that all food services will be closed during Spring Break ending with dinner on March 13.  Food services will resume full operation for dinner on the evening of Tuesday, March 24.

    The Spring Break extension only applies to students. Faculty will be expected back on campus on Monday, March 23 in order to participate in all-faculty workshops to review and prepare for distance learning, should it become necessary.

    The University’s leadership team made a decision to continue campus operations and university-sponsored domestic travel for students, faculty, and staff, for the time being. The University will immediately communicate any changes to this decision.

    We also determined that due to the current conditions in Spain and the need to make an immediate decision, the Summer Abroad trip to Granada, Spain will be cancelled. The University will continue to monitor the factors surrounding other summer abroad programs and will make a decision about each one in the coming weeks.

    Students, faculty, and staff are urgently asked to continue to practice prevention measures similar to those utilized against the common cold and flu. Those measures include frequent hand washing and avoiding touching one’s face with unwashed hands.

    The University also asks all students, faculty, and staff to complete the Travel Registry. If any member of the campus community feels sick during or after any travel they need to self-quarantine before returning to campus.

    Given that this situation may escalate, we encourage staff to consider and prepare what they would need on a daily basis to work from home (e.g. laptop, files, contact information, etc.) As a precautionary measure, students are encouraged to take their school and personal essentials over Spring Break.

    The University’s Emergency Management Team and leadership continue to monitor developments in the COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS situation. We will provide ongoing updates on our plans.

    March 9, 5:00 p.m. Update

    COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS FAQs updated


    March 6, 3:45 p.m. Update

    Southwestern University places the highest priority on the health and safety of everyone entrusted to our care – students, faculty, and staff.  During this global outbreak of COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS, we urge the entire campus community to take every precaution to ensure we all remain healthy and to reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading to our campus.  As this virus continues to spread, affecting more countries around the globe, Southwestern University will continue to follow all government-issued advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. State Department, and the Williamson County and Cities Health District.

    One precautionary step we are taking is to know where members of our community are traveling.  All students, faculty, and staff are asked to register all planned professional and personal travel between now and the end of the semester with the University by completing the form at the appropriate link below as soon as possible.

    The registration process is intended to provide a sense of the overall travel profile of our community, which will allow us to make decisions about campus planning and preparation. The information collected will remain private to the extent possible. 

    If you are traveling internationally over spring break please keep in mind the following:

    • It is likely that international travelers may face further restrictions while they are traveling or upon returning to the United States. Presently, the CDC does not recommend travel in China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. Because this list may expand, we encourage international travelers to consult the CDC’s website .
    • If any student, faculty, staff, or campus visitor has traveled to a country that is subject to the CDC’s Level 3 or greater Travel Health Notice, they will be subject to a mandatory 14-day off-campus quarantine period.
    • If you are planning any international travel over spring break—on behalf of the University or personally—we also strongly urge you to register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program . This will help us coordinate with you if your travel plans unexpectedly change. Understand and routinely check any travel and border government-imposed restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination, and upon your return. These restrictions could  include denial of entry or a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival. 

    The Office of Study Abroad and International Student Services has been in contact with all students who are currently studying abroad,  advising them to follow the directions of their program provider and to follow CDC preventative measures to avoid the transmission of viruses.

    For more information on traveling during the COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS outbreak, see the Travel section of our CORONAVIRUS FAQs.

    Other Resources

    Resources are updated by respective organizations.


    March 3, 5:00 p.m. Update

    Southwestern University puts the highest priority on the health and safety of everyone entrusted to our care – students, faculty, and staff. During this global outbreak of COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS, we urge the entire campus community to take every precaution to ensure we all remain healthy and that the disease does not spread to our campus. The University’s Emergency Management Team is actively monitoring the situation and will provide ongoing updates.

    The most important thing every member of the SU community can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19-CORONAVIRUS is to practice disease prevention procedures . This includes frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and consulting a healthcare professional if you feel sick.

    Students, faculty, and staff who are feeling sick with fever, or experiencing other significant symptoms such as trouble breathing and a cough, should avoid exposing others and visit the Health Center or your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

    The University Emergency Management Team is also monitoring all government-issued advisories, including travel guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. State Department as they are issued. If you plan to travel abroad in the future, please understand that these guidelines may change at any time and thus may affect your return to campus.

    We will continue to update the information on this site, so you have the most current information possible. You can also review our CORONAVIRUS  FAQs  and visit the CDC webpage  for more details. 

    Helpful Links


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