Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response & Advisory | Benedictine College

COVID-19: Information & Resources

The Benedictine College community has taken and continues to take many steps to protect students, employees, friends and families against the spread of COVID-19. See the Raven Safety Plan.

Benedictine College Active Positive COVID-19 Cases

October 27, 2020

Total Campus Population

Active Positive Cases

Percent of Population

2505

3

0.1%

Protect the Flock Agreement Updated (October 8)

The Protect the Flock Agreement has been updated.

Updated Agreement

“Atchison and Benedictine: Stronger Together” Agreement (September 4)

Benedictine College and Atchison County officials met to create new COVID-19 mitigation efforts that will reduce cases on Benedictine College’s campus and in the city of Atchison.

Read the Agreement

Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Mitigation Measures (September 1)

Benedictine College put new mitigation measures into place on campus.

About the Measures

Notification of Positive COVID-19 Cases on Campus (August 20)

To all members of the Benedictine College Community:

The welfare and safety of our community during this time is Benedictine College’s primary concern.

As you know, the College provided COVID-19 testing of student, faculty, and staff as part of their return to campus this fall.  To date, the College has received 1,611 test results from CRL Clear and that testing has identified twenty-seven students who tested positive for COVID-19.  This is approximately 1.7% of the total number of individuals tested.  Overall, however, 36 students and 4 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.  This is approximately 1.7% of the college community.

College officials have acted quickly to follow appropriate protocols in response to this information.  In consultation with local health officials, this included directly notifying individuals known to have had close contact with these persons. The Atchison County Health Department currently defines close contact with an affected individual as contact within 6 feet for greater than 10 minutes.

Although we understand there may be questions related to this report, we must ask that you respect the privacy of these individuals. The College is following protocols related to cleaning, social distancing, and quarantine. We will continue to take steps to help protect the health and safety of our community.

We also take this opportunity to remind our community of important information regarding COVID-19. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, we request your attention to and compliance with health-authority-recommended practices – not only to ensure your own well-being, but also the well-being of others.  Health and safety information can be found on the CDC’s website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. State health and safety information can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.

Please know that we will continue to monitor guidance and information related to COVID-19. This is a time to be attentive, flexible, serious, and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a community to care for ourselves and for one another. Please be attentive to Benedictine communications addressing COVID-19 and additional steps we will be taking to address this rapidly evolving situation.

Update on Faith Life Opportunities (Aug. 14)

Mass

Due to the reduced seating capacity in St. Benedict’s Abbey, there will be additional Masses added to the weekday and weekend schedule. All Masses will take place in St. Benedict’s Abbey. Students do not need to call ahead and reserve seats for Mass, but they are encouraged, when possible, to attend Mass at a consistent time so that the Abbey can try to reasonably accommodate the number of participants.

Saturday - 12:10 p.m., 4 p.m.

Sunday - 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

Monday-Friday - 12:10 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

Those who attend Masses and other religious services should observe the following:

  • Wear a face mask/covering, covering the mouth and nose, prior to entering the church until after leaving the church.
  • Observe the six-foot minimum distancing requirements described above.
  • Purify hands with sanitizer before entering the church and upon exiting.
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging or other close contact with other individuals.
  • Watch the tutorial video provided on the Archdiocesan and parish websites pertaining to hand sanitation practices, physical distancing practices and safe way to approach Holy Communion, etc.
  • For those opting to receive Holy Communion, approach the minister only one pew at a time, always observing six-foot minimum distancing between individuals and observing the mask usage practices described in the tutorials.
  • Congregational singing should be suspended to limit droplet dispersion.

Please note the St. Joseph’s Chapel in the crypt of the Abbey is closed until further notice.

Adoration

Adoration will be available Monday-Friday from 1-9 p.m. in St. Martin’s Memorial Chapel.

Confession

Confessions are available at the same times, but different locations.

