Our Approach to Reopening for Fall 2020

This is a supplement to the Important Message to Students and Families Regarding Plan for Fall 2020 Reopening sent July 28, 2020 

Health and Welfare Our First Priority

  1. The safety, health and welfare of our students, faculty, staff and community members has been and remains our number one priority. We are evaluating the incidence of cases in Spokane and we are in contact with the Spokane Regional Health District on a regular basis. This pandemic is a rapidly changing and evolving phenomenon and we all must be prepared to respond appropriately to it.
  2. The fact that we are operating in the context of a virulent pandemic cannot be refuted or ignored. Taking this seriously by working actively, consistently and responsibly to prevent the transmission of the virus is a requirement of every individual. We must approach this circumstance as the extraordinary situation that it is: akin to a multi-month “Mission to Mars.” We will wear face coverings, we will increase hand washing, we will maintain physical distance, we will follow the directives of public health authorities, and we will voluntarily work together to create “family bubbles.” At Gonzaga, we have a saying that takes on new meaning in this circumstance: “Zags Help Zags.” When people become ill, we will work together to care for them and take the steps necessary to reduce transmission. In the face of this pandemic, irresponsible or reckless behavior, on or off campus, that endangers the health of others will not be tolerated.

Constraints on Certain Activities to Mitigate Viral Transmission

  1. The Governor has recently introduced further restrictions to specific activities which serve to underscore the simple fact that certain activities on and off campus will be limited, likely for some months to come. Public gatherings, fitness facilities, restaurants/foodservice, and activities within apartment buildings and residence halls are all impacted. These restrictions – all of which are being introduced to assist in mitigating community transmission of COVID-19 – will affect the student experience. Informal gatherings of more than five (5) people within the same household are prohibited everywhere in the State. Given the vital role the universities play, there are certain very specific conditions under which we are being authorized to operate. While this situation will not last forever, we cannot compromise our ability to operate by deviating from these conditions.

The Need and Desire for Flexibility and Options

  1. Given the above, we acknowledge that these are challenging and quite difficult circumstances within which to operate. We acknowledge that different individuals – students, parents, faculty, staff, and community members – are in very different places with regards to their needs, sensitivities, and desires in the face of this pandemic. While it has always been goal to re-open campus and resume in-person education, we have been doing this work in the face of an extraordinarily dynamic context. Therefore, our plans with respect to our academic programs acknowledges the need for flexibility and options where possible.

    In light of the public health threat posed by COVID-19, we have encouraged our faculty to determine the mode of course delivery that best supports the subject matter to be taught while respecting the right of the faculty member to work in a manner that supports their own health, and that of their family. For this reason, as we previously have indicated, students should expect that some courses will be taught face-to-face/in person, while others will be taught face-to-face but remotely, via technology. Some courses may be offered partly in-person, and partly remotely (e.g., in a hybrid format).

Face-to-Face/In-Person Instruction for Some Courses

  1. Certain academic courses – for example, lecture courses in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, business and education – are more readily taught, and learned, in a remote-delivery format. Other program courses which require “hands-on, experiential” work – including those in nursing, human physiology, fine arts, performance art, lab science and engineering – are more difficult to conduct or accomplish in a virtual environment. For this reason, we plan to offer such courses involving intensive lab, studio, clinical or similar work, on campus and face-to-face/in-person, where we can safely do so and provided we are authorized to do so.

