This page is an archive of updates that were sent to the Catholic University community in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

COVID-19 Update and Pre-Thanksgiving Recommendations

Nov. 12, 2020

Dear Students,

Over the past few weeks, coronavirus infection rates throughout the United States have steadily increased and now regularly exceed 100,000 daily cases. Just yesterday, there were over 145,000 new cases reported nationwide and Washington, D.C., reported over 200 cases which is the highest daily total since May. D.C.’s seven-day average caseload exceeds 100 which is almost triple the average caseload on October 1.

While the number of Catholic University students testing positive for COVID-19 remains low, the trends that we are seeing nationally and locally provide another reminder of the need to be diligent in following public health guidance related to face coverings, social distancing, and hand hygiene. By adhering to this guidance and making informed choices about our daily activities, we reduce the chance of exposure and help to keep ourselves and our community safe.

For those students who are preparing to depart Washington, D.C., and travel home for Thanksgiving, I urge you to be particularly attentive to the following:

  • Minimize your social interactions with others and consider self-quarantining before leaving. Go to class, exercise outdoors, and get food, but otherwise stay in your room as much as possible. 
  • Always wear your facial covering including when in shared community spaces with others. Avoid eating with others and, if you do, stay socially distanced.  
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wash your hands frequently.
  • Monitor your health daily and seek medical advice if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Now is not the time for complacency; it is the time to redouble our efforts in keeping ourselves and one another safe.

Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Landmark Conference Shares Initial Plans for Return to Sport

Nov. 9, 2020

The Landmark Conference leadership groups continue to meet diligently to discuss scheduling models and postseason opportunities for its league's student-athletes in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and the overall campus communities are the first priorities when planning a return to athletic activities and competition at any point during the 2020-21 academic year. The Landmark will sponsor conference play and championships if, and only if, a safe environment can be created by following all local and state requirements.

Further, the conference will adhere to the NCAA's Sport Science Institute's guidelines and recommendations as return to play models are considered.

At present, the conference still plans to conduct athletic competition in conference-sponsored sports during the Spring of 2021. The primary focus of competition will be league play with a goal of playing a regular season schedule with an expanded postseason tournament in all team sports. For individual sports, the conference continues to explore opportunities for these Championships to be conducted safely and with additional precautions in place.

Read the full story

Application for Emergency Grants

Nov. 2, 2020

Dear Students,

We are now accepting applications for emergency grants made possible through the generosity of donors to the Light the Way Crisis Response Fund.  Emergency grants are intended to lessen the financial challenges resulting from the continuing health crisis; eligible expenses include travel assistance, emergency medical bills, technology needs to support student virtual learning, overdue utility bills, housing assistance, and food insecurity.  This funding is not intended to replace or supplement existing financial aid and does not have to be repaid.  

We will work to address demonstrated needs to the extent funds are available.  Please note that most grants are in the $300 - $600 range and priority will be given to students with the highest demonstrated financial need.  To apply for an emergency grant, please complete this application with as much detail as possible.  Questions about this application should be directed to the me directly. 

Approved applications will have funds placed directly on their student accounts for immediate refund. 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.

All enrolled Catholic University undergraduate and graduate students experiencing unexpected financial hardship resulting from the coronavirus pandemic are eligible to apply.  Students in the Columbus School of Law should visit the Law Student Financial Relief Fund for resources.

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

Cardinals Care Pledge

Oct. 2, 2020/Updated Jan. 21, 2020
As members of the Catholic University community, our relationships are governed by the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  I pledge to do my part to take responsibility for my own health and the protection of others, and to help keep our community safe from the spread of COVID-19.  I take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and will follow the instructions and expectations provided by the University.

As a student at Catholic University, I agree to the following:

  1. I will perform a daily health screening and seek advice from Student Health Services if I have responded “yes” to any of the following symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have come into close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes within a 24-hour period) with a confirmed positive COVID-19 person:
    Fever (100.4°F or higher) or chills
    Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    Fatigue, muscle aches or body aches
    New loss of taste or smell
    Sore throat
    Congestion or runny nose
    Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  2. I will follow the directions of Student Health Services and stay in my residence when I am experiencing symptoms, except to seek medical care.
  3. I will, whenever possible, maintain social distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
  4. I will regularly wash my hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  5. I will always wear a face covering in all campus buildings when other people are present and outdoors. Exceptions include when eating or drinking or within my assigned residence hall room.
  6. I will regularly clean and disinfect my room, shared common spaces, personal belongings, and clothes.
  7. I will help support safety measures on campus and will be respectful when reminding others to do the same.
  8. I will use doors marked as entrance and exit appropriately and follow any building flow arrows in the proper direction, even if this means having to exit the building and re-enter.
  9. I will follow all COVID-19 signage instructions.
  10. As a resident of the greater Washington, D.C. community, I will practice responsible citizenship, abide by D.C. pandemic regulations, including those regarding face coverings, and not engage in disruptive or unsafe behavior on or off campus. I will not host or participate in in-person social gatherings* with greater than 10 individuals in total.

I acknowledge that I have read and understand the Cardinals Care Pledge.

*The limitation of 10 individuals for in-person social gatherings applies to what the District has called "non-academic" gatherings. The main purpose of the 10-person limit is to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus via superspreading events and settings where social distancing cannot be easily accomplished.  Academic gatherings include any University sponsored or supported programs and events, not just classroom instruction.  Therefore, the District is allowing the University to host activities such as receipt of the Sacraments, sporting events, and other activities in accordance with the in-person limits and social distancing requirements established in the “Re-Open DC” plan. 

Updates on COVID-19 Testing and Notification Processes

Sept. 23, 2020

Dear University Community,

Now that we are several weeks into the semester, we have seen the effectiveness of both the quarantine period and the reduced density on campus. Now, after several hundred student tests, we have had and will continue to have students on campus who test positive for COVID-19. We expected this to happen and many of you have seen or experienced the processes that are in place to both support those who become ill, and to slow the spread of the virus.

Last week, the University began “surveillance testing” of student athletes while continuing the testing of symptomatic or recently-exposed students (and their close contacts) at our student testing center. Surveillance testing and the testing of symptomatic students are identical PCR tests. Surveillance testing is the intentional testing of non-symptomatic students, in our case part of our NCAA compliance, while the test center is available for any student who feels symptomatic, or believes they were recently exposed to someone who tested positive.  

Students undergoing surveillance testing normally do not have symptoms, so they are not assumed to be sick; accordingly, they are not asked to isolate while waiting for their test results. Only students who are symptomatic or who were tested because of possible exposure are required to isolate while waiting for results.

It is recommended that students wait to be tested after they’ve been in direct contact with someone who tests positive. Testing too soon after contact can result in a false negative. Catholic University’s testing center is following guidance suggesting that it is optimal to wait 5-7 days after exposure before administering a test to ensure there is enough genetic material from the virus to be detected. 

Some students who have been required to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive or are direct contacts have been very proactive in emailing faculty about their status so that instructors will know they need to participate in class remotely for two weeks.  

