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Campus Reopening FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions relating to the Saint Vincent College Health and Safety Plan and COVID-19 preparedness.

  • Campus Health and Safety Questions

    Is it possible for all the students to get tested before or when students come back on campus? This will ease some of the anxiety of not knowing if someone they regularly hangout with has the virus.

    Currently the CDC is NOT recommending testing for higher education and reopening campuses. Our local medical and public health experts agree. One of the reasons is that testing has the potential of giving a false sense of security (“ease some anxiety”). Our medical and health experts have shared that testing is a snapshot and only tells us that an individual is not infectious with COVID-19 that particular day, even though it is possible that, if one had been exposed, that they would test positive within the next several days. Further, by the time the test result is known, the person likely had many contacts that may have resulted in an infection. Thus, if you let your guard down (don’t wear a mask or keep physically distant) because someone tested negative last week, you are putting yourself at much more risk. 

    If there is a large outbreak, what is the plan?

    The College is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation. The College will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the campus community following the guidance of local, state, and federal agencies. We are making decisions in best interest of students and families each day, hoping for positive change but recognizing that there will be changes along the way. The steps we, as a community, take daily will help mitigate opportunities for virus to spread. 


    How many rooms do you have available to isolate students?

    Ideally students who are able are encouraged to return home while in isolation or quarantine and should participate in courses remotely. At this time space for approximately twenty students of each gender are reserved for isolation of resident students awaiting testing or results. Similar space is reserved for students who have tested positive and cannot return home. Occupancy of these floors will be closely monitored. 


    Are Latrobe and Westmoreland Hospitals equipped and able to deal with another COVID outbreak?
    Excela Health administers three hospitals near Saint Vincent’s campus and is well-positioned to provide medical treatment for the College community. Excela’s COVID-19 testing center is less than three miles from campus. Saint Vincent and Excela Health enjoy a close relationship, partnering to provide a doctoral program for nurse anesthesia as well as clinical experience for the undergraduate nursing program. We continue to work closely with local healthcare professionals to ensure our campus is supported and prepared to handle the pandemic.


    Will the campus community be notified when a member of the college community is diagnosed with COVID-19?
    Upon discovery of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 at Saint Vincent, contact tracing will take place in accordance with CDC guidelines and impacted students, faculty and staff will be notified of possible exposure and provided with further instructions. Staff from the Wellness Center and the office of Event and Conference Services have been trained to conduct contact tracing for the College. Saint Vincent will not share the identity of a student or employee who has tested positive for COVID-19, except to the extent necessary to provide care and assistance.


    When will masks be required to be worn?

    Cloth face coverings must be worn in all indoor public spaces and common areas, shared workspaces, classrooms and restrooms by students, faculty and staff. They should also be worn outdoors in areas where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The garment must cover the nose and mouth while allowing for continued, unlabored breathing. Face coverings are not required to be work in private office areas unless individuals are conducting an in-person meeting, in a student’s residence hall neighborhood, or outside where social distancing can be maintained. Those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition must provide a physician’s note, and Saint Vincent will meet with the individual to determine if reasonable accommodations are available to protect the individual and the College community.


    Will the school have masks readily available for distribution?
    Employees and students are encouraged to bring their own masks or face-coverings from home. Cloth face coverings for employee use are available through the Human Resources Department and for purchase at the bookstore. Anyone in need of a face covering may contact HR by email or phone to arrange for acquiring a mask.


    Will the school have any COVID-19 testing measures in effect?

    The Wellness Center will screen students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms via phone during business hours. A student with criteria for COVID-19 testing will be given a prescription from a campus physician to be tested at the Excela Health COVID-19 clinic and isolated while awaiting results. If a student seeks medical attention for COVID-19 symptoms after regular business hours, the student must notify their prefect/residence hall director immediately. If the student does not have a vehicle or is feeling too poorly to drive, transportation to the test site will be provided by the College. Students shall not seek transportation to the test site from other students. College staff providing transportation will be equipped with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and maximize distance within the vehicle. Students referred for a COVID-19 test by their primary care physician or a health care provider other than the Saint Vincent Wellness Center must notify the Wellness Center of the results of the test.