Remote Learning is Possible and Will Be Supported

  1. We have asked our faculty to prepare to offer their courses in an interactive “live” remote mode where possible, even if they have chosen face-to-face/in person, or a hybrid teaching, approach. We have done so in order to maximize options and flexibility to students who are unable to return to campus, become exposed/ill and need to quarantine or self-isolate, or do not feel safe being in the classroom/campus environment. As a result, it will be possible for students who wish to do so to pursue their studies remotely for Fall semester.
  2. We have asked each of our faculty to communicate the mode of course offering (e.g., face-to-face/in person; hybrid; remote, etc.) to their Dean so that this information can be made available to students on their course schedules via the online registration system (ZagWeb). Please note that (a) we expect the majority of decisions regarding modality to be complete this week and available on ZagWeb on August 1 and (b) we will work with any student who has issues or concerns with their schedule based upon the course modality. More information concerning this will be released by the Provost’s Office this coming week.
  3. Gonzaga University is proud of its commitment to “the education of the whole person,” and while the manner in which this occurs will require modification and creativity, many departments throughout campus have been developing opportunities for participation in programs and services whether students are on campus or remote. Colleagues in departments from Academic Advising and Assistance (AAA) to University Ministry to Health & Counseling, as well as Student Involvement & Leadership, the Center for Community Engagement have been busy developing activities and opportunities for students to get support and be involved. More information about these departments and opportunities will be coming your way.

On-campus Living Requirement Suspended; Housing & Dining Available

  1. An important part of the Gonzaga undergraduate experience, under ordinary circumstances, involves living on campus. For this reason, first and second year students have ordinarily been required to live in an on-campus residence facility. In view of the current circumstances, however, we are suspending the on-campus residency requirement for Academic Year 2020-2021. Students who elect to live at home, but previously signed up for campus housing, will have their room and board charges refunded and bills re-calculated.

    Regardless of the discipline, or course modes of delivery, we know there are students for whom on-campus housing is and remains the best or most appropriate option. Just as we did throughout Spring semester 2020, we will continue to provide on-campus living and foodservice for students who wish to have this support. (Please note: most residence hall assignments do require participation in a meal plan.).

    Given the desire to support maximum options for our students and their families, and in an effort to be responsive to the needs of our on-campus population, we reserve the right to make changes in housing assignments (and to any other aspect of the university’s program and services). If/when changes become necessary, we will communicate those changes quickly and endeavor to work with each student.

Academic Calendar for Fall Unchanged

  1. The previously-announced dates for the Fall Semester 2020 remain unchanged. New and returning students choosing to live on-campus will move in according to the phased move-in plan beginning Wednesday, August 26th and thereafter; the first day of class remains Tuesday, September 1st. The decision to continue to support on-campus residency even as we move to remote instruction following Thanksgiving Break remains in place.

Tuition & Cost of Attendance

  1. Informed by our university-wide efforts to adapt to the pandemic – including new investments in technology, personal safety, and facilities – tuition has been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded on this basis for any part of the Academic Year.

    We recognize that changes in the mode of delivery, to include virtual or hybrid courses, differs from a traditional face-to-face classroom experience. Gonzaga faculty have risen to the challenge in adapting coursework and content to flexible modes of delivery, bolstered by investments in classroom technology, online tools to support learning, and instructional design. Although the method of engagement may be different, our faculty and staff colleagues throughout the university remain committed to engaging in high-touch, personal interactions with our students, particularly in these difficult and confusing times. Together, our learning community will continue to adapt and respond to the needs of our students throughout this difficult time, guided by our Jesuit tradition of a transformational education and cura personalis.

International Students

  1. If you are a new incoming international student and you decide to come to campus for fall, you will need to confirm that you are enrolled in one “in person” or “hybrid” course to maintain your F-1 status. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services, at isss@gonzaga.edu if you need assistance.

Student Return to Campus Guide, Certificate of Review and Self-Certification

  1. All of our plans, including the Student Return to Campus guidance we have developed, assumes that our students must and will be active participants in the work of mitigating transmission and conducting themselves in a manner appropriate to this circumstance. We believe that it is important to emphasize that – under the best of what remain very challenging circumstances – campus life during COVID-19 cannot be what it was before this pandemic. The Student Return to Campus Guide, which will be distributed to students this week, goes into specific  detail about the protocols and requirements we all will need to follow to reduce the risk of viral transmission – both on and off campus.

    Each and every student who enrolls at Gonzaga University for Academic Year 2020-21 will, as a condition of participating in University programs, be required to acknowledge the COVID-19 Notice of Student Risk. This appears in the Student Return to Campus Guide and students will want to read through this document as a part of their decision-making regarding attendance at Gonzaga this fall.