Creighton University starting fall semester early due to COVID-19

Plans to forego fall break
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 18:24:14-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In a letter addressed to staff and students, Creighton University President Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson said the academic will begin earlier in fear of a second wave of coronavirus.

The letter:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As a follow-up to Monday’s announcement that we plan to reopen our Omaha and Phoenix campuses and return to in-person courses for the fall semester, I would like to share additional details about our modified academic calendar and review of study abroad programs for fall; information about summer courses; updates to health sciences clinicals and programming for summer; and initial plans for faculty and staff to return to campus more broadly.

With concerns about a second wave of the virus during the traditional beginning of the flu season in late November or December, we are planning to complete most in-person, on-campus learning for the fall 2020 semester by Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

In order to provide students with the same amount of instruction time, we look to begin the semester early and forgo fall break. For our traditional on-campus undergraduate students, fall semester classes will begin on Aug. 17. The first day of classes may differ for our professional schools and other programs.

Updated fall academic calendars for undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs will be posted on the Office of the Registrar website on Wednesday, May 20.

For traditional on-campus undergraduate students, the last day of classes will be Nov. 17; final semester exams will begin Nov. 19 and conclude at noon on Nov. 25. There will be one break in the semester, for Labor Day, on Sept. 7.

As many students return home for Thanksgiving, Creighton leadership and the University’s Critical Incident Response Team decided that concluding the semester at this traditional break would be prudent for safety considerations and reduce the need for students to make multiple trips should coronavirus cases increase with the start of the winter flu season.

At our Omaha campus, we are looking at spreading out move-in dates over multiple days, and making other adjustments, to lessen issues related to large gatherings as students move into the residence halls with assistance from family and friends. More information will be provided by June 8.

Please note, we will be flexible and adaptable in our planning and decision-making, as we continue to monitor and respond to international, national, state, and local public health conditions, recommendations, and guidelines. The safety of our Creighton community is paramount.

Study Abroad
Creighton’s Global Engagement Office (GEO) is continually and carefully monitoring the state of international programming and travel opportunities for students in the fall. Based on a list of factors, decisions will be made on a program-by-program basis. Students are strongly encouraged not to make travel arrangements until programs are confirmed. For the latest information, visit the GEO website.

Summer Sessions
Now that the spring semester is complete, I encourage our students to consider taking one or more courses during the summer. Particularly with our modified schedule for fall, this is a good opportunity to complete a course from the core curriculum or other classes of interest. There are sessions starting in May, June, and July. Students can register through the NEST, or learn more about Summer Sessions.

Health Sciences Programs
Many of our health sciences programs are set to begin adjusted, in-person operations as early as next week and throughout the summer, so that our students can complete educational requirements. In all instances, proper safety protocols will be followed, and there will be additional cleaning and disinfecting. All plans have been approved by the University’s Critical Incident Response Team.

Creighton’s dental clinic will resume adjusted operations on Monday, May 11. Under the direction of Nebraska’s governor, dental offices statewide could open for regular patients on Monday, May 4.

Patients with dental needs will be scheduled on a daily basis during normal clinic hours. Patients, faculty, staff, and students will be screened as they enter the building, and those who are symptomatic will be sent home. Patients, upon entering the building, will be issued a mask to wear, and will be assigned to designated chairs in the waiting room that abide by appropriate social-distancing standards. Students, assistants, and supervising faculty will utilize personal protective equipment, and other safety measures will be taken in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Dental Association guidelines. Patients are asked to call ahead to 402.280.5990.

On-campus laboratories, simulation learning activities, and programs will resume for emergency medical services (EMS) students on May 9 and dental students on May 11, while nursing students will begin on-campus clinical “boot camps” on June 1. Plans also are being considered for physician assistant, physical therapy, and pharmacy programs in June and July.

Clinical rotations for health sciences students are expected to resume June 8, both in Omaha and Phoenix, dependent on available personal protective equipment (PPE) and other factors.

Faculty and Staff
While campus remains closed to all but approved mission-critical employees, we are looking at processes and protocols to gradually and safely bring faculty and staff back to campus.

I am grateful for the many and significant ways our faculty and staff adjusted to these difficult circumstances during the spring semester, particularly for the expeditious, creative, and successful transition to online learning. As we look ahead, with the uncertainty of these times, faculty will again need to be prepared to offer all courses online in the fall. Thanks to the good work of Information Technology, all on-campus courses will have an online home, which will enable a seamless migration to online-only instruction if necessary. In addition, the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), which did such a tremendous job in this regard in the spring, will again be available to assist faculty in online learning planning and delivery. Just this week, the TLC initiated a series of faculty development webinars focusing on online course development and delivery.

Too, as I shared in a previous message, there is no immediate return to a former normal. Where appropriate, as we consider a coordinated return to campus for certain groups of employees, we also will extend virtual work-from-home arrangements, and we will thoughtfully, creatively, and compassionately respond to evolving public health and financial considerations.


With the conclusion of final exams today, and especially within the context of these uncertain times, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers daily. Spring graduates, I look forward to addressing you at our virtual commencement ceremonies on May 15 and 16. To our returning students, I am eager to greet you again in the fall. To all of our students, faculty, staff, and parents, I wish you and your families a safe and healthy summer.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD

Coronavirus Resources and Information

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