We wanted to share some guidelines so that we are all aware of and consistent in our responses in these instances.

  • The Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) is conducting follow up with and providing support to all known COVID-positive student cases. Instructors are asked to always inform when a student discloses testing results to them. If a positive test result has been confirmed through Student Health Services (SHS) or the Department of Athletics, or if the student has been moved into an isolation residence room on campus, DOS is already aware of the case. But it is helpful to let DOS know so that we are all in communication.
  • If a student discloses positive testing results, and should the student be feeling well enough to participate remotely, faculty should work with the student regarding remote participation for the period of isolation.
  • If a student discloses that they are in isolation or quarantine, faculty should work with the student regarding remote participation in the class for the period of isolation or quarantine.
  • Contact tracing is the responsibility of the DC Department of Health, not faculty or University staff. DOS, SHS, and the Environmental Health and Safety department will assist District contact tracers.
  • As all in-person classes are maintaining physical distance using the revised classroom layouts, acrylic shields, and consistently wearing face coverings, it is not likely that classmates or instructors would be considered to be a direct or close contact of a student who has tested positive.

    Therefore, if a student in an in-person class tests positive, the class should continue to meet unless advised otherwise by the Dean of Students or Office of the Provost.

  • DOS will analyze test result data in a timely manner to see if there are any classes where there are a number of cases and additional measures are necessary. Determinations regarding additional measures will be made in consultation with the Office of the Provost. They will inform instructors if there are any special considerations for the class.
  • It is important to maintain students’ privacy throughout this process. If a student contacts an instructor about test results, it is improper to share that information with the class. The student, however, may share that information and may have done so with friends in the class. Instructors should not discuss students’ positive test results as part of class instruction.

Faculty, staff, and students should continue to reference the following pages for updates and FAQs. These pages are updated regularly.

COVID-19 Updates
COVID-19 Testing Dashboard
Student FAQ
Faculty FAQ
Employee FAQ

Please continue your impressive compliance with COVID-prevention measures such as hand-washing, maintaining social distance at all times, mask wearing, and using the daily health checker. These are still the best practices. If you have questions that are not addressed in the FAQ above, share them with the COVID-19 Response Taskforce at

Thank you,
Aaron Dominguez, Ph.D.

Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Update on Student Testing and Reporting

Sept. 11, 2020

Dear University Community,

In order to provide timely information, we are adjusting our COVID testing reporting structure.

Initially, we were posting results to our COVID Testing dashboard once a week. In response to feedback from the community, beginning next week we are going to report results twice a week -- on Tuesdays and Fridays -- and provide data on results that have been self-reported by students.

The primary data being communicated by the University COVID Testing dashboard will continue to be the results of tests that are administered by Student Health Services. Student Health Services and the University testing center are available for ALL Catholic University students -- graduate and undergraduate, living on campus or off. Students should call Student Health Services at 202-319-5744 and talk to a healthcare professional who will discuss their symptoms or exposure and determine if the student needs to be scheduled for an appointment and make the necessary arrangements. 

We acknowledge that students are also getting tested at off-campus urgent care and other testing sites. Students who receive a positive COVID test result from an off-campus testing center should inform the Dean of Students so that we can provide support. We encourage students to also contact Student Health Services for additional medical guidance or if their condition is worsening or not improving. Faculty and staff who receive a report from a student that they have tested positive for COVID should also inform the Dean of Students.

As of today, the Dean of Students office is aware of 33 Catholic University students who live off campus who have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 10 were tested by Student Health Services and the other 23 have self-reported their positive results to the University since September 5. (Eight of these results have been recorded since the dashboard was updated yesterday.) These students are reporting that they are experiencing mild symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and congestion.

All members of the community should continue to be vigilant in social distancing, wearing face coverings, and in practicing good hand hygiene. Our best protection against the virus is to follow the public health guidance. By adhering to this guidance and making informed choices about our daily activities, we reduce the chance of exposure and help to keep our entire community safe.  


Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Access to Campus Services for Off-Campus Students

Sept. 10, 2020

Dear Students,

Now that the initial quarantine period has expired, off-campus students may access the campus to participate in on-campus jobs, to utilize their meal plan in the Pryzbyla Center, attend Mass, and to attend scheduled appointments at Student Health Services and the Counseling Center. 

Students are also free to walk around campus for exercise and leisure, but should maintain social distance, wear face coverings, and abide by all health and safety precautions. 

Prior to coming to campus, students should complete the online symptom checker; students should not come to campus if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID and should contact Student Health Services.

On and off-campus students living within the local area can utilize the campus COVID testing center. However, to ensure the highest levels of safety for our students using the testing center and the staff who work there, on campus health facilities do not offer walk in hours. Students should call Student Health Services at 202-319-5744 and talk to a healthcare professional who will discuss their symptoms or exposure and determine if the student needs to be scheduled for an appointment and make the necessary arrangements. In most cases, students are seen within 24 hours. 

Students who receive a positive COVID test result from an off-campus testing center should inform the Dean of Students of so that we can provide support and guidance. Students should also contact Student Health Services if their condition is worsening or not improving or for additional medical guidance. 

Additional campus services and facilities (library, labs, study areas, etc.) will gradually become accessible to non-residential students as the semester progresses, though often with conditions such as reserved time slots, advance notice, and limitations on capacity. Updates will be communicated via emails and on our COVID FAQ page.

Please reach out to me at with questions.

God Bless,
Dean Sawyer
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students

Update and Important Reminders

Sept. 4, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Earlier this week, the Dean of Students met with the hosts of the reported off-campus social gathering that occurred on August 27. The students agreed to share the following advice with the campus community, in hopes that their experience can help others make better choices in the future. 

“For anyone thinking that it is okay to break the school's protocol, it simply is not. You do not want to put our great community in any more jeopardy, and you do not want to deal with the consequences that come with breaking it. Everyone please stay safe, stay healthy, and realize the times we are in are serious and dangerous to us, our loved ones, friends, and people we may not even know.”

“I recognize this decision was irresponsible and inconsiderate of our community, and I urge fellow students to not make the same mistake as me. I cannot reiterate enough how severe this pandemic is and how important it is to work as a community to avoid spreading it amongst the university and the D.C area.”

“The severity of the situation we are all in is much more serious than we truly think it is. Having any kind of event that does not promote social distancing, wearing a mask, and practicing safe COVID protocols is not worth having.”

While the students expressed remorse for their actions, their violation of health and safety guidelines resulted in significant penalties. 

We are all living through this pandemic together. It is a serious and on-going public health emergency, which is why we continue to reinforce guidance on wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, practicing good hand hygiene, and limiting both the size and frequency of social gatherings. Yesterday one of our off-campus students tested positive. In the best of circumstances more are sure to follow. This is a stark reminder that we must do all we can to reduce our own vulnerabilities and those of our fellow students, and neighbors in the communities where we live.

