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Coronavirus Updates

While Christendom is taking reasonable measures consistent with guidance from the CDC and local health officials to manage the risk of COVID-19, it is important for students and parents to understand that the College cannot eliminate the risk of COVID-19 exposure and infections on campus. With COVID-19 transmission continuing nationally, it is possible that some students will be exposed to COVID-19 during the upcoming academic year and that infections will result. We are doing our best to mitigate this risk, but students who attend the College this upcoming academic year must appreciate, understand, and accept that these risks simply cannot be eliminated.

For these reasons, we need students to take responsibility for their own health and safety by following available guidance regarding social distancing, hand-washing, and other measures students can personally take to mitigate the risk of exposure and transmission of this disease.

While we hope all of our students will be able to engage fully in our programs, students who are suspected or confirmed to have a COVID-19 infection may be required by the College to quarantine or isolate if recommended by guidance from the CDC, local health officials, or as required by a medical provider and College policies. The College is prepared to safely and prudently quarantine and isolate on-campus students while providing them with housing, meal services, and access to class lectures and materials.

COVID-19 Quick Facts for Students

A. Academic Life

College Calendar: The semester has been modified in the following ways:

  • Arrival and move-in times will remain the same (and are being communicated through Student Life as normal), as will the first day of class (Tuesday, August 25).
  • The College will not have a fall break this year. Instead, we will explore the addition of two extra days off during the semester.
  • In-person instruction will end at Thanksgiving. Professors will design their syllabi to complete in-person instruction by Wednesday, November 25.
  • Professors have been strongly encouraged to spread testing and assessment throughout the semester to place less emphasis on mid-terms (or omit them altogether in favor of multiple smaller tests and/or papers) and reduce the weight of final examinations.
  • All final exams will be administered in an online format.
  • Students may take their examinations from home after Thanksgiving or remain on campus and take them online from here. The College campus will remain open with all typical services available to students until noon on December 11. If a student opts to return home for Thanksgiving, they may not return to campus if they are sick or are aware that they have been exposed to those with COVID-19.

Classroom Space: As a residential College, our students are interacting with one another in a variety of settings, including in the residence halls. Most of our class sections are also much smaller than is typical in most institutions. Even so, we want to create as much spacing as we can in our classrooms. We also wish to provide professors with adequate spacing from students in each classroom. Given these aims, the College will ensure that:

  • All classes have been scheduled in classrooms at no more than two-thirds capacity to facilitate spacing. The College has also put into use larger spaces for higher-enrollment sections, appropriately modified seminar classroom set-ups, and ensured that “smart classroom” needs are met even with these modifications.
  • Classrooms have been arranged to permit adequate distancing of the professor from the students.
  • In addition to enhanced, regular cleaning of classrooms, each classroom has been equipped with self-cleaning items made available for students and faculty to use before each class session.
  • Assigned seating is required to limit exposure risk from a possibly infected student.
  • Air purifiers have been added to certain classroom spaces.

Student Academic Accommodation: Because possible isolation and quarantining requires continued support of student learning, the College has:

  • Instituted uniform absence policies that stress leniency for illness. If students are sick, for the sake of the health of the community, we must encourage and support them in seeking medical assistance and limit contact with other members of the community. Absences related to illness will be considered excused.
  • Make provision for continued instruction of quarantined and isolated students– The College has developed and put in place necessary technology and support systems to ensure students who are isolated and quarantined will continue to have recordings of class instruction and other necessary materials.
B. Student Life

Christendom is a small, residential campus with students living, studying, and interacting with one another in many settings. With this reality in mind, we will take the following steps in the area of student life:

Visitors, College Events, and Travel:

  • The College is limiting the number of family members invited to Orientation. Each student will be limited to two guests for the opening orientation sessions.
  • The College has postponed “Parents and Family Weekend” until the spring.
  • Overnight friend and family visits in the residence halls have been suspended. Only prospective students vetted by the Admissions Department will be allowed to make overnight visits.
  • Non-community member attendance at College events is suspended for the fall.
  • Homecoming Weekend is postponed for the fall.
  • Student Life will utilize more outdoor space for larger events and use multiple spaces for gathering during events where feasible.
  • Students will be encouraged to limit travel during the semester. Should a COVID-19 resurgence reach serious levels nationally, students will be asked to remain close to campus.

Residential Life:

  • Residence Life has implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures in residence halls, with an emphasis on frequent sanitizing of high-touch points, bathrooms, and common areas.
  • Residence Life has provided enhanced training for Residence Directors and Resident Assistants for health, safety, and COVID-19-related protocols. RDs and RAs have been given training by qualified medical personnel for monitoring student health, especially for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Immunocompromised students will be eligible for reasonable housing accommodations upon request.

