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Our Plan for Spring 2021

On July 31, President John Garvey announced a plan for Fall 2020. That plan limits the number of students who can reside on campus and take classes in person. Priority will be given to freshmen (and transfers with fewer than 30 college credits). They will move into the residence halls as planned. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors will not be able to live on campus this fall, and will take all of their classes online. Please check back to this page often for updated information related to this plan. 
Statue of Pope Leo XIII with face covering

Catholic University has updated its plan for on-campus instruction and residential life for fall 2020. See Appendix I for new details.


Approved by the District of Columbia
Aug. 12, 2020

A Phased Approach Focused on Safety

This COVID-19 Phased Campus Reopening Plan is focused on prevention, containment and mitigation, and monitoring and coordination. It prioritizes health and safety while resuming in-person education and supporting critical services. 

The guiding principles of this plan are:

  • The health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the greater community;
  • Mitigation of the risk of spread of COVID-19 in the campus and greater community;
  • Compliance with D.C. Department of Health requirements;
  • Fulfillment of the University’s academic, research, and service mission.
All aspects of this plan will be under continuous reassessment and are subject to modification as circumstances and local and federal guidance require. Please direct questions regarding this Plan to Larry Morris, Chief of Staff and Counselor to the President (tel. 202-319-5102, morrisl@cua.edu).



Highlights of the Reopening Plan

Central Coordination — Pandemic Response Teams

Roadmap 20/21 Task Force

This Task Force is the University’s overarching pandemic response team.  It includes representatives from each University division and all areas of University operations.

Ad Hoc Working Groups

  • Campus Health and Wellness Task Force
  • Community and Student Engagement Task Force
  • Instructional Continuity Task Force

  • Athletics Action Team
  • Restart Research Task Force
  • Return to In-Person Worship Task Force

Campus-Wide Safety Measures

  • Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols: The University's enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols for classrooms, offices, bathrooms, and common spaces include cleaning of high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces, using EPA-approved products, signage for sanitized spaces, adding hand-sanitizing dispensers across campus, and modification of cleaning schedules based upon space usage.  All classrooms and learning environments will be cleaned between each class session.
  • Face Coverings: Consistent with the University-wide Social Distancing Policy and local and federal guidelines, all members of the University community are required to wear face coverings. The University will provide two washable face coverings to all members of the community.
  • Signage: Durable, self-adhesive posters addressing distancing, hand washing, the proper use of face coverings, occupancy limits, and directional signage will be posted in campus buildings in both English and Spanish.
  • Space Modifications: Measures to increase space between individuals in all University facilities will be implemented. These include signage, closing or restricting the use of common areas, reconfiguring work areas, and re-routing foot traffic.
  • Supplies and Resources: The University has established a supply chain to obtain the necessary cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, and will distribute those supplies to staff, faculty, and students as needed.
  • Ventilation Systems: The University is undertaking an HVAC and ventilation assessment to identify possible improvements, including fresh air exchanges/purges, upgraded air filters, and inspection of window air conditioning units.

Employee Health, Safety, and Wellness

  • Phased Return to Campus: Telework, rotating shifts, and alternative schedules will continue into fall 2020 as determined by department-specific needs. Plans are being implemented to have most employees working on campus for some portion of their work by the end of July, with a goal of a daily density of 50% of the staff on campus at any given time during August. Accommodations will be made for high-risk or vulnerable individuals. 
  • Containment and Mitigation Measures: When an employee tests positive or is presumed positive, the University will notify all employees who came in close contact with that employee. The point of contact for employees who test positive is cua-coronaresponse@cua.edu (tel. 202-319-5050). All employees must complete daily self-screenings for symptoms before coming to work, and will have the option to use the daily health-checking app that students will be required to use. They should notify their supervisor if they test positive or have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine.
  • Stay-at-Home Instruction: Employees who are sick or have symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, or who have household members who are sick or symptomatic, should a) stay home pending test results; b) notify their supervisor and Human Resources at cua-coronavirus@cua.edu; and c) not return to campus until advised to do so by a medical provider.
    Employees will not be subject to adverse employment action for following the stay-at-home instruction.
  • Employee Training: All full-time and part-time employees and designated contract workers are required to complete an online training module addressing steps for safely returning to campus.
  • Resources for Departments and Supervisors: The University has developed specific guidance and resources to address employee health and safety.

Community Health, Safety, and Wellness

The University is restricting campus facilities to members of the University community and will not allow outside visitors in residence halls.  

