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Our Plan for Fall 2020

Visit Catholic University's landing page for information related to Fall 2020.

Catholic University is preparing for the fall semester. Check back frequently for updates from the University.

Catholic University Announces Tuition Adjustments for Fall 2020 Semester

August 3, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

We have heard from many students and parents since we made our announcement that we would be required to limit in-person classes and on-campus residency for the fall semester. I understand this disappointment, which was necessitated by the increased number of COVID-19 cases throughout much of the nation, and new quarantine restrictions implemented here in the District of Columbia.

While I would have preferred to provide more detail in last Friday’s announcement, I felt it was essential to share the most important information as quickly as possible, even as we were calculating the significant financial implications for both families and students as well as the University.

In regard to tuition charges and room and board refunds, for these most pressing questions, I am announcing the following policy updates for the fall 2020 semester:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students who anticipated attending at least some of their classes in-person or in a hybrid mode, and who will this semester attend classes exclusively online, will receive a 10% refund of their fall tuition costs. There is no tuition reduction for programs that are traditionally fully online.
  • Students who planned to live on campus and are no longer eligible to do so will receive a full refund for on-campus room and board.
  • Students who already planned to live in the area and purchased a dining plan will have that plan honored. Also, a limited number of additional dining plans are available for off-campus students.

These adjustments will be posted on all student accounts before August 15 and refunds will be processed soon thereafter. Students who wish to hold their credit balance for the spring semester should notify Enrollment Services directly.

Our leadership teams in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs are updating their FAQs on our website to address many of the most commonly asked questions. We will continue responding to the many questions we have received that are specific to students and their individual situations.

Finally, undergraduate students who have suffered economic distress specifically related to the pandemic are encouraged to appeal for additional financial assistance. Through the generosity of University benefactors, the Office of Student Financial Assistance continues to make one-time emergency tuition grants to students directly impacted by the pandemic. Requests should be submitted using the Appeal Form.

We will continue to provide you with additional updates as soon as they become available.

John Garvey

Catholic University to Welcome Freshmen to Campus for Fall 2020: Classes for Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors Will Be Fully Online

July 31, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

Last May, we committed to fully reopening our campus at the earliest possible opportunity. Since that time we have been carefully gauging the trajectory of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I am very sorry to report that developments in public health conditions over the past few weeks have forced us to conclude that it is simply too early to bring everyone back to campus.

When classes begin in August, we will limit the number of students who can reside on campus and take classes in person.  We have decided to give priority to freshmen (and transfers with fewer than 30 college credits). They will move into the residence halls as planned, beginning August 17.  The District of Columbia has asked that all people arriving from 27 states designated as “high risk” areas quarantine for 14 days. In  compliance with that  request, we will conduct our freshman and new graduate student orientations, as well as our first two weeks of classes, online. Those students will quarantine through September 6.

Regrettably, sophomores, juniors, and seniors will not be able to live on campus this fall, and will take all of their classes online.  We will make a few exceptions for some Resident Assistants, international students, and students whose personal situations make it impossible to pursue studies at their permanent addresses.  Law students and graduate students should look for communications from their Deans early next week.

I understand this is disappointing news, because it is disappointing to us.  But the large and sustained increase in infections nationwide poses a serious risk that we will be unable to provide the care necessary for a full complement of our student population.  We remain confident that we can attend properly to a smaller cohort, while providing our freshmen with the best possible transition to college.  

I want to reaffirm our commitment to our academic mission.  All summer, our faculty and staff have worked diligently to prepare for this year, mindful that each student must be able to engage fully in his or her academic experience.  We have made significant investments to prepare our classrooms with multiple, agile, high definition cameras to allow us to provide the same level of engagement to students learning remotely as we do to students in the classroom.

We will continue to monitor public health conditions to determine when we can resume in-person courses and other activities.  It is important that we follow CDC and District guidelines for the transition from a largely virtual mode, and our academic leaders will share updates as information becomes available.

Now that we have decided to limit the number of students living and studying on campus, our Roadmap 20/21 team is addressing a number of followup questions. We appreciate your patience as we work quickly through these issues, and will provide updates early next week.

Let me offer my thanks to each of our students, our faculty and staff, and our community of parents and alumni.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we have worked together to deal with this crisis.  It’s worth repeating that this is a disappointment for all of us.  But it is only a temporary one.  We will continue moving forward through this pandemic together.

John Garvey

How will the D.C. mandate for quarantine from “high-risk states” be facilitated on campus?

July 31, 2020

In order to abide by the Mayor’s order and assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the District and protect the health, safety, and welfare of District residents, The Catholic University of America will ask all returning campus residents (regardless of the state in which they live or are coming from) to quarantine upon arrival date to campus through Sunday, September 6th. All students returning to DC and residing off campus (regardless of the state in which they live or are coming from) will be asked to return to their DC residence by Sunday, August 23rd and remain in quarantine in their residence through Sunday, September 6th. We ask all students studying in-person on campus to refrain from travel for the Labor Day holiday weekend. All academic classes will be held virtually through Saturday, September 5th, with in person instruction commencing on Tuesday, September 8th.