Facilities and Food Service:

  • Expanded serving times have been implemented for this fall. Students will be broken up into two separate groups for lunch in order to increase seating space options.
  • Food service practices have been adjusted to limit common contact with food items and surfaces, including use of disposable dishware, increased use of pre-packaged food items and condiments, more “to-go” options, and less “self-serve” options in the Commons.

 

C. Medical Enhancements

The College has adopted a set of infectious disease quarantining and isolation protocols that include best-practice steps for COVID-19. This policy is available for review upon request. In addition, the College has:

  • Ensured that the College nurse’s hours are expanded and that she remains connected to key county and state healthcare officials, as well as professionals in other academic institutions, concerning the most up-to-date medical treatment information.
  • Implemented additional measures for the health of students, including increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout high traffic areas of campus, increasing education and reminders about immune system and general health, and increasing signage concerning handwashing in all bathrooms and residence halls.
D. Faculty/Staff Accommodations

The College has taken the following measures for the benefit of our Faculty and Staff:

  • Support of faculty, staff and students in personal measures relating to health and safety– The College will stress in orientation, and as needed throughout the semester, the need to be accommodating and supportive of faculty, staff and students who are taking personal measures to protect their health and safety and those of their loved ones. Where professors or staff members choose to use personal protective equipment or have a preference for electronic means for meetings or office hours, students and other faculty and staff should provide an environment that supports those individual’s decisions.
  • Expand available measures for faculty to protect health and safety– The College will make available to professors options designed to protect their health and safety, should the professor determine they wish to use them. Such measures will include:  being the last person to enter and first to leave classrooms, utilizing virtual office hours, and the expanded use of test proctoring.
  • Faculty and Staff will be permitted to opt out of mandatory events as needed.
  • The College will take an individual and compassionate approach with any faculty or staff members who may have serious concerns about performing their responsibilities and will reasonably accommodate those concerns.
E. Official College Statements

July 9, 2020

Dear Christendom students, parents, faculty and staff:

Pax Christi! I pray that you are well on this great feast day of the “Martyr Saints of China,” a group of 120 souls—people young and old, workers and catechizers, lay, priests, and religious—who died for the faith in a land yet hostile to the message of the Gospel. May God protect you and your families and prosper your work in this time of increasing hostility toward the truth of the Gospel and witness of the saints. Our trust is in Jesus Christ, and even in the most desperate of times He has remained faithful to his promises. Like St. Augustine and his companions, we need not be afraid.

As you know, the College has been working for many months now to navigate current events and work toward safely reopening in the fall of 2020. On May 13, 2020, I formed a Task Force to explore prudent measures to help safeguard the health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff in reopening the College in the Fall of 2020. The Task Force is made up of professors, staff, and medical professionals. I am grateful to these College leaders for their excellent and timely work.

Having convened for extensive full group meetings and after much effort in subcommittees related to the various aspects of academic and campus life, the Task Force presented me with numerous recommendations, focused on the various areas of College life. I am pleased to accept all of the recommendations of the Task Force. Work is already underway to begin implementing them. These measures may change as circumstances evolve leading up to the first day of classes, but we are confident that the College is preparing prudently for as safe and successful a semester as possible.

A full list of measures will be listed on our website at https://www.christendom.edu/news/coronavirus-updates/ tomorrow. Governor Ralph Northam has recognized the “widely varied missions and circumstances of the many different” colleges and universities.  He has called for planning among higher educational institutions which is “specific to their unique constituencies and settings.” Christendom is blessed to be a small, residential College with less than 500 students living on campus. We are located in a rural setting, and in a county that has seen 8 total deaths of those with COVID-19, as of today. In light of these realities, we are moving forward with reasonable modifications for the good of our particular community.

Details concerning some of the most important steps we are taking are listed below:

