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What to Do: Guidance on Activities, Meetings and Events on SLU's St. Louis Campuses

A working group composed of students, faculty and staff at Saint Louis University has been working collaboratively to develop guidance for student activities, meetings and events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is an updated version of the University’s 2020-21 guidance for activities, meetings and events involving students, staff and/or faculty on SLU's St. Louis campuses.

While not exhaustive, this document makes explicit how University community members can engage safely with others on our north and south campuses and at our downtown law school. We believe that the dual safeguards of a fully-boosted campus and mandatory face masks will dramatically suppress transmission of the COVID virus.

Please note that this guidance excludes events already scheduled and hosted at the Richard A. Chaifetz Arena on SLU’s campus, as that facility is governed by guidance and expectations of the City of St. Louis and the CDC.

These guidelines have continued to evolve in purpose and scope since spring 2020, as each of us has worked to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. While the fall 2021 semester allowed us to more safely gather in person and extend invitations to guests outside of our campus community, the evolution of the omicron variant along with local infection rates has given us pause for the spring semester. Because of this, the University recently announced a COVID Vaccine Booster Requirement for all members of the campus community. However, our spring semester will begin before our booster deadline of January 31, 2022 has passed, meaning that our community will be at higher risk for infection and transmission for several weeks. In addition, we do not know how much protection will be afforded campus due to our booster requirement policy.

After much reflection and contemplation, the University has determined the following, short-term and temporary modifications to our previous semester’s guidance. This guidance is meant to provide a comprehensive list of expectations for members of the SLU community who wish to safely gather in community with one another. There are several hyperlinks included in this document to assist with navigation.

For the sake of this guidance, please be advised of the following definitions:

  • Campus community member: students, faculty, staff and/or employees (including contract employees) who fall under the University’s Vaccine and Booster Requirement, requiring proof of vaccination or University-approved exemption.
  • Guest: a non-SLU community member who is not covered under the University’s Vaccine and Booster Requirement. This may include but is not limited to families of campus community members, contracted speakers/educators/researchers/performers invited to campus, or individuals invited to participate in University sponsored activities.

The scope of this guidance applies to all activities, meetings and events which affect SLU’s student body, and our faculty and staff on our St. Louis campuses. It applies to SLU’s divisions, departments and/or units that wish to sponsor student-, staff and or faculty-facing programs. SLU’s School of Law and School of Medicine should develop their own ways to monitor gatherings for their communities within their school-managed facilities. They must be in full compliance with this guidance.

What's New This Semester?

While our campus community will soon be both vaccinated and boosted, the evolution of the omicron variant provides heightened risk for elevated infection levels until we can again consider campus community members up to date in vaccination status.

As a result, the following items provide a quick summary of the key changes and/or guiding principles for hosting activities, meetings and events on our St. Louis campuses during the spring term:

  • Face-to-face academic instruction will continue in the Spring 2022 term. Face masks are mandatory. Please refer to the COVID-19 policy for more details.
  • Neither “internal” nor “external” in-person events will be permitted to occur on campus through Monday, January 31, 2022.
    • This is a temporary restriction, which will allow our students to comply with the Vaccine Booster Requirement deadline of January 31, 2022.
    • Currently, the earliest the University will consider approval or hosting of external events is March 1, 2022.
  • At this time, the University does not have a policy requiring the need for persons to maintain social distancing.
  • With courses resuming regular operations, campus event spaces are available for reservation for internal and external events, pending the University is approving these events. This reservation process will resume pre-COVID procedures, where sponsoring organizations/departments/units will utilize “25Live!” and the Event Services staff to make space requests.
  • To begin the spring term, the Designated Event Review committee (DER) will be accepting applications from sponsoring organizations/departments/units who wish to host a campus event deemed integral to the mission of the University.
    • Effective February 1, 2022, the DER will modify its focus to review requests defined as “external” by this guidance.
    • Post February 1, 2022, activities, meetings, and/or events which invite a large number of guests to any of our St. Louis campuses may have additional expectations and approvals to obtain. Some of SLU’s pre-COVID request and reservation forms or processes may be slightly modified to include this distinction.
  • Due to the current situation with the omicron variant and the City of St. Louis, all members of the University community are encouraged to hold meetings virtually. This applies for general body and executive board meetings, as well as staff and department meetings.
  • Whenever in-person, indoor meetings are held, all parties are required to wear their face mask throughout the entire gathering when not eating or drinking.
  • We are not instituting a cap on maximum attendees of an internal meeting or gathering, whether formal or informal. Instead, we ask that students, staff and faculty exercise good judgment when gathering — and always wear their face masks, especially in between eating or drinking.
  • To best optimize mental health benefits, face-to-face meetings can be held in Campus Ministry, as well as such clinical settings as the University Counseling Center, Psychological Services Center, Interdisciplinary Center for Autism Services, and the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic. Face masks, again, are mandatory.
  • Regardless of one’s vaccination status, SLU community members and visitors are still required to wear a face mask (please refer to SLU’s COVID 19 policies for updates or changes): 
    • In shared University transportation (include SLU Ride, SLU Shuttles, or any shared/sponsored event transportation)
    • Inside any health care facility or clinical spaces where patient encounters are likely, including but not limited to SLU Employee Health, SLUCare, and the Student Health Center.
    • At large, indoor events that are open to visitors, guests, or ticket holders
  • All members of the campus community should exercise caution when consuming food or beverage indoors, in any type of gathering, due to possible unmasked exposure to others. Please limit the amount of time you are unmasked. Consume your food or beverage and then put your mask back into place.
  • While our region, state and country continue to remove COVID restrictions in place over much of the pandemic, fully “re-opening” in many areas, there still may be some individuals who remain apprehensive of gathering in person and/or large crowds. The University encourages all potential activity/meeting/event sponsors to consider COVID-19 anxieties while planning for in-person community engagement. Where possible, it is recommended that sponsors offer alternative arrangements for these people to remain connected to the University community.
  • An updated version of the University’s Interim Travel Policy remains in effect for the spring semester. All members of the campus community are expected to review and comply with its guidance.
Temporary Restriction of Campus Activities and Events

