Update on the Institute’s Response to COVID-19

Published on March 19, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

I hope this message finds you well. As you have all been following the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the national and local efforts to combat its transmission, you are doubtless aware that more sustained action than our original two-week window of online instruction would be prudent. Therefore, the Institute, in concert with CUA’s policy, has decided to maintain online instruction for the remainder of the semester. This is doubtless a sacrifice for all of us. Learning and teaching is best conducted in person and digital learning cannot replace it. We all need to adjust to this new method and take it with a little bit of healthy humor and detachment. Our hope is to be able to continue instruction and conversation until the semester ends.

We are currently putting in place arrangements for final exams, and those details will be announced soon, along with instructions for those of you awaiting thesis defenses or language exams. MTS Comprehensive exams will go on as planned on March 21 and 23, via email. Courses will continue to meet via Zoom, using the meeting links you already have.

As classes continue to meet and students work on course assignments, access to readings and research will be needed. Students who do not have all of their course readings with them should contact Mrs. Wickus at jwickus@johnpaulii.edu.  We can provide copies of readings found in course compendia. CUA’s Mullen Library is putting additional resources online, and the library’s physical collection is available to faculty and graduate students by appointment. Please visit the library’s homepage for additional information on how to access library resources for the rest of the semester. As you will see, many website are offering free access to many books for the next couple of months.

A remaining question for this semester is whether we will be able to hold the Graduation Ball and Graduation Mass as planned. A decision has not yet been made, since we hope circumstances will allow the Institute community to meet together again for these events in recognition of the achievement of the students graduating this year. A final decision will be announced no later than April 5.

Staff and faculty presence in the office over the coming weeks will be reduced. The best way to contact us will be via email. Professors will be available for office hours and appointments by phone and/or video. Please make appointments in the usual way.

For additional details on CUA’s latest statement on the virus, including information on the closure of some campus buildings, please click here.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am praying for this epidemic to pass as swiftly and harmlessly as possible and for all of us to be able to get together soon and continue living our lives and tasks. I also think that this time is qualitatively different from the days when a major snowstorm forces us to stay home until the snow has been removed and the sun has come out again. The mysterious meaning of our current circumstances is still to be unfolded, and we do not know yet how long this pandemic is going to last and in what sense or how deeply it is going to change our lives. Yet, our current circumstances put us before ourselves and the possibility of death in a serious manner, as well as the way we live our friendships and the relationships with those with whom we work and share our lives. These circumstances invite us  to enter into a more serious life of prayer and to ask the grace to unload what burdens our relationship with God and others. “Be still and know that I am God,” the psalmist reminded us (Ps 46:10). God asks us to stop, out of love, and realize that he is with us and that to him all things are possible. Let us embrace these days then with faith and the courage that comes from real hope and let us continue to exercise Christian charity to help each other as we follow the indications and policies that the Church and our government officials give us.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Antonio Lopez, F.S.C.B.
Provost/Dean

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