This page features information relevant to Catholic University's response to the novel coronavirus.

Information on Fall 2020

President Garvey announced Catholic University plans to open for in-person instruction this fall. Read his letter.

COVID-19 Working Groups

May 28, 2020

Focused working groups have been meeting since the beginning of March to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the University. There is at least one group meeting each day of the week to examine the current situation. 

  • Three times a week, the Roadmap 20/21 Task Force meets virtually. This was the first working group formed in March, and is led by Lawrence Morris, chief of staff in the President’s office. The Provost and vice presidents were invited to select members of their teams to be a part of this group. Up to 20 people participate each day in a meeting that starts with Dr. Loretta Staudt, director of Student Health Services, updating the group on the health crisis. Within the group are multiple representatives of academics, admission and enrollment services, advancement and finance, communications, human resources, student life, facilities and environmental health and safety.
  • As the pandemic has developed, sub committees and task forces have formed to evaluate possible changes to academics (instruction and learning, research, classroom configuration and sanitation, and the Library), student affairs, facilities, and return-to-campus measures. The return to campus group is focusing on topics ranging from the placement of additional hand sanitizer around campus and how to encourage proper social distancing and mask usage to how to resume in-person Mass on campus.

The working groups continue to monitor the latest guidance being presented by the CDC and District of Columbia. Reopening measures will meet (if not exceed) those safety precautions. 

Employees who have specific questions or concerns about the pandemic and its effects on the University should contact their direct supervisor so that concerns can be forwarded to vice presidents and/or their representatives on the working groups. They can also send questions or suggestions to

Return to Campus Safety Town Hall

May 28, 2020

The University’s preparations for the safe return to campus of faculty and professional staff during summer 2020 will be the topic of an online Safety Town Hall on Thursday, June 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. President John Garvey will be joined by University Medical Director Dr. Loretta Staudt and other members of the various Coronavirus response working groups that are planning for the safe, phased return to normal business operations on campus. Information will include updates on the latest health guidance, steps the University is taking to provide a clean and safe work environment in the context of COVID-19, and the expected return of students for the upcoming fall semester. Questions are welcome at

Update on DC Stay-at-Home Directive

Addressing the Financial Impact of COVID-19

May 19, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community:

This past weekend we celebrated a virtual conferral of degrees for our Class of 2020, followed by virtual events organized by individual schools. I am grateful to everyone who made this day so successful, from our faculty and staff who helped our graduates navigate a tumultuous spring semester, to all those who helped organize these ceremonies. 

As we turn our attention toward the next academic year, I am writing to share with you important information about the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our University. At the outset, it is important to recognize the solid financial progress the University has made over the past several years. We have raised more funds than at any time in our history, and our endowment and investment pool have never been stronger. The current economic crisis has been very challenging for every university and college, however, and Catholic University is no exception. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented strain on our budget. 

In the past few weeks, our Vice President for Finance & Treasurer, Rob Specter, has been consulting with me, our Leadership Group, trustees, the Academic Senate, deans, University Budget Committee, Administrative Council, Committee on Faculty Economic Welfare (CoFEW), and the Benefits Advisory Committee, exploring our options for responding as a community to the continuing financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. It is critically important for all of us to be aware of the challenges we face and work together in order to address these challenges, support all members of our community, and ensure a solid financial future for Catholic University.

Financial Impact of COVID-19

As we have shared in these meetings, the cost of responding to this crisis has been steep. We lost about $5 million in the spring semester, mainly due to housing and dining refunds, after the offset from CARES Act funding. Other spring semester unbudgeted costs included parking refunds, reimbursements of study abroad program fees, and lost income from cancelled spring conferences. 

Our summer enrollment has fallen short of our goal, and we have not been able to bring paying students pursuing Washington, D.C. internships into our residence halls nor earn revenue from summer conference activity. 

As we plan for the coming academic year, we are preparing for various potential outcomes that are enrollment dependent. There are many variables at play here, particularly the enrollment choices of first-year, transfer, and international students. Other factors include governmental mandates and the impact of the American economy on educational affordability, on our investments, and on fundraising. 

Budget Adjustments

Although we crafted a balanced budget for the fiscal year that began May 1, it is already clear that we need to make adjustments to ensure our solid financial footing going forward. As we consider our options, our commitment is steadfast to the safety of our community, service to our students, and preservation of jobs for our staff and faculty. We are implementing certain austerity measures now, and as the financial picture clarifies over the summer and into the fall, will be prepared to take further actions as circumstances warrant. 

