March 20, 2020 - Message to Abilene campus community
Dear ACU Community,
What has occurred over the last few weeks has been quite remarkable. While the scope of the global health crisis, now known as COVID-19, has been inconceivable for all of us, we are inspired by how it has brought out the best in so many of us.
Every member of our campus community has had their life turned upside down. Faculty have reconfigured their courses and learned new technology to migrate their instruction online. Students left for Spring Break two weeks ago, and most have been unable to return and gather their belongings. Staff have worked long days – and nights – to enact sweeping change in virtually every area of the university. Meanwhile, we know healthcare providers on our campus, and throughout our community, are also working tirelessly.
What is truly remarkable is the spirit this crisis has brought out in all of us. The heartwarming stories we’ve received from students, parents and alumni have given us moments of great joy as we grappled with decisions we never thought we would have to make. We have shed tears, shared prayers and uplifted one another as we have sought to lead ACU through unprecedented times that are full of uncertainty and, frankly, some anxiety.
Over the last several weeks, we have put significant measures in place to help “flatten the curve” to protect both our campus and our larger community, but we have to do more. We have decided it is in the best interest of the ACU community to extend online learning through the end of this semester. Students who complete their degree requirements will still have their degrees conferred in May, and we have rescheduled Commencement ceremonies for Aug. 7-8, 2020. While this is a difficult decision, especially for our graduates and their families, we know this is the right move for the ACU community. Additional information about these important changes can be found below.
We gratefully share that we are currently unaware of any confirmed cases of the virus within the ACU community. Early decisions served us well. These included the suspension of university-sponsored travel, extending Spring Break and moving classes online temporarily. We also successfully brought home our Study Abroad students, cancelled events and activities, moved our faculty and staff to work remotely as much as possible, encouraged our students to remain at home, and provided guidance to our campus community about safety and well-being, quarantine protocols, cleaning and hygiene, and medical response. We also made an early decision to house those students who had nowhere else to go or who felt Abilene was a safer environment for them.
We chose to communicate clearly and often, with 18 messages distributed to different segments of our campus over the last three weeks. We will continue to relay important information and words of encouragement to our students, faculty and staff. We also created a website, an FAQ page and email@example.com to answer pressing questions.
As we made decisions, we prayed for wisdom and kept our students at the forefront of every conversation. We reminded ourselves that ACU is a special place, and we want our students to continue to experience it even though they can’t physically be here. Not only have faculty and staff reached out to our students individually, but our advisors have made 1,200 calls, sent 4,976 emails and 2,816 texts, and had 280 virtual advising appointments in the last two weeks. We are grateful for so many personal connections with our students.
We have also created events to stay connected to our students, and our faculty and staff who are working remotely. Starting Wednesday, we’ll live stream a virtual Chapel that we are inviting alumni and parents to join as well. Several of our professors are putting together a virtual chorus, and we will be offering virtual tours for prospective students. In addition, we have illuminated the Tower of Light and Onstead Packer Biblical Studies Building in purple. We are leaving the lights on until our students return to campus!
Yes, we have had to think in new ways, but adjusting to this new normal has been easier than we imagined due to the creativity, dedication and tireless energy of those around the table.
Our hearts were warmed when we learned some of our students put notes on doors in their neighborhood, volunteering to get groceries, run errands or do anything at all to help their neighbors. Others are helping the elderly who are afraid to leave their homes. People everywhere are asking what they can do for someone else. This is the ACU spirit in action, and it always makes us smile.
We appreciate your prayers, emails, calls and texts more than you know. We thank you for your support during these challenging times … times that have no playbook or precedent. We thank each of you for hard work, support and understanding. ACU is truly a remarkable university, and we will continue to meet these challenges with the same steadfast spirit and prayerful hearts that have, historically, made us even stronger.
Especially in the midst of difficult times, I’m reminded that God’s provision is always sufficient. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Phil Schubert, Ed.D.President
Important Information for Abilene Students
We will continue providing instruction via online learning through the end of the current semester. On-campus, face-to-face instruction will resume as soon as the environment is safe and appropriate.
All students cleared to graduate in May who successfully complete their Spring 2020 courses will have their degrees conferred on their official transcript in May once grades are posted, as usual. Students who complete degree requirements in the summer will have their degrees conferred once summer grades are posted, as usual.
We are postponing Commencement ceremonies until Aug. 7-8, 2020. We look forward to celebrating this major milestone with our graduates and their families. Follow these links to the details you need to prepare for Commencement in August for undergraduate students and graduate students.
Graduate and undergraduate students at the main campus will have additional options for course grading during this unprecedented and unpredictable semester. Faculty will report the letter grades students earn in their courses. However, students may choose to shift to Credit/No Credit grading of any or all courses after grades are submitted.
The process for students to shift from a letter grade to CR/NC will be announced before the end of the semester.
The Credit/No Credit approach is similar to a pass/fail structure, but without the GPA penalty of an F. Neither the grades CR (Credit, for an earned A, B, C or D) nor NC (No Credit, for an earned F) count toward the GPA; students who receive NC in a required course must repeat it to complete their degree requirements.
Students should consider several factors in making decisions about grading in Spring 2020:
- CR/NC may be used for all Abilene undergraduate and graduate courses, not just electives.
- Courses graded CR/NC in Spring 2020 will not count toward a student’s limit of 12 hours of this type of grading toward a degree.
- A grade of CR will satisfy any subsequent course prerequisite of “C or better” in the course taken in Spring 2020.
- Students who are repeating a course in which they previously earned a letter grade may choose the CR/NC option.