Out of care and concern for all members of the University Community, the University has made the difficult decision to prohibit the scope of activities and events on campus for the start of the Spring 2022 term. This includes both internal and external events, as defined by this Guidance policy. The exception to this prohibition includes events which are deemed integral to the mission of this University. This would include, but not limited to: Enrollment events for prospective students and families, events pertaining to accreditation and compliance, etc. If an organization/department/unit would like to propose an integral event for consideration and approval, they may submit their request to the Designated Event Review committee (DER) for review.

All members of the SLU community are encouraged to upload evidence of their vaccine booster as soon as possible. The deadline for student submission is January 31, 2022. Pending compliance with this policy, the University will resume internal events scheduled for February 1st or after. If, for some reason, the University does not have sufficient data to support compliance with the Vaccine Booster Requirement, this prohibition on events may be extended. Out of concern and caution for the health and safety of our campus community, the University will not approve external events to be hosted on campus until after March 1, 2022.

Internal or external in-person events which have been previously approved to occur between January 10-31 will be canceled, in addition to the corresponding facility/space reservations. When possible, host organizations/departments/units are encouraged to host these events virtually when able. If a student organization is scheduled to host an event during this prohibited time frame, and needs support to navigate communication with external vendors, modifying service agreements, or rescheduling events they should reach out to the Student Involvement Center at involvement@slu.edu. They can assist with this process.

Defining “Internal” and “External” Campus Gatherings

While the University has provided appropriate guidance to manage the health and safety of our own campus community, the reality exists that permitting guests on campus whose vaccination status is unknown, especially at indoor gatherings where people are eating and drinking, poses some risk to our campus community. This is particularly true for students, staff and faculty who have obtained a University-approved exemption from our Vaccine and Booster Requirement. Guests who are attending activities/meetings/events may unintentionally infect members of our campus community. As such, it is important that our Guidance includes expectations for times when guests visit our St. Louis campuses.

Meeting and event sponsors are responsible for ensuring that attendees abide by all our COVID-prevention safeguards. They will be called upon to help our Contact Tracing Team identify potential close contacts should a COVID-positive person have attended their meeting or event.

The University will continue to define activities/meetings/events as either internal or external for the spring 2022 term. 

  • Internal activity/meeting/event: Fewer than 10% of the attendees are classified as guests; thus meaning that more than 90% of attendees will be in compliance with the University’s Vaccine and Booster Requirement.

    Examples of this would include but are not limited to: departments/units sponsoring a speaker/artist/researcher/entertainer for a campus community event, where the intended audience are members of the campus community; inviting community vendors to campus for tabling; or guests coming to campus to meet with members of the SLU community, etc.
  • External activity/meeting/event: Greater than 10% of the attendees are considered guests from outside the Saint Louis University campus community. These activities/meetings/events may have modified or more restrictive public health guidelines, depending upon the extent of disease transmission in St. Louis and/or the vaccine uptake rate among attendees at that event. In addition, external events may be limited in terms of size and scope, especially if the request is for an indoor venue and where food and drinks will be consumed.

    Examples of this would include but are not limited to: external vendors wishing to utilize University facilities for their own activities/meetings/events (i.e. members of the campus community are not their intended audience); programs where a large number of guests are invited to campus for activities/meetings/events.