While in quarantine, all Catholic University of America students studying in-person on campus will 

  • Stay in their residence, leaving only for essential medical appointments or treatment, for exercise (without in-person contact and wearing proper facial covering), or to obtain food and other essential goods when the delivery of food or other essential goods to their residence is not feasible. Campus residents with meal plans will receive their meals each day from a meal distribution location close to their residential community and at a scheduled time to allow for social distancing. Due to the Labor Day Holiday meals will continue to be picked up in these locations until the Pryzbyla Center reopens on September 8th.
  • Not invite or allow guests into their quarantined residence both on and off campus. There will be no visitors, external to the residential community, permitted in the residence halls during this period.
  • Not share personal items with others in their suite, apartment, or off campus home.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, take your temperature daily and complete a short health survey each morning on the daily health checker app and seek appropriate medical advice or testing if COVID-19 symptoms arise, by contacting Student Health Services at 202-319-5744.

The Catholic University of America will continue with increased cleaning protocols through Facilities and Maintenance and encourage residents to increase cleaning through one-on-one conversations with Residence Hall staff and passive campaigns. Students will be reminded of social distancing, practicing good hygiene (e.g., frequent hand washing, avoiding touching the face, covering coughs and sneezes), and wearing a face covering through an online student training, social media campaigns, videos, and virtual conversations with University staff. 

University Continues to Prepare Facilities for Students’ Return to Campus

July 27, 2020

How have you spent your summer?

Facilities staff have spent the last months streamlining cleaning processes to ensure they can clean classrooms between classes come the start of the fall semester while also maintaining cleanliness in residence halls once students move back to campus. 

University custodial staff will be supported by contracted cleaners working the overnight shift. The contracted cleaners will perform the traditional vacuuming, dusting, and floor cleaning of classrooms, offices, restrooms, and lounge areas in addition to disinfection overnight. During the day, custodial staff will be performing the traditional cleaning tasks as well as increased touchpoint cleaning in common areas in all working and living spaces on campus. Additionally, classrooms will be sanitized between classes.  

Read the full story

District Clarifies Mask Mandate

July 22, 2020

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2020-080 to clarify and extend requirements related to wearing masks indoors and outdoors in Washington, DC.

Under the new Mayor’s Order on masks, people must wear a mask when they leave their homes if they are likely to come into contact with another person for more than a fleeting moment. Exceptions are listed in the Mayor’s Order, and common exceptions include: children under the age of three; a person who is in an enclosed office that no one else is allowed to enter; a person who is actively eating or drinking; and a person who is engaged in vigorous outdoor exercise and is maintaining social distance of at least six feet from other people. The full Mayor’s Order on masks can be found at

Catholic University Is Committed to International Students (UPDATED)

July 15, 2020

The  Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is relieved to hear that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has agreed to  rescind the July 6, 2020 policy that threatened international students with deportation if their U.S. institutions turned to online-only instruction. ISSS will continue to communicate with and update our international students as further DHS guidance is available pertaining to the Fall 2020 semester and course registration.

As University President John Garvey and Provost Aaron Dominguez said in a letter last week:

"Every year Catholic University is home to hundreds of international students from all over the world. They are here to learn, to conduct research and to contribute to our global community. We embrace their cultural diversity, and we welcome the unique gifts and perspectives they bring to the academic enterprise. We support policies that welcome international students to our country, and incorporate them into our community. We stand in solidarity with the international students at Catholic University, and across the nation." 

University Must Delay Alternative Commencement

June 16, 2020

Although Catholic University remains committed to holding an in-person Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020, recent developments mean it will not be possible to host the event in August as previously hoped.

The decision to cancel the event planned for August 7 was based upon the latest guidance from the District of Columbia. According to the ReOpen DC plan, the District will not approve gatherings as large as Commencement until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed.

Tentatively, University leadership and a committee of faculty and staff are working to determine a realistic alternate date for spring 2021. However, planning will be subject to the COVID-19 virus and continuing local and federal guidance. The University will provide updates as next steps become clear.

“This is an unprecedented time in history, and the challenges faced by our most recent graduates are unique,” said President John Garvey, who has consistently urged University staff to explore options for an in-person ceremony for the Class of 2020 as local health guidelines allow. “We will rise above these challenges and create a memorable experience for our graduates and families.”

McMahon Classroom Upgrade for Hybrid Learning

June 16, 2020

McMahon Hall 112 (the Fulton Sheen Classroom) has received updated technology this summer and is being rearranged by facilities staff to demonstrate how learning will be supported in the fall while focusing on the health and safety of faculty and students in the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Read the full story.

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

  • Health and Safety Flyers

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  • Travel Restrictions

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  • Updates Regarding Catholic University Athletics

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  • Touch-Point Cleaning

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  • Responding to the Novel Coronavirus Archive

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

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  • Campus Reopening

    Catholic University's fall reopening plan includes information about returning to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. It provides COVID-related updates for students, parents, faculty, and staff.

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