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Coronavirus Update

October 12, 2021 - Stage 3 precautions

From Heather Zdancewicz

The number of new cases of COVID-19 and new hospitalizations in Travis County is steadily declining. The county shifted to Stage 3 of its risk-based guidelines as of October 12, 2021. The change to Stage 3 and in preparation for future downgrading of stages, the Seminary has put together updated information about our shared life.

Academics

  • Faculty continue to offer classes in the mode they choose (in-person, virtual, hybrid). They will continue to make decisions about their courses for the remainder of the Fall semester.
  • Masks in classrooms are required, regardless of vaccination status, during Stage 3 and Stage 4 of the Travis County risk-based guidelines. Instructors have the choice to remove their own mask in Stage 3. During Stage 2 and Stage 1, masks indoors are optional for those who are fully vaccinated.
  • Classrooms will be cleaned thoroughly every day.
  • Air purifiers are installed in classes to help clean and circulate the air.

Library – The interim library will be open for the remainder of the Fall 2021 semester for restricted use during the following schedule

  • Monday – Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
  • Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Library staff will limit the number of in-person patrons to five (5) and require masks while in Stage 4 and Stage 3. Scan requests and curbside pickup requests are available by contacting library@austinseminary.edu. See Library - Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary for additional information.

Chapel – Chapel services are being held in person, with masks required during Stage 4 and Stage 3. Physical distancing of 3’ is encouraged in the chapel and the overflow space in McMillan 210. Chapel services will be broadcast while in Stage 4 and Stage 3. Worship leaders have the option of unmasking while speaking. Singing is performed masked only.

Food Service – While in the Stotts Hall, persons will be masked while in Stage 3, except while eating or drinking. 

Education Beyond the Walls – Workshops offered through EBW continue to be attended virtually. Groups meeting in person will follow current masking guidelines whether on campus or remote meetings.

Other outside visitors -

  • Meetings – Seminary meetings may proceed in person, with continued masking. Outside visitors will be asked to sign-in and state their vaccine status.
  • Housing – Effective immediately, outside guests with vaccination are allowed to stay overnight with priority going to business related stays. Guests need to follow masking protocols (masking in public spaces, but can unmask in private guest room). The Seminary will need a day between guest stays to clean rooms thoroughly. Overnight guests need to submit proof of vaccination or negative COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to stay.

Staff offices – As of September 8, the Seminary offices were open to onsite work but with remote meetings in place. Effective immediately the following protocols are in effect:

  • Meetings – Seminary meetings may proceed in person during Stages 4 & 3, with continued masking in-doors.
  • Masks continue to be required in public spaces or with others during Stage 4 & 3.
  • COVID testing – employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and arrange for a test with your health provider or other place administering tests. In order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help keep our community safe, it is important that employees report symptoms and testing regardless of test results to the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration as soon as possible.
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