For the health and safety of our entire community, I urge all students to continue to follow this guidance.  In addition to the real health risks of not doing so, swift administrative action, including suspension, will be taken to address violations.

Our quarantine period for on-campus students ends on September 7; I encourage you to take advantage of all the positive aspects of life in Washington, D.C.  As you do, just remember to be safe, make good choices, and follow the guidance provided by the University and the District of Columbia.  

As always, I encourage students or parents to share any questions or concerns with our office. You can reach us at 

Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs 

Off-Campus Enforcement of Health and Safety Guidelines

Aug. 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Last night the University received a report about a gathering in Brookland, where Catholic University students were not wearing face coverings or social distancing. 

Officers from the University’s Department of Public Safety went to the location and, upon arrival, estimated that there were as many as 50 students in attendance.

Consistent with our Code of Student Conduct and our COVID-19 expectations regarding social gatherings, face coverings, and social distancing, the Dean of Students has placed six students on interim suspension. The University investigation into this incident continues and may result in additional action being taken against other involved students.   

We will continue to take appropriate action to address incidents that put the public health at risk.  

Our ultimate goal is to collectively stop the spread of the virus. The more we do now to keep the Catholic University community and our neighbors safe, the better our chances of fully opening in the spring. It’s up to all of us to do our part.  

As we head into the first weekend of the academic term, I would like to remind everyone of the importance of following the public health guidance provided by the University and the District of Columbia.  

Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Working Together to Stay Safe, Healthy, and Open

Aug. 24, 2020

University President John Garvey addressed the pandemic in his August newsletter.

Read More 

Welcome Letter to Residential Students

Aug. 21, 2020

Dear Students,

Welcome to campus and the start of a new academic year. Many of you have already completed our COVID online training which I hope has provided you with a better sense of how our community has been working to make your on-campus experience as safe as possible. For those that have not completed the training, please do so this week by navigating to COVID-19 Training.  

As I hope you know, we all have a shared responsibility to protect ourselves and others and help keep our community safe from the spread of COVID-19. The goal here is simple: the more that we work to stop the spread of this virus within the boundaries of campus and within our DC community, the greater the chance that we return to a better sense of normalcy in the near term. Conversely, should we engage in actions that increase the spread, we jeopardize the ability to continue with in-person learning this semester or in the future.  

On that note, I wanted to clarify our expectations for this period of initial quarantine and face coverings.  The quarantine period is in full effect through September 6. This means that you should not leave campus except for essential medical appointments; in those limited cases, you should notify to seek guidance. For urgent medical needs after hours, you should contact the RA on Call or Public Safety.

For the purposes of quarantine, campus is defined as the space inside the Michigan Avenue, Harewood Road, Taylor Street, and John McCormack Road boundaries. This means that trips to Target, CVS, Chipotle, etc. are not allowed.  

By DC order and University policy, a face covering must be worn at least as follows:

  • In all campus buildings when other people are present, including classrooms, offices, and common areas such as restrooms, hallways, stairwells, and elevators. 
  • While outdoors on the campus, even if walking alone.

Residents of University residence halls are not required to wear face coverings when in their own rooms when alone or when only the residents’ roommates are present. Face coverings must be worn when guests are in the residence. During the quarantine period, you are not permitted to visit other residence halls.  

I would encourage you to review the Face Coverings policy for additional details on requirements and exceptions.  

I am especially thankful for our student leaders who have welcomed you to campus over the past few days and will be a tremendous source of support to you in the future. I think they have done a great job and I hope you feel that way too. When you have a moment, please thank them. They did not have to be here; they chose to because they are committed to you and to your success.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our student and professional staff for clarifications and with any questions you have. We are all here to help, so please reach out.

God Bless,
Dean Sawyer

Catholic University Quarantine

August 13, 2020

As a reminder, from Monday, Aug. 17, through Sunday, Sept. 6, ALL students at Catholic University will be quarantined in order to comply with the District of Columbia mandate for those students arriving from high risk areas. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the quarantine and support of the health and safety for everyone on campus, the University decided it best to require all resident-students to quarantine. This will provide the very best conditions for the start of the Fall semester. 

Students who choose to return to D.C. from one of the states identified as high risk by the District of Columbia who are residing off campus, should return to their residence by Sunday, August 23rd and remain in quarantine in that residence for 14 days from their return to D.C. through Sunday, Sept. 6. 

During this time, non-resident students will not be permitted to visit campus (except for those who have meal plans who should ONLY come to pick up their meals as they are directed). 

Campus facilities including the library, computer labs, and Pryzbyla Center will be closed to student visitors until Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

Any student who becomes ill during that time should contact Student Health Services (202-319-5744) to schedule a visit. Note: Health Services will only be accepting patients who call ahead for screening. 

Additionally, anyone returning from international travel is required to follow the current CDC recommendation of a 14-day quarantine.

Faculty and staff are not under general quarantine and should continue to operate as they have been instructed by their supervisors. However, faculty and staff should NOT schedule any in-person meetings with students before Tuesday, Sept. 8. If an employee has recently returned from overseas or travels to one of the District-defined high risk areas, please review your specific situation with your supervisor or Employee Relations.

Many campus services and facilities (library, labs, study areas, etc.) will gradually become accessible to non-resident students after September 8, though often with conditions such as reserved time slots, advance notice, and limitations on capacity. Updates will be posted to the FAQ page and shared through this communication as further decisions are made.

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

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. Students who choose to return to D.C. from one of the states identified as high risk by the District of Columbia who are residing off campus, should return to their residence by Sunday, August 23rd and remain in quarantine in that residence for 14 days from their return to D.C. through Sunday, Sept. 6. 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

Updated Student Health, Safety, and Academic Information

July 23, 2020

Dear Students,

It is hard to believe that August 1st is right around the corner. As you are making your plans for the Fall 2020 semester, I wanted to provide you with some important information that requires your attention. Given the most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance, students will not be required (except for athletes) to provide documentation of a COVID-19 test prior to their arrival. Student athletes will be receiving additional instruction from the Athletic Director. The following information is directly related to your health and safety, when you return to campus, as well as more information regarding your academic classes.

Daily Symptom Checker: In an effort to assist you in managing your health, the university has invested in a daily health checker. All Catholic University students attending in-person classes in the Fall will need to complete a short health survey each morning. In order for you to get in the habit of completing this survey, in early August, you will receive a daily text message or email prompting you to complete the daily symptom checker. You will need to begin checking your symptoms 14 days prior to coming to D.C. Should you have any symptoms, prior to your arrival, please contact your local primary health care provider. Depending on their advice, this might delay your return to campus. Whether you are living on or off campus, please make sure to pack a thermometer as you will need to check your temperature on a daily basis. More information can be found at our FAQs under Face Coverings and Other Health Precautions.

Mandatory Face Coverings: One of the ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 is wearing a face covering. The District of Columbia has recently mandated the wearing of face coverings, therefore, it is expected that all members of the University community wear face coverings in all campus buildings when other people are present and while on campus grounds. We will be providing two “Cardinal” face coverings for all students. Individuals who do not wish to abide by this expectation should plan to complete their coursework remotely from their home address.