  1. Medical board of advisors – I have convened a group of medical professionals to serve as a medical board of advisors for the 2020/2021 academic year. The group is made up of generalists, specialists, and a nurse practitioner. They will provide me with a direct and critical sounding board as the College continues to prudentially address the health and safety risks to our community.
  2. College Calendar – While we all long for as normal a semester as possible, the College must make some important modifications to the academic calendar given all of the various risks as they appear today.  The semester will be modified in the following ways:
    • Arrival and move-in times will remain the same (and are being communicated through Student Life as normal), as will the first day of class (Tuesday, August 25).
    • The College will not have a fall break this year. Instead, we will explore the addition of two extra days off during the semester. Full information about the fall calendar will be available within the next week.
    • In-person instruction will end at Thanksgiving. Professors will design their syllabi to complete in-person instruction by Wednesday, November 25.
    • Professors will be strongly encouraged to spread testing and assessment throughout the semester to place less emphasis on mid-terms (or omit them altogether in favor of multiple smaller tests and/or papers) and reduce the weight of final examinations.
    • All final exams will be administered in an online format.
    • Students may take their examinations from home after Thanksgiving or remain on campus and take them online from here.  The College campus will remain open with all typical services available to students until noon on December 11.
  3. Classroom Space – As a residential College, our students are interacting with one another in a variety of settings, including in the residence halls. Most of our class sections are also much smaller than is typical in most institutions. Even so, we want to create as much spacing as we can in our classrooms. We also wish to provide professors with adequate spacing from students in each classroom. Given these aims, the College will ensure that:
    • All classes will be scheduled in classrooms at no more than two-thirds capacity to facilitate more spacing. The College will also put into use larger spaces for higher-enrollment sections, appropriately modify seminar classroom set-ups, and ensure that “smart classroom” needs are met even with these modifications.
    • Classrooms will be arranged to permit adequate distancing of the professor from the students.
    • In addition to enhanced, regular cleaning of classrooms, each classroom will be equipped with self-cleaning items made available for students and faculty to use before each class session.
    • Assigned seating will be required to limit exposure risk from a possibly infected student.
    • Air purifiers will be added to certain classroom spaces.
  4. Student Life – Again, ours is a small, residential campus with students living, studying, and interacting with one another in many settings. With this reality in mind, we will take the following steps in the area of student life:
    • The College will limit the number of family members invited to Orientation. Each student will be limited to two guests for the opening orientation sessions.
    • The College will postpone “Parents and Family Weekend” until the spring.
    • Non-community member attendance at College events will be suspended for the fall.
    • Student Life will utilize more outdoor space for larger events and use multiple spaces for gathering during events where feasible.
    • Students will be encouraged to limit travel during the semester.
  5. Residence Life – In residence life, the College will:
    • Implement enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures in residence halls, with an emphasis on frequent sanitizing of high-touch points, bathrooms, and common areas.
    • Provide enhanced training for Residence Directors and Resident Assistants for health, safety, and COVID-19-related protocols. RDs and RAs will be given training by qualified medical personnel for monitoring student health.
  6. Medical Enhancements and Isolation/Quarantining Procedures – The College has adopted a set of infectious disease quarantining and isolation protocols that include best-practice steps for COVID-19. In addition, the College will:
    • Ensure that the College nurse’s hours are expanded and that she remains connected to key county and state healthcare officials, as well as professionals in other academic institutions, concerning the most up-to-date medical treatment information.
    • Implement additional measures for the health of students, including increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout high traffic areas of campus, and increasing education and reminders about immune system and general health, among other things.
  7. Facilities and Food Service – The College will:
    • Expand serving times where feasible and increase seating space options during meals, especially during lunch.
    • Adjust food service practices to limit common contact with food items and surfaces, including use of disposable dishware, increased use of pre-packaged food items and condiments, more “to-go” options, and less “self-serve” options in the Commons.
  8. Student Academic Accommodations – Because possible isolation and quarantining requires continued support of student learning, the College will:
    • Institute uniform absence policies that stress leniency for illness. If students are sick, for the sake of the health of the community, we must encourage and support them in seeking medical assistance and limit contact with other members of the community. Absences related to illness will be considered excused.
    • Make provision for continued instruction of quarantined and isolated students – The College is developing and will put in place necessary technology and support systems to ensure students who are isolated and quarantined will continue to have recordings of class instruction and other necessary materials.
  9. Faculty and Staff Accommodations – The College will take the following measures for the benefit of our Faculty and Staff:
    • Support of faculty and staff in personal measures relating to health and safety – The College will stress in orientation, and as needed throughout the semester, the need to be accommodating and supportive of faculty and staff who are taking personal measures to protect their health and safety and those of their loved ones. Where professors or staff members choose to use personal protective equipment, or have a preference for electronic means for meetings or office hours, students and other faculty and staff should provide an environment that supports those individual’s decisions.
    • Expand available measures for faculty to protect health and safety – The College will make available to professors options designed to protect their health and safety, should the professor determine they wish to use them. Such measures will include:  being the last person to enter and first to leave classrooms, utilizing virtual office hours, and the expanded use of test proctoring.
    • Faculty and Staff will be permitted to opt out of mandatory events as needed.
    • The College will take an individual and compassionate approach with any faculty or staff members who may have serious concerns about performing their responsibilities and will reasonably accommodate those concerns.

With all of these steps and others to be detailed on our website, we seek to move forward in the new semester with prudence and common sense as a small residential college. Our liberal arts education is bolstered and supported by a robust faith environment and critically important social formation. I am confident that we can focus on the well-being of our community members while still living out our educational apostolate in a full way.

I look forward to seeing you very soon. Let us pray together that our Lord Jesus Christ will steel our resolve to live out Christendom’s mission. Likewise, may the Holy Spirit embolden us to remind a weary world that truth does exist and that Jesus Christ, our sovereign King, is the answer to the longing of every human heart.