Actions that we’re announcing today:

  • I will take a 20% salary rate reduction, and each of the vice presidents will take a 10% salary rate reduction effective June 1 through April 2021. 
  • We will significantly reduce centrally-funded capital expenditures and redirect those funds to support the University operating budget. 
  • Most departmentally funded capital projects will be placed on hold indefinitely, excluding classroom technology improvements that will promote more effective instruction modality and social distancing projects for community safety.
  • Planning and construction of both the dining center and the new Conway School of Nursing building will continue unabated, as will the Energy Project. The Conway School has particular salience in these times as the producer of the next generation of health care professionals. 
  • We will immediately reduce operating budgets by 3% across the University for Fund 11 and Fund 15 expenditures, including every school and operating unit. 
  • In support of these operating budget reductions, we are immediately freezing new staff hiring for all except the most critical roles through the fiscal year.

These measures will provide more than $12 million in cost savings and put us on track to restore balance to our budget. We will continue to assess our financial position this summer and fall as we learn more about our enrollment, the behavior of the virus, and its impacts on our society and our economy. Potentially, additional measures may become necessary, including actions that would affect retirement plan contributions, budgeted raises, current compensation for staff and faculty, and further belt tightening. 

I raise these matters with you now in full transparency because, should such additional measures become necessary, we want to use our available time to fully examine their impacts on our community and consider alternatives in detail to make the best and most timely decisions. 

All of this effort is conducted with our goals of keeping our community safe, caring for our employees, and safeguarding Catholic University’s place among great research universities for decades to come. I appreciate the resilience and team spirit you have shown so far, and I seek your constructive ideas and recommendations as we work through these challenges together.

John Garvey

Update on DC Stay-at-Home Directive

May 13, 2020

Earlier today, Mayor Bowser announced that the District of Columbia’s stay-at-home directive has been extended through Monday, June 8.  In light of this, we are shifting the earliest start of our return to campus until June 8 as well.  Employees should continue to work as they are now through that date. 

University employees whose duties require their presence on campus will continue to work on campus, subject to the distancing and other requirements that have been put in place to keep all members of the community safe.  Additionally, many of our essential employees who are already on campus, will be stepping up their efforts to prepare the campus for the return of others.

Knowing that our intention is to return to full operations by early August in support of our students, we will use the next few weeks to develop a phased Return to Campus Plan. This plan will be customized for each area’s unique needs and challenges. Among other tools, plan elements will include the continued use of rotation and shift schedules with core hours to support social distancing on campus and in recognition of the challenges our employees face around issues like child care and transportation. Further, the Covid Work from Home program will be extended through July 31 as we develop these plans. 

Please feel free to send your insights or concerns to

My continued thanks for your devotion to the University and your flexibility during these constantly evolving times.

Matthew McNally

Catholic University to Open for In-Person Instruction This Fall

May 7, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

As the spring semester draws to an end, we turn our attention to what comes next—Fall 2020. 

Before anything else, I am happy to announce that we are planning to open the doors of The Catholic University of America for on-campus instruction and residential life this fall. Even if we can’t resume life exactly as we knew it just eight weeks ago, we can take the necessary steps to deliver a fully open campus at the earliest possible opportunity. This is where we are focusing our energies.

To get us there, we have launched the Roadmap 20/21 Task Force to navigate us through the next academic year. The Task Force has already been holding daily meetings throughout the crisis, resolving issues as they arise and ensuring that the campus community is fully informed. The addition of working groups and a new name reflects the group’s focus on working toward the future success of Catholic University. 

The return of our students to campus will be preceded by a phased reintroduction of our faculty and staff, many of whom have been working from home. We are taking precautions to keep our campus as safe as possible. These include attention to social distancing, aggressive cleaning protocols, face coverings where appropriate, and sneeze guards at various places around campus. 

Our decisions will necessarily observe CDC and DC government guidelines. We will also work with Student Health Services to implement common sense and clinical measures to maintain a healthy campus environment, including appropriate testing and contact tracing protocols. Our primary concern is the safety of our community.

Bringing students to live on campus requires thorough planning. In conjunction with the other universities in the Washington Metropolitan Area, we are working with District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland officials on common approaches. We are actively pursuing the feasibility of COVID testing and tracing capabilities, adapting our residence halls to comply with CDC and District guidelines, and implementing additional cleaning procedures. We are developing protocols for isolation of students who test positive for COVID while living in community. 

