The University submitted the following plan to the District of Columbia, and it was approved in December. It builds upon the Return-to-Campus plan that was submitted for the fall semester.

Office of the President 
November 30, 2020 

Dr. Anil Mangla
DC Health
Washington, D.C.

Dear Dr. Mangla, 

This responds to your note of November 27 asking for further information regarding Catholic University's plans for the spring semester 2021. 

On campus presence: resident students. We expect to have a total of 1,172 resident students, including resident advisors and campus ministers, in the spring semester, an increase from the 650-700 that we had projected for the fall semester. We also have 134 isolation spaces not included in this total We will have no more than 1,172 students in residence (our normal capacity is 1,984), because we want to ensure that all resident students have their own bedrooms while we continue to guard against the virus. 

We will again stagger the move-in process, applying the lessons learned by the careful process we used last August. All residential students will receive a COVID test as they move into their residence halls between January 21-24. The bulk of our undergraduates will return to campus by the first day of classes on January 25, and all will quarantine for two weeks, the time currently recommended by the CDC. Some student athletes and nurses will be permitted to report early, and they will also test and quarantine upon their arrival. 

Other measures: 

  • There will be no visitation among and between the residence halls until at least February 8. We will curtail visitation whenever our student life professionals determine that it is necessary.
  • All members of the University community are required to wear masks at all times when within 6 feet of another over a 24-hour period, except for a resident student's own bedroom. 
  • Testing. During this past semester we tested about 130 students per week. We expect during the second semester to test about 425 persons per week: about 200 athletes, about 200 in our Testing Center, and survey testing of a weekly sample of about 25 staff and faculty. We will continue to use our current vendors, while we continue to evaluate options, including the University of Illinois Shield system. We also remain interested in a collaborative effort to test wastewater from our residence halls.
  • Self-monitoring via the University's daily electronic symptom checker will be required of all students (professors may choose to require students to display their "green checks") and will continue to be made available to faculty and staff. Sports. We expect to compete in inter-collegiate, Division III sports, informed by the Landmark Conference's extensive protocols, which is based on NCAA rules, guidance, and oversight.
  • Isolation and quarantine. The University will continue to quarantine students upon notification from Student Health or elsewhere, and will isolate students in the Millenium South residence hall in accordance with the practices that worked effectively this fall.
  • Large gatherings. We benefited from a concerted effort of student affairs personnel, our own public safety staff, student leaders, and members of the community in closely watching and enforcing the 10-person limit on non-academic gatherings. We have made some revisions in the process along the way and will continue to encourage all members of our community to be responsible in this regard. 

On campus presence: academics. As you recall, during the current semester we mainly offered in-person classes to undergraduate freshmen and some law and graduate students. For next semester we have opened classes to all undergraduate and graduate students. We expect that slightly more than 50% of our classes will be offered in person, with the rest exclusively online. Those offered in person will also be available online, taught in a hybrid manner, in recognition of the fact that not all students will return to campus. This also ensures academic continuity in the event it becomes necessary to move any class or classes online for some portion of the semester. 

We will continue to enforce all cleanliness protocols to include cleaning every classroom after every class, enhanced air circulation, distancing calculated by our Facilities and Academic personnel, and requiring masks during class; all revamped classrooms also have acrylic shields between the professors and the students. 

The academic calendar has been adjusted to provide for a later-than-normal start to the semester for most students (January 25 instead of the scheduled January 11) to permit the virus to retreat from its peak, enable the University to welcome students back in a safe and orderly manner, and to compress the semester in a manner that also eliminates spring break and the risk of opportunistic infections being brought back to campus. 

As always, please let me know any further questions you or the staff might have. We look forward to continuing our cooperative relationship with DC Health and the District government. 


Lawrence J. Morris
Chief of Staff
The Catholic University of America