Reopening and Campus Health and Safety

Reopening and Health and Safety FAQs




Q: Has anyone on campus been diagnosed with this disease?

A: Yes. Through July 10, 2020, there have been three campus community members who have been confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.  Infected individuals followed University policies and took immediate voluntary action to self-quarantine. The University conducted its standard cleaning and response protocol and communicated directly with anyone who may have been in close contact with the affected campus members. These individuals will not return to campus until their healthcare provider certifies that they do not pose a risk of spreading the virus.


Q: How will the university alert SU community members to COVID-19-related updates going forward?

A: We will continue to update this website and send emails to faculty, staff, and students on a regular  basis. Members of the Southwestern community are encouraged to forward their questions to their supervisors, department chairs, and/or senior staff, or submit them to


Q: When will students return?

A: We will resume on-campus instruction on August 24th. On-campus instruction will be completed before Thanksgiving, and the remainder of the semester will be conducted remotely. We are creating contingency plans for returning to remote instruction should the outbreak COVID-19 and/or public policy changes prevent us from continuing instruction on campus.


Q: With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Texas, is Southwestern considering changing the previously announced fall schedule or moving to online learning?

A: Our goal is to reopen campus and start the fall, on August 24, as we previously announced. However, as we all know, the pandemic has created the need to constantly assess and make adjustments. Southwestern is monitoring the situation, working with medical experts, and seeking advice from local government agencies. We have contingency plans in place and will notify everyone should we make changes to our plan for reopening.

Health & Safety

Q: Do I need to wear a mask? What health protocols are required on campus now?
A: As part of our return-to-work plan, all persons (staff, faculty, students, vendors, and visitors) on campus will be required to practice the following health protocols:

  • A mask or cloth face covering that covers an individual’s nose and mouth is required at all times in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces unless an individual is  alone in a private office or a private space, this includes students’ dorm rooms..
  • Everyone must practice physical distancing ‚Äì maintaining a separation of six feet ‚Äì at all times and in all indoor and outdoor campus spaces.
  • Individuals need to practice good hand hygiene by frequently washing their hands and/or using hand sanitizer.
  • You must monitor your health symptoms on a daily basis. Anyone who is exhibiting a high fever or other symptoms must stay away from campus.


Q: Will the university be providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, to the campus community?

A: Yes. Southwestern is providing every student, faculty member, and staff member two high-quality nonmedical-grade masks. These are reusable and washable masks. One disposable mask will be provided to visitors. The University will have extra masks on hand for purchase to replace lost or damaged masks.


Q: Will SU require COVID-19 testing for students before returning to campus?

A: We are currently developing a plan and protocol regarding testing for students, faculty, and staff. As soon as the information becomes available we will be contacting our community.


Q: How will Southwestern make sure students, staff, and faculty are following the health and safety guidelines?

A: Southwestern is reviewing a variety of ways to ensure the entire SU community follows our new health protocols. Our campus will have a whole new look and processes in place to remind everyone of the requirements. 

Facilities Management has spent the month of June physically going through every single building on campus and mapping out a traffic flow to utilize physical distancing. Signage has been placed in buildings and on floors as reminders. They have also removed excess furniture and set existing furniture in a layout that respects physical distancing. 

We, as a community, will hold each other accountable to adhering to the guidelines, including physical distancing.

Q: How will physical distancing be enforced on campus?

A: Many precautions will be in place upon the return to campus. Classrooms have been physically distanced. Travel paths in buildings and around campus have been identified. Traffic flow in residential spaces has been created.The Commons and overall dining experience is being revised to embrace physical distancing. RAs will be important advocates for compliance within the residential spaces.  What will be incumbent upon all of us is to monitor behavior and be active bystanders should non-compliance be noticed. To that end, Mosaic and the residential experience students are creating programming on how to be an active bystander in many situations, including COVID response. 


Q: Will publicly used spaces such as laundry rooms and various seating areas be cleaned more regularly?

A: Facilities Management is working on a cleaning schedule, with more focus on community areas (lounges, laundry rooms).  


Q: If a student tests positive for or has been exposed to COVID-19, will they be quarantined?

A: The University is still finalizing our quarantine (for someone who has been exposed to someone who tested positive) and isolation (for someone who has tested positive) protocols, but they will align with county and state health department requirements. 


Q: What are you doing to eliminate student travel in order to avoid bringing the virus to campus?

A: Students are asked to limit all nonessential travel starting August 1. Thereafter, any nonessential travel will be highly discouraged and will be logged with the University. In that spirit, Labor Day and fall break have been eliminated to decrease the opportunity for leisure travel.


Q: Due to health conditions, or other concerns, I am worried about participating in in-person courses this fall. Do I have options for remote learning?