Sincerely in the Heart of Christ,

Dr. O’Donnell

May 13, 2020

Dear Christendom Faculty, Staff, Students, and Families,

Pax Christi!  Know that my prayers are with each of you on this great feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Christendom College has long been entrusted to Our Lady of Fatima as our patroness. How often we have seen her powerful intercession through difficult moments in the life of the College! We continue to look to her during this time of hardship for so many in our country and world.

We find ourselves coming to the end of a very strange and, in many ways, difficult academic year. My heart goes out to each of you, especially our seniors and Rome students, for the challenges that were unexpectedly placed in your lives. At the same time, I am profoundly grateful for the tremendous faith and abandonment to God’s will that I have seen from you in so many ways. I have been truly inspired by the efforts of our tremendous faculty to deliver high quality instruction in less-than-ideal circumstances. The work of students to remain positive and engaged despite finding yourselves vying for internet bandwidth and quiet spaces to study has been a gift. I am comforted by the extraordinary work of our staff in supporting online instruction while doing all that can be done to maintain the financial health of the College. We have remained united in prayer and are strengthened by the awareness that this trial, in God’s providence, shall eventually pass.

One thing is certain – we want students to return to campus in the fall so that our vibrant Catholic educational apostolate and community can again thrive in the way it is intended to. With this desire in mind, and considering the Governor of Virginia’s plan to reopen the Commonwealth, I am very happy to provide you with the following information:

  • Fall 2020Christendom College will resume its on-campus, residential operations in the Fall of 2020 according to our normal academic schedule. New students will come to campus on August 21, returning students will join us on August 22, and classes will begin on August 25. We are working hard even now to ensure that we are prepared to the extent possible to protect the College community’s health while preserving the nature of our educational experience. The College Administration has been exploring this topic at great length. To supplement its work, I will be creating a Task Force to help us further prepare for contingencies that may arise both before the semester begins and during the academic year. This Task Force will include administrators and faculty, and will seek expert medical opinions and the best approaches from other small educational institutions. While no segment of society can guarantee that there will be no cases of the Coronavirus in the days ahead, we are a small residential school, with the ability to put in place reasonable protocols, partner with healthcare professionals, sanitize prudently, and increase awareness of helpful practices to reduce the likelihood of infection and its spread. We are committed to this approach and will share more about what we are doing as the new semester approaches.
  • Commencement Exercises – We are excited to announce that we will hold our Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2020 on Sunday, August 9.  While seniors will have technically graduated by May 30 (after grades are recorded) and can access transcripts as needed at that time, we couldn’t imagine them losing the opportunity to come together as a class to celebrate their remarkable achievement. More information will be forthcoming to graduates and their families.  Patrick Madrid is confirmed that he can attend as our Commencement speaker on this date. Given the current timeline for reopening Virginia, this date is safely beyond the Governor’s restrictions on gatherings of this kind. Returning students are scheduled to come to campus for early training and various camps at this time, so this new date also makes good sense given the College schedule. All Commencement events will be held on this single day. Unfortunately, circumstances require that we limit attendance to graduating students, parents, faculty, and staff.
  • Enrollment and Financial Assistance – As of this email, our indicators for fall enrollment look very good. We expect to have a good size freshman class and solid overall enrollment. Because some toll from the COVID-19 response is still unclear, I appeal to any family that is seeing impacts from this situation that may affect your ability to attend Christendom in the fall to reach out to Mr. Tom McFadden, our Vice President of Enrollment, as soon as possible. We are working with donors to provide assistance to impacted families where possible. We are eager for every interested freshmen and returning student to join us in the fall and will do all we can to assist you if needed.

As we move forward together, it is important to remember that our Catholic liberal arts education is more than just the information that is imparted. We explore the deepest truths within a thriving Catholic community. We ponder the proper mode of human knowing through study, but also from example. We place the life-giving channels of our faith in the very center of our day, relying on the sacramental life of the Church to deepen our experience of God even as we deepen our academic understanding of His handiwork. One deep blessing from our time apart is a growing appreciation—for all of us—of how important the in-person, on-campus experience is for a school such as ours.

Our beloved founder, Dr. Warren Carroll, had a tremendous devotion to Mary in her apparition to the three small children in Portugal, even attributing his recovery from an early stroke to the presence of the Pilgrim Virgin statue in his hospital room. Mother Mary urged us to rely on the Rosary as a weapon against evil and as a refuge in which we can deepen our love of Jesus Christ. She made the powerful statement that He “wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.” The consecrations to the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart that we make regularly at the College reflect our trust in Our Lady’s promises. Let us turn to her now as we return to campus in the days ahead.

I look forward to seeing you very soon. Count on my continued prayers for you and your families as we move forward in trust and peace.

