St. Bonaventure University

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St. Bonaventure’s fall semester to start early, finish online after Thanksgiving break

Jun 30, 2020

A Letter from President DePerro

Dear Members of the Bonaventure community:

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy, and that you’ve been able to figure out some creative ways to enjoy the summer.

After consultation with the Board of Trustees, faculty and administrators, we’ve determined that a change in the fall academic calendar is prudent. As has been the case since the COVID-19 pandemic began, causing an unprecedented interruption in the lives of almost everyone on the planet, the health and safety of our campus community remains our highest priority.

Classes for the Fall 2020 semester will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, a week earlier than originally scheduled. On-campus instruction will end on Tuesday, Nov. 24, with the fall semester to conclude Nov. 30 through Dec. 10 with three days of online-only instruction, a reading/study day (Dec. 3) and five days of online final exams.

With very few exceptions, students living on campus must leave campus no later than Wednesday, Nov. 25, not to return to campus until the beginning of the spring semester.

The mid-term break of Oct. 12-13 has been eliminated. This is being done to maximize the opportunities for face-to-face instruction before the Thanksgiving break and to reduce student travel from and back to campus, the same reason we’re ending on-campus instruction Nov. 24.

Many colleges and universities have made similar alterations to their calendars, all with the goal of making the best out of a difficult situation. We have an obligation to do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine or antibody treatment is developed.

The staggered move-in schedule for residence halls needs to be adhered to promote physical distancing. Freshmen will move in Friday, Aug. 21, and transfers will move in Saturday, Aug. 22. Freshmen and transfers will receive a specific time window that they can move in when they receive their housing assignment on July 31 from the Office of Residence Life.

Returning students with last names beginning with A-L will move in on Saturday, Aug. 22, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and returning students from M-Z will return on Sunday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Further details about move-in dates will be forthcoming from the Office of Residence Life.

Our ultimate goal is to have on-campus classes until Thanksgiving, but that will only be possible if all of us — students, faculty and staff — are committed to acting selflessly and abiding by the health and safety protocols we’ve established with guidance from the county and state Health Departments.

By the end of July, the university’s complete comprehensive re-opening plan will be available, but some of the key points to focus on are:

  1. MANDATORY COVID-19 TEST: You must get a COVID-19 PCR molecular test within 14 days of your return to campus, upload to SBU’s student health portal a negative test result, and be asymptomatic for COVID-19 to be allowed to return to campus.

  2. MANDATORY PRE-ARRIVAL SCREENING: Students must complete via a pre-arrival screening no more than 48 hours prior to arrival on campus. Results will be routed to SBU Health Services for follow-up. Any student indicating the presence of COVID-19-like symptoms will not be permitted on campus.

  3. FACE COVERINGS: Unless you are in your room with your roommate, residence hall bathroom, or seated at a dining facility on campus, you will need to wear a face covering indoors; this includes classrooms, where seats will be 6 feet apart. You will also need to wear a mask outdoors if you’re in an area where it’s not possible to be 6 feet apart from others. In their welcome back starter kit, all students (off-campus included) will receive a Buff Gaiter face covering and a limited supply of disposable face coverings.

  4. SCREENING: Students will need to fill out a periodic health screening assessment online to monitor them for symptoms, exposure and travel. Employees need to fill out an assessment each day they come to campus.
  5. POSITIVE TESTS DURING THE SEMESTER: Symptomatic students who test positive during the semester will be placed in a first-floor Doyle Hall room set aside for isolation. Immediate roommates of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 — either in a dorm, townhouse or apartment setting — will be isolated until the County Health Department determines that they are not a threat to the general population and can rejoin the general student population. Students who live in group housing with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but who are not symptomatic or have not yet tested positive themselves, will be quarantined in their apartment/dorm suite/townhouse. They would also be allowed to return home.

  6. ACADEMICS: Thanks to the creative efforts of our Facilities Department and the flexibility of our faculty, we have identified a number of large spaces on campus to use for instruction. These spaces allow for socially distanced classroom experiences and include galleries in the Quick Arts Center, large meeting rooms, and event spaces on campus. The additional instructional spaces allow for the de-densification of academic buildings. Some course meeting times will be adjusted to better spread course meetings over the day to minimize densities in the buildings at popular teaching times. 

  7. ONLINE COURSEWORK: Some faculty are choosing to teach their courses in a hybrid fashion — some students in the classroom, some in their living spaces, and rotating those students from class to class — to lower densities in academic spaces. Faculty in labs are also teaching in a hybrid fashion, splitting their courses in halves and rotating students through labs to create social distancing. Plus, some courses may be fully online to accommodate faculty from a vulnerable population who need to teach remotely. If any of the courses you’ve registered for have transitioned to fully online, you’ll be able to access your schedule on well before school begins.

  8. SCHEDULED FALL GATHERINGS: Decisions about proceeding with Family Weekend (Sept. 26-27) and the rescheduled Class of 2020 Commencement Weekend (Oct. 10-11) will be made later this summer once we receive additional guidance from the state about crowd-gathering limits.

If a COVID-19 case should surface on campus this fall, we have a containment plan, choreographed with the help of the county Health Department, that we believe will effectively minimize any spread of the virus.

Two factors clearly work in our favor: Cattaraugus County has had fewer than 100 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and New York state is now leading the nation in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. That’s because the citizens of the county and state have taken the pandemic seriously. We’ll need every member of the campus community to do the same once school begins in a few weeks.

It's important to remember that these requirements will help keep the entire #BonaFamily safe. The more our community complies with the safety protocols, the better chance we’ll have to complete the semester on campus until Thanksgiving break.

Precautions might be inconvenient at times, but they are a small sacrifice and part of our responsibility as a campus community to watch out for each other. Our Franciscan tradition calls us to take care of those who are most at risk. Following the reopening guidelines is just one way for us to strengthen a community built on our values of compassion, wisdom and integrity.

As I mentioned earlier, the university’s complete reopening plan will be available no later than July 31. We will also schedule Zoom information sessions in August to answer any questions you might have. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to send them to

I know these are uncertain times, but what I am certain of is how diligently our staff has worked these last several weeks to develop a plan that gives us the best chance to have a safe and successful fall semester.

I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.

Peace and all good,

Dr. Dennis R. DePerro

University President