A Message From President Robin Steinke: Return to Campus Update (06/10/21)
Dear Luther Seminary community,
In light of the evolving COVID-19 situation, I’m pleased to inform you that we are able to move toward returning to campus, and will continue to follow guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health.
What follows is a basic overview of what’s to come; please review this carefully.
Community Vaccination Rates
Most of our on-campus students, faculty, and staff have received vaccinations or plan to be vaccinated in the near future. According to internal surveys conducted in April and May, at least 93% of employees and 92% of students have received or intend to receive the vaccine. We strongly encourage all eligible Luther Seminary community members to be vaccinated in accordance with public health guidelines.
Masks are still required in common areas, and everyone should observe safety guidelines. Our COVID-19 response team and facilities staff have prepared information to help you. Please review it before your first trip back to campus.
Fall 2021 Classes
Classes will be in person this fall at normal capacity with masking in classrooms. Faculty who are lecturing can be unmasked if they are fully vaccinated and keep as much distance from students as possible. 2021-22 course offerings are available now on MyLutherNet. Registration begins for Fall Semester 2021 by class status on July 13.
The housing application for new and continuing students wishing to apply to live on campus for the 2021-22 academic year is now open. New resident assignments will begin in July with move-ins on or after September 1 (with exceptions for international students arriving from outside the United States). Students will need to be logged into their Luther Seminary Gmail account to access the application.
For distributed students who will be participating in Residential Focus Sessions, we have arranged for an affordable block of rooms at the Fairfield Inn in Roseville (includes breakfast, WiFi, and shuttle service). More details are to come.
This past academic year, our pandemic response team, together with the enterprise leadership team and our student affairs staff, determined that we didn’t have enough demand—even among residential students—to provide dining services that were affordable. In addition, most of our residential students preferred to cook their own meals. We are still evaluating when and how dining services will resume.
Access to Campus
Buildings will remain closed to the public for now, but employees may return to campus to work. Employees no longer need to use the sign-up sheet. Guests need to check in at the OCC information desk when visiting the campus. Students can access the library Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 1-5 p.m. Enter using the west-facing doors of Gullixson Hall.
I extend my deep thanks and gratitude to the entire community for the ways in which you have come alongside one another over the past year and a half. I don’t know that things will ever go back to exactly the way things were before the pandemic, but I am sure that God will continue to guide us into the future. Please be gentle with yourselves and one another as we begin to reintegrate in-person gatherings and learning experiences, and learn to adapt to the rhythms of whatever “new normal” emerges.
I look forward to seeing you—literally!—soon.
Peace and grace,
Return to Campus Status Update
Many of Luther Seminary’s on-campus students, faculty, and staff have received vaccinations or plan to be vaccinated in the near future. Based on surveys conducted with employees in April and with students in May, at least 93% of employees and 92% of students have received at least one shot or intend to receive the vaccine when eligible (99% confidence level).
As many people receive vaccines and COVID-19 cases in the United States decline, we are beginning to discuss returning to campus. As of now, employees may choose to return to campus for work. You do not need to use the building sign-up sheet to come to campus, but we do ask that you check in at Olson Campus Center (OCC) each day when you arrive until further notice.
In mid-June the seminary will have made a final decision about whether or not to hold fall classes on campus. Luther has already decided to open up on-campus housing to new residential students in September. The seminary’s buildings will remain closed to the general public.
As more people return to campus, we ask that everyone keep in mind the following:
- COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged but not mandated.
- Masks are required in indoor common areas.
- Social distancing is required indoors.
- OCC and all classrooms have air conditioning, and MIRV filters have been installed per CDC guidelines. If you wish to have an air conditioning unit installed in your space in Bockman Hall, please submit a maintenance request to email@example.com.
- Classrooms and common areas will be cleaned daily. Sanitizing solution and wipes are available for your use.
Update on Summer Courses
Upon the recommendation of the Educational Leadership Committee, our summer courses will continue online. This is due primarily to the fact that students travel from across the country and given the pace of vaccination and the course of the virus, it is not prudent to gather folks until we have assurances that the virus is indeed under better control.
In August, Professor Andy Root is offering a travel course on Bonhoeffer in Germany. We hope that by August borders will be open, and this trip will be able to proceed. Interested students should register when summer registration opens on April 13. Confirmation of the trip will be made by July 1. When you register, please also hold the week of October 13-November 5 open in case the trip needs to be postponed. If the trip isn’t able to proceed in August, and you’re unable to make the fall session, you may drop out of the course at that point.
COVIDaware MN app
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the COVIDaware MN mobile tracking app during a press conference Monday, November 23. The app notifies you if you’ve been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19. If you test positive, you can use the app to anonymously notify anyone you’ve been near. More information about the app is available in this news story. Download information can be found on the app’s website.
Update on Winter and Spring Terms
The Educational Leadership Committee (ELC), comprised of a group of faculty and staff leaders, along with the Enterprise Leadership Team (ELT), comprised of administrative leaders, concur that the winter and spring terms will continue to be fully online.
Staff and faculty continue to exercise maximum flexibility to work from home. If and when staff would like to work in the office on campus, our policy is to have no more that 25% of folks in offices at any one time. As ever, our priority is the health, safety, and well-being of the entire community.