In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae,

Dr. Timothy O’Donnell

March 30, 2020

“With God, the more one seems to lose the more one gains. The more He strikes off of what is natural, the more He gives of what is supernatural. He is loved at first for His gifts, but when these are no longer perceptible He is at last loved for Himself. It is by the apparent withdrawal of these sensible gifts that He prepares the way for that great gift which is the most precious and the most extensive of all, since it embraces all others.” – Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Dear Christendom College Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

Pax Christi!  Know that you remain in my prayers at this extremely difficult time in our country and world. We pray intensely for those who have lost their lives, those in harm’s way, and all of the amazing everyday heroes who are providing medical care, ensuring that families have the food and supplies they require and helping neighbors in need. We continue to pray for the end of this pandemic as soon as possible as we struggle through this season of deep penance which has us crying out to God for the light of the Resurrection. I was deeply moved to see our Holy Father, alone and seeming somewhat frail, interceding for us in the Piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica last week, delivering his special Urbi et Orbi message. Pope Francis was surrounded by symbols of God’s power and fidelity, the ancient icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani from the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and the miraculous crucifix kept in the church of San Marcello which helped to eradicate the great plague in Rome in 1522. He reminded us of the Apostles’ frantic words to Jesus as He slept in the boat which was rocked and buffeted by an intense storm – “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” Jesus’ response is apt for us today, too – “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Our faith remains firm in Jesus Christ, and it leads us to a calm surrender and the peace of knowing that the Master is always with us, even now.

I write primarily to update you regarding the College’s response to the Covid-19 virus. President Trump just announced an extension of social distancing guidelines until April 30.  Today, Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, announced a “stay at home” order for Virginia, which, at this time, extends through June 10.  The order explicitly requires institutions of higher learning to cease any in-person classes and cancel all gatherings of more than 10 individuals.  Given these developments, and for the safety and well-being of our Christendom Community, Christendom College will extend “online-only” instruction and keep the residential aspects of its programs closed for the remainder of the semester.

This step is an extremely painful one, especially when thinking of our Senior Class.  Even now, our goal is to continue to provide as strong a sense of support and community for students, faculty, and staff as possible. We provide the following information related to our decision to offer only online instruction through the end of the semester:

  1. Commencement ExercisesCommencement Exercises are postponed, and will be held on campus for our Senior Class and their families at a date yet to be determined, hopefully in late Spring or early summer.  We will communicate more information as soon as possible regarding a new date, as circumstances permit.
  2. Refunds of Room and BoardThe College will communicate by April 6 (as originally planned) about its refund policy for room and board costs and any related steps that students and their families may need to take, if any.
  3. Student Life Concerns and Access to Belongings:  Miss Amanda Graf will communicate to students on April 6 about access to belongings and available storage options at the College.

In this moment it feels as if so much of what we rely upon is being stripped away. Certain longings of our heart – material, familial, sacramental – are being denied to us one by one in most parts of the country. Some of us have already lost loved ones to this virus or experienced the intense pain of not being able to attend the funeral of a family member due to restrictions.  Many of us probably began on Ash Wednesday making an earnest prayer that God would grant us a “good Lent.” Perhaps what we are experiencing now is not what we bargained for.  But now is the right time to reflect on Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s words from the opening of this letter.  The more we seem to be losing and the emptier we become of false reliance on the things to which we may have become too attached, the more space Jesus is making for Himself. He emptied Himself completely on the Cross and now asks us to do as He did. The opportunity to deepen our love of Christ, especially in this moment of crisis, is especially great. This is a powerful test of our trust and ability to rely exclusively on the One whose sacrifice for our sake shook the heavens and the earth as He conquered death itself.  But if we do trust in Him, He will not disappoint us.

Please continue to pray with me the prayer below as we journey toward Easter, entrusting all of our intentions to Jesus Christ through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother.

Sincerely in the Heart of Christ,

Dr. Timothy O’Donnell

______

Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer.

As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son.

Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially for protection and healing for all peoples, entrusting to you our College community, parishes, priests, religious, Bishops, families, healthcare workers, and each one of us.

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer.

We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting.

Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.

Amen.

March 17, 2020

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your worries upon him for he cares for you.  Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.” – 1 Peter 5:6-10

Dear Christendom College Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

Pax Christi!  In the passage above, St. Peter calls us to courage and holy trust, urging us, especially at a time such as this, to resist temptations to despair, anger, or uncharity. In a moment like this one—where we are unable even to receive Our Eucharistic Lord in some places—we can be tempted to doubt God’s goodness and mercy.  But our faith is mightier than this moment, our hope rooted in something more than the difficulties of the day.  Jesus Christ remains with us always.

