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Guidance on Student Activities, Meetings and Events

While not exhaustive, this guidance makes explicit how students can engage with others on campus this fall. Information below assumes all required public health safeguards are followed at all times. Failure to comply with safeguards/guidance will result in Community Standards violations.

Repeated non-compliance at in-person gatherings may result in increased restrictions on student activities. If public health restrictions ease, restrictions on activities also may be eased. 

In-Person Activities, Meetings, and Events At-A-Glance

Can this... ...happen in person?
Informal activities and gatherings outdoors Yes, in small-to-medium sized groups.
Informal activities and gatherings indoors Yes, up to 10 people.
Meetings outdoors Yes, in small-to-medium sized groups.
Meetings indoors Maybe, up to 10 people, if space is available.
Events outdoors and indoors Maybe, limited exceptions at University level.
 


To learn more about what you can do this fall, keep reading. And if you have questions about whether something you’d like to do in person is allowed and consistent with University policies, please talk with staff in the Student Involvement Center (involvement@slu.edu) or members of the Student Activities Board. 

Key Safeguards and General Guidelines

Regardless of the type of in-person activity you engage in, we all must understand the key public health safeguards required for keeping our campus safe – and open for in-person instruction – this fall. 

Key Safeguards

While all of our safeguards are required and important, here is a summary of some key requirements about which some students have expressed confusion and which are most relevant for student activities.

  • Wear a mask (consistent with the Interim Face Mask Policy)
    • Mask must cover the nose and mouth at all times and tie behind the head or have ear loops.
    • Gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are prohibited.
    • The only exceptions are: in your residence alone, in your residence with only your roommate (and only if your roommate agrees), while actively eating, or when you are outside and you can predictably maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others at all times.
  • And maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals
    • It’s not face masks or distancing; it’s face masks and distancing.
    • When eating with others (both indoors or outdoors), be sure to stay 6 feet apart. The distancing requirement is especially important when eating, since eating with others increases the risk of COVID-19 spread because you won’t have a mask on while eating.
    • In spaces that do not allow you to continuously maintain 6 feet of distance (e.g., elevators, hallways, and stairwells): stand as far apart as possible, and spread out to 6 feet as soon as you can.
    • In indoor spaces with posted COVID-19 occupancy limits: comply with the restrictions. If the space already has the posted number of occupants, find an alternative.
    • In indoor spaces without posted COVID-19 occupancy limits: stay at least 6 feet away from others; leave chairs/tables vacant if they are within 6 feet of someone else; and ask the owners of the space to calculate and post the COVID-19 occupancy limit.
  • And practice good hand hygiene frequently (washing with soap and water or using sanitizers)
  • And submit the daily symptom report (using the #CampusClear app)
  • And clean and sanitize shared surfaces before and after use (wherever supplies are present)
Other General Guidelines

In the context of student activities, a few other guidelines also will help to keep our community safe:

  • Drink only from your own cup or bottle, and avoid self-serve beverage dispensers.
  • Eat only foods that are served to you in a safe manner, come from pre-packaged sources, or that you make.
  • Sharing pizza, doughnuts, bagels, etc. from a common source, where all individuals serve themselves, increases the risk of infection.
  • When participating in group activities (whether informal or formal), know the identities of individuals who are closest to you (within 6 feet or closer). In the event that you or someone close to you tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracers will be able to quickly identify whether you/anyone near you needs to be notified of a potential exposure.
  • For formal meetings and events, maintain an accurate attendance list.
  • Encourage each other to honor our public health safeguards, and respond politely when someone encourages you to do so.
  • Whenever possible, opt for outdoor activities. We acknowledge that outdoor activities and gatherings will only be possible when the weather is nice enough to allow them. As the seasons change, certain types of activities will become more limited. Our hope is that public health conditions improve, and some restrictions on indoor gatherings may be eased. 

Informal Gatherings/Activities

Central to building student community and to the in-person experience, informal gatherings and activities (defined below) are crucial to campus life. While the University has restrictions on formal meetings and events, informal activities and gatherings are happening on campus all the time. They may be scheduled or impromptu. Below are examples of informal activities (many of them things students are already doing) and some key considerations to keep in mind as you engage in them. 

Outdoors

Because of the way COVID-19 spreads, outdoor activities are generally safer than indoor activities, especially when undertaken in accordance with public health safeguards. Small-to-medium sized groups may engage in informal gatherings and activities outdoors, assuming the space you’re using allows you to spread out and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. There are many outdoor spaces on the north and south ends of campus where students may connect informally, including green spaces, patios, and parking lots/garages. (This campus map shows in orange green spaces that may be a bit less well-known.) Outdoor spaces cannot be reserved except as part of a formal event approved for exception. 

