OLLU has been working hard over the last few months to prepare for the university’s return to on-campus instruction and services in the fall semester and to welcome the newest class of students. Our Lady of the Lake University is committed to the well-being of all the members of its community and is putting into place many measures to promote social distancing and safety for all.
Of special note is an important change for the fall semester: Following the Thanksgiving break, all classes will move to remote/online instruction for the remainder of the fall semester. Students will be allowed to remain in the residence halls and use campus facilities and services, but classes and final exams will all be online.
This initiative mirrors what other universities across the country are planning for the fall semester. It is designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus and seasonal flu that accompanies the surge in travel (and virus transmission) that happens during the Thanksgiving holiday. OLLU’s campuses, like many others, experience an uptick in seasonal flu cases following Thanksgiving. Online instruction after the break will allow for greater social distancing during this critical period.
As during any fall semester, students will be allowed to leave their belongings in the residence halls awaiting their return for the spring semester. In addition, any unused meal plan dollars will roll over to the spring semester.
Finally, all student support services—computer labs, library, tutoring and more — will continue to be available on campus following Thanksgiving. Naturally, remote services will be available, as well, for those students who do not wish to travel back to campus after the break.
OLLU will continue throughout the summer to put systems in place to help protect its community while still providing its students an excellent and holistic academic and campus experience. More detail on this can be found on the COVID-19 webpage, https://tinyurl.com/ycuhsdgc.
Below is a highlight of a few measures OLLU is taking:
To accommodate the wide range of student needs and desires during the pandemic, OLLU is adopting a variety of strategies as appropriate to each discipline. An updated course schedule reflecting these changes will be available by July 7. Strategies include:
• Face-to-face classes with safety in mind: Face-to-face classes will meet in spacious classrooms that allow for generous social distancing. Face masks or shields will be required in classrooms.
• Split hybrid classes: To reduce crowding and exposure, split hybrid classes will give students the face-to-face experience in smaller groups. Half of the students in a class attend face-to-face for one day of instruction while half complete projects/assignments online or attend class virtually.
• Reduced class sizes for science labs: Additional lab sections are being scheduled to accommodate smaller lab class sizes.
• Online sections: Most courses with multiple sections will offer at least one online section. Most students will have the flexibility to build face-to-face, online or mixed schedules as needed.
Residence Hall Changes
To accommodate the need for social distancing in the residence halls, OLLU is adopting the following initiatives:
• Reopening former residence hall space: Following the opening of Lake View Hall, the university took several halls offline. Providence Hall, Pacelli Hall and St. Ann’s Hall will be brought back online and utilized for greater social distancing. These halls are currently being updated for student use. This will greatly increase the availability of single rooms. Spacious triple occupancy rooms will be converted to double occupancy rooms. There will be no more than two residents sharing bathroom space.
• Social distancing measures in common spaces: Lounges, study rooms and laundry spaces will be adjusted to ensure proper distancing; signage and floor decals will be added as visual reminders.
• Residence hall activities: Social activities in the residence halls will involve more virtual and outdoor activities to ensure social distancing.
• Hand sanitizer stations: Hand sanitizer stations will be available near hall entrances.
• Intensified cleaning of high-touch areas: New procedures are being adopted for more frequent cleaning of high touch areas such as door handles, surfaces in common areas, hallways, elevator and stairwells.
Adjustment to Dining Services
OLLU’s dining services provider Chartwells will be screening employees and will be adopting the following measures to provide for social distancing:
• Plexiglass guards: Guards will be installed to prevent the spread of germs.
• Grab-and-go items: More grab-and-go options will be offered to allow community members to take their meals to private spaces.
• Disposable containers: These will assist with preventing spread of germs.
• Spacing of tables and chairs: This will assist with social distancing.
• Visual reminders: Signage and floor decals will provide guidance for social distancing.
• Intensified cleaning measures: Dining rooms will be closed between meal serving times to allow for additional cleaning.
Over the last few months, many of OLLU students have shared their hopes of returning to campus and having a deeper sense of community. OLLU is using guidance and best practices from local, state and national health organizations to put systems into place so that it can welcome students back to campus and provide the safest environment possible.
OLLU looks forward to greeting everyone in August on its campuses in San Antonio, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.