University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition


geology major and employee at the Phone Center, was one of many students thankful for the continued paycheck. She said the job meant “everything” to her and she wouldn’t have been able to attend school without it. “I reached out to thank President Sullivan and she emailed me back fairly quickly,” Stensrud said. “She said, ‘you’re welcome’ and that she hoped everything was going well. It feels like she really cares about every single one of her students. That she was right there for us.”

including yoga for anxiety, meditation training and violence prevention. “The Center for Well-Being staff are able to provide the same level of care and education as we had previously, as well as respond to the many questions and concerns about COVID-19,” McDermott said. “Sometimes the students' questions are about their own health and other times it is related to a friend or relative. One of the challenges for students is finding quiet places to have private conversations with a provider.We have been able to continue to provide care for urgent issues that keep students out of emergency rooms or other urgent-care facilities that are not able to separate ill fromwell patients as easily as we can.”

Casey Gordon, program manager for the St. Thomas Center for Common Good, hands out masks to students and community members, as part of the center’s food distribution with Keystone Community Services and Tommie Shelf.


Staff from the Haggerty Family Foundation Facility for the Center for Well-Being, together with Global Learning and Strategy, began monitoring the coronavirus in late January and discussing the impact on students studying abroad. The University Action and Response Team (UART) – a group of university administrators representing key departments – started meeting daily soon thereafter about COVID- 19-related issues and began communicating with the St. Thomas community. On Feb. 26, President Julie Sullivan made the decision to close the Rome campus following UART’s recommendation (see Page 8). As COVID-19 communications ramped up, March brought a flurry of announcements, including moving classes online, resident students moving out of on-campus housing (with some exceptions) and the implications for the university of a stay-at-home order fromMinnesota Gov. TimWalz. Students received residence hall and meal plan prorated refunds. Student workers, some of whom thought they were suddenly out of a job, were paid through the end of the semester. Sophomore Olivia Stensrud, a


In early February, Center for Well- Being Executive Director Madonna McDermott said staff adjusted rapidly to the demands the pandemic placed on students. They provided education and care by switching to tele-mental health for both individual and group therapy, and telehealth for many of the students. “Health Services continues to see students, faculty and staff in person frequently following a telehealth assessment,” McDermott said. “This includes assessing and testing for COVID-19 and working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health.” The center added after-hours crisis and urgent mental health care services; Health Promotion and Violence Prevention reached out to students with a variety of offerings

Volunteers from around campus assemble commencement boxes sent to graduating students.

The Division of Student Affairs recognized right away how important it was to engage with students virtually and highlighted a variety of chances to connect including creative activity kits, diversity and inclusion activities, Center for Well-Being offerings and Center for the Common Good volunteer opportunities. They helped students obtain laptops and findWiFi hotspots when classes moved online and sent a virtual care package to all undergraduates.

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