  • Monday-Friday – 11:00 - 11:40 a.m. & 4:00-4:50 p.m. in the crypt of St. Benedict’s Abbey near the St. Scholastica chapel
  • Saturday – 9:00-9:50 a.m. & 7:00-7:50 p.m. in the crypt of St. Benedict’s Abbey near the St. Scholastica chapel

Campus chaplains

Confessions In addition to our Chaplain, Fr. Simon Baker, and our Director of College Ministry, Fr. Luke Turner, we are excited to welcome Fr. Ryan Richardson as a full-time Associate Chaplain and Fr. Steve Mills as an Assistant Chaplain to the Ministry team. Fr. Mills most recently served as a chaplain for the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Update on Residence Hall Operations (Aug. 14)

Residence hall protocols have been an area of careful study, given that we will have over 1,500 students living on campus in a variety of room configurations. Living in community matters deeply to us, but we also recognize that it requires extra precautions during this pandemic. We want you to feel fully at home in your room, so you do not need to wear masks in your assigned rooms or with your roommate. All residents and guests must, however, wear masks in all other rooms and common spaces, including hallways and lounges. During these early weeks of the fall semester, students should use hall common spaces to gather with other students who are not their assigned roommate(s). We can make shared kitchens available through appointments.

Residence halls will operate at standard occupancy, though enhanced cleaning and other adjustments in our common life will be necessary to keep one another safe. As the medical situation changes, we will re-evaluate accordingly.  Adjustments to residence halls and their operations include:

  • To protect student rooms as private spaces in which masks and physical distancing are not required, only the students assigned to a residence hall room will be allowed to be in their room to start the fall semester. Assigned roommates will be considered a “household” for purposes of contact tracing. Exception: Students who have a lounge (common space) in their housing unit (apartments, campus houses, row houses, McDonald Hall, Guadalupe Hall six-person suites, and Elizabeth Hall rooms with a lounge) may have up to 4 guests at a time in the lounge of their unit. In these situations, guests are only allowed in the lounges of those housing units – they are not allowed in the bedrooms. Guests are expected to wear masks in these lounge areas.
  • Although students will not need to wear masks or observe physical distancing when they are in their assigned rooms, they must do so in all other areas, including hallways and common spaces.
  • During these early weeks of the fall semester, students are permitted to gather in the common spaces of the residence halls with students who are not their assigned roommates.
  • Students may visit residence halls that they do not live in, but only in common spaces to start the semester. While visiting, guests must wear masks, observe physical distancing, and be accompanied by a resident.  Visitation hours are still in effect for all common spaces.
  • The total number of people gathered in a common space at any one time cannot exceed the occupancy limits posted for the space, and no guests may stay overnight.
  • Card access will be limited to students living in each residence hall.
  • Operations/Housekeeping will clean the halls and disinfect high touch surfaces daily.
  • Shared kitchens will be made available by appointments during limited hours. Resident must provide their own pots, pans, and any other cooking items and utensils.  Residents are responsible for sanitizing all surface areas and common touchpoint after they use the kitchen. 
  • Residence hall laundry facilities will be available as in the past.
  • Residence hall chapels will remain open for individual prayer.

Update on Dining Services (Aug. 14)

Considering the impact of COVID-19, Dining Services as we know it will fundamentally change, however, they are poised to provide solutions that support all individuals within the campus community. Dining Services plans incorporate the latest guidance from the CDC as well as state and local guidelines.

The Dining Services plan addresses five key areas: focusing on students, engaging staff, maintaining safe environments, adapting operations, and collaborating with students, faculty and staff to ensure success, now and into the future.

Several changes to our Dining Services program are planned for the fall with current safety guidelines in place include:

  • Extending the hours of the Dining Hall to be open continuously from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM daily (except on weekends), giving students a greater option for meals and encouraging physical distancing and decreased density
  • Eliminating self-serve stations that will result in staff serving food to guests as a measure to eliminate buffet stations with utensils used by various guests
  • Preparing prepackaged salads and deli sandwiches, providing a “to go” option in the Dining Hall
  • Promoting decreased density in the Dining Hall by reducing seating at tables and restructuring the layout of tables
  • Posting signage and graphics encouraging hand washing and physical distancing
  • Installing updated service dispensers to control cross-contamination on surfaces (utensil, condiments, etc.)
  • Increasing the cleaning frequency of all surfaces in all dining services locations
  • Utilizing the late-night area in the Haverty Center as a grab and go area to encourage physical distancing, with the location being available 7 days a week
  • Removing tables from Holy Grounds and Café 62 with the hope of offering an online ordering system
  • Offering additional grab-and-go options in retail units on the weekend
  • Requiring staff to wash hands and change gloves frequently
  • All Dining Staff and work study students will wear masks/face coverings during operating hours
  • Requiring daily health verification by all staff
  • Conducting daily temperature checks for all staff
  • Establishing frequent manager symptom checks and monitoring
  • Increasing cross training of staff across multiple roles to improve staffing flexibility and adjusting retail hours, as needed, to ensure the Dining Hall operations and hours are the priority

Note: You can see the Dining Services locations and hours online.