    I’m not sick, but my roommate tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

    Roommates, pod mates or floor mates who share a bathroom with a student who tested positive shall be quarantined for 14 days after their last exposure to the positive individual. These students in quarantine will have the option to return home and continue classes remotely, or they may remain quarantined in their residence halls while taking part in classes remotely and being delivered meals. Roommates of individuals who are waiting for test results will be quarantined during that waiting period as well (the roommate being tested will be isolated in a separate room). If the roommate’s test comes back negative, the quarantine can end, but if it comes back positive, the roommate will complete the 14 days.


    Can I get tested for the virus whenever I’d like, as many times as I’d like?

    The Saint Vincent Wellness Center will screen students via phone who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and a student with the criteria for COVID-19 testing will then be given a prescription from a campus physician to be tested at the Excela COVID-19 clinic. Students who are referred for a COVID-19 test by their primary care physician or health care provided unaffiliated with the Saint Vincent Wellness Center must notify the Wellness Center that they are being tested so that isolation and contact tracing can begin, and then must notify the Wellness Center of the results of the test.


    What will the sanitization schedule be for FMO?
    Saint Vincent will continue routine cleaning to remove dirt and germs from surfaces in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines. High touch surfaces will be routinely cleaned and disinfected using an EPA-approved disinfectant. When notified or a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of affected living area and workspaces will be initiated. After notification of a positive test, any space that the positive COVID-19 individual occupied 48 hours prior to the notification will be cleaned and disinfected following the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.


    If a student tests positive, what does (s)he do and where does (s)he go?

    Students who test positive should return home for isolation, if possible. If a student is unable to return home for isolation, the College will provide an isolation room. Appropriate residences have been designated for this purpose. Students who remain on campus while quarantined will be supported with remote medical care and education and will be delivered meals.


    Will there be any contact tracing procedures?

    Upon discovery of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, contact tracing will take place in accordance with CDC guidelines. Impacted students, faculty and staff will be notified of possible exposure and provided with further instruction. Staff from the Wellness Center and the Office of Event and Conference Services have been trained to conduct contact tracing at the College. Saint Vincent will not share the identity of a student or employee who has tested positive for COVID-19, except to the extent necessary to provide care.

  • Residence Halls

    How are you going to know if someone is in a “neighborhood” they shouldn’t be in?

    While Residence Life staff will be monitoring, we ask students to also remind one another to be mindful of this requirement in order to promote the welfare of our entire community.


    Will someone be monitoring who is coming in and out of the dorms 24/7? Will we only be allowed to use one set of doors when entering or exiting?

    Student ID cards will be set for neighborhood access. Some doors on campus will be posted for exit or entrance only. In the event of an emergency, all doors may be used as exits.


    How often will residence halls be cleaned?

    Residence halls will be sanitized before move-in, cleaned throughout move-in, and common areas cleaned three times daily throughout the semester.


    Can I visit my son or daughter in their residence hall this year?

    At this time, we are limiting access to the halls and visitors are not permitted.


    Can I have friends from other schools visit with me at any time?

    At this time, we are limiting access to the halls and visitors are not permitted. We are committed to providing the safest possible experience for everyone at Saint Vincent.

  • Student Life Questions

    Can students visit home over weekends during the semester?

    It is discouraged in the Health and Safety plan, but if necessary, we ask that they adhere to the plan expectations such as washing hands, using masks and social distancing. If a student must leave campus overnight, we ask that you notify your Prefect or Residence Hall Director.


    I need to go home for a family emergency. Will I be allowed to come back to campus right away? Will I need to self-isolate before or upon returning?

    Students leaving campus during the semester and traveling to a state on the Pennsylvania list recommending quarantine will need to self-isolate upon returning to campus for 14 days or have a negative COVID-19 test result after returning.


    What is there going to be for me to do on campus this semester with so many limitations in place?

    Clubs will still be active, Residence Life will have programs, the Activity Programming Board is planning events and the Orientation Team will be engaging and welcoming freshmen throughout the first five weeks of classes.  These activities will vary from being outdoors, in large indoor spaces or online as virtual events.


    What will happen if I break one of the COVID-19 rules?

    Being on campus requires following the guidelines in the Health and Safety Plan. Willful, repeated, or reckless disregard for these rules may result in dismissal from campus.


    When, where and how will clubs meet?

    Clubs can meet outdoors, in scheduled indoor spaces that allow social distancing in groups of 25 or fewer, or virtually. The usual club requirements will be adjusted in acknowledgment of the difficulty in meeting them due to COVID-19 restrictions, so club funding won't be affected.


    Will there still be club and intramural sports?

