Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Southwest Campus closed?
Yes. All buildings, including Christ Chapel, the Weeks Center, Rather House, Booher Library, the McDonald Building, the Diocesan Center, the Weeks Center and all classrooms are closed until further notice.
Outdoor areas are accessible, but we ask you observe Social Distancing if you gather in these areas.
Will Southwest be open in the fall?
Yes. While we cannot predict what the accessibility to buildings and restrictions around gatherings will be, Seminary of the Southwest will begin the fall semester as regularly scheduled. Seminary of the Southwest is actively enrolling students for Fall 2020, and we are anticipating a robust entering class who will join us in August. The enrollment department and admissions committees are reviewing applications for Academic Year 2020-2021. Please check your email and Populi for information about the Fall registration period which will open June 1st.
Will Summer Classed be happening remotely?
Yes. Over the last few weeks a team of administrators has been monitoring carefully the various factors that impact our return to campus. After much deliberation, we have concluded that the June start date for our summer term is too soon for us to ensure a safe return to in-person teaching. Therefore, we will be delivering our summer 2020 courses remotely online. This maximizes the accessibility of our courses while maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff.
Which guidelines and restrictions from national, state, and local authorities should we follow?
In respect of states’ rights, the president’s guidelines do not mandate local behavior, e.g., stay home/work safe, wearing of facial masks, limitations on social gatherings, etc. The president’s guidelines, 30 Days to Slow the Spread, first state that the public should “Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.”
On Monday, April 27th, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the issuance of Executive Order GA-18, and that the stay home orders he had previously issued shall expire on Friday, May 1. The Governor’s order supersedes local orders that may be in conflict with the governor’s orders.
- In general, the Executive Order shifts many legally defined mandates (like wearing masks in public) to legally non-binding recommendations provided by the CDC.
- The seminary requests all students, faculty, and
staff to follow legal mandates and to continue practices of social
distancing as outlined in these CDC recommendations.
- In substantive part, the Governor’s order provides for the phased reopening of certain businesses. In summary, it states that:
- Phase 1, Effective May 1:
- All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries may reopen at 25% maximum occupancy
- Please note that Booher Library will remain closed until future notice.
- Local government operations relating to permitting, recordation, document-filing may continue
- Outdoor sports limited to four participants maintaining social distancing are allowed
- All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries may reopen at 25% maximum occupancy
- Phase 2, Effective May 18:
- If 2 weeks of data indicate no “flare-up” of COVID-19, then additional businesses may reopen with fewer restrictions.
- Phase 1, Effective May 1:
- The Governor’s order emphasizes that:
- Every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household; and
- Care should be taken in protecting vulnerable populations, including persons over age 65 or persons with immunocompromised conditions.
- Note: Be aware that several members of our community fall into these categories.
- We recommend that you review the order in detail.
What changes to Southwest class registration timelines have been made?
Fall term registration will be delayed until Monday, June 1st, and continue through Friday, August 21st. There will be no pre-registration, and no late fees for registration this year.
Registration packets will be made available through Populi on May 25th.
Returning student financial aid applications will be available no later than May 1, and everyone who returns their application by May 31 can expect a response no later than June 15.
I’m experiencing financial distress due to the pandemic; what resources are available to me?
Student Emergency Relief Fund
A limited discretionary fund has been established by anonymous friends of the seminary to directly support members of this community during this crisis. If your financial resources are such that provision of the basic necessities of life is threatened and you are in need of assistance at this time, please let me the administration know your immediate needs via this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the economic stimulus plan recently signed into law, many taxpayers should expect to receive a payment in the coming weeks. Review this FAQ page from the treasury department for more info.
Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.
Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers assistance and loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis.
Unemployment benefits have been significantly expanded in terms of who can collect checks, for how long, and how much you’ll receive. Many people will be eligible to collect unemployment who usually aren’t. (Learn more about this here) To file for unemployment, visit the Texas Workforce Commission here.
The newly created Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) fund empowers states to extend federally-funded unemployment benefits by an additional 13 weeks (past the usual 26 weeks).
Also the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) may be available for displaced workers not normally eligible for regular or extended benefits. Workers whose hours have been reduced due to the COVID-19 slowdown may qualify for Work Share, a federal Short-Term Compensation program.
Employees whose work has been impacted by COVID-19, whether by a reduction in hours or a loss of their job, are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits online or call 1-800-939-6631.
Federal Student Loans
If you have not already done so and you are enrolled in at least 6 credit hours (2 classes) for spring, you may borrow up to $10,250 though the federal student loan program. These funds can be used for expenses related to school including on or off campus housing, food, and supplies.