Notification of Positive COVID-19 Cases on Campus (July 24)

To all members of the Benedictine College Community:

The welfare and safety of our community during this time is Benedictine College’s primary concern. We are writing to inform you of a recent development relating to COVID-19.

We recently learned that two College employees tested positive for COVID-19. One employee was last present on campus on Tuesday, July 21, and the other was last present on campus on Thursday, July 23. Neither employee works in an office with significant student contact.   

College officials acted quickly to follow appropriate protocols in response to this information. In consultation with local health officials, this included directly notifying individuals known to have had close contact with these employees through College programs, employment or activities. The CDC currently defines close contact with an affected individual as contact within 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes.

Given the limited number of Benedictine community members who are currently on campus, a small number of individuals were directly notified regarding this situation. Although we understand there may be questions related to this report, we must ask that you respect the privacy of these individuals. The College is following protocols related to cleaning, social distancing and implementing remote work requirements for those at risk for exposure. We will continue to take steps to help protect the health and safety of our community.

We also take this opportunity to remind our community of important information regarding COVID-19. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, we request your attention to and compliance with health-authority-recommended practices – not only to ensure your own well-being, but also the well-being of others.  Health and safety information can be found on the CDC’s website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. State health and safety information can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.

Please know that we will continue to monitor guidance and information related to COVID-19. This is a time to be attentive, flexible, serious, and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a community to care for ourselves and for one another. Please be attentive to Benedictine communications addressing COVID-19 and additional steps we will be taking to address this rapidly evolving situation.

Returning Safely for the Fall Semester (July 2)

We are excited for the return of students, faculty and staff to our campus, but the coronavirus pandemic will make it a challenge. We are facing a situation that is somewhat out of our control, making it difficult to maintain traditions and function with the normal sense of community we all love. But as some groups develop mitigation strategies, there are also groups doing equally important work on creative ways to maintain a vibrant campus community.

We strongly believe in the educational value and personal growth provided by the on-campus experience. We will offer programming, athletic competition and in-person classes, but, like any family, we will take care of those most vulnerable. The college’s Coronavirus Task Force, in consultation with college administration, the Atchison County Health Department, Atchison County EMS and health professionals, has been working throughout the summer to develop a Raven Safety Plan following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. While that extensive and detailed plan is in the final stages of development and approval, here is a quick summary of what to expect in the fall:

Face Masks/Coverings

  • Following advice from medical professionals, federal guidelines and the State of Kansas mandate to wear face coverings, Benedictine College requires all students, faculty and staff to wear face coverings at all times when they are in the presence of other individuals while on campus, except when in their residence hall room, office or in a private vehicle.
  • Benedictine College is providing one reusable cloth mask for each student. These complimentary masks have been mailed to all beginning freshmen, so be sure to pack it with your residence hall essentials and bring it with you when you come.  Returning students and transfers can pick up their complimentary mask when they arrive on campus.

Physical Distancing

  • An effort will be made to decrease density and promote physical distancing in all areas, including classrooms, the Dining Hall, lounges and other public spaces.
  • Patterns have been developed to promote one-way traffic flow in academic buildings (where possible) and the Dining Hall.
  • There will be a flexible model in the classroom that will allow for sick students/faculty or those who have pre-existing conditions to attend remotely, if necessary.

Return to Campus

  • Students are being asked to bring the following coronavirus-related supplies for their use:
    • Sanitizing wipes / cleaning supplies for regularly cleaning and disinfecting your residence hall room and belongings
    • Hand sanitizer to carry with you when washing your hands with soap and water is not an option
    • Face masks / coverings for your personal use, beyond the complimentary mask provided by Benedictine
    • Digital thermometer
    • Fever-reducing medication
    • NOTE: Make purchases now before hundreds of thousands of students returning to colleges across the country are looking for the same things!
  • All students are asked to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine at home prior to returning to campus and to self-monitor during that time for any symptoms.
  • Students should check and continue to monitor the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) travel-related quarantine guidelines. If you are from one of the states identified, or have traveled internationally, or been on a cruise ship or river cruise, you are asked to complete a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to move freely about campus. You can do this quarantine on campus or with a friend or relative who lives in the state. The guidelines are continuously updated, so it is imperative to continue to regularly monitor them between now and your return.