    Decisions are still being finalized about how to appropriately conduct club sports and intramurals in light of relevant conference memberships and the need to maintain social distancing.


    Will there be Cotillion?

    Cotillion is a spring event, so no decision is being made about that event at this time.


    Will the Orientation Committee continue with the practice of unloading and moving-in freshmen to their residence halls?

    The Orientation Committee members will be present to guide our new students through the arrival and move-in process, and while they will not be unloading or carrying items this year due to COVID-19, bins on wheels will be provided for transporting belongings from students’ vehicles to their new rooms.


    If someone is not wearing a mask, how will that be addressed? What happens if someone refuses to wear a mask?

    Everyone must have a cloth face covering with them at all times on campus. Wearing a cloth face covering is required to enter any campus building and be worn properly, covering the nose and mouth, in all indoor public spaces and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be sustained. Persons not wearing a cloth face covering following the Health and Safety Plan will be asked to put one on, and if they refuse, they will be immediately escorted off campus.


    My significant other attends another College or University... may (s)he visit me in my residence hall, and may I visit her/him?

    For the fall semester, visitors are not permitted in the halls.


    Will the dining hall still be all-you-can-eat?

    Yes, except for the to-go meals.


    I am concerned about the inability to socially distance in any way in the Shack, particularly during lunch and dinner. Can there be changes made to the food-serving, waiting and seating procedures?

    The Shack will be available by mobile order only (students will be receiving information about the app soon) and students will notified when their order is ready for pick-up. Traffic for Shack pick-ups will be one-way and the door closest to the Shack will be exit only. Mobile ordering and remote pickup will also be available through the Café and remote ordering through the Barista.


    All dining areas will be restricted to students only. Seating capacity will be reduced by 50 percent in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additional seating areas will be offered, with signage and safety ambassadors clearly communicating operational enhancements for the best possible guest experience. Students are asked to help remind one another, as well.


    Why can’t we have any breaks during the semester?

    As a proactive measure to limit the number of times our students may be traveling on breaks and then returning to campus, we are forgoing all breaks and will have 14 continuous weeks of instruction. Fall semester finals will now be completed before Thanksgiving, at which time we will break until the winter 2021 semester.


    Will the new social distancing procedures affect operations in the Community Center Dining Hall? How will you be able to limit the number of patrons in there during peak hours while taking class schedules into consideration? 

    All dining areas will be restricted to students only, and seating capacity will be reduced by 50 percent in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additional seating areas will be offered, and mobile ordering and remote pickup will be available. The hours in the cafeteria have been expanded to 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. With a limited capacity, only so many students will be allowed in the dining hall at one time. When the dining hall reaches capacity, students may be asked to wait to enter. Therefore, we encourage students to take advantage of the extended dining hours as schedules permit and to utilize the app for mobile to-go ordering. 


    Will students be able to take part in field trips, community service and other school-sanctioned, off-campus events?
    Student, faculty, and staff travel funded by Saint Vincent is limited to essential activities (determined by the school dean or member of President’s Cabinet) and only allowed to domestic locations in regions without communal spread of COVID-19. Professional development via virtual conferences is encouraged and will be approved through the normal processes. Field trips for particular classes will depend on the ability to transport the group with appropriate distancing.


    Will the gym/weight room be open? What are the procedures for cleaning/disinfecting?

    The weight room will be cleaned by FMO or a designated staff member prior to opening each day. Users must also wipe down equipment/machines before and after using them. Cleaning of equipment/weights must be enforced by staff members working throughout the day. At approximately halfway through open hours, the facility will close for one hour for another cleaning. The weight room, along with locker rooms and the athletic training room, shall be fumigated multiple times per week. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the facility for use before, during and after workouts.

    How will the restrictions impact Campus Ministry?

    Campus Ministry will offer masses face-to-face in the Chapel with seating to accommodate physical distancing. Masses will also be live-streamed so they can be viewed anywhere. Eucharist will be offered after each Mass so that those who attend virtually from other parts of campus may receive Holy Communion.

  • Academic Questions

    Did you see grades suffer last semester when the College went to online instruction and P/F?

    No, the average grade point average was not significantly different from prior semesters. Overall, the percentages of students who made the dean’s list or were placed on academic probation were close to a “normal” semester. That being said, we realize that the challenges of the Spring 2020 semester were many and some students faced extreme hardships. Most were able to finish the semester with very good or at least acceptable grades. Approximately one-hundred and twenty students took the option to change a grade of a C- or better to a P.


