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Campus Reopening


Statement by President Hibbs - July 10, 2020

Dear UD Community,

As an alumnus of the University of Dallas and now president, it is a great honor to lead this remarkable university — a university in which our Catholic and liberal arts mission, the mission of forming students in intellectual and moral virtue, remains at the center of all that we do. I confess that while I expected unexpected challenges in my first year as president, I could never have anticipated what we have faced together in the past five months.

As with any grave challenge, character is tested and revealed. I am happy to say that the character of UD — the administration, the trustees, the faculty, the staff, and the students and their families — is remarkably resilient and generous. I know that I speak for everyone when I express my gratitude for the words of support and promises of prayer that we’ve received from so many of you.

Challenges remain, however, and we will need our entire community working together to meet these and continue the important work of Catholic liberal arts education.

You might suppose that with in-person classes canceled for the second half of the spring semester and summer activities on campus coming to a halt, the workload would have decreased. But the opposite has been true. Faculty are busy preparing for a fall in which they need to be adaptable. The administration, particularly our COVID-19 Task Force, has been meeting almost daily. I am grateful for everyone’s tireless work.

I hope that each of you will take the time to express gratitude toward staff and faculty members for their sacrificial work during this difficult time and for their inspiring love of UD.

I am happy to report that we plan to return to in-person instruction and residential living for the fall semester. We wish that we could return to completely normal operations, but that is both impossible and unwise.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university, indeed the entire world, is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. To reopen campus safely this fall, the university is consulting guidance issued by federal, state and local government and public health officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College Health Association, the State of Texas, the County of Dallas, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, along with doctors and public health officials directly associated with the university.

The university has created specific policies for community life, i.e., health and hygiene practices, cleaning practices, dining practices, etc., on the basis of its understanding of the common good and this scientific and health guidance. We thank each one of you who has contributed comments and concerns in the development of the university’s reopening plan — your input has been invaluable.

Our inquiry and research has not only been scientific, identifying best practices to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but also a moral inquiry — what are the best practices to promote the dignity and respect of each member of our community, to protect the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of our students, staff and faculty? We engage in this inquiry primarily through the lens of a public health crisis, and not from a paradigm of free speech or freedom of expression, the goods of which we do not deny.

However, we must operate in a community, especially in this time, and act for the good of one another. This we must do — for the protection of the common good. As Saint Paul urges in Ephesians, we are “to live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

In a spirit of self-discipline and forbearance for one another, we head into the fall semester with the plans that we send to you today. However, planning is not finished, and indeed there may be need for alteration in light of changed circumstances. The university will constantly re-evaluate its plan, and adjust it accordingly as public health guidance changes. 

Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83

The Groundhog Pledge

All members of the University community--faculty, staff, students--will be asked to sign the Groundhog Pledge prior to their return to campus this fall.

University of Dallas
The Groundhog Pledge
Academic Year 2020-21

I pledge to take responsibility for my own health, the protection of others and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the UD community.

I pledge to:

  • Reduce potential exposure by adopting the following behaviors at least 14 days before I arrive on campus: practice social distancing (at least 6 feet apart), wash hands often or use hand sanitizer when appropriate, wear a mask and avoid touching my face
  • Wear a mask at all times when I am in a University building (except when I am in my dorm room with my roommate, sleeping, or eating), and wear a mask outside if I am not able to remain 6 feet apart from another person
  • Wash my hands often or use hand sanitizer, especially after sneezing or coughing or touching a high-contact object like a doorknob or computer
  • Follow instructions and directional signs for entering buildings, classrooms, and other common university areas
  • Actively participate in COVID-related training and stay informed of updates UD communicates
  • Minimize visitors on campus and mitigate risks while I am off-campus by maintaining social distancing, washing my hands frequently and wearing a mask when I am in close proximity to others
  • Monitor any symptoms of the virus throughout the fall semester. Symptoms may include: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, temperature greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If I experience symptoms, I will notify Student Health Services or my personal doctor immediately and follow the recommended steps to self-isolate until I am diagnosed or given a clean bill of health
  • Be mindful that other individuals may be in a high-risk category and therefore more susceptible to COVID
  • Encourage my friends to uphold this pledge for their health and safety and that of others in our community

I acknowledge that my individual effort and that of every other person on campus contributes to the likelihood of UD remaining open for this semester. I agree to do my part to promote the common good and well-being of my friends, colleagues, and the UD community by staying true to my Groundhog Pledge.

Take the
Groundhog Pledge

COVID-19 Medical Management and Containment

COVID-19 testing:

  • All residential students will be tested for COVID-19, using rapid result testing, upon their return to campus and prior to admittance in on-campus housing. If a residential student tests positive for COVID-19 he/she will not be permitted to move into University housing.
  • The University will test a random sampling of UD students through the course of the semester to continue to monitor the existence of COVID-19 on campus.

Health Center expansion: The Health Center is being expanded into the Campus Ministry space to accommodate students sick with COVID-19.

Health Center supplies: The Health Center will maintain a stock of masks available to all members of the University community.