Research Continuity

The University will continue remote research, where feasible, and restart only that critical on-campus research that cannot be performed remotely. Safety measures include social distancing, face coverings, training, limited access to research facilities, temperature checks before entering facilities, and time logs.

Student Health, Safety, and Welfare

  • Return to Campus: Most students will not be required to be tested before returning to campus. Students will be instructed to begin daily symptom checks using the University’s health-check app 14 days before returning to campus. (See details in full report.)
    Any student previously infected with COVID-19 and since recovered must provide documentation from a primary-care provider that the student has passed the CDC-recommended time for isolation or quarantine. A 14-day quarantine will be required for anyone returning from international travel.  
  • Online New Student Orientation and Parent Contacts: The academic year begins Aug. 24. There will be a 7-week online orientation for new students. Traditional Orientation will be Aug. 20-23 with activities being conducted in small groups or virtually. Orientation for parents of new students will be conducted virtually after Aug. 2.
  • Student Training: All students will be provided with an online training module for safely returning to campus life. 
  • Containment and Mitigation Measures: Students are required to monitor their health on a daily basis, including checking their temperatures each morning and using a standard questionnaire for self health checks. Students are asked to bring their own thermometers to campus. 
  • Testing and Contact Tracing: Students who feel ill will be instructed to contact Student Health Services so that testing, contact tracing, and potential isolation or quarantine can be implemented. 
  • Isolation and Quarantine Facilities: The University will designate one or more residential facilities to serve as isolation or quarantine areas to house residential students who become symptomatic or test positive for coronavirus. Student Health Services staff will monitor isolated or quarantined students daily or more often, if needed. If it is determined that a student requires more advanced care, staff will ensure that the patient is safely transferred to a local health care facility.
  • Student Health Services: Student Health Services is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and most Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The University is evaluating the best way to provide coverage during hours that the SHS facility is not available to students. 
  • Mental Health Support: The University’s Counseling Center will provide a combination of in-person and virtual appointments. Counselors will check in with students (by phone when social distancing is not feasible), provide referrals, and engage in video-therapy sessions where permissible by state law. 
  • Spiritual Support: Campus Ministry is planning a full schedule of Masses, adoration, and other spiritual support for the fall semester, following protocols that include temporary reconfiguration of worship spaces, staggered time schedules, and enhanced cleaning and preventative measures.

Residential Facilities

  • Modified Move-In Scheduled: Move-in to campus housing will start on Aug. 8, beginning with early arrival groups (student-athletes, student staff, etc.) and international students. Students living close to D.C. will most likely move in closer to the weekend of Aug. 22.  
  • Capacity Limitations: The University is reducing the capacity of certain rooms in its residence halls. Many students will reside in single rooms rather than double or larger rooms. Students living in suites or apartment units with private unit bathrooms will be considered a “family unit,” so that if one resident has been exposed to the virus all will self-isolate until medical clearance is provided.
  • Visitors: The University does not plan to permit external visitors in its residence halls during the fall 2020 semester.
  • Cleaning Supplies: Cleaning supplies will be provided for suite-style residences. University personnel will continue to follow enhanced cleaning protocols for common areas such as lounges, kitchens, and laundry facilities.
  • Bathrooms: Students living in traditional residence halls with a common bathroom will be advised of maximum usage of the facility, and will practice physical distancing and other University-implemented health measures while using such bathrooms. All common bathrooms will continue to be cleaned and disinfected at an enhanced level by University staff. 
  • Common Areas: Kitchens, lounges, and laundry facilities will be set for social distancing, with capacity limited through measures such as rearrangement or removal of furniture.  
  • Signage: Notices about social distancing, hand washing, face coverings, closure of common areas, bathroom schedules, and entry and exit routes will be placed in all residence halls. 

Meals and Dining Facilities

  • Meals: Only individual, pre-packaged, carry-out, or grab-and-go meals will be provided in fall. There will be a mobile-ordering option. All meals will be accompanied by individual use, pre-packaged, disposable utensils and will be distributed by trained dining services staff.
  • Dining Facilities: Covered space outside the dining facility will be set up for outdoor dining. Thorough cleaning in dining areas will take place between meals. Individuals involved in preparation, delivery of food, or sanitation will undergo daily temperature checks and symptom checks.
  • Vendor Training: Aramark, the University’s food service provider, will provide appropriate food preparation and distribution training to its employees.