    At the end of the Spring 2020 semester students and faculty were surveyed in a number of different ways to determine what worked and what did not work well in the delivery of remote instruction. Many lessons have been learned. Professional development workshops for faculty have been offered over the summer to improve instructional design and student learning using a variety of tools and techniques.


    I was supposed to study abroad for the fall semester. With the trip’s cancellation coming weeks after class registration, I was unable to schedule my needed classes to recoup the lost credits. What do I do now?

    Please work with your academic advisor to have a complete schedule for the fall semester. We have seats in a wide variety of courses and will work to make sure that you have a full schedule this fall on campus. If you have any questions or concerns about academic programs, contact


    Will Study Abroad be available in general?

    Study abroad is particularly problematic this semester due to travel restrictions imposed by the United States and other countries. For specific information on study abroad options you should contact Ms. Sara Hart, Director of International Education.


    Is social distancing plausible in instances like labs?

    Yes, all face-to-face instruction is being altered to allow the guidelines to be followed. Masks are required in all settings and classrooms and laboratories are being arranged for physical distancing.  There may be brief periods of time when an activity requires you to be near a lab partner or an instructor, but that period of time will be brief. Cleaning and disinfecting supplies, along with hand sanitizer, will be available in all instructional settings.


    Will there be more online classes offered this year for students who may be compromised?
    Students with higher risk of COVID-19, suffering from illness related to COVID-19, or wishing to attend courses remotely will work with the Director of COVID-19 Accommodations to attend courses remotely, reschedule, or extend instruction into the incomplete period during the next semester for experiential courses (such as laboratories or studios).


    Will there be full classrooms? If not, what are the plans for classroom capacities?
    Classroom capacities will be modified to conform to the social distancing guidelines when possible, and only the largest classrooms will be utilized for instruction. In general, room capacity shall be reduced by at least 50 percent and excess furnishings will be removed when possible. Desk/chair locations will be marked and faculty will ensure that the furnishings are in the proper locations before and after students are in the classroom. In rooms where social distancing is not feasible, partitions and other mitigation strategies will be explored. Larger classrooms will be created using galleries, theaters and other large venues. Smaller classrooms will be designated as study spaces and furnished for physical distancing.

    In many cases, the reduction of room capacity by 50 percent or more will not permit all students to attend class simultaneously. Instructors can choose from the following options:

    ·       Remain in the assigned classroom and alter the mode of instruction to accommodate the reduced room capacity if the enrollment will not allow the entire class to gather simultaneously.

    ·       Modes of instruction may include dividing a section into two alternating teams, with one team meeting in-person while the other team attends synchronously via video conferencing or completing work in a hybrid mode, or dividing a section into teams, with one team meeting in-person for the first half of the meeting time and the second team meeting in-person for the second half of the meeting time.

    ·       Request to move the class to a larger classroom that can accommodate the entire class (accommodations shall be made for those who cannot attend face-to-face). Due to the limited number of large classrooms, they may only be available one day a week. On other days, instruction shall be delivered remotely.

    ·       Deliver instruction online.

    Other options to be considered in consultation with the school’s dean and department chair. 


    If I am uncomfortable attending large classes, may I join in the class virtually?

    In order to minimize risk of disease transmission, SVC has modified classroom arrangements and faculty are modifying their modes of instruction to make the safest use of space, while also utilizing technology-based modes of instruction that have been demonstrated to meet our learning objectives. The Saint Vincent College policy for the 2020-21 academic year is that no student can be penalized for not being physically present in a classroom. Instructors must prepare for some students to be unable to attend face-to-face classes and should plan for students to be able to accomplish course objectives without physical presence.  Each instructor shall establish a course-specific attendance contingency plan that incorporates alternative modes of instruction and attendance for students who are required to quarantine or who have secured accommodations through the Director of COVID-19 Accommodations.


    I am uncomfortable with returning to campus in the fall, but do not want to give up my studies. Will there be more online classes offered to accommodate people like me?
    Students with higher risk of COVID-19, suffering from illness related to COVID-19, or wishing to attend courses remotely will work with the Director of COVID-19 Accommodations to attend courses remotely, reschedule, or extend instruction into the incomplete period during the next semester for experiential courses (such as laboratories or studios).


    Are there going to be any new classroom spaces this year? How are classrooms being cleaned/sanitized?