Health Center services: The Health Center will continue to provide health services for all UD students. The Health Center will hire additional medical technicians and work with Dallas County Health and Human Services to assist with essential services and contact tracing for the duration of the fall semester.

Contact tracing: The University will promptly identify and isolate potentially infectious individuals and implement a contact tracing protocol. People who have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted immediately and will be asked to quarantine.

Residential Student with COVID-19: If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, he/she will be isolated in a designated space on campus, or in overflow space off-campus. The student’s parents/family will be contacted immediately. Meals and health care services will be provided while the student is isolated. Students who are isolated with COVID-19 will be closely monitored to ensure their needs are being met and to monitor their recovery process. For symptomatic cases, re-entry into campus life will be permitted after at least 3 days have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications, improved respiratory symptoms), and at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared. For asymptomatic cases, re-entry into campus life will be permitted 14 days after the positive test date.

Phased Plan for Closing Campus: We will have a phased plan for closing down various aspects of campus life should the need arise due to an increased incidence of COVID-19.

Accommodations for high-risk individuals:

  • Faculty: will have the option of virtual teaching and hybrid classes; classroom space will provide for social distancing and regular cleaning between classes
  • Students: will have the option of enrolling in all online/virtual classes (should a student exercise this option, he/she will not be permitted to live on campus); will be placed in a single dorm room upon request and with evidence of an underlying medical condition that makes the student more susceptible to COVID-19
  • Employees: will have the option of flexible worksites (telecommuting), flexible work hours if possible (staggered shifts); sharing office equipment/high-touch materials (phones, desks, work tools and equipment) is discouraged

Campus Communications

Emergency Alerts: The University will employ its emergency e-mail alert system to send alerts regarding the incidence of positive COVID-19 cases on campus to the University community. Personally identifiable information will not be released. Should a COVID-19 outbreak emerge, the University will issue daily status updates and step-by-step emergency plans  by e-mail to the University community. Information will also be available on this website.

In general: 

  • The University will continue to update the Campus Reopening COVID-19 website.
  • Should any member of the University community have any questions or concerns related to the University COVID-19 policies and procedures, please contact the office of the Executive Vice President John Plotts at 972-721-5053. Executive Vice President John Plotts is the primary campus administrator responsible for all COVID-19-related matters.
  • The University will send out regular communications with COVID-19 updates and reminders to the faculty, staff, and students. 

Health and Hygiene

Daily health monitoring: All members of the University community are encouraged to monitor their health condition every day by evaluating whether they have COVID-19 symptoms, such as those recognized by the CDC:

  • fever or chills,
  • cough,
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,
  • fatigue,
  • muscle or body aches,
  • headache,
  • new loss of taste or smell,
  • sore throat,
  • congestion or runny nose,
  • nausea or vomiting,
  • diarrhea

The University will provide no-touch thermometers in dormitories and in the Student Health Center. The University requests that all students bring a personal thermometer with them to campus.

Masks: All members of the University community and guests and visitors to campus are required to wear a mask in all buildings on campus, except when alone in a dorm room (or with a roommate), in an office or private vehicle, or while eating. Mask wearing is not required in outdoor spaces, unless individuals are less  than six feet away from each other; while eating and drinking, students should always be at least six feet from each other.  Students who do not follow this policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the University Code of Conduct. Anyone who does not wear a mask at a University-sponsored event or class will be asked to leave. Similarly, faculty and staff who do not follow this policy will be subject to discipline, and guests and visitors who fail to wear a mask in University buildings will be asked to leave campus.

  • This mandatory mask policy will be regularly evaluated, and if possible, loosened, if the incidence of COVID-19 declines in Dallas County and/or is minimal on campus during the fall semester.

Water fountains: Drinking fountaints have been changed on campus so that you can no longer drink from the fountain but can still fill up your water bottle. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize the use of water dispensers, minimize waste, and stay hydrated. 

Travel policy: No professional, University-sponsored, travel is permitted during the fall semester. To obtain an exemption, a faculty or staff member may obtain approval from their Vice President-level senior staff member of the University administration.

Hand-washing: All members of the UD community are encouraged to wash their hands under running water whenever possible for at least 20 seconds.

Hand sanitizer: Free-standing sanitizing stations will be located throughout campus. Sanitizing wipes will be available at the entrance to classrooms so that students and professors can wipe down their chairs/desks as desired. Cleaning products will be provided for employee and faculty use in every office on campus.

Social distancing: Please maintain 6 feet distance between yourself and another person while on campus-- in classrooms, elevators, stairwells, hallways, public spaces, library. Follow directional signage, especially in narrow hallways and stairwells and when entering or exiting a classroom.

Coughing etiquette: Cough away from people and into a tissue or your elbow.