COVID Training: All students attending in-person classes will need to complete an online training on COVID related material and expectations. Students will receive an email with login information once this training is finalized.

CUAlert Settings: Please ensure, as soon as possible, that your contact information and preferences are up to date in our CUAlert system to ensure that you are alerted during any emergency. We recommend your cell phone to be the primary contact and typically, your home phone number is a secondary contact.

Class Instruction Modes: The delivery method for your fall classes will be updated in Cardinal Students. Starting Saturday, July 25, you can review this information to help plan for Fall. You will also be hearing directly from your school with additional details on their planning.

Please visit the campus reopening FAQs for the most recent information. If you have any additional questions please contact the Office of the Dean of Students ( I am looking forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall.

Judi Biggs Garbuio, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

Fall Semester Will Begin Early, Conclude On-Campus Instruction at Thanksgiving Break

June 18, 2020

The Catholic University of America is changing the schedule for its upcoming fall 2020 semester. As part of the University’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, classes on campus will now begin on Monday, Aug. 24 — a week earlier than originally planned — barring any restrictions by the District of Columbia.

In addition, in-person classes will conclude when students leave for the University’s traditional Thanksgiving break, which this year begins on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The last two weeks of the semester (classes and exams) will be taught remotely following the Thanksgiving holiday. Final exams will be administered as take-home versions or online.

All study abroad programs are also cancelled for the semester. At the present time, global travel restrictions are still in place, most of the countries are not processing visas, and the pandemic is getting worse in many parts of the world. A second wave in areas that have otherwise seen improvement could further jeopardize students’ health, academics, and freedom of travel, said Provost Aaron Dominguez in a message to the University community.

Read the full story.

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.”

Watch the Campus Safety Town Hall

June 5, 2020

On Thursday, June 4, the University hosted a town hall with President John Garvey and other members of the various Coronavirus response working groups that are planning for the safe, phased return to normal business operations on campus. Watch a recording of the the town hall.

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


Return to Campus Planning and Extension of Work from Home Program

May 8, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We are eager to see our campus reopen, with a return of the energy that makes working at Catholic such a rewarding experience. To that end, nothing is more important than the health and safety of each and every member of the community. Rather than wait to hear if the District of Columbia will extend its stay at home order, President Garvey has decided to delay the start of our return to campus until May 26, at the earliest. In the meantime, critical operations and activities will continue as they are operating today.

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 best to you and yours,
Matthew McNally

Update on Virtual Commencement Ceremony

May 1, 2020

Catholic University recognizes the significant contributions the graduating Class of 2020 has made to the community and seeks to honor and celebrate these accomplishments appropriately. In lieu of gathering in person on May 16, 2020, University President John Garvey will confer degrees via a live-streamed event on that date at 10 a.m., as the University continues to maintain public health recommendations for social distancing. (See this web story for information on honorary degrees to be conferred) 

We hope you join us in celebration on May 16 from wherever you are. Tag Catholic University in your social media posts and use #CatholicUGrad20 for the chance to be featured on the University's social media channels. 

We acknowledge and agree that a virtual ceremony alone does not fully meet our goals of celebrating this class. Ahead of the degree conferral ceremony on May 16, the University will mail to each graduate their diploma and printed program containing all graduate names. 

Finally, if it is safe to gather by that time, we are planning to honor graduates in person, on campus, at ceremonies on Friday, August 7. 

As we have done throughout this time, Catholic University will follow all guidance from the District of Columbia and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure the health and safety of our community.  Given the ongoing uncertainty, we recommend that you wait to book any non-refundable travel until there is more guidance about hosting large in-person events.  We will send and post additional updates as we get closer to the new date. We will also update the Commencement website,

Don’t forget to tag #CatholicUGrad20 for the May 16 conferral of degrees.

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. 

Watch a video of Catholic University Live

April 3, 2020

President John Garvey and Vice President for Student Affairs Judi Biggs Garbuio answered questions about the University's response to the COVID-19 crisis in a livestream presentation on April 3.

Coronavirus update | Commencement 2020

April 2, 2020

To Our Graduates,

The class of 2020 will always be remembered with a certain irony. Exceptionally clear vision is 20/20. We say hindsight is 20/20 to imply that you should have seen something coming. Yet here we are, months from your graduation, and nothing is clear, and nobody saw the coronavirus coming.

I write this note reluctantly. We need to accept the reality that it will not be possible to hold an in-person Commencement ceremony on May 16. It is also not possible to hold Law School Commencement on May 22. The District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Virginia have all issued stay at home orders that may be in place for a month or more. Virginia’s extends until June 10. This is not a decision we take lightly. Commencement is, in many ways, the most joyous part of University life. 

All that said, we are committed to ensuring that your accomplishments are celebrated. To be honest, we’re not sure how this will look. We consulted our graduating class of 2020, and got almost 700 responses. There was a strong preference for an in-person Commencement. We agree, though given the current lockdowns in our area, we don’t want to set a date that we will later need to adjust.

I know this is disappointing. And I understand that the uncertainty makes it difficult to plan ahead. Since the overwhelming preference is for an in-person Commencement, I ask that you wait until the end of April for us to set a date. Our hope is to hold Commencement during the summer.

My prayers and thoughts are with you all. Please keep safe and healthy, and on top of your assignments.

John Garvey

Coronavirus update | Spring 2020 Student Account Credits/Refunds

March 27, 2020

Dear Students and Parents,

I hope this letter finds you well and safe. 

We all understand that this is a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty. I am very grateful for the efforts of our faculty and staff to support our students as we all navigate such uncharted waters.

I know that the topic of reimbursements is among the most pressing for students. This has been a priority for us since it first became clear that we wouldn’t resume classes on campus this semester.  We want to make sure that families do not bear the costs of services students have not received as the result of the coronavirus. Here is the plan.

Room, Board, and Parking. The University will provide a pro rata credit to student accounts for room, board, and parking charges. Room and board will be credited for the final eight weeks of the spring 2020 semester. Student parking charges will be credited for the period April through August 2020. All account credits will be reflected in Cardinal Students by Wednesday, April 15th.

  • Graduating Seniors. Graduating seniors’ accounts will be credited by Wednesday, April 15th. These students can anticipate receiving a refund of their net account credit in late April.
  • Returning Students. Accounts of returning students will also be credited by Wednesday, April 15th. Credits will be automatically applied to current charges (Spring 2020), or to future semesters (Summer 2020 or Fall 2020). If you prefer an immediate payment of your credit to your bank account, please complete this form

Credits will not be given at this time for tuition or for other fees, because these funds (for labs, technology, etc.) will still be used for their intended purposes, to maintain the academic and student experience at the high level to which the University is committed.    