- Choosing CR/NC might affect whether another university would accept the course for transfer in the future.
- Students who are working toward licensure and/or planning to attend graduate or professional school should confer with their faculty mentor and advisor before shifting a required course from a letter grade to CR/NC.
We will continue the suspension of face-to-face courses through Summer 1 (aka Maymester) May 11-28. We are currently exploring which Summer 1 courses students need for completing their degrees and moving those from face-to-face to online. At this point, other summer sessions remain as scheduled, and we will continue to assess how they will be delivered. We encourage students to continue to register for the courses they need. Specific information regarding course delivery will be announced later. Any questions regarding summer courses should be directed to academic advisors.
We will continue to offer academic support, including academic coaching, tutoring and advising. Any questions should be directed to academic advisors.
Spiritual Formation Credits
All spiritual formation credits for Spring 2020 are considered completed for all current students.
Student employees should be in conversation with their supervisors. Student employees who are currently working should be logging their hours as normal. Those who were not able to work during March 16 - April 9 should log their normal work schedule on the “Campus Closure” line on their time sheet. Beginning April 10, only students who are completing work should be logging those hours on their time sheets.
Unless approved via the exception process described below, students currently residing in a residence hall must vacate their room by March 31, 2020. Students are, however, permitted to leave their belongings securely in their rooms until May 31, 2020.
Retrieving belongings – Students are NOT required to return to campus to retrieve their belongings at this time. All belongings are secure in your room.
Essential items – Students who desire to return and retrieve essential items MUST complete this form and be approved to return. Upon completion and approval, staff will coordinate and communicate dates and times to retrieve personal essential items. Examples of essential items are laptops, course materials and medication. If students have essential items in their rooms, but cannot come to campus and retrieve them, we will ship them to you at no cost as soon as possible. Please complete this form to request your items be shipped. We will schedule a call time to enter your room live on the call and collect your items.
Final move out – We are working on a safe and accessible plan for students and their families to sign up for a move-out time and date. Details will be shared by April 15. Students have until May 31, 2020, to move out of their residence hall room.
Remaining in a residence hall – Our priority is the well-being of our students and our campus. At this time, out of an abundance of caution and care, we are limiting access to our residence halls to students who currently meet one (or more) of the following criteria:
- The student’s permanent residence is outside of the U.S. and she/he is unable to travel to their home country.
- The student's academic department has deemed their in-person internship, clinical or practicum will continue and requires their on-site presence, and s/he has accepted that arrangement.
- The student has personal circumstances preventing her/him from returning home. Some examples include:
- The student is classified as an independent.
- The student is part of the foster care system.
- The student/student’s family does not have a permanent address.
- The student's home community is quarantined and is not allowing open travel to/from that location.
- Returning home represents a health/safety threat to the student or those at home.
- Returning home will prevent the student from accessing their courses remotely because of insufficient internet and technology capabilities.
Students requesting to remain in university housing should complete this form.
Students living off campus – Students living off campus are free to make decisions as they determine. However, we advise them to practice social distancing and limit in-person interactions.
ACU will assist international students who are unable to return home and need to remain in campus housing. Those requesting to remain in university housing should complete this form. The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have released the following policy change: International students are now permitted to continue their studies via online courses outside of the U.S. This means they may complete the spring semester either in the U.S. or return to their home country without any conflict in their immigration status. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Lucy Dawson (325-674-2237, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Vehicles may remain on campus until May 31, 2020, regardless of the parking lot where the car was left parked. As long as it is on university property, you will not receive a ticket. ACU Police remain available 24/7 at 325-674-2911.
Students can continue to utilize the Bean for grab-and-go dining. Students who need additional assistance should contact SOAR.
We are exploring options for how to handle potential adjustments for room and meal plan charges and will communicate these plans by March 31.
Events and Activities
All events and activities have been cancelled, postponed or moved online. In-person gatherings are discouraged and in-person social interaction should be extremely limited whenever possible, in accordance with state and local regulations.
Campus visits are closed at this time. To continue to offer a visitor experience, we are creating a new campus virtual tour.
ACU employees will continue to work remotely until further notice unless their supervisor has notified them that their presence on campus is necessary.
University-sponsored travel has been suspended until the end of the fiscal year (May 31). Petitions for exceptions must be submitted in writing to email@example.com. Personal travel for employees is strongly discouraged.
All Study Abroad programs and World Wide Witness and Global Service Trips scheduled to start before July 1 have been canceled or postponed.
Building Access and Campus Services
The Bean and Brown Library will remain open until further notice, but there may be reduced hours. The Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center will be closing at midnight March 20 through at least April 3. Classrooms will be locked. All of this is subject to change if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Abilene.
Taking care of ourselves and others during this challenging time is of paramount importance. If there is a medical emergency, please call 911 and notify them of any travel or exposures. Wildcat Care (telemedicine) is available 24/7 at no cost to students, enabling you to consult a provider from home. We highly recommend this approach.
The ACU Medical Clinic is operating by appointment only and patients should call 325-674-2625 to be screened and have an appointment scheduled. No one should enter the Medical Clinic without an appointment. Remember that COVID-19 shares many symptoms with the influenza virus. Let the ACU Medical Clinic know where you have traveled recently or how you might have been exposed to the virus. The ACU Medical Clinic, along with the state and city health departments, will determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.
While caring for our physical health has been constantly reinforced, the unusual times we face can take a toll on our emotional health as well. As a reminder, Wildcat Care also provides 24/7 mental health counseling services at no cost to students. Should you find yourself struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges, we encourage you to reach out to Wildcat Care professionals immediately.