For University departments/units who are interested in hosting an external event, these are some additional considerations for inviting guests members to campus:

  • Guests would be permitted on campus to participate in activities/meetings/events when they are deemed central to the University’s mission, academically focused, and/or student-facing with their intent.
  • Per the University’s message on December 9, 2021 all guests attending in-door, external events on campus must provide proof of full vaccination (14 days from second dose of Pfizer/Moderna, or 14 days from single dose J&J) or a negative test result within 72 hours of their visit to campus. The event sponsor is responsible for communicating, collecting, and affirming this information for all of their guests, or external, attendees. If you have questions about how to collect this information, organizations should contact the Student Involvement Center (involvement@slu.edu), and campus departments/units should work with Event Services (events@slu.edu).
  • University departments/units may host guests on campus, with the intent of direct interaction with members of the campus community.
Organizations/Departments/Units Hosting Events Off-Campus

At times campus organizations/departments/units may wish to host an event at an off-campus venue. This is permitted with the following caveats:

  • Events may not be hosted, on or off-campus, until after January 31, 2022.
  • Off-campus events must seek the same approvals required for campus events. For student organizations, this means an approved submission via SLUGroups, and approval from the DER if the event is defined as “external.”
  • Regardless of the off-campus destination, sponsoring organizations/departments/units are expected to comply with local community health orders at all times. This means that if the venue is in a location with a mask mandate or food service restrictions, the University sponsored event is expected to comply with these orders.
  • Sponsoring organizations/departments/units are still responsible for the event and behavior of its attendees, regardless of the venue. If the event sponsors are notified that someone in attendance at their event has tested positive, they are expected to comply with all reasonable requests of both University and local health officials and/or contact tracers.
Role of Designated Event Review Committee

During the 2020-21 academic year, the University utilized a Designated Event Review Committee (DER) to review all proposals for in-person gatherings. This group’s purpose was to provide a single, fair and consistent review of the health and safety protocols of every in-person gathering. During the Fall 2021 term, the DER reviewed external events, to provide safe and consistent guidance for guests gathering on campus. The DER will continue to meet this semester, but with two separate roles:

Beginning January 15, 2022, the DER will review in-person event requests from campus organizations/departments/units who wish to seek an exemption to the University’s prohibition on events. The DER will make their decision based upon the events’ connectedness to the mission of Saint Louis University and the academic enterprise.

Mission integral events can be submitted to the DER here.

Effective February 1, 2022, the DER will begin reviewing requests for external events, sponsored by campus organizations/departments/units, which are scheduled on or after March 1, 2022. This is the earliest date that an external event may be considered by the DER.

External events can be submitted to the DER here. 

The composition of the DER will remain the same as it was during the 2020-21 academic year, to maintain both consistency and integrity in the review process. The DER includes representatives and/or designees from the Vice President for Student Development, the Provost’s Leadership Team, and Facilities. As needed, they will also consult with SLU’s epidemiology experts when reviewing submissions. The DER will be provided administrative support from the Office of the Vice President for Student Development.

Approved DER events will again be issued a specific approval logo, or “stamp,” which must be included on all of the posted publicity advertising an event. This includes but is not limited to social media marketing, in addition to any print materials. Print materials must also receive the regular University approval stamp through the Student Involvement Center before flyers can be displayed on campus.

After January 31, 2022, internal events will resume pre-COVID approval processes. If you are a member of a student organization/group, and have questions about sponsoring an internal or external activity/meeting/event on campus this semester, please contact the Student Involvement Center at involvement@slu.edu. They will help guide you through the process to receive external event approval.

If you represent a University department/unit, and have questions about sponsoring an external activity/meeting/event on campus, please contact Event Services for assistance at events@slu.edu.

Clarifying Guidelines of Shared University Spaces

The University owns and/or manages some facilities which are either shared community spaces (i.e. College Church) or are located outside of our immediate campus geography. In these cases:

  • College Church: for University departments/units wishing to reserve this facility, they are expected to comply with all permanent and temporary policies related to gatherings, activities/events/meetings, etc. However, if a non-University organization wishes to utilize these spaces for their own purposes, the external organization is bound by the guidelines of the Archdiocese and/or St. Francis Xavier College Church.
  • Chaifetz Arena: Chaifetz Arena is managed separately from the University, and is under the jurisdiction of the City of St. Louis. They are obligated to follow the guidance set forth by local public health organizations and ordinances, and their events are managed in compliance with current city orders. Events hosted at the Arena, including athletic activities and those open to the greater, regional public are done so with support from city authorities.
Informal Activities (a.k.a., Hanging Out with Others) 

As members of the SLU community, we have an obligation to be mindful of the wellbeing, health and safety of ourselves and those around us. This semester’s guidance continues to be different than that of previous terms. With that in mind, we simply ask all members of our community to exercise great discretion and discernment as we return to campus for another semester. While engaging on our St. Louis campuses, members of the SLU community who are fully up-to-date on vaccination or have obtained a University-approved COVID-vaccination exemption are invited and encouraged to gather with one another in-person, while maintaining compliance with the University’s mask policy. Social distancing is not required.