Having taken stock of the situation in our nation and with holy trust in God’s providence, I write today to inform you that Christendom College has decided to move to online instruction for students beginning next Monday, March 23.  This step is taken with the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff in mind, along with that of the elderly and immunocompromised among us.

We sincerely pray that students would be able to return as early as April 14, during Easter week, and that a celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection might coincide with a joyous reuniting of our Christendom Community. Given the latest restrictions, however, and the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this possibility is beginning to appear less and less likely. We will inform the community by April 6 about the feasibility of students returning to campus after Easter.  Even if students are able to return to campus during the semester, all should plan on continuing online teaching so as to ensure that students do not need to adjust a third time to changing modes of instruction in already stressful circumstances.

This prudential judgment has been extremely difficult to make but is necessary given a number of factors, including the new recommendations of President Trump, the state of emergency declared by Virginia’s governor, and the recent recommendations of the Center for Disease Control. In addition, we have also been informed by our bishop that all Masses in the Diocese of Arlington have been cancelled until further notice.  Our Chaplains must also abide by this directive and have cancelled all Masses in the Chapel of Christ the King. We all bear responsibility for prudent restrictions at this time.

Christendom College has decided to take the following steps to ensure the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, especially the most vulnerable members of our community:

  1. Online Instruction to Begin March 23Academic Dean Ben Reinhard will communicate with students today, March 17, about logistics for accessing class material and communicating with professors. All online course material will be hosted on the Library’s familiar Class Pages website.
  2. Student Life Concerns and Access to Belongings: Access to campus to retrieve belongings will be restricted.  Miss Amanda Graf will communicate to students today, March 17, about this issue as well as a range of Student Life concerns and can be reached via email with individual questions.
  3. On Campus Building Closure: On campus buildings like the gymnasium, commons and library will be closed to the public, and available only to faculty and staff who have a need to utilize them.
  4. Current On-Campus Precautions:  All key areas of campus will receive a “deep clean” this week, we will continue to regularly disinfect “touch points” (e.g. doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.), and will do our best to ensure that the hand sanitizer stations in campus buildings are always resupplied.

I am deeply saddened that our students cannot receive their full residential educational experience during this time. Yet God’s ways are not our ways, and in this challenging time we should deepen our prayer, asking for insight in how we can best act for his greater glory even now. So often throughout history, Christian witness in times of trial moved others to embrace the faith. Our faith and peace of soul is surely meant to be a shining light needed by a weary and broken world. What a powerful message God can convey through us if we let Him, showing others our faith in a life after this earthly existence, and our hope in Our Savior who bears our suffering and sin to make possible our eternal happiness

I would like to share with you the prayer that we are reciting at my parish that seems particularly appropriate now. I ask that you join me in praying it every day, entrusting all of our intentions to Jesus Christ through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother.

Sincerely in the Heart of Christ,

Dr. Timothy O’Donnell

______

Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer.

As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son.

Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially for protection and healing for all peoples, entrusting to you our parish, families, healthcare workers, and each one of us.

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer.

We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting.

Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.

Amen.

March 12, 2020

Dear Christendom College Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

Pax Christi! You are all in my prayers as we continue along our Holy Season of Lent.

Since I last communicated with you, circumstances in the United States concerning the COVID-19 virus have changed rapidly. We have been carefully monitoring the situation in Warren County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the country at large. Dramatic steps are being taken in many places to limit the spread of COVID-19 in all sectors.  In some places, the governors of states have urged educational institutions to suspend in-person instruction and move to online formats.  We have already done this for our Rome Semester, and are grateful that we did not delay in bringing our students home.  There are confirmed cases in Virginia now, but no serious threat in or around the college at this time.

Given the rapid nature of developments concerning COVID-19, the college has decided to take the following steps to ensure the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff, especially the most vulnerable members of our community:

  1. Extension of Spring Break:  Spring Break will be extended through Friday, March 20. We ask that students make appropriate arrangements so as not to return to campus as originally planned.  We know that this extension of Spring Break may cause some difficulties for you in making flight adjustments and other accommodations. Please be in touch with Amanda Graf (amanda.graf@christendom.edu) in Student Life if significant hardships result from this.
  2. Monitoring of Circumstances and Preparation for Online Instruction: During the extended Spring Break period, the college will continue to monitor changing circumstances.
    1. If the situation with the virus appears to stabilize and prudence allows us to resume on-campus classes with the short delay, we will do so on Monday, March 23.
    2. If, however, the situation in Virginia worsens significantly or government officials advise educational institutions to suspend in-person instruction, the college will move to an online format for class instruction. During this extended Spring Break period, professors will be preparing the tools to be able to offer online instruction to all students should we determine it is necessary. In the event of a move to online instruction, we hope this will be temporary and to be able to resume regular on-campus classes by Easter. Faculty will make instructional materials and readings available online, and students should not return to campus during this interim period to retrieve their books or other school materials.
  3. Time of Decision Concerning Suspension of In-Person Instruction:  The college will communicate its decision about whether students will return to campus for classes following the extended break or move to online instruction no later than Wednesday, March 18.
  4. Current On Campus Precautions:  On campus, we will continue to take precautions to ensure buildings and facilities are as clean as possible. This includes having our house keeping staff increase the number of times they disinfect “touch points” (e.g. doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.), and ensuring that the hand sanitizer stations in campus buildings are always resupplied. We also remain in contact with key health officials to ensure we are in the best possible position should students be asked to return in the near future.