Academic Instruction and Learning

  • Physical Health and Safety: Classrooms will be cleaned more often and more thoroughly. There will be reduced class sizes, increased space between desks, classes held in larger rooms, an increased number of class sections, acrylic shields and dividers where feasible, and disinfectant spray or hand sanitizer dispensers in classrooms. Faculty will offer online office hours. Students will be asked to sit in the same seat for the whole semester. There will be flexible and less restrictive attendance policies for students. In-person instruction will end at Thanksgiving followed by one week of remote learning. Final exams will be held virtually or in a take-home format.
  • Instructional Continuity: Classes will be held in-person at scheduled times with synchronous remote participation by students unable to attend. Contingency plans include hybrid classes with a mix of in-person interactions or, if necessary, fully online classes. If an instructor has to quarantine or self-isolate, the instructor will enact a contingency plan. 
  • Technology Improvements: The University is modifying classrooms to support mixed modality by adding flat screen displays, cameras, and microphones. 
  • Enhanced Online Content and Delivery: The University is exploring the development of more professional-grade in-house course production and online content in order to improve the quality of mixed-modality or fully online instruction.
  • Academic Support: The Center for Academic and Career Success will provide in-person and virtual academic and career advising services. 
  • Clinical Placements, Externships, Training, and Off-Campus Activities: Students with clinical placements, externships, and other off-campus activities must follow University and applicable accrediting body requirements as outlined by respective programs.
  • Study Abroad: There will be no study abroad programs for the fall. 


  • University Libraries plan to reopen during the fall 2020 semester, although normal fall operating hours may change.
  • Seating will be reduced inside the library.
  • Curbside pickup of materials, digitization of print materials on demand, and online instruction and research consultations will continue. 

Athletics, Fitness, and Student Organizations

  • Gyms and Indoor Facilities: Indoor athletics and fitness facilities will open only in accordance with local and federal guidance and requirements. When opened, all users will complete temperature checks and a review of symptoms prior to entering the facility.  
  • Athletics Teams and Clubs: An Athletics Action Team is devising a “return to play” path for athletic teams and clubs. Varsity student-athletes must complete daily screenings and temperature checks to participate in their sport.
  • Student Organizations: Student organizations are permitted to meet indoors in small groups, but are subject to social distancing and other health requirements. Outside activities will be permitted consistent with those of athletics teams and clubs. 

Chapels and Practice of Faith

  • Chapels are open for Mass and other Catholic religious services. Seating in the chapels has been reconfigured to provide for physical distancing, and all participants must wear face coverings.
  • Worship aids will not be provided or re-used. Hymns/singing will not be part of the congregation's worship.
  • Distribution of Holy Communion will be in the hand when at all feasible. 
  • Worship schedules will be adapted to provide sufficient time for thorough cleaning between services.
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and other worship opportunities will be offered to the maximum extent possible, informed by guidance from Archdiocese of Washington and applicable civic health measures.
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available, adapted to allow for social distancing and the seal of confession.

Ongoing Communication and Reporting Mechanisms

  • Internal Communications: The University distributes weekly emails and periodic COVID-19 updates to the campus community with information about new health and safety measures, as well as FAQ’s, information for employees about where to get tested, the University points of contact for questions, and information about CARES Act and other resources for students and employees. Targeted emails are also sent to supervisors. The University website includes a COVID-19 Updates page, a Roadmap 20/21 Preparing for a Return to Campus, and Student Affairs Opening 2020 information. Posters and signage in both English and Spanish have been posted addressing social distancing, hand washing, use of face coverings, modified space and occupancy limits. Readjusted entry and exit routes are posted in all buildings on campus. Health and safety training modules are required for employees and students.
  • Raising Questions and Concerns: Students and employees who have questions or concerns can use the University’s dedicated email account (safereturnideas@cua.edu). Students and employees may also use the University’s Compliance and Ethics Helpline to raise questions or concerns anonymously. 
  • External Communication and Coordination: The University will communicate and coordinate with the D.C. Department of Health. University points of contact have been established for students and employees who test positive for COVID-19. These individuals will coordinate with the Task Forces and subgroups on all issues of coordination and communication for testing, contact tracing, isolation, and care provisions for potential cases, and will act as liaison between the University, the D.C. Department of Health, and other governmental or external entities as applicable. 

Resurgence Plan

In the event of a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will maintain coordination with the D.C. Department of Health, and will follow local and federal requirements regarding limiting or suspending on-campus operations consistent with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic Compliance Plan that was initially implemented in spring 2020.