In summary, we ask you to exert an abundance of care and caution when determining whether or not to gather in person, considering such factors as time, space and venue.

We are not instituting a cap on maximum attendees who are hanging out. Instead, we ask that students, staff and faculty exercise good judgment when gathering indoors — and always wear their face masks when not actively eating or drinking.

There are many ways for members of the campus community to convene safely. In particular, we encourage students to consider the following:

  • Continue to utilize Simon Recreation Center for your health and wellness needs. Invite a workout buddy to join you at the gym, organize pick-up games, or attend one of the offered fitness classes.
  • Gather safely and masked indoors for a game night or movie night.
  • Utilize a campus space for study sessions or group project work.
  • As weather permits, enjoy campus by hammocking, grabbing coffee, or eating outdoors.

In addition, all campus residents (those who reside in University housing) are expected to comply with the visitor policy from the Department of Housing and Residence Life. For the start of the semester, visitation in campus housing facilities will be limited to members of the University community, those who are covered under the University’s Vaccine and Booster Requirement. Watch for additional updates from the University and the Department of Housing and Residence Life as the situation continues to evolve.

Events, Meetings and Tabling

Due to the current situation with the omicron variant and the City of St. Louis, all members of the University community are encouraged to hold meetings virtually.  This applies for general body and executive board meetings, as well as staff and department meetings. Whenever face-to-face meetings are held in person, all parties are to wear their face mask throughout the entire gathering, and consumption of  food/beverage should be limited. Until we have achieved compliance with our Vaccine Booster Requirement, this is the best way to limit exposure and possible infection. 

A note about tabling: At Saint Louis University, “tabling” is defined as an organization/department/unit reserving a table to distribute goods, information, sales and/or services.  During the 20-21 academic year, this was prohibited due to the concerns regarding distribution, and the inability to provide accurate contact tracing should someone become infected.  However, with the University’s Vaccine and Booster Requirement, and scientific evidence which indicates no evidence of environmental virus transmission,  tabling will  be permitted both in/outdoors and following the University’s pre-COVID process to request space.

Interim Travel Policy and Procedures

An updated version of the University’s  Interim Travel Policy remains  in effect for the spring semester.  All members of the campus community are expected to review and comply with its guidance, obtaining all approvals, as required. 

Definitions 

Campus Community Member

Defined as students, faculty, staff and/or employees (including contract employees) who fall under the University’s vaccine and booster requirement, requiring vaccine attestation/approved exemption by August, 1, 2021, and booster attestation/approved exemption by January 31, 2022 (students) and February 28, 2022 (faculty/staff), respectively.

Event

Under the University’s interim policies, an event is defined as “a gathering hosted by a recognized department, unit, or organization with an open invitation and advertisement to interested attendees.”

In the context of student organizations, it’s important to note that an event may sometimes be limited to a subset of the student population (those “interested attendees”). Events typically are structured, planned, advertised experiences that rely on a space reservation; rent or borrow tables, tents, chairs, and other furniture; distribute food and/or other items; and/or feature a formal program of speakers, performers, etc.

  • Internal Event: Fewer than 10% of the attendees are classified as guests,  meaning that more than 90% of attendees will be in compliance with the University’s vaccine requirement. This event can be held without social distancing requirements.
  • External Event: Greater than 10% of the attendees are considered guests from outside the Saint Louis University campus community. These activities/events may have modified or more restrictive public health guidelines, depending upon the extent of disease transmission in St. Louis.
Fully Boosted

People are considered fully boosted and their “vaccinations up to date” on the day of administration of the boosted dose. 

Guest

Any non-SLU community member who is not covered under the University’s Vaccine Requirement. This may include but is not limited to families of campus community members, contracted speakers/educators/researchers/performers invited to campus, or individuals invited to participate in University sponsored activities.

Meeting

Under the University’s interim policies, a meeting is defined as “a gathering hosted by a recognized department, unit or organization with an invited and closed list of attendees.” For the purposes of student groups, it might be helpful to think of meetings as structured, formal sessions where business or other work is conducted. In the case of CSOs, formal meetings also may include a more open invitation for interested attendees (e.g., a general body organization meeting).

Tabling

At Saint Louis University, “tabling” is defined as an organization/department/unit reserving a table to distribute goods, information, sales and/or services. During the 20-21 academic year, this was prohibited due to the concerns regarding distribution, and the inability to provide accurate contact tracing should someone become infected. However, with the University’s decision on mandatory vaccine status for fall 2021, and changes in the CDC/city guidance, tabling would be permitted during the fall semester, both in/outdoors and following the University’s pre-COVID process to request space.

Travel

Travel, which falls under the University’s Interim Travel Policy, is considered any University-sponsored trip where at least one night (minimum) will be spent away from campus.