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Coronavirus Update

June 16, 2021 - POLICY UPDATE

In response to updated guidelines from the CDC and the Travis County Health Department, the Seminary is making the following changes to campus operations:

Faculty, staff, and students who have submitted their vaccine information can participate in indoor or outdoor gatherings on campus without precautions. This means, that masks and physical distancing will not be required by those who have been fully vaccinated and submitted their information to the administration. However, if another individual requests masking or distancing in their presence, everyone should comply, even if fully vaccinated. Working in community means we will honor and respect the needs of those around us.

 
June 7, 2021 - Announcement about re-opening of the campus for the fall term

I write at a moment in which we are perhaps seeing the light at the end of a tunnel that has kept us distant and isolated far too long. With the roll-out of effective COVID-19 vaccinations, we can begin to imagine a return to normal life. Along with my colleagues on the Administrative Cabinet and under the wise council of our Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce plans to re-open campus for the Fall term of the 21-22 academic year. I invite you to carefully review the details of our plans to reunite below, and I look forward with gratitude and great anticipation to being, once again, the embodied community known as Austin Seminary.

The Austin Seminary campus will re-open to the Austin Seminary community at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 7, beginning the 2021-22 academic year. All faculty, staff, and students will be required to have received COVID-19 vaccination. Courses will be taught in classrooms and offices will be open. We anticipate that Discovery Weekend will be in person on campus, October 29-31, and Education Beyond the Walls events will remain primarily online. At this time, the Seminary does not plan to open the campus to outside individuals or groups during the fall semester. Decisions about opening to the public will reflect the guidance of public health authorities, and while this re-opening does not include a general opening to the public, as guidance changes, so will our response. 

Austin Seminary takes seriously its responsibility and duty to provide everyone with a safe place for working and learning, therefore Austin Seminary is requiring vaccination against COVID‑19 for Seminary students, faculty, staff, and members of the Board of Trustees. The goal is to protect—to the greatest extent possible—our students, employees, their families, and the broader community from COVID-19 infection as we all do our part to survive this worldwide pandemic. Students, faculty, staff, and trustees may obtain approval for an exemption of the vaccine requirement for medical reason or objection of conscience.

Aligning with evolving guidance by the Travis County Health Department, at this time we expect to continue to mandate mask wearing indoors (except in private offices and student living quarters). Group gatherings (including classes, meetings, worship, and dining) will be masked, socially distant, and limited in group size, all according to current Health Department guidelines. (NOTE POLICY UPDATE ABOVE)

Updates to this policy will be posted here as new information becomes available.

- Ted Wardlaw, President of Austin Seminary

Plans for fall instruction and library services

I am pleased to announce the following plans that will allow us to return to in-person classes and a re-opening of the Seminary library on September 7. All students, as previously announced, will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Students who have a medical condition or an objection for reasons of conscience need to notify the academic dean, Dave Jensen, in writing. Dean Jensen will assess each exemption request and may ask for additional information in support of the student request. 

Classroom protocols will follow the guidelines for secondary and higher education publicized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Austin Public Health. Currently, those guidelines include masks and social distancing. Classroom spaces will adhere to these guidelines. The Seminary will be monitoring these guidelines throughout the summer. If the recommended safety protocols change significantly, Dean Jensen will notify the Seminary community before September 7. 

Seminary faculty have the discretion to combine asynchronous on-line instruction with in-person instruction, as they see fit. As a result, some classes may not be meeting in-person for the entirety of their scheduled weekly meeting times. 

Regarding the library, beginning Tuesday, August 3rd, the library will resume in-person services in the lower level of the McMillan Building. Students, faculty, and staff of Austin Seminary and Seminary of the Southwest may visit the library on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. ALL patrons must present appropriate seminary ID to staff, wear a mask, and maintain social distancing in the library.

Library patrons must report to the McCord desk for a temperature check before visiting the library in August.

All patrons, including those who are not faculty, students, or staff of the two seminaries, may continue to schedule curbside pickup of books.

Beginning Tuesday, September 7th, hours of service expand to Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please refer to the library’s website for additional information.

Regards,

David Hadley Jensen, Academic Dean

COVID-19 Information & Guidelines