Examples of informal, outdoor activities and gatherings include (but are not limited to):

  • Congregating with members of a CSO (chartered student organization) or another student group, building mates, or even simply a group of friends
  • Gathering with others on your floor/your RA to build community
  • Hanging out, playing games, catching up
  • Eating together
  • Praying together
  • Studying together
  • Suggestions outlined here in the Return to Campus Module

Guidelines for Specific Situations

  • When eating with others outdoors: maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others at all times, and replace your mask as soon as you are finished eating.
  • When engaged in games or other similar physical activities: you must maintain at least 6 feet of distance and wear your mask at all times.
    • Particularly if the activity involves greater exertion, resulting in more forceful exhalation, masks and distancing are even more necessary for reducing potential COVID-19 spread. This applies to fast-paced sports or athletic activities, as well as singing and other kinds of physical activities where projection of voice is a key component of the activity.
    • Certain club sports or other physical activities will be safer and allowed (like throwing a frisbee or a football while spread out), while others may not be (like playing a football game where physical proximity is much closer). Club sports are working through Return to Play guidelines with the Simon Recreation Center staff.
    • Spikeball has raised concerns and questions; generally speaking, it is allowed if all players wear their masks continuously and separate quickly if they find themselves within 6 feet of another player. The players of teams waiting to play also should remain 6 feet apart from one another. 
Indoors

Because of the public health risks of in-person gatherings, the impact of distancing requirements on occupancies classrooms and meeting spaces, and the need to prioritize academic instruction for event spaces this fall, indoor gatherings and activities are significantly more limited than outdoor activities. Most indoor spaces typically used for both formal and informal gatherings are not available, or due to other priorities are not reservable. This is one reason all members of our community are encouraged to opt for outdoor spaces whenever possible. However, when groups of 10 people or fewer have access to appropriate spaces, they may connect informally indoors as a group. 

Examples of indoor, informal activities and gatherings include (but are not limited to):

  • Eating together
  • Praying together
  • Having a conversation
  • Hanging out, playing games, catching up
  • Studying together

Guidelines for Specific Situations

  • When eating with others indoors: maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others at all times, and replace your mask as soon as you are finished eating. When possible, it’s best to try to finish eating within 15 minutes and then replace your mask, but only if that can be done safely. The distancing requirement is especially important when eating, since eating with others increases the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Inside your residence: if you live off campus, do not allow more individuals into your residence than the space allows with 6 feet of distance between individuals. If you live on campus, you must abide by the visitor restrictions in effect for this semester (see section 4.2 of the Housing and Residence Life Handbook in the Student Handbook for more). In residence hall rooms and on-campus apartments, each resident is allowed only one guest at a time. Be sure you have your roommate’s consent every time you host a guest. If any guests are present, all occupants must wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart at all times.
  • In student organization offices/lounges: do not invite more guests than your space can accommodate with social distancing in place. If no COVID-19 occupancy limit is posted, no more than 10 people may be in the space at one time; many spaces will only accommodate fewer than 10 people. For example, a 12 feet by 12 feet room can accommodate just 9 people, as long as one person sits in each corner of that space. If you exceed these capacities, consider breaking into smaller groups elsewhere or move the whole group outdoors. Note: staff are working to identify the socially-distanced occupancy of your space; we hope to have signs posted soon. In the meantime, keep the numbers under 10 and spread out 6 feet from others in these spaces.
  • Other campus spaces: you must maintain at least 6 feet of distance, wear your mask at all times (unless actively eating), and honor the posted COVID-19 occupancies. At all times, you should be 6 feet or more away from others and wearing a mask (unless actively eating).
    • Look for spaces in libraries, dining halls, and other common areas where space is available and appropriate.
      The Grand Dining Hall Meeting Room may be reserved for breakfast meetings only (with 10 people or fewer).
    • There are some blackout dates, and food must be purchased at the door. To reserve this space, email RHC Yonshalae.powell@slu.edu.
    • The University has identified a list of classroom spaces (which are not assigned for instruction this fall) that may be used by individuals or very small groups of students for eating, studying, and participating in online courses. These spaces have very limited COVID-19 occupancies, are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and are for drop-in use. They are not event spaces and cannot be reserved. When these spaces are used by groups, groups must be 10 people or fewer, regardless of the room’s COVID-19 capacity. Individuals using these spaces for studying/participating in online courses may spread out more; therefore, a few of these rooms could have more than 10 people in them when those individuals are not engaged in group activities (similar to classroom occupancies).

Meetings

Consistent with the University’s interim policies, departments, programs, units, and organizations generally are not permitted to hold in-person meetings (defined below) and are highly encouraged to hold formal meetings virtually whenever possible. However, whereas formal meetings among staff and faculty are typically held indoors, student organizations and groups may choose to hold meetings outdoors. Therefore, the following guidance is intended to help clarify the implications of the University’s interim policies on meetings of student organizations. 

Examples of student meetings include (but are not limited to): meetings of a student organization (either of the e-board or an open meeting); floor meetings for a group of residents; and individual/small group meetings with faculty, staff, and/or administrators.

In-Person Meetings
  • Outdoors: Permitted for a small-to-medium sized group, assuming appropriate outdoor space may be found, and assuming social distancing and mask wearing are honored by all attendees. Note: outdoor spaces are not reservable. However, there are many spaces across campus where a group could meet. Infrastructure such as tables, chairs, tents, and electricity are not reservable for outdoor meetings.
  • Indoors: Permitted for up to 10 people, assuming appropriate indoor space may be found, and assuming social distancing and mask wearing are honored by all attendees. Note: space constraints mean there are very few indoor options for meetings, and most of those spaces are not reservable. Thus, it may make most sense to opt for virtual meetings if outdoor meetings are not possible.

 

Virtual Meetings

Consistent with the University’s interim policies, virtual meetings are highly encouraged over in-person meetings, due to public health requirements and the resulting reduction in available indoor meeting spaces. Additionally, many students have opted to learn remotely this fall, and others are not comfortable attending in-person meetings. Therefore, student groups are highly encouraged to consider the potential inequities and impacts on all students when deciding between in-person and virtual meetings for organization business.

Events

Consistent with the University’s interim policies, events (defined below) will be extremely limited on campus this fall. This is true for departments, programs, units, and organizations across the University, not just for student groups and organizations. Departments and groups are expected to cancel in-person events and/or convert them to virtual events. This includes revenue-generating events, like recruitment and admissions events, development and fund-raising events, career-placement focused events for students, and formal University ceremonies (such as Commencement and Homecoming).

In-Person Events, Outdoors and Indoors

In-person events (defined below) generally are not permitted this fall, indoors or outdoors. This includes many student-facing events, like external speakers or performers, plays and concerts, and Chartered Student Organization (CSO) or other student group activities. 


The University’s Interim Events and Meetings policy allows for very limited exceptions, most of which will occur outdoors and all of which must meet specific criteria and be approved by the Interim Provost, the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and the Interim Vice President for Student Development, or their designees. Requests for exceptions must be submitted at least 7 business days prior to the event; the full process for exceptions requests are detailed in the University’s Interim Events & Meetings Policy. 


Exceptions will only be granted for events that meet most/all of the criteria below and have no more than 250 people in attendance:

  • Are essential to our Catholic, Jesuit identity;
  • Are essential to the academic enterprise of the University and/or students’ academic progress;
  • Cannot be replicated through virtual means;
  • Would create long-term negative impacts/harm if not conducted in person;
  • Bring together individuals across groups/identities to foster our OneSLU community;
    • Note: for student-facing events, this means events generally must be offered to all undergraduates (across multiple organizations, residences, or other groups) or all graduate/professional students (regardless of academic program), in order to build community across different groups.
  • Are hosted by one or more University departments, programs, or units;
    • Note: student-facing events must be developed in collaboration with and requested by the Student Involvement Center. Student organizations as organizations may not host events.
  • Can be appropriately supported with existing resources and successfully achieved with public health safeguards in place; and
  • Have a detailed plan for and can assure all public health safeguards are followed

Examples of approved exceptions include: in-person Mass indoors and outdoors, Convocation with a limited in-person audience, and a planned in-person polling place for National Elections this November. Other possible exceptions might include an outdoor movie night for students or other outdoor events that have a way to track attendance. To be approved, all organizers of requested exceptions must detail how they will  ensure attendees will comply with the University’s public health safeguards.

One example of a common event type that would not be approved as an exception is tabling. Tabling events often are used for getting the word out about organizations or causes and focus on distributing  information and materials. Such an event would not meet the criteria, since the same goals can be accomplished virtually and/or in smaller, informal gatherings. Additionally, limiting numbers, ensuring distancing, identifying participants, and contact tracing are much less feasible for tabling events. (Additionally, tabling events often involve distributing non-individually packaged items/food to passersby, an activity that is not supported during the pandemic.) 

Virtual Events

We have already seen creativity and care given to large virtual events, and the Student Involvement Center (SIC) is working with the Student Activities Board to identify exciting, campus-wide virtual experiences that we can invest in this fall. 

For student organizations: The SIC also has many ideas for virtual experiences and programming that may be of interest to you and your members. If your group is struggling to find creative, engaging ways to connect virtually, the SIC is ready, willing, and able to help.

Finally, again, we know that many students have opted to learn remotely this fall and others are not comfortable at in-person gatherings. Student organizations are encouraged to consider virtual events and programs in part to ensure equitable access for these students.

Notes about CSOs with Student Activity Fee Allocations

Finally, we acknowledge that Chartered Student Organizations (CSOs) that have received Student Activity Fee allocations may have questions about how to use these funds, now that their designated purposes may no longer be possible. Below is key information for these groups.

  • CSOs will retain their full Annual Funding Allocation as awarded in April 2020. However, in-person events will not be supported for the fall semester; spring events will be reevaluated depending upon State, Local, Federal, and University COVID-19 recommendations for 2021.
  • CSOs can submit a reallocation request (via SLU Groups) to SGA’s Vice President of Finance if their approved event cannot be hosted as outlined in their budget request. Approval must be received for the organization to proceed in planning a new activity with their allocated funds. 
  • Due to the dangers of common source food resources (e.g., pizza or doughnuts from the same box), food distribution across the University is limited to that which can be purchased and/or served in single use, individual packaging, and picked up by the intended consumer. This means very few, if any, requests with food distribution will be approved until further notice. This includes but is not limited to bake sales, items not prepared in an FDA approved kitchen, buffets and or/shared storage containers (including pizza).
  • The SIC will still permit organizations to use their purchasing cards for necessary expenses; however, the cards will not leave the SIC suite. Approved users should arrange for purchases to be prepaid by phone, or made online with support from the SIC staff. 
  • Organizations that are working to contract for goods or services (speakers, performers, production support, etc.) should include COVID-19 terms in all of their agreements. The SIC staff can assist with language or communication to vendors. 

Definitions

Definitions of key terms reference University policy definitions but also offer additional information to contextualize what those definitions mean for students.

Small-to-Medium Sized Groups

Generally speaking, “small” groups involve up to 10 people, while “medium-sized” groups are a bit larger than that. For some types of activities, 15-25 people would likely be a “medium-sized” group, whereas for other activities, it might feel like a “large” group. The nature of informal activities often means that, even in a group of 25 people, subgroups have formed with fewer people in them. As a general rule of thumb for our purposes, more than about 30 people would likely constitute a large group, depending on the type of activity in which one is engaging.

We recognize this language is not as precise as some would prefer. At the same time, we are striving for a balance here that allows us to focus on the reasons for group limits in the context of outdoor activities, rather than arbitrarily assigning a set number. We want students to use their best judgment to arrive at a manageable number of people for their activities and meetings. Because the descriptor “small-to-medium sized groups” only applies to outdoor activities and meetings, and because there is no limit specified by local health officials for the kinds of outdoor group activities we’re talking about in this document, we do not feel a single number of individuals would be an appropriate limit across the board. 

As you consider the ideal size of a small-to-medium sized group for your own activities, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Masks and 6 feet of distance between people is expected for all outdoor gatherings and meetings.
  • The larger the group, the harder it is for everyone to participate. In the context of meetings, larger groups will have a harder time hearing others. This is even more true with social distancing and mask requirements.
  • The larger the group, the harder it is to ensure that all are abiding by required safeguards. If members of your group routinely fail to abide by social distancing and mask requirements, you risk individual students being sanctioned and you risk the possibility of increased University restrictions on in-person gatherings, activities, and meetings, even outdoors.
  • For larger meetings, it may be useful to have a record of who attended. Certainly, individuals should take note of those who are closest to them, in case contact tracing should be needed.
  • All such gatherings must abide by Local, State, and Federal orders, laws, and regulations in place at the time of the gathering.
Informal Activity or Gathering
An informal gathering of individuals engaged in shared activities (e.g., eating, studying, congregating with members of a student group, etc.), sometimes (but not always) impromptu. 
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). For our purposes this fall, meetings are not taking place in reservable spaces, nor can items like tables, tents, and food be scheduled for such in-person gatherings.
Event
Under the University’s interim policies, an event 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. For our purposes this fall, in-person events are not permitted unless they meet a series of priority criteria and receive a University-level exception approval. Student-facing events may not be hosted by an organization as an organization; such events must aim to bring together undergraduate and/or graduate/professional students across different structures and organizations and be developed in coordination with and proposed by the Student Involvement Center. In-person events this fall are limited to 250 attendees. Given the nature of virtual events, restrictions on attendance are determined by the limitations of the technology platform used to host them.

Note: the Student Involvement Center also has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions related to in-person activities this fall.