Dear Louisville Seminary Community:
The impact of the COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) respiratory disease continues to be felt throughout our city, state, and region. Understandably, those in our Louisville Seminary community are concerned about the coronavirus’ impact on seminary classes and operations. Please know that, above all else, the safety, health, and well-being of our seminary students, employees, and families continue to be central in our deliberations.
As of the issue of this notice, there is no confirmed case of COVID‐19 on our campus. However, it is imperative that we do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus as well as protect the health of our seminary community and our neighborhood. To this end, the seminary will implement new policies based on social distancing strategies that health experts recommend. The following measures will be inconvenient, even disruptive to our campus. Please keep in mind that the fluidity of the coronavirus’ impact throughout our region may warrant revisions to current measures. I ask for your cooperation and your patience. These are extraordinary times, and as such we must take unprecedented steps to balance our educational mission with the duty to protect the health and well‐being of the seminary community.
Classes for Louisville Seminary students will be suspended from March 23-27. Beginning the week of March 30 and continuing through the end of the academic year, all Louisville Seminary classes will move to remote, virtual, or alternative methods of teaching and assessment. During the week of March 23-27, students will hear from their professors directly about specifics with regard to classes, assignments, and modes of communication.
Baccalaureate Service and Commencement Exercises
We recognize the importance of our Baccalaureate service and Commencement exercises to our graduating class. Baccalaureate and Commencement will not be held on campus. Organizers for those events are considering virtual hosting options. Further information will be available soon.
These are disheartening yet necessary measures. Our senior leadership, emergency response team, and our faculty have been discussing this matter extensively, and we have concluded that this is truly for the best. Please know that we are saddened by the necessity to make this decision and we recognize the disappointment felt by our students.
To protect the health and safety of our employees, Louisville Seminary will suspend onsite operations until Monday, April 6. This includes all seminary offices, the E.M. White Library, New Legacy Café, the Louisville Seminary Counseling Center, Gardencourt, and Laws Lodge.
The seminary will remain committed to paying hourly employees and work-support students for missed time. We are asking all departments and campus groups to shift to virtual meeting/work arrangements whenever possible. Employees who wish to come to the seminary to work are free to do so using appropriate social distancing measures as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of six feet from others). Arrangements for continuing work via remote/other alternative modes of operations should be addressed among administrators and their direct reports. All employees not on vacation or on sick leave should maintain an “on call” status.
The seminary mail room in Nelson Hall will continue to operate daily. However, there will be delays in processing packages received by UPS, Amazon Prime, Federal Express, and other package delivery services.
All seminary housing will remain open/accessible to residents and their families. We ask that seminary housing residents exercise caution and judgement with respect to welcoming outside visitors and socializing/gathering among yourselves. We will council individually with any student who has been impacted by the coronavirus. Further questions on this matter should be addressed to Kilen Gray in the Office of Student Engagement.
All in-person events on Louisville Seminary’s campus have been canceled until further notice. This includes the following:
- 3/20/20: Campus Kids Game Night
- 3/23-26/20: Black History Celebration Cinematic Culture Discussion
- 3/25/20: Walk the Camino Information Meeting
- 3/26/20: Health and Wellness Fair
- 3/30/20: E.M. White Library Open House
- 3/31/20: Israel/Palestine Travel Seminar
- 4/6-7/20: Misogynies in the Christian Tradition Consultation
- 4/14/20: Grawemeyer Lecture
- 4/15/20: Transcending Therapy: Meeting the Needs of Transgender Clients
- 4/24-25/20: Board of Trustees Meeting
- 5/6/20: Festival of Sacred Music
The seminary will not accept new requests for use of campus space until further notice.
All seminary-sponsored domestic and international travel has been suspended through the end of the academic year unless otherwise approved by the Office of the President. Those who are traveling for academic, professional, or personal reasons, are encouraged to monitor travel advisories. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seminary recommends being aware of your health status when making decisions regarding travel. Individuals most at-risk are those with compromised health. If you have a temperature or respiratory illness, consider your options with your primary care provider.
Those who test positive for coronavirus are encouraged to contact either Pat Cecil in the Business Office or Kilen Gray in the Office of Student Engagement. Identification of individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus will remain confidential, however, the seminary is obligated to report confirmed cases (minus personal information) to the seminary community.
FOOD PANTRY ASSISTANCE
Funds have been allocated to temporarily maintain a reasonable supply of items in the Louisville Seminary Food Pantry (located in the lower level of Schlegel Hall). All in our seminary community are encouraged to donate food items (canned goods, rice, beans, and other non-perishable food items). Food Pantry drop-off boxes are located in several areas throughout campus. Those who turn to the Food Pantry for assistance are asked to take only items that are needed.
Ongoing updates about the coronavirus’ impact on Louisville Seminary classes and operations will be deployed via Louisville Seminary email, posted to social media, and posted in the “News” section of the seminary’s website, https://www.lpts.edu/news.
Specifics about the seminary’s Pandemic Response Policy is on page 71 of the Emergency Preparedness Handbook, which is available to employees and students on the home page of the Louisville Seminary Intranet under “Quick Links.”
(Notes: You must be logged into your Louisville Seminary Outlook account to access the Intranet.)
Questions or concerns about coronavirus response protocol can be addressed to either Pat Cecil in the Business Office or Kilen Gray in the Office of Student Engagement.
Both the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provide online resources for updates and information about the spread and prevention of coronavirus as well as questions about how to appropriately address and report individual cases. Please refer to the following links for more information and share them with your associates.
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
What You Need to Know About Coronavirus
Kentucky COVID19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
Louisville Seminary encourages all students and employees to be vigilant in monitoring themselves and their families for symptoms of coronavirus and practicing preventive measures.
As with any contagious illness, those who contract the coronavirus are asked to self-isolate to assure a quicker recovery and prevent the spread of the virus to others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Kentucky Department of Health, other best practices include:
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available. It is especially important to wash your hands:
- Before, during, and after you prepare food.
- Before you eat and after you use the bathroom.
- After handling money.
- More frequently when someone in your home is sick.
- Before/after smoking/vaping.
- Before/after using public computers.
- Before/after social occasions when greeting/shaking hands with several others.
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with your arm.
- Frequent cleaning of doorknobs, light switches, and other commonly touched areas with disinfectant wipes.
- Avoiding contact with people who are ill.
Again and again we have heard it said, that in the time of crisis what is best in the human condition will emerge. For a people of faith, by whatever name, there is no greater time than now to live into this assurance.
What seemed inevitable to us is no more for now. Human institutions are being tested from governments and business to higher education and entertainment events. Nations and locales are contending with swift and consequential change. We can be concerned about each other but the capacity to safeguard is not ours alone. The coronavirus is no respecter of persons. None of us is exempt.
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, this is where our faith comes in, and this is why we are here. To learn the skills of presence as a sign that humankind, we, all of us, are suffering along this journey with finitude. Demonstrate great care and compassion for one another. Create vital spiritual connections across our necessary social distancing – emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and more. Pray that our anxieties and fear, as incredibly real as they are, do not have the last word in our lives. Love yourselves and each other deeply enough to embrace health perspectives that will mitigate against this present scourge.
I am thankful for this beloved community called LPTS.
In the Presence,