To access these funds, please email Hope (email@example.com). We are usually able to have funds to you within two weeks of your request. In order to access any needed funds before the end of the semester, please make your request no later than May 1, 2020.
Even if you have previously said you do not wish to borrow or borrowed only a small amount, you can request funds at any time this semester.
The recently passed economic stimulus package included a provision suspending interest all federal student loans until at least September 30, 2020, so any loans you do take now (or have taken in the past) will be interest free until the end of September. The department of education will not add interest to any of your student loans for this six-month period, and the bill provides a provision for extending this interest reprieve longer if it is determined this relief is needed after September. Learn more here.
Am I able to create a tuition payment plan?
Seminary of the Southwest is directing students needing assistance with tuition or basic household living expenses to the federal student aid program. The federal government has suspended payback on student loans through at least September, has reduced interest to zero during this time frame, and is charging no penalty or interest for those who are unable to make payments. Historically the federal government has been flexible with pay-back plans and deferrals. For these reasons, we are encouraging students in need to take advantage of this resource, especially in light of the program’s temporary zero interest rate.
What should I do if I’m experiencing difficulty providing food or basic needs for myself or my family?
The Central Texas Food Bank has a map of locations where you can get hot meals and groceries in Austin. Enter your location to find what’s available near you.
AISD is also providing meals to families with children. Visit their website to learn more about the details of this program.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Diocesan Council of Austin is also providing meals and food at their site at 901 W. Braker Lane, Austin, Texas 78758.
Additional food resources:;
Travis County is accepting applications for assistance with rent, mortgage, or utility bills
City of Austin resources for assistance with housing and utilities
If I’ve had direct or indirect contact with a person diagnosed with or under investigation for Covid-19, what should I do?
If you or someone in your household has been knowingly exposed to coronavirus or COVID-19, please contact Austin Public Health immediately at (512) 972-5000, then call your doctor. It may be likely your doctor will not see you until you have been assessed by Austin Public Health.
Texas Health and Human Services has provided information about drive up testing here. There are currently 8 sites within a 30 mile radius of the seminary campus.
Please report the results of those conversations by contacting Fred Clement, Executive Vice President via email or at (512) 439-0390.
I’m feeling anxious. Who can I talk to?
We recognize the anxiety and emotional strain that these circumstances may place on all of us. Remember that Seminary’s student and employee health plans offer comprehensive coverage for both physical and mental health care. If you’d like to speak with a counselor, therapist, or spiritual director who provides online services, consult the Counseling, Therapy, and Spiritual Direction Resources page (for students, faculty, staff, and loved ones) or the Seminary’s Employee Assistance Program. We also support and encourage self-care during these stressful times. Remember that sleep and exercise promote immune system capacity.
How is housing affected?
Student housing will continue to operate as normal. Please use traditional channels of communication to address maintenance needs.
How will this affect my school age children?
All Texas schools have closed buildings through the end of the year and have switch to some form of remote learning.
How will the seminary communicate with me?
All official academic and administrative notices and directives are communicated to students, faculty, and staff via email. In the event of a campus emergency, additional notification will be delivered to you via text messaging. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for checking email at least daily.
This COVID-19 website complements or is in addition to information we communicate to you via email. Among other timely and important information, it includes a video message from Dean Kittredge, answers to frequently asked questions, and a comment field inviting your questions and feedback regarding our contingency and continuity planning around the pandemic.
How do I ensure that my cell number is registered in Populi for emergency notification purposes?
We require that all students, faculty, and staff log in to Populi using your seminary email credentials to verify that your cellular telephone number is registered correctly in Populi’s text notification system. When you log in to Populi using this link and your seminary email credentials, you will be presented with the My Settings screen, at the top of which is labeled “Text notification number.”
- If the text notification number indicated on-screen is your correct cell number, you need take no further action. Log out of Populi.
- If the text notification number indicated on-screen is incorrect, click on the link labeled “Stop receiving text notifications.” You will then be prompted to enter your current cell number. Enter your cell number and follow the code verification prompt thereafter to validate the registration of your cell number. After doing so, the “Text notification number” presented at the top of the My Settings screen will update with your cell number. If correct, then log out of Populi.
- If you have never registered your cell number, hover over and press the appropriate screen prompt to enter your cell number. Enter your cell number and follow the code verification prompt thereafter to validate the registration of your cell number. After doing so, the “Text notification number” presented at the top of the My Settings screen will update with your cell number. If correct, then log out of Populi.
How long will classes and administrative functions be held virtually and remotely?