Focus on Hygiene

  • Policies and procedures are being adapted to allow for increased daily cleaning, regular sanitizing of common areas, and proper personal hygiene.

Focus on Student Health

  • To address both the physical and mental health of our student body, the College has already expanded Student Health Services for the fall.
  • Hours of our nurse practitioner have been increased from 12 to 20 hours/week.
  • An additional part-time registered nurse is being hired.
  • The Counseling Center has hired a part-time office manager and increased the available counseling hours for students.
  • To separate healthy students from those who are sick, the health services office is being moved from the Student Health Center to a new location on Third Street across from St. Michael Hall, allowing the Counseling Center to take over the entire Student Health Center building.

College Ministry

  • Faith life on campus is vital and essential, thus we must all work together to observe practices that are proven to minimize the spread of COVID-19 even in religious services and activities.
  • The College Ministry office plans to follow the guidelines set forth by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, subject to Atchison County Health Department directives.
  • Our Archdiocese offers very specific guidelines concerning Sunday obligation, Holy Communion, adoration, reconciliation, persons exhibiting symptoms, density, sanitation, hygiene and more.

We are proceeding with caution and beginning conservatively through Labor Day. Health and welfare are the top priority with the safety of both the campus community and the Atchison community in mind. As the situation evolves, we will assess our procedures and, if we can safely relax some of these guidelines, we will do so. We thank everyone for their personal commitment to this plan in the best interest of the broader campus community. The strength of our community will get us through this and Ravens Will Rise!

College Announces Early Start and Schedule Change for Fall Semester (June 3)

Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis has announced that the school will implement a strategy to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by opening earlier than usual, skipping Fall Break, and sending students home at Thanksgiving to take finals online. The announcement follows weeks of work by the College Cabinet and several faculty and staff committees to determine the best course of action for the health and well-being of the campus and Atchison communities.

The first day of classes moves up a week to August 19, 2020, followed by the All-School Mass and Academic Convocation on August 25, 2020. The college will skip Fall Break in October and continue classes until the Thanksgiving Break. The last day of in-person class will be November 24, 2020. Students will stay home after Thanksgiving and finals will be done online from November 30 to December 4.

See the full announcement here.

See the entire 2020-2021 Academic Year Calendar here.

Benedictine College Announces Fall Opening on Campus (May 5)

Benedictine College will open its campus in Atchison, Kansas, this fall on time and with students in the classroom, President of Benedictine College Stephen D. Minnis announced May 5 during a virtual Honors Convocation.

"We will be open in the fall; we will start on time; we will have students in the classrooms; we will have vibrant student life and ministry programs; and we will have athletics," he said. "All of those things are important for a dynamic Benedictine education."

Read more.

Memorare Army Pandemic Prayer Campaign

President Minnis has called on everyone to pray 10 Memorares a day for 10 days for relief from the coronavirus crisis. Learn more and join the Memorare Army here.

Housing Checkout Information (March 20)

With the safety of our students as our number one priority, all residence halls will close for the semester on Sunday, March 22, at 8 p.m., and will not reopen for the Spring 2020 semester.

You can get all the information you need about moving out through the Housing Checkout FAQs.

Checkout and Hardship Forms (March 20)

Benedictine College is closing its residence halls and asking students to vacate campus by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. We recognize that there are some hardship cases and we will work with students who need individual accommodations.

Please complete the Request to Checkout form as soon as possible.

If you have a hardship with the above requirement, please complete the Hardship Request form as soon as possible.

Residence Halls Closed (March 19)

The administration at Benedictine College has reluctantly concluded that, with new directives from the Atchison County Health Department in place, we are closing our residence halls and asking our students to vacate campus. We recognize that there are some hardship cases and we will work with students who need individual accommodations. The Student Life Office will provide information to residential students regarding the check-out process and hardship cases. We are committed to providing distance-education to all of our students to allow them to finish out their courses for the semester. 

The business of the college will continue, with faculty teaching remotely and staff working from home as much as possible.