Graduating students should be on the lookout for an upcoming survey about commencement. As we continue to think about how commencement will happen this year, we want to know what’s on your mind and could use your help in envisioning that event. So start thinking and we’ll be in touch.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of all our students and parents during these unprecedented times. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to

Please know that Jeanne and I are keeping our community, and especially our students, in our prayers.

John Garvey

Pope Francis and the coronavirus pandemic

March 26, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,
Our University motto is God Is Our Light. This gives us great comfort in the midst of great uncertainty.
Pope Francis reminded us last Sunday in his Angelus address, however, that it is not enough to receive the light. "One must become light," he said.
The phrase "become light" is striking because it puts the focus on the transformational process (becoming light), and not the end result (being light). We often say that as Christians we are Christ’s light in the world. Pope Francis wisely slows us down. He reminds us that we aren’t there yet. There’s still work to do.

We want to propose “Become Light” as a motto for the coming months. We have done some heavy lifting in the past few days as a University community. We have in many respects successfully moved our entire educational program online, a capability that we had discussed the need to develop for years. We should be proud of ourselves, and of each other. 
But we are only at the beginning of a long process of transformation. We have a lot of issues to address, and problems we need to resolve. And a virus to contend with. The University we will be a year from now will be very different from the University we knew just a month ago. We must have patience, we must maintain our hope, and we must work hard.
It’s important to remember that this crisis isn’t something that is happening only at this University, or even in this nation. This is a global crisis that affects every person on earth. While we are all isolated in our homes in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, we are connected more than ever in our common vulnerability to a disease we don’t know enough about.

We would  like to echo Pope Francis again. He said a few days ago: “In these days of trial, as humanity trembles at the threat of the [coronavirus] pandemic, I would propose that all Christians join their voices together to heaven.”

We invite all of you to join the Holy Father on Friday at 1 p.m. EDT as he leads us in prayer for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The ceremony will consist of Scripture readings, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et Orbi blessing. The blessing “to the City (of Rome) and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter, thus underlying the significance of this gesture by the Holy Father.

The blessing carries with it the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. See below for how to watch the broadcast, or visit the Campus Ministry Facebook page for more information.

As we navigate this crisis together as a community, let us remember that we are not alone.  We have God as our light.  We have each other.  Please, if you need anything, contact us. We are here for you.


John Garvey

Fr. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Cap.                  

How to Watch


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Coronavirus update | D.C. Order Closing Non-essential Businesses Does Not Affect Catholic University 

March 25, 2020

Earlier this evening, the District government issued a reminder that the Mayor’s emergency order closing non-essential businesses takes effect tonight.  The mayor’s order encourages continued operation of businesses like universities. Catholic University continues to conduct critical research, offer our education online, and operate the business services that support these activities.

Many of our employees already are working successfully from home and should continue to do so.  Others whose jobs could also be accomplished remotely are further encouraged to work from home and can apply on the web at the C-WFH page. Employees whose job functions require them to work on campus should report to work as normal. Anyone with questions about where to perform their duties should contact their supervisors directly.  

Your health and safety remain our highest priorities.  We should all anticipate that the situation will remain fluid for some time.  Please check the Catholic University website frequently for current information about the status of University operations, campus buildings, grounds, and activities. Thanks to all for your flexibility and cooperation during this health emergency.

Coronavirus update | Online instruction to continue - Message from President John Garvey

March 18, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

The past few weeks have brought sudden and marked changes in all our lives. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has spread so quickly that we have had to make daily changes in the way we as a university respond. Our first priority has been the health of all members of our community.

This is the reason we moved quickly in early March to discontinue our study abroad programs. It is also the reason why we extended Spring Break by two days, and implemented online instruction for the remainder of March. As the pandemic worsened we closed our residence halls, called off all athletic games and practices, and cancelled or postponed many in-person events, conferences, performances, and meetings. This week we began to give broad permissions to many of our staff to work from home.  

While the health of our community is our top priority, the education of our students is the very reason we exist as a university. Closing down most aspects of campus life for the remainder of the semester is a decision we wanted to take only if absolutely necessary.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now recommended that no gatherings of 50 or more people take place for the next eight weeks. It is clear that we will not be able to resume in-person instruction this semester. 

Classes will continue to be taught online through the end of the term, and our residence halls will remain closed.

The most immediate issues we are addressing include the process for moving out of the dorms, and how and when to account for unused room and board. We are working on those issues, and we offer the most current information below.

I know this is a disappointment, particularly for our graduating seniors who were looking forward to their last spring on campus, but it is best for the safety of all. I am sure that Catholic University will navigate the crisis as well as humanly possible, and we will do it together as a community. The thing that has struck me most forcefully over the past few weeks has been, not the progress of the virus, but the courage, creativity, energy, and compassion with which our staff and faculty, students and parents, have responded.

There are still many questions we need to answer, particularly for our students and parents. Before addressing those, allow me to offer three thoughts about how we might best proceed over the next few months. 

Solidarity.  As a community, we need to care for each other. As educators we must ensure that our students are healthy and safe, and that they finish their courses this semester with the best possible instruction. As an employer, we must attend to the personal and economic well being of our faculty and staff and their families. Working together, we can find solutions to all our problems.

Flexibility.  In working to resolve the many issues we need to address, we will do our best to thrive in a virtual environment that enables us to continue to educate our students at a high level of competence and rigor. I encourage everyone — faculty, staff, and students — to be creative and flexible in working with this technology. There are no problems we can’t solve; but there will be new calls upon our creativity.

Opportunity.  This crisis, like every other, will eventually come to an end. We need to begin now to think about what comes next. I suggest we all be on the lookout for opportunities to learn new skills and put them to use. Instead of focusing on what we are missing or lacking, let’s turn our attention to the work of innovation. We should make the most of this opportunity to assess how we do business as a University so that we are stronger than ever when this crisis is over.

Below you will find the latest information available. More details will follow in the next few days. Please consult our dedicated coronavirus resource page for regularly updated FAQs on academics, student life, and University operations.

My wish for all of you is to be safe and healthy. And thank you all for everything you do, and have been doing, to keep Catholic University running. I have never been more proud to be part of this community.

John Garvey

Latest Updates

Enrollment: We have made adjustments to spring enrollment appointments and the Academic Calendar.

Commencement: We have not yet made a decision to postpone Commencement, which is scheduled for May 16. The CDC guidance suggests avoiding large groups through the beginning of May. We are holding out a little longer in the hope of following our original plan, and also beginning to discuss alternative celebrations for our new graduates.

University Housing: We want to thank the students who quickly made alternative plans following Spring Break when we decided not to reopen the residence halls. Most students have returned home, but we recognize some took their belongings while others did not.

For the very few students who have remained on campus, we will continue to provide meals and housing, but we urge students who can return to their permanent homes to do so as soon as practical. Please email with updates to your plans or with any questions.

We are determining a process to reimburse families for the unused portions of University room and board. As soon as we can put a plan in place, we will communicate it to students and parents.

For those who left belongings behind in their residence halls, we are keeping your rooms locked. We are working on a process to allow students to safely retrieve belongings. We will be in touch when a process is established. 