Current District guidelines limit the size of gatherings to 10 people. This would make large classes impossible, and affect athletics, artistic performances, and liturgies. While we expect the limits to be relaxed in time, we are looking at ways to reorganize class offerings (e.g. distributing students within the classroom, expanding our class day, offering Saturday classes) to ensure safe practices and compliance with government guidelines. Our student affairs and campus ministry teams will develop strategies to foster community, not only within the residence halls, but also through campus activities, athletics, and faith-based programs.

Our experience this spring has helped us understand better the advantages of remote instruction capability. We are making immediate investments in video equipment and virtual technology to enable us to offer all our courses both in person and online, if necessary. This will give students the flexibility to attend classes remotely in the event they, or a professor, need to isolate due to COVID-19 exposure.

No words can express my gratitude to faculty and staff, our students and their families, for their patience and positive attitude these past months. Guiding this University through a global pandemic is not something we ever foresaw, when we launched our professional and student careers here. We have learned a lot about who we are as people, as professionals, and as a community. 

I am fully confident in our ability not only to return to campus, but also to build up Catholic University in a way that protects the safety of all. The next academic year will be filled with unique challenges, and I wouldn’t want to attempt to make my way through it without our Roadmap 20/21 team, and the valuable contributions of each one of you.

John Garvey

University Will Use CARES Act Funds for Emergency Financial Assistance for Students

April 15, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you had a restful Easter break, that you and your family are healthy, and that your studies are going well.

Late last week, we received a notification from the Department of Education that the first installment of our funding from the CARES Act would be available for our use in the near future. 100% of this installment will fund emergency financial assistance for our students.  Catholic University will use the funding to provide one-time emergency grants of between $500 and $2,000.

These grants are intended to lessen financial challenges resulting from the current health crisis including travel assistance, emergency medical expenses, expenses related to student virtual learning, overdue utility bills, housing assistance, food insecurity, and more.  This funding is not intended to replace or supplement existing financial aid and does not have to be repaid.

All undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in campus-based programs who are experiencing unexpected financial hardship resulting from the coronavirus pandemic may apply. Students enrolled in fully online degree programs are not eligible. 

We will work to address demonstrated needs to the extent funds are available.  Priority will be given to students with the highest demonstrated financial need.  Students in need of financial assistance should complete this application.  Please provide as much detail on your circumstances as possible. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the available funds have been distributed.

Approved applications will have funds placed directly on their student accounts for immediate refund. In order to receive the refund quickly, applicants should ensure that they have direct deposit established on their student account.  Students enroll in direct deposit by following these instructions on the Enrollment Services' website.

The University will also allocate funds for one-time need-based tuition assistance grants to help students who have financial distress caused by the pandemic. These grants will help to reduce educational expenses for the upcoming summer sessions and/or the 2020-2021 academic year. Eligibility will be determined from the FAFSA and from the Office of Student Financial Assistance Appeals Form.

Please contact the Office of the Dean of Students for questions about the CARES Act grant program and the Office of Student Financial Assistance  aid for questions about tuition assistance grants.

Dean Sawyer

Jonathan C. Sawyer, 
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students

Update on Summer Sessions

April 7, 2020

To overcome the challenges presented by the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and in an effort to allow our students to maintain momentum in their academic careers, we have decided to move forward with all summer sessions being offered through our virtual learning environment.

Although it is hard to visualize how the pandemic will continue to impact the University over the coming months, our goal is to allow our faculty ample time to prepare their classes, and allow our students to plan out the next few months of classes now, instead of waiting to reassess whether the University may be able to hold in-person classes during the summer months.

With the exception of the Law School (which will communicate its plans directly to law students once they are finalized) all summer classes will be offered through our virtual learning environment. Course dates will not be changing. Courses that were previously scheduled to meet in person will now meet online during the same time period.

Students can find more information on the Summer Sessions webpage, which will continue to be updated. They can also consult their Center for Academic and Career Success and faculty advisers to discuss course options.

Faculty should consult with their deans, chairs, and the Center for Teaching Excellence for resources on how best to convert their courses to the virtual environment. 

  • Solutions to Academic Challenges

    Answers to questions about advising, tutoring, requesting an incomplete, and pass/fail options.

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  • Updates Regarding Catholic University Athletics

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  • University Advancement and Alumni Association Events Updates

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  • Touch-Point Cleaning

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  • Novel Coronavirus Updates Archive

    Previous updates issued by Catholic University on the COVID-19 outbreak.

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