Recording of the Town Hall from March 19

Go to the Benedictine College Facebook page for the recording of the Town Hall in which President Stephen Minnis, Dr. Joseph Wurtz, Dr. Kimberly Shankman, and Fr. Simon Baker offered the latest information on the campus situation and answered key questions.

You can also see a list of FAQs from the Town Hall.

Dining Hall Update (March 19)

The Atchison Health Department closed all restaurants, bars, clubs and movie theaters within the county today. Their directive for the Dining Hall means it is now serving prepackaged, grab-n-go meals during their hours of operation (10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.) and students cannot eat in the Dining Hall.

A Changed Campus Experience (March 17)

For the time being, life at Benedictine College is not going to be normal. If you believe you need to be on campus, here is how the campus will operate for the foreseeable future:

  1. Students who find it necessary to return to campus may be assigned to a different room.
  2. There will be no visitors of any kind in residence halls. Only currently assigned residents will be allowed in the halls; no one can be in a hall they are not living in. This will be in effect 24 hours a day.
  3. No gatherings of more than 4 students (or the number of residents allowed in a room or suite) in a residence hall room will be allowed.
  4. All residence hall residents will be expected to be back in their halls by 10:30 p.m.; at that time the doors will be locked.
  5. We ask students to avoid congregating in large groups, even outside.
  6. Students will not be allowed in the academic buildings; most faculty will be off campus and all classrooms will be locked and inaccessible.
  7. Any violation of Benedictine College policy may lead to your immediate removal from on-campus housing.
  8. The Dining Hall has converted to prepackaged, grab-n-go meals available from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Due to Atchison Health Department guidelines, students cannot eat in the Dining Hall.
  9. Almost all leisure, recreational and entertainment options in the area are closed, the NAIA has canceled all spring sports, and the Murphy Recreation Center and Raven Store are closed.
  10. The Archdiocese has canceled all public celebrations of Holy Mass until further notice.
  11. Students who develop possible symptoms of COVID19 will be held in isolation off campus until arrangements can be made for their care.

Self-Screenings

As a precaution, the college is asking all students to self-screen for symptoms of the virus (fever over 100.4, cough, shortness of breath) at home before returning to campus. If you have any of these symptoms and have traveled to a high-risk area, DO NOT RETURN TO CAMPUS for 14 days. Nobody wants to risk exposing others on the Benedictine campus to the virus. You should self-isolate at home and contact your personal physician for further direction immediately.

NOTE – Once you are ready to return, please bring a doctor’s release to the Office of Student Life showing you are cleared to return to campus.

New Guidelines

As the situation has continued to evolve, there are now added 14-day quarantines established by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for anyone returning from international travel on or before March 15 or if you traveled in the states of California, New York or Washington and certain counties in Colorado (Eagle, Gunnison, Pitkin and Summit) in the week prior to March 15. If you fall into one of these categories, we cannot accommodate you on campus at this time; we simply must follow the appropriate guidance.

Student Health Center

Health officials have asked anyone who feels ill to call their health provider before going into a clinic. This includes the Student Health Center. Please call the Center at (913) 360-7117 to do a phone screening before entering the waiting room.

Athletic Events Suspended for the Semester

The NAIA and the Heart of America Athletic Conference, in which most of our sports compete, announced the the suspension of all athletic activity for the remainder of the semester. Similarly, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, in which men’s and women’s lacrosse compete, suspended all athletic activity indefinitely.

Benedictine College has suspended all practices, meetings, film review, and weightlifting.

Preventive Measures

Please be sure to observe the basic preventive measures as outlined in the FAQ section, accessible below. 

Social Distancing

Health experts believe that avoiding crowds of people will be important in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The CDC defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.” This is difficult for us, since our strong sense of community is central to the mission of our college. But we must recognize that these are extraordinary times and things are not normal. The COVID-19 pandemic will require significant measures to limit the spread of the virus. These will include the cancellation of the celebration of Holy Mass, maintaining “social distance” from others, and not congregating in groups for any reason. The college has already implemented some recommended changes by canceling certain events, limiting the gathering of large groups of people.

Helpful Links

General COVID-19 FAQ

FAQs for Checkout

FAQs specific to Benedictine College

What precautions should I take during Mass?

There are many other resources online:

Message Archive

The following messages have been sent to the Benedictine College community:

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