Campus Buildings: Several campus buildings will be closed until further notice, except for some University staff who work in these areas. These include the Pryzbyla Center and the DuFour Center.

Library access will be granted to faculty and graduate students by appointment. Students will maintain access to the extensive online library resources. Technology and bookstore resources are available online.

Some academic buildings remain accessible because of laboratory or research work.

Facilities staff continues touch-point cleaning. All classroom, conference room, and office doors will be marked with a placard when they have been cleaned. Anyone who uses a room that is marked with a "clean" placard, should remove it so that custodial staff know to clean the space.

Department of Public Safety: Effective March 20, 2020, the operating hours for the DPS Customer Service Center (CSC) will be 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; and closed Saturday and Sunday.

Business Continuity: Supervisors are encouraged to allow employees to work from home when duties permit or to create rotating on-campus work schedules. Employees and supervisors should work with their supervisors and HR to address questions related to their workplace safety and peace of mind. See Working from Home for information about technology support and information about the process and guidance on, submitting the request form. For more information, see the Human Resources FAQ.

Those working from home should visit the Technology Services Working from Home website for technology support. 

To request to work from home, employees should read the guidelines, discuss them with their supervisor, and then submit the request form

Many will still be needed to work on campus at times to ensure essential functions are completed. Please review social distancing guidelines.

Events: University-sponsored events have been canceled, postponed, or moved online until further notice. Student organization leadership can contact for assistance.

Questions and More Information

Updates are being posted throughout the day on our COVID-19 website

For urgent questions:

Faculty should first contact their chair or dean, then the

Staff should contact their supervisors or

Students and parents should continue to email the office with questions and concerns. The staff will work with colleagues across campus to continue to provide support. Their support is also available in the event of a personal, medical, or family emergency, so do not hesitate to keep in communication with them.

Coronavirus Update | Test Results - Message from President John Garvey

March 19, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

I want to thank everyone for your continued messages of prayer and concern as I awaited the results of my COVID-19 test. Today I received word that my test result is positive. Jeanne will be tested today.

According to CDC protocol, I am to continue my quarantine that began on March 13. I am in close contact with our family doctor and the D.C. Department of Health, who are advising me on next steps. I no longer have any symptoms, but I could still be carrying the virus. They will advise me on when I may end my self-isolation in accord with the latest CDC guidelines. 

I have notified people with whom I was in contact recently, and will do so again. The general guidelines are that if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you are to self-quarantine for 14 days since your last contact.

CDC does not recommend testing or special management for those who have been exposed to people who have been exposed to the virus, i.e., “contacts of contacts.” Such contact is not considered to be exposure to the virus. If that is your case, and you do not have symptoms, you may continue your ordinary activities in accord with the broad guidance on minimizing exposure.

If you have symptoms of the virus (fever over 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath) please call your healthcare provider immediately. If you do not have a doctor, and are enrolled in a UnitedHealthcare plan with Catholic University, please call 866-695-8622, or contact HealthAdvocate. They will be able to assist you with finding an available doctor.

This news may be concerning to many on campus. We have been taking every precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks, including moving all classes online, shutting down our residence halls for the semester, cancelling all athletics games and practices, and giving broad permissions for employees to work from home.

For more information on how we are responding to this unprecedented national health crisis, visit our dedicated coronavirus website.

John Garvey

Coronavirus Update from President John Garvey

March 17, 2020

I want to thank everyone for their messages of prayer and concern over the weekend. I announced on Friday that I had been tested for COVID-19. The testing is taking longer than expected. When I know the results, I will make sure to inform the community.

According to CDC protocol, I am to maintain a quarantine. I am in close contact with our family doctor, and I no longer have any flu-like symptoms.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, everyone’s first obligation is to take care of his or her own health. If you have experienced symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (fever over 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath) please call your healthcare provider immediately.

For more information on how we are responding to this unprecedented national health crisis, visit our dedicated coronavirus website.

John Garvey

Coronavirus Update from President John Garvey

March 13, 2020

Artistic rendering of coronavirusIn the two days since I last wrote, governments and institutions have continued to respond to the spread of COVID-19. Nearly 30 countries have been elevated to CDC Level 3; all area governments have imposed states of emergency; and many school systems have closed. We have continued to emphasize a coordinated, caring University response. 

Everyone’s first obligation is to take care of your own health. If you have experienced symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (fever over 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath) please call your healthcare provider immediately, particularly if you have traveled internationally in recent weeks. I returned from a short trip to the UK on University business on Tuesday, March 9. I had a cough (no fever) Thursday, and saw a doctor first thing this morning. My test for the flu was negative, so I was tested for COVID-19 and will know the result by Monday. In the meantime, I am self-isolating in accordance with the CDC protocols.


As previously announced, courses will be taught online starting on Wednesday, March 18, until at least Monday, March 30.

Earlier today, students and parents were notified that residence halls will be closed following spring break. We recognize this is a significant disruption for our students, and it was a decision we made reluctantly. But we feel it is in the best interests of the larger community to further limit personal interactions on campus.

Residence halls will reopen the weekend before we resume in-person classes (currently planned for Monday, March 30). We will reassess and confirm this plan by March 25.

Faculty and Staff

We are open and operating, even though our students will be educated online for a period of time. I recognize that this pandemic affects our faculty and staff as well, and I have been impressed by your creativity and teamwork to keep the University running. All of us are concerned about the health of our families and colleagues. The closing of local schools leaves many of us needing to find ways to care for children who are home from school. 

In order to keep the University operating, while maintaining the health and wellness of our faculty and staff, the University has adopted a temporary work from home program that will be in effect for the remainder of this emergency. 

Employees whose jobs can be accomplished remotely and who wish to self-isolate or need to stay home to care for themselves or a family member can request permission from their supervisors to work from home by filling out the C-WFH Application. Employees with questions should contact the Office of Human Resources. Additional guidance will be provided to supervisors on how to manage their teams and schedules.

The Human Resources website offers additional information for employees, such as how to obtain early prescription refills and use unearned sick leave. The University’s health plan is covering all co-payments for COVID-19 testing and for diagnosis of flu-like symptoms during the emergency.

Student employees should not report to work until the residence halls reopen. Students who are receiving Federal Work Study will be contacted about their support arrangements. 


As stated previously, anyone returning from a CDC Level 3 country should follow 14-day self-isolation guidelines upon their return.

Faculty and staff who traveled abroad over spring break should check this list and ensure that if they are coming from a Level 3-designated country, they self-isolate for 14 days. Additionally, we are asking that they obtain clearance from a healthcare provider stating that they are not ill and have been monitored for symptoms. That clearance should be submitted to the Office of Global Strategies

Financial Impact

I realize that these changes have financial impacts on students and their families who have invested in room and board on campus. We will communicate further on this topic in the coming weeks as the situation evolves.

We will continue to post updates and resources on these topics and more on our dedicated COVID-19 response webpage.