I understand that our college experience is meant to be residential and that our relational formation and community life are essential to our program.  No online instruction can adequately be a substitute for the classroom instruction and the shared life in the faith that make our college what it is.  It is with a heavy heart that we consider extending the online instruction already in place for our Rome students to the student body at large, especially for our graduating seniors in their last semester. Yet we must still be prudent in this moment of difficulty for the world.

I ask that you join me in prayer for the situation worldwide.  We must pray for calmness, charity, and care for the affected, as well as an end to the outbreak.  The Holy Father’s prayer for these intentions can be found below.  We will be praying this prayer together at the college for the foreseeable future and hope you will do so as well.

We find ourselves in a difficult moment, and I understand that it is not easy to keep anxiety and anger at bay.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ, and He will not abandon us. Now is the time to be prudent and seek to live out our Christian call.  Whatever the future holds, as Catholic Christians we should look for the opportunity to assist the most vulnerable in our communities at this time. Fitting for Lent, we should also redouble our prayers and consider all we decide to do through the lens of charity.  As we prepare our hearts for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord, let us remain where His Blessed Mother is, standing by Him at His darkest hour, bearing all things with steadfast fidelity and trust in the hope and new life that springs forth from the dead wood of the Cross.

Sincerely in the Heart of Christ,

Dr. Timothy O’Donnell

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Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Protection

O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain,
with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that,
as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us,
through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

March 9: Update to Christendom Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff

The following update regarding the coronavirus was issued to Christendom students, parents, faculty and staff from College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell:

Dear Christendom College Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

Pax Christi! I pray that all is well with you and that you are enjoying Spring Break.

Naturally, with the COVID-19 virus growing in intensity in the United States and around the world, many of you have questions about returning to campus, as well as the College’s current plans and those that may be put into effect should the risk in the area around the College rise.

  1. Semester Schedule: At this time, the College is planning to resume classes as planned on March 16. We are closely monitoring the situation in Warren County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in the country at large. Should circumstances change such that a delay to resuming the semester makes sense we will be in contact with you as soon possible with any modification to the College schedule.
  2. Current Precautions on Campus: On campus we are taking precautions to ensure the residence halls and other buildings and facilities are as clean as possible. This includes having our house keeping staff increase the number of times they disinfect “touch points” (e.g. doorknobs, faucet handles, etc.), ensuring that the hand sanitizer stations in campus buildings are always resupplied, and reminding the campus community about important hygienic practices such as frequently and thoroughly washing hands.
  3. Immunocompromised Students: We are asking parents of students whose immune systems are compromised to reach out to the College at this time. COVID-19 does not appear to be a significant risk to otherwise healthy individuals, but those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk. As with any other accommodation concern, the College feels that working through a clear plan for students in the higher risk category, on a case-by-case basis, is prudent.  It may be that an immunocompromised student ought not return to campus at this time, and in such a case the College will put into place measures to ensure that coursework can continue remotely in an appropriate fashion. Please reach out to Dr. Ben Reinhard (ben.reinhard@christendom.edu) with questions or concerns.
  4. Possible Adjustments to the College Schedule: The College will be in regular communication about any changing circumstances during the semester and you should feel free to reach out to us at any time about concerns or questions. If a change in circumstances warrants the College delaying classes for a period, or, in a worst-case scenario, ending residential aspects of the program, the College will notify you as soon as possible and assist students in making arrangements to return home. Accommodations to ensure completion of coursework will be instituted at such a time, and appropriate adjustments to applicable costs and fees will be initiated. We hope this step will not be necessary, but we will be prepared should it be required.
  5. Plans Should a Student Become Infected: We are in communication with the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC and are prepared to take their direction should there be a confirmed case of the virus on campus.

While this is a time of some uncertainty, we ask that everyone approach the challenge of navigating it with prudence, calm and prayer. As a College we will do everything we can to ensure a safe environment on campus and to take appropriate steps to maintain safety when needed.