A: Students who require accommodations, including remote learning, due to underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of serious complications from COVID-19 should contact Associate Director of Academic Success Jennifer Smull, And if you want to explore the possibility of remote learning for any other reasons please reach out to Director of Academic Success Dave Seiler,


Q: Will the new shorter instruction times and release times cause conflict between scheduling back-to-back classes? 

A: The changes that are being made to the course schedule grid will not result in any class conflicts for students. Additional information will be made available in the coming weeks.


Q: Due to new physical distancing rules in the classroom, one of my classes got canceled. If all the other classes that would mean something towards my degree are full, what can I do?

A: Please contact Director of Academic Success Dave Seiler,, to explore other course options that will allow you to make progress towards your degree plan. 


Q: Will Southwestern still be able to offer all of their majors the classes necessary to graduate?

A: Absolutely. The University is committed to supporting students in making progress toward their degree. 


Q: If Southwestern moves to remote learning, will tuition be discounted?

A: No, Southwestern University will not discount tuition. The University is committed to offering an outstanding educational experience centered on the student-faculty relationship within a small class atmosphere, whether in person or virtual.


Q: How will the Sarofim School of Fine Arts accommodate new physical distancing guidelines?

A: Each of the department chairs in the Sarofim School of Fine Arts is working with the Dean of the Faculty to ensure that courses and experiences are structured in such a way that the health and safety of students and instructors are prioritized. We encourage you to reach out to your department chair for more information.

Life at Southwestern

Q: What will on-campus dining look like this fall?

A: Southwestern is reviewing a variety of dining options for the fall that follow our new health and safety protocols. In general, we are evaluating and finalizing various options to include physically distanced/reduced seating capacity for in-person dining and a robust set of to-go options. In all cases, meals will be staff-served with no student self-service permitted. Dining facility staff will be required to wear face masks and gloves at all times while working and interacting with the public. Waiting lines outside and inside the facility will be physically spaced with floor markers and masks/face coverings will be required. We will update students when a dining plan is finalized.


Q: When will Fall 2020 guidelines for student organizations be shared?

A: Student Activities is working on a comprehensive communication for all student organizations.  The communication will include information on hosting meetings, events, advertisement, logistics, and many other facets of organization life. There will be an initial communication and then subsequent messaging with much more detail as the beginning of the semester draws closer.


Q: Will on-campus parties be banned?

A: Student organization leaders will be receiving specific guidance and training from Student Activities over the next several weeks with regard to planning activities on campus. Any in-person gathering will be required to follow all safety protocols, including physical distancing, reduced capacity of indoor spaces, and mask-wearing practiced by all attendees. No event will be approved unless its organizers can first demonstrate how they will successfully follow these protocols. There are additional specific limitations that will prevent groups from congregating, and those will be described in upcoming communications.

Residence Halls

Q: If students come back and the residence halls are full what will you do?

A: We may have some unexpected flexibility within halls to place students in alternate locations. We may also consider utilizing the housing exemption process and possibly make more liberal exemptions to the housing requirement.


Q: Will students be able to stay in their residence halls over winter break? 

A: All residential facilities will be closing on November 25, as we work to de-densify and thoroughly clean the campus between the fall and spring semester. Students are asked to bring only the minimum of what they need for the fall semester and then completely move out before the start of the spring semester. . Housing and Residence Life will be providing more information on the fall move-out process as early as possible to ensure students can make the proper arrangements.


Q: If students are sent home during the fall semester will they receive refunds for their remaining room and board costs?

A: We will follow the same process as we did for the Spring semester. If the pandemic necessitates that we close campus, room and board costs will be prorated.


Q: What is Southwestern doing in order to decrease a students’ risk of exposure in residential areas? 

A: Housing, in collaboration with health services and facilities, will implement protocols to decrease students’ risk of exposure, while allowing for some of the community-building benefits of the residential experience. In accordance with established guidelines, we are planning for changes such as:

  • requiring residents to wear masks or facial coverings while on campus and in community  areas
  • restricting building access to residents of that building only
  • configuring community areas for physical distancing per current guidelines
  • educating residents about proper hand and respiratory hygiene
  • educating residents on proper cleaning of their private spaces
  • providing hand sanitizer across campus
  • using isolation/quarantine spaces for residents who test positive and/or have had exposure to the virus
  • cleaning common areas with OSHA-approved disinfectants and on an OSHA-recommended schedule
  • optimizing HVAC systems for better ventilation and increased percentage of outdoor air.

As we have seen in the past few months, conditions change quickly, as do recommendations for safe practices. We will communicate more specific information and guidelines to residents later in the summer.

Georgetown Community

Q: Due to Georgetown Mayor’s Dale Ross’ edict on June 29, masks are not required when exercising outside. Am I still required to wear a mask on your campus when exercising?

A: In order to prepare our campus - buildings and all outdoor spaces - for the return of our students in the fall, we have instituted a face mask requirement for everyone who works on or visits our campus. We ask our neighbors to assist us by serving as role models for our student body and wear a mask if you are on our campus.

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