I pray that everyone in our community — from our students and staff to their families across the country and around the globe — stays safe and healthy in the coming weeks. Thank you again for your flexibility and understanding as we work together to respond to COVID-19.

John Garvey


Coronavirus Update from President John Garvey

March 11, 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

Like so many of you, I’ve been closely following news of COVID-19.  It’s been a challenge to keep up with all the developments, but I want to assure you that the University is monitoring them closely. We have a working group that meets daily to assess our preparedness and to  coordinate plans. Our first priority is the welfare of our community, while we ensure that Catholic University carries out its essential mission and conducts business responsibly. 

We have decided to move our classes online until at least Monday, March 30.  Classes are cancelled on March 16 and 17 to allow faculty to test and perfect our system.  This will require some adjustment for all involved, but I am confident in the dedication of our faculty, our technical capacity, and our students’ flexibility and desire to learn.  Our campus will remain open and operational during this time. Because news about the virus changes rapidly, we will reassess our status no later than March 25 and confirm or adjust the date on which we plan to resume classes on campus.

Students who traveled home for spring break are not required to return to campus until regular, in-person classes resume. Students are welcome to return to the residence halls should they wish, however, and dining services will continue.

When students return to campus they should be sure to bring over-the-counter medicines — especially those that might be hard to acquire — and a personal thermometer.

Students and parents can contact the Office of the Dean of Students with any questions.

Faculty will receive guidance from the Provost later this week regarding online instruction and the professional development sessions to be held for all faculty on March 16 and 17.

The University remains open, and employees are expected to report to campus.  Staff with specific questions or extenuating circumstances should contact their supervisors or the Office of Human Resources.  Faculty and staff will receive guidance on enhanced support for working from home as needs arise.

Catholic University Response

We want to take a moment to let you know the steps we are taking to help keep our community safe and healthy.

  • We are working with local health departments and closely monitoring the latest updates from the CDC to ensure we’re following their guidance.
  • We are diligently following our hygiene and cleaning procedures, including disinfecting high-touch surfaces (like door handles) and providing hand sanitizer in high traffic areas (like the dining halls). Read more
  • While facilities staff are cleaning high traffic surfaces, employees are encouraged to regularly clean surfaces they frequently touch, such as keyboards, phones,  and surfaces in their work space. 
  • Students returning to campus are encouraged to maintain their personal residence spaces and help keep shared spaces (like kitchens and lounges) sanitary by cleaning shared spaces after use. 


If you have visited an area over spring break that has confirmed cases of COVID-19 and you may have been exposed to someone who tested positive, it is highly recommended that you remain home and self-monitor for 14 days after your exposure. Further, any student, faculty, or staff member who has recently traveled to a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice country may not return to campus until 14 days after they return to the United States.

All University-sponsored international travel by faculty, staff, and students is suspended until further notice. For more information, see this letter. 

Visit our COVID-19 response webpage for more information, resources on the virus, and safety tips.

All of us here at Catholic University are united in our desire to deliver the best possible education to our students in a time of uncertainty.  Thank you for your flexibility and understanding while we work through this process, and thanks to so many who have contributed ideas and energy to help us to address this challenge together.

John Garvey

Coronavirus Q&A for CatholicU Education Abroad

March 5, 2020

  • Can I stay and continue my program if I want to?

    We strongly recommend that you return home because of various risks (health, travel restrictions, academic credit). Ultimately, it is each student's decision — ideally in consultation with a parent — whether to return home. But students should be aware that if programs or classes are cancelled at a later time, our ability to assist your return to the U.S. may be diminished and acceptance of academic credit may be jeopardized.
  • Are classes still being held abroad?

    All CatholicU programs (Rome, British Parliament) are canceling on-site classes.   Programs through partner institutions are subject to the decisions of those institutions. This will vary by program and location, and could change at any time. If students remain abroad and their classes are later canceled, Catholic University cannot guarantee that credit will be granted for them.
  • Will my insurance continue to cover me if I stay?

    If you stay with the program and continue to take classes for the semester, then your CatholicU international insurance will continue to cover you during this time. Be aware, however, that our international insurance (as with most international insurance policies) does not cover emergency evacuation in the case of pandemic. Therefore, your health insurance may still be in force, but an insurer might not be able to help with transportation home.
  • Now that I'm coming home, what will my academics look like?

    The Provost’s office is evaluating this and will make decisions on an individual basis.  Some students will be able to take classes online from home or on campus. A few students may have already finished sufficient coursework to receive full credit. We will be reaching out individually to make arrangements with you. The vast majority should be in place by the end of spring break.
  • What evidence of compliance with requirements must I submit in order to return to campus?

    Students returning from Italy should send a note from their healthcare provider to Student Health Services through the patient portal ( that they are symptom-free at the end of the 14-day recommended isolation period. This can be uploaded through the Document Upload section under the tag “Medical Clearance/Coronavirus."

    Those returning from locations other than Italy are not subject to any voluntary self isolation or self monitoring and may return directly to campus after spring break so long as the country they are departing from has not been moved to CDC level 3 or higher. However, they should remain alert to any potential symptoms and check with their healthcare provider, as necessary.
  • If I choose to come back to campus, will CatholicU pay for my flight from home to D.C.?

    The University will reimburse the reasonable costs of a flight from your host country to your home if you return to United States by March 10. Specific constraints apply, and we encourage you to become familiar with them prior to spending your funds. Students who return to the University campus must arrange their own transportation at their own cost.
  • My spring break program got canceled. I already bought my flight and can't get my money back! Will Catholic University reimburse me?

    Most airlines offer reasonable refund and ticket change policies. As the pandemic becomes better understood, those policies are increasingly accommodating of customer needs. We encourage students to contact their airline again regarding refunds or credit. The University is not providing reimbursement for such expenses, but the Office of Education Abroad can provide an official letter explaining the cancellation of your program. Some students have found it helpful to submit this letter to airline companies when requesting reimbursement.
  • I'm trying to purchase the 'lowest cost reasonable flight' back to the U.S., but it's over $1,000! Will the University still cover it?

    Yes, if it's the lowest cost reasonable flight between your study abroad host city and your home city (or the nearest airport hubs). It must arrive in your home country not later than March 10. Please review reimbursement requirements as explained by Provost Dominguez in his March 3 letter.
  • Can I get an extension to stay overseas just a few days longer?

    Unless the circumstances are beyond a student's control (sickness, canceled flight), all students are expected to return to their home countries by March 10. CatholicU will not reimburse for flights that arrive later than March 10 and cannot guarantee completion of credit for those who return later.
  • Whom should I contact if I want to come back and live on campus for the rest of the semester?

    Jessica Bediako, Associate Director, Catholic University Housing Services, (202) 319-5615 or email
  • If I come back to live on campus, will I need to pay additional housing costs?

    No, the University study abroad program fee you already paid will be applied to fully cover your room charge for the remainder of the term.
  • What about board?