Sincerely in the Heart of Christ,

Dr. O’Donnell

February 29: Update to Semester in Rome Parents

The following update regarding the coronavirus was issued to parents of participants of the college’s Semester in Rome on February 29 from Vice President of Student Affairs Amanda Graf:

Dear Christendom Parents,

As we mentioned in our previous communication, we are watching the situation in Italy concerning the Coronavirus very closely.  The U.S. State Department has just advanced their travel advisory for all of Italy to Level 3 based in part on the CDC’s increased Level 3 warning that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy. Given the likely increased restrictions both here and abroad that will result from this decision (in Italy and countries receiving travelers from Italy) as well as the complexities that will result in Rome itself for our program, I am very sorry to inform you that we have decided to end our semester in Rome. This decision was not made lightly, and it breaks our hearts that the students will not be able to experience the entire Rome semester. Ultimately it is our care and concern for the students that motivates us to make this decision. There are now more than 800 known cases of coronavirus in Italy. Several other American campuses are ending their Rome programs and more will surely do so given the increased warning level. We have decided it is prudent to end the program before travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines are put in place.

While our students themselves may not be at a high risk for infection or physical harm, the safety and quality of life concerns are too great to risk the variables that would come should the city in fact experience a viral outbreak. Limited access to food, healthcare, and other city services would greatly and negatively affect their experience as well as inhibit staff from providing the level of care that we insist upon. Current mandatory government restrictions on group tours and outings are already limiting our ability to conduct our normal program. Finally, we have seen in other instances during this outbreak that countries can make sudden decisions about quarantines and limiting travel. We feel it is important to limit the possibility that our students could be detained in other countries or put into mandatory quarantine.

The program in Rome will close on Friday, March 6, and staff in Rome will assist students with making travel arrangements. The College will reimburse students up to $500 for the cost of a new flight or to cover the change fee if they are able to transfer their original return flight to this coming week. Students cannot return to the Front Royal campus at this time, but may be able to do so later in the semester after sufficient time in the U.S. Students who independently choose to stay in Rome will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations.

Room and board for the days the students were not in Rome will be pro-rated and credited to your student’s account at the College. Additionally, $1,000 of the Rome fee will also be refunded to the students as a credit to their account. We are making arrangements for faculty members to teach classes via correspondence. We will be contacting students with more information about these courses in the coming days. Students will be able to receive all of the credits for the courses in which they are currently enrolled, ensuring their on-time graduation.

Again, we are truly saddened by the circumstances facing Italy right now and the impact they are having on the Rome semester, but we are confident that this is the right decision for the health and safety of our students and staff. Please be assured of our prayers for your student, your family, and all participating in the Rome semester.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

God bless,

Amanda Graf

February 24: Update to Semester in Rome Participants & Parents

The following update regarding the coronavirus was issued to participants of the college’s Semester in Rome and their parents on February 24 from Vice President of Student Affairs Amanda Graf:

Dear Christendom Parents,

As I’m sure you are aware, there has been an outbreak of the Coronavirus in northern Italy. We are closely monitoring the situation and looking to officials from the US Embassy and AACUPI, the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Italy, for prudential advice about keeping our students safe and healthy.

As of now we have taken significant measures to ensure our students’ safety.

This is a volatile situation, but the College is ready to respond to any changes or an increase in the number of cases. We have established criteria for deciding if or when we would need to end the semester in Rome. There are contingency plans in place to continue to educate the students if we do need to end the semester in Rome.

We will update you as the situation progresses. We also recommend using the U.S. Embassy in Italy’s website for receiving official information.

God bless,

Amanda Graf

January 30: Update to Campus Community

The following update regarding the coronavirus was issued to the Christendom community on Jan. 30 from Vice President of Student Affairs Amanda Graf:

Dear Students,

You may have heard of the Coronavirus, a respiratory virus that has been spreading in China. While there have been some cases outside of China, there are only 5 confirmed cases in the U.S., none of which are in our area. We have been in contact with the CDC and the Virginia Health Department to make sure we’re up to date on the spread of the virus. Based on their information, we do not have any concerns about exposure to the Coronavirus here, but we can minimize the spread of illness by all taking some basic but essential precautions:

  1. Wash your hands. Hand washing for at least 20 seconds is one of the best ways to stop the spread of germs.
  2. Don’t share anything that could be infected. Limit eating or drinking after others, especially sharing water bottles during practice.
  3. Cover your mouth. It’s a rule we all learned as kids, but if you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and don’t shake hands with others.
  4. If you have symptoms (fever, aches, persistent cough, congestion) go see the Nurse right away. You can also call her (540-268-0699) and leave a voicemail, which she will respond to promptly.

Thank you for being mindful about keeping our campus healthy!

God bless,

Amanda Graf

Reopening Plan Certified by SCHEV

This plan has been reviewed by the State Council of Higher Education and has been found to be compliant in containing the required components of the ‘Higher Education Reopening Guidance,’ which was developed in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health.”

The link for the plan can be found here.

Christendom College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.