    Five large spaces on campus have been converted for classroom use this semester. Cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been increased following CDC and PA DOH guidelines. Air purification systems are being installed in instructional spaces.

  • Athletic Questions

    What is the plan for fall athletics?
    On Friday, July 24, the Presidents' Athletic Conference announced the following changes to fall athletics. The full text of the release from the PAC can be found on the Athletics website.

    • To postpone fall 2020 athletic competitions in the NCAA-defined “high-contact” and “medium contact” sports of football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross country until the spring 2021 semester, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • The NCAA-defined “low contact” fall 2020 sports of women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf will tentatively be permitted to compete this fall with conference competition only, as previously announced, barring additional NCAA or state guidelines/restrictions. The conference will also explore logistical options for holding fall athletic competitions in other “low contact” sports such as men’s and women’s outdoor track and field and men’s tennis, which have typically held their traditional seasons in the spring in past years.
    • Tentative modified spring varsity game/competition schedules in football, soccer, volleyball and cross country will be developed by the PAC Scheduling Working Group and released in the near future.
    • In addition, the PAC Presidents’ Council also agreed to not hold any winter sport varsity competitions prior to January 1, 2021.


    Will athletes/coaches receive any additional virus testing before embarking and after returning from away bus trips?

    All athletes and athletic staff will complete a daily health questionnaire and undergo a daily temperature check. Answers of ‘yes’ to any of the symptoms or having a temperature of 99.5 F or higher will result in the athlete, coach or support staff being pulled from practice or competition.

    The Presidents’ Athletic Conference has implemented a screening questionnaire and temperature reading protocol, both of which must be done prior to leaving campus for any competition. The PAC has posted a Travel Party Form on its website. The form must be completed by the coach and given to the authorized person assigned to the departure screening. Travel party members (athletes, coaches, support staff) will be asked to arrive at the departure area at a specific time, upon which the screening questionnaire and temperature checks will be conducted by a member of the sports medicine team or an authorized person. Once the screening time has ended and all forms signed, no further screenings will be conducted. The Travel Party Form must accompany the team to the event and return back to campus to be given to the athletic trainer for that sport. If an overnight trip or early departure is planned for a team, an authorized person will be assigned to conduct screenings and take temperatures before boarding the bus on the day of competition.


    Prior to traveling to any event, each coaching staff will be responsible for presenting a written plan to the athletic department on how to return an athlete to campus if (s)he falls ill on the trip. The ill person shall not return to campus on the bus or van with other team members. Recommendations for return to campus may involve contacting a parent, having a coach drive alone to the event, etc. These plans will be based on several factors, including but not limited to budget, coaching staff and location. PPE will be given to the ill individual and they should be as isolated as much as possible from others. Once they return to campus, the recommendations for the ill student-athlete will be followed, while the individual that drove the ill student-athlete back to campus may be asked to quarantine.

  • Student Employment Questions

    Can I still work on campus?

    Yes. Offices will be making provisions to keep their workers safe. Some things they are doing include putting up plastic shields, having signage and floor markings to maintain safe distances, requiring masks, taking students by appointment only, among other safety precautions.


    How can I get an on-campus job?

    All jobs are posted in Handshake: If you are selected for an interview, they will most likely be conducted via Zoom, Skype or other virtual method.  


    Where can I find the paperwork?

    Student Employment paperwork can still be found on the Career and Professional Development Center’s portal page by going to MySV>Student Services>Career and Professional Development>Student Employment. The first step you and your employer must take is completing a Request to Hire.


    What happens after we complete the Request to Hire?

    You will receive a contract via email this year. This is different than in the past so be sure to check your SVC email! You will be expected to print your contract, obtain your supervisor's signature, and return it to the Career and Professional Development Center.  


    Should I drop my paperwork off at the Career and Professional Development Center?

    You can. There will be a series of locked boxes on the ramp outside of the office. Each will be labeled for a specific purpose – tax document, Request to Hire, timesheets, etc. You may also email your documents to us at


    How will I receive my paycheck?

    Paychecks will continue to be placed in campus mail, except for the last one of the semester. That one will be mailed home. It is imperative that you check the mailing address on your paycheck well in advance of the last pay!


    What if I have other questions?

    We are here to help! You can email Kim Woodley at, call the office at 724-805-2070, set up a Zoom appointment with Kim through Handshake, or drop in on one of our open Zoom hours @CareerCafe. (Dates and times to be announced at a later date.)