Facilities and Cleaning

Schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection (daytime and nighttime protocols)

  • The night custodial cleaners will clean all offices: vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, pulling trash. They will disinfect frequently touched items, including:
    • door handles
    • palm areas on doors
    • open flat empty countertops
    • glass panes
  • They will not touch anything on an individual work station. Employees are responsible for cleaning individual office items--keyboard, mouse, phone, filing cabinet drawer handles, office equipment, and chair.
  • If an office contains a meeting room, the table top will be cleaned and disinfected, carpet vacuumed, trash pulled.
  • Daytime custodial cleaners will clean restrooms, drinking fountains, desktops, and stair rails throughout the day.
  • Hallway items such as drinking fountains will be disinfected each night and at least once during daytime business hours.
  • The number of employees that can occupy a restroom is limited to the number of stall/fixtures designed in that restroom. We will not tape off toilets or urinals or sinks, unless they require repair.
  • Any time an employee must touch any items outside their own office/work area, we recommend they wash their hands or use sanitizer until it is feasible to wash their hands with soap and water.

Minimize sharing of materials:

  • If you are required to share materials with another person we recommend that you do so with gloved hands, or share as little as possible.

Air quality:

  • The Energy Management System (EMS) is set to run at full capacity at all times.
  • The chemical University custodial services uses on campus (H2Orange 2 Hyper-concentrate) is a general-purpose cleaner that is hydrogen peroxide based, gives off minimal vapors, and does not leave a heavy chemical scent in the area.

Physical Barriers

  • Plexiglass barriers have been installed on many reception countertops to provide a physical guard against nuclei spatter.
  • Any time a person approaches an employee desk, the employee is to don their face covering, whether the visitor has one or not.

Propping Doors

  • Doors to all on-campus buildings and classrooms will be propped open at high traffic times, weather permitting, to increase air flow.


Dorm rooms:

  • Students will continue to live in double rooms across campus. The University has reduced the number of students in freshmen triples and quads, but has maintained them in Clark Hall because there exist individual rooms within the suites.
  • Furniture in each dorm room will be placed in a configuration that enables social distancing as much as possible and furniture not in use will be removed.

Common area policies:

  • Masks are required in all common dorm areas. Social distancing is encouraged.


Aramark Dining Re-Open Plan

  • Eat-in: The number of people eating in dining facilities at the same time will be restricted. Dining furniture will be placed in social distancing position, with chairs 6 ft apart, and some chairs will be removed. Tables and chairs will be cleaned and disinfected between use.
  • Take-out and grab-and-go/pre-packaged options will be available.
  • Disposable utensils/dishes will be offered.
  • There will be no self-serve dining. All food will be served by Aramark employees.
  • Delivery food service will be provided for students who are isolated/quarantined.
  • Masks are required except when eating. 

Classes and Classrooms

Physical distancing plan:

  • Classroom layouts have been modified (distance between students in class—in fixed seat classrooms, students use only every other seat, in non-fixed classrooms, students will be seated in a way that allows for each student to have at least 3 feet, and 6 feet wherever it is feasible, between the student and another person; professors will be a minimum of 6 feet away from students).The distance between students will be increased for small-group discussions as there is more conversation.
  • Individual teaching supplies will be provided for faculty.
  • For contact tracing purposes, there will be assigned seating and mandatory attendance-taking in each class.
  • No food and drinks will be allowed in classrooms, and masks must be worn.
  • Five extra minutes between classes for cleaning and spacing: Students will be encouraged to allow the first five minutes after class for leaving in a safe fashion and the next five minutes will be for entering the classroom.
  • Clear Masks: When possible, faculty will wear clear masks while teaching.
  • Directional signs for ingress/egress: The University will place signs for entrance and exit into each classroom.


The University will adhere to Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Competition Guidelines. Pursuant to the SCAC policy statements linked below, the University has cancelled fall sports.

SCAC Statement on Alternative Playing Seasons (July 22, 2020)

SCAC Presidents Council Statement Regarding Fall Sports (July 16, 2020)

University athletes will be asked to agree to the Crusader Code of Conduct.

Events on Campus/Visitors


  • At present, no large events will be held on campus in the fall semester.

Visitor registration and certification: see Policy GV (Guests and Visitors)

  • All visitors, guests, third party vendors and delivery services (except no touch food delivery) are assigned a check-in location where they will register (provide name, contact information, have their temperature taken), sign a certification that they are not sick with COVID-19, and be informed of the campus health and hygiene policies (specifically, the mask policy).
  • Visitors will register at the information center and delivery services will register at the postal service center. The University will post robust signage all over the parking lots and on its website to make sure everyone knows they need to register upon arrival on campus.
  • UberEats and other restaurant delivery may be used, but must be engaged using contactless delivery. 
  • There will be no overnight guests in dorms during the fall semester.
  • Members of the University community may receive non-family member guests on campus during the day. All guests are expected to abide by the COVID-19 policies then in place on campus.
  • Members of the public attending mass at the Church of the Incarnation will not be asked to register, but must abide the COVID-19 policies then in place on campus. Hand sanitizing stations have been set-up inside the church, the church doors will be propped, and ushers will provide hand sanitizer to those who desire to use it prior to receiving communion. 

Prospective Students:

  • The University will have a number of Odyssey Days in the fall, taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of all prospective students and visitors.

Rome Campus

Please review the following letters outlining our plans to move forward with our Rome program this fall.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the University’s plans for reopening campus in the fall, please write to Executive Vice President John Plotts at Thank you.