Custodial Cleaning for Fall 2020
Because a clean, sanitized campus is especially important during this pandemic, the Luther Seminary facilities staff has outlined a cleaning plan to keep the campus safe.
The facilities staff will regularly clean and sanitize public areas; however, you should assume that someone may have touched door handles, equipment, and other surfaces since the last cleaning. Per CDC guidelines, please wash or sanitize your hands frequently, particularly after touching a surface others may have touched, and avoid touching your face.
Common areas cleaning:
The Luther Seminary facilities staff will clean and sanitize common areas daily, Monday through Friday, in Bockman Hall, Olson Community Center, and Gullixson Hall, including classrooms, lounges, meeting rooms, and halls. This work includes wiping down handrails, door handles, drinking fountains, bathrooms, kitchen areas, elevators, and other common hard surface areas that are shared. Arrangements will be made for areas that might need additional attention.
Individual offices will only be cleaned upon request. If any special cleaning or other details are needed, arrangements can be made by an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please leave trash and recycling containers outside office doors in the hallway for removal. The CDC has stated that the coronavirus can survive up to 72 hours on most hard surfaces. If your office is unoccupied for that period of time, sanitizing isn’t as necessary. However, sanitizing is only effective on clean surfaces. With that in mind the facilities staff will schedule regular area cleaning projects throughout campus. Students and staff will be notified in advance of areas to be cleaned.
Bockman Residence 3rd Floor
The residence floor in Bockman Hall will require extra cleaning and sanitizing, which will be a joint effort between students and staff. Each resident will be responsible for their individual room. The facilities staff will clean the bathrooms and common areas on the third floor. Student employees will be assigned to clean the lounge on the third floor and basement kitchen.
Staff or students who need supplies to clean offices or other areas on campus can obtain them from the facilities office in Bockman Hall, Room 130. You may request supplies by emailing email@example.com.
Tom Mullaney, facilities manager, leads a small, dedicated team of facilities professionals: Ron Hosek, Doug Peterson, and Jake Ratkovich. This team is supplemented with a number of contractors and hard-working student employees. We want you to feel safe on campus. Please contact either Tom or Michael Morrow, vice president of finance and administration, if you have concerns or suggestions for improvement.
Phased Campus Reopening
- Luther Seminary’s Phased Campus Reopening Guidelines
- Frequently Asked Questions About Reopening Campus
You must be logged into your Luther Seminary account to access the documents above.
A message from President Robin Steinke on Fall 2020 Classes:
- Classes will be held online during fall semester 2020.
- The one exception is that the MDivX planning team is considering the possibility of holding an in-person RFS course for the second MDivX cohort in September. The MDivX team will share directly with the cohort in early July following their decision.
- Behind this decision is our commitment to providing high-quality education for our students in the safest and least disruptive manner possible. Holding classes online helps us protect the most vulnerable in our community, especially those who are in caretaking roles or are themselves in populations at greater risk for severe infection. Additionally, if a renewed wave of COVID-19 occurs this fall, it will be less disruptive to start and end classes online rather than shifting course delivery modalities partway through the semester.
- If you’re an international student, the Office of International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) will continue to be in touch with international students about their immigration status.
- If you currently live in on-campus housing, you may remain there according to your lease terms. The plan is not to open up housing to new residents until on-campus classes resume—however, if this poses a hardship for you, you are invited to submit a petition for consideration.
- We have not yet made a decision about dining services for the fall; however, we are committed to meeting the needs of residential students and will continue to keep you updated.
- No decision has been made about winter term and spring semester. We’re continuing to look ahead and will stay in touch as the situation unfolds.
- If you have academic advising questions or concerns, please talk with your faculty advisor, Sarah Luedtke-Jones (M.A. and M.Div.), Jeni Mullinex (Th.M., D.Min., Ph.D.), or the Registrar’s Office.
- Please don’t forget that we offer spiritual direction and counseling resources. Contact Pastor Jeni if you would like to know more.
A message from President Robin Steinke:
All classes for the remainder of the spring semester will be held online, including the Residential Focus Session scheduled for April 24 – May 2. The Seminary’s leadership team and COVID-19 task force will continue to monitor the situation to determine if additional actions will be needed for June.
Employees Work From Home
Employees who are able to work from home are authorized to do so. If you need or desire to work on campus, please observe the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) guidelines and keep a distance of at least six feet from others. Members of the seminary’s leadership team will schedule regular Zoom meetings to keep employees connected and informed as this situation unfolds.
Campus Closed to Public
Luther Seminary’s campus is closed to the public until further notice. No outside visitors will be permitted in campus buildings, including residential halls, the library, and all Luther Seminary buildings. All buildings will be locked at 5 p.m. each day.
Employee Travel Temporarily Suspended
All business travel has been suspended and employees should not book any travel until further notice. Decisions will be made in the coming weeks on when we will be able to resume travel.
Facility sanitizing is ongoing. Now that all buildings are closed to the public, the facilities staff has implemented a plan to systematically sanitize classrooms, common areas, and offices. Please communicate with your supervisor or, for faculty, the assistant dean if you will be working from home so that your office can also be sanitized.