    Your participation in the University’s meal plan will be covered for the rest of the semester under your study abroad program fee.
  • I'm going to stay at home and not return to campus this semester. Can I get a refund on my study abroad program fee?

    Yes. We will refund a prorated amount for each program.
  • If I continue with my program abroad, can I still receive credit?

    If everything goes well and the University receives your study abroad transcript at the end of the semester, we will allow transfer of credit per our transfer credit policies. Be aware that the situation changes on a daily basis, however, and students who choose to remain abroad run the risk that they may be quarantined, or their classes may be canceled or suspended, which could affect the University’s ability to approve credit.

Coronavirus Impact on Study Abroad and Spring Break

March 3, 2020

President John Garvey sent a letter to the University community on March 3 to outline the measures the University has taken to address the worldwide health threat of the novel coronavirus, which includes suspending all study abroad programs. Read the letter on the President's website

Responding to the Novel Coronavirus

March 2, 2020

Local and regional public health officials continue to indicate there is no reason to believe anyone in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area — including at Catholic University — is at immediate risk from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

At the same time, the latest advisory from the American College Health Association says there is still “no basis” for colleges and universities in the area to change their normal course of business regarding housing, campus events, and “other circumstances under which large groups of people will be gathering.”

Still, fortune favors the prepared, and while it monitors the COVID-19 situation worldwide and immediately recalls all Education Abroad students from international study sites out of an abundance of caution, the University remains committed to sharing resources that all members of the community can use to better understand and prepare for this public health emergency:

Spring break

With the approach of spring break on campus (March 9-16), the University is taking the additional step of cancelling all University-affiliated spring break trips out of the country. At this time, domestic travel during spring break for traditional service trips and athletic competitions may continue, although participants are reminded that the status of COVID-19 globally is very dynamic and conditions are likely to change rapidly.

All CatholicU students also are strongly urged to be conscientious in planning their spring break travel and avoid areas currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak or recording a high incidence of interaction with areas assessed as high risk. Currently, the CDC and U.S. State Department strongly recommend against personal travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Japan.

Coronovirus Outbreak in Italy Leads University to Close Rome Center This Semester

March 2, 2020

The Catholic University of America’s Rome Center has closed for the semester. CatholicU joins dozens of colleges and universities across the country that are returning their students to the United States in response to outbreaks of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Italy and other areas around the world.

An increase in the spread of COVID-19 in Italy caused the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. State Department to raise the travel advisory for Italy to Warning Level 3. Working in close consultation with its program partners in Rome, the University believes the best course of action to ensure the safety of students currently in Rome is to take this difficult but necessary step.

At this time, other University Education Abroad programs are not impacted. However, the COVID-19 situation worldwide remains dynamic and conditions may change at any time. The University continues to work with international partners, public health officials, and parents, staying up-to-the-minute on the latest advisories regarding other areas abroad where CatholicU students are residing.

Current students attending the Rome Center are being encouraged to follow the advice of global health officials and forego any planned spring break travel and return to their homes in the U.S. or home countries as soon as possible, but no later than Sunday, March 8, when the Rome Center will close for the remainder of the semester. The University will reimburse students for the cost of their travel and is coordinating with families to keep them informed, provide guidance and support as needed.

Following the University’s annual spring break March 9-16, current Rome Center students will complete their courses through distance education. The responsible faculty will be contacting students directly with additional details and next steps. The University is committed to the academic continuity of the student experience, and — while this is a significant disruption — will do everything it can to ensure this semester’s Rome Center students complete their classes.

Although not necessary for completion of their coursework, students who wish to return to Catholic University's D.C. campus this semester will be given the opportunity after at least 14 days have elapsed from the time of their return to their homes in the U.S. or home countries. Those students will need to obtain a letter of clearance from their healthcare provider and send it to Catholic University Health Services prior to their return for assessment and clearance.

Also, recognizing the unexpected — and, to those involved, certainly disappointing — end of this semester’s program in Rome, the University has determined to waive the program fee for any current student who wishes to return to Rome during a subsequent semester.

Coronavirus Update

Feb. 28, 2020

The University continues to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and provides this update to encourage you to be conscientious regarding spring break travel plans. The global situation is dynamic, with sudden changes in both Italy and South Korea over the past few days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released important information and guidance at a Spring Break Travel Website.

In light of the outbreak, the CDC is currently recommending all travelers avoid nonessential travel to China and South Korea, and is urging enhanced precautions in both Italy and Japan

Be advised that the status of your international travel destination may change without warning, especially regarding countries recording high interactions with locations severely impacted by COVID-19. As such, if you are planning an international trip, be mindful of potential disruption to your reentry to the United States and your ability to successfully complete the semester.

The following general resources may be helpful, including: 

A global map of coronavirus cases  

The CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website with FAQ's, situation updates, and travel information 

U.S. Department of State Information regarding travel advisories

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to facilitate contact with local U.S. Embassies. 

Locally, Student Health Services is in direct communication with the District of Columbia Department of Health and other officials, sharing information and resources. As of today, there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in our region.

As with most illnesses, strong preventative public health measures will help to diminish the impact of the virus. Your best defense in preventing any illness is following these recommendations:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of any tissue immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based hands cleaners.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  • If you become ill following your return from a trip, please consult your healthcare provider promptly.

University is Monitoring Coronavirus (Tips for Spring Break)

Feb. 18, 2020

As the University continues to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, we are writing to encourage you to be smart regarding spring break travel plans. The Centers for Disease Control has released a Spring Break Travel Website.   

In light of the outbreak, the CDC is currently recommending all travelers avoid nonessential travel to China. The State Department has issued a Level 4 travel advisory to China, which asks travelers not to go to China. There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus outside of China, including cases in the United States. All of the current cases have had some link to the outbreak in China. As a point of reference, Johns Hopkins University created a global map of coronavirus cases website.  

The State Department provides information regarding travel advisories. These advisories include both health and safety concerns.

Student Health Services is in direct communication with the District of Columbia Department of Health and other officials sharing information and resources. As of Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in our region. The CDC continues to consider the immediate health risk to the American public to be low at this time.  

As with most illnesses, strong preventative public health measures help to diminish the impact of the virus. Your best defense in preventing any illness is following these recommendations:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of any tissue immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based hands cleaners.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
  • If you become ill following your return from a trip, please see your healthcare provider.

University is Monitoring Coronavirus (No Risk Identified for Campus Community)

Jan. 29, 2020

The University’s Emergency Management Plan provides for an Incident Management Team (IMT). The IMT convened to monitor the news regarding the Novel Coronavirus. The Incident Management Team consists of Student Health Services, Department of Public Safety, and Environmental Health and Safety.  

The IMT has reviewed the University population and other factors related to this infection.  We have not identified any risk to the campus community at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.

For more information regarding the Novel Coronavirus, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control at the following link: CDC Novel Coronavirus.  

The following measures are recommended to help maintain good health.

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of any tissue immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based hands cleaners.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.