The seminary will be in a state of remote operations until the end of the semester. Please visit this page for a more detailed description of what the routine will be until then.
Booher Library is closed. How will I complete my coursework?
The Booher Library building is closed, but all electronic resources remain available to Southwest students, faculty, and staff, with some electronic resources available to Southwest alumni. The Booher librarians are working remotely Monday through Friday, 8am – 5pm, and can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Printing and copying services will not be available, but all academic work will be turned in electronically in a virtual learning environment. The library staff’s focus will be service to Southwest students, faculty, staff, and alumni, but we will do our best to respond to research questions from the greater community.
Can the seminary’s network and IT systems support the increased demand for online services?
Southwest’s Information Technology staff have been working tirelessly to prepare the tools and resources necessary to support virtual learning and remote work. IT is working closely with key vendors, including Populi and Google Meet, to ensure continuity and stability of services throughout any period of high demand from the Seminary community. IT is also closely monitoring network infrastructure and is prepared to quickly expand capacity of their support services to meet increased demand.
How will field education and clinical requirements be handled?
Since field education is a class and classes are cancelled until March 30, you are asked not to participate in your field site during this time. After March 30, classes will resume via virtual instruction. We will let you know by that date if and how field education will resume. Field supervisors have been contacted and made aware of our current expectations.
The seminary will be transitioning to a virtual learning model beginning on March 30. During the time that we are engaged in the virtual learning model, I ask that you participate in field education virtually as well. This may involve participating in virtual worship services, participating in meetings virtually, and holding virtual supervision meetings.
For MHC Clinical Internship students: your internship faculty instructor is already coordinating with your site supervisor(s) to determine the best way for you to continue working with clients during this time, whether that be in-person, or virtually with HIPAA-compliant measures. We are aware you are trying to meet hourly requirements and will work with you to ensure your academic progress remains on track. Keep your instructor and supervisor informed of any needs you or your clients encounter in the coming weeks, so that you can receive guidance and provide your clients with the best clinical recommendations.
Will I get a refund on my meal plan?
Yes. Meal plans payments will be refunded for the unused portion. Please be patient as seminary processes these refunds into student accounts.
Are visitors allowed on campus?
Visitors must adhere to the policies explained on the Southwest COVID-19 Response page. Individuals, programs, and groups are responsible for informing their invited guests about seminary’s coronavirus policies. There are no visitor restrictions in seminary housing. Prospective student visitors will be accommodated virtually.
Can I travel for official seminary-business?
All Seminary-related travel is prohibited until at least April 30 unless otherwise noted.
May I travel abroad for a personal trip?
Domestic and International travel are subject to the restrictions laid out on the main page of this website. If you have any questions about this policy, please contact Fred Clement, Executive Vice President via email or at (512) 439-0390.
Will I continue to be paid for work study?
During the period of campus closure, most work study labor cannot be performed. Because the seminary administration endeavors to model just labor practices, all work study participants will continue to be paid. Please record the hours you were scheduled to work as you normally would, and your pay will be processed on the usual schedule. Students whose work is able to be completed remotely and whose work is considered part of the essential operations will be contacted by their supervisors soon. All student workers will receive direct communication from the Director of Enrollment Management outlining our plans during remote operations.
Will salaried and hourly staff still be paid?
Yes. Southwest is committed to sustaining the pay continuity for our dedicated and talented workforce. Since the effects of the virus cannot be fully foreseen, this and other policies will be revisited on a periodic basis. Employees with any concerns should reach out to their supervisor.
What is the plan for Commencement?
Commencement will happen on a virtual platform at the same scheduled times. You can read more info here.
Is the Episcopool Open?
The College Court swimming pool shall remain open for the time being, but its use is limited to Seminary of the Southwest students, faculty, staff and their guests only. All users of the College Court pool and common area are encouraged to maintain appropriate social distancing. The seminary shall comply with guidance from local public health authorities on the use and maintenance of a public swimming pool. At this time, local public health authorities have not issued an order to close public swimming pools.
How can I protect myself and others?
Practice and promote good, basic hygiene, including washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; coughing/sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve; avoiding close contact with those who are sick; and staying home when you are sick.
How can I practice social distancing?
Social distancing is a way to reduce exposure, slow the spread, and minimize transmission of contagious diseases. Use video- and tele-conferencing tools like Google Meet instead of holding in-person meetings when possible. Try to maintain at least a 6-feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing (and really, anyone if possible). Avoid shaking hands and close physical contact.
What if I have questions not answered here?
Please use the intake form hosted on the seminary’s COVID-19 response website: