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COVID-19 Update: An Earlier Start to Our Fall Semester

May 26, 2020

Dear members of our Saint Louis University community, 

At the beginning of May, I expressed hope that forces out of our control would allow us to meet in person for fall semester classes, while making online instruction accommodations for students and faculty most at risk. We have been diligently digging through local and national public health guidelines and information, working to the best of our ability to plan for factors that remain unknown. Your continued patience and support are greatly appreciated. 

Today, I write to share an overview of decisions that were finalized late this morning. These decisions were made in consultation with the University Leadership Council (vice presidents, deans and representatives from faculty, staff and students), and after additional discussions with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. 

Start of the term: First, our undergraduate classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 17, rather than our currently scheduled Aug. 26 start. Starting early will allow more in-person instruction before a potential resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

Fall break: Additionally, to accommodate the required number of class days, we are condensing the regularly scheduled fall break to a single day in October. That date has yet to be determined. Following the advice of the experts we are consulting, we want to avoid sending our students home to cities across the country and beyond, and then have them return to back campus.

End of the term: We are considering two alternatives for how we approach final exams, and we need additional input from you as we work toward a decision in the coming weeks. These options include: 

We understand a new start date potentially presents logistical challenges for members of our community, such as students signing leases and changing plans with jobs and internships, faculty course planning, and juggling family responsibilities. We also know that discussions will continue regarding questions about faculty contracts, residence hall and dining needs, and a host of other topics. 

With that in mind, we believe that you deserved to hear these decisions as soon as they were finalized, even though the finer details are not yet solidified. We are working to address those details and plan to communicate more about them soon. 

I want to thank the dozens of individuals who were involved in these discussions. All approached them from a place of shared mission and values. 

May God bless you and Saint Louis University.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

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