Virtual Operations at Southwest

    What kind of services is the Booher Library providing?

    Booher Library is offering most of its typical services, but some are being offered in a modified form. Please read all about the Booher Library’s services on the Booher Library 2020 Operations LibGuide.

    How is housing affected?

    Student housing will continue to operate as normal. Please use traditional channels of communication to address maintenance needs.

    What happens if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19?

    If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19 and who has been attending an in-person class, or has otherwise been in attendance on campus, the seminary will notify all known persons at risk of exposure, and potentially change the modalities of gathering and/or learning, or reconfigure or reschedule the appropriate events.

    What happens if my in-person professor gets COVID-19?

    If a professor teaching an in-person class is diagnosed with COVID-19, all attendees of that class will need to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last known exposure. The Academic Dean will determine- based on the severity of the illness, the nature of the class, the size of the class, and any other factors of influence – how the class will proceed.

    Will additional quiet study spaces on campus be provided?

    In addition to the 40+ open carrels and study spaces available in the Booher Library, the Week Center Dining Hall has been converted into a socially distanced quiet study space with 24 spaces. With 64+ potential spaces, we anticipate that students can find a quiet, indoor study space during most hours of operation. Southwest will monitor and adjust these plans as necessary as the semester develops.

    What social distancing practices are required at the seminary pool?

    All users of the seminary pool are asked to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other users who are not members of their immediate families AT ALL TIMES. When not swimming, everyone should be wearing a mask in the pool area if there are users who are not members of their immediate families present.

    The only time masks are not required is when persons are in the pool (not dipping feet or sitting adjacent). The Work Study Pool Manager is in charge of the pool and their requests must be adhered to.

    Can seminary provide space to quarantine or self-isolate?

    The seminary has minimal space to provide supplemental housing for quarantining. However, in the event someone in student housing is required to quarantine or isolate and they feel their current housing will not make that possible, that person should contact Fred Clement at to discuss options and support from the seminary.

    Are guest suites open?

    For the Fall 2020 semester, guest suites will not be made available to the public.

    What changes have been made to HVAC on campus to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread?

    Southwest has monitored the evolving scholarship on this issue throughout the pandemic. As of August 22, the following adjustments have been made to the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning) systems in every building on campus:

    • The filtering system has been enhanced to use MERV-13 level filters. These filters are of the highest quality available for our system, are virus rated, and typical use is in hospitals or surgical theaters.
    • The influx of fresh air has been increased to 50%, from 10%. This is the amount of outside air that the system mixes with the circulated air and redistributes.

    Learn more about HVAC adjustments to combat the spread of COVID-19 here.

    Is the Booher Library open to the general public?

    The Booher Library is open only to Southwest students, faculty, and staff, and will require a keycard for entry. All other Booher Library patrons have access to the library’s print collection through curbside pick-up.

    Will all the required course books be available as ebooks?

    No. Not all course texts are available for the library to purchase as ebooks. The library will acquire ebooks with multiple user licenses whenever possible. When not possible, we will purchase print books.

    When will the library be disinfected?

    The library, much like all spaces on campus, will be subject to a rigorous cleaning schedule. Those who use library resources will also be asked (and provided with the materials needed) to clean areas before and after they use them. This might mean wiping down the carrel, the copier, or a computer before and after use.

    Is the Booher Library open?

    The Booher Library is open to Southwest students, faculty, and staff. The library’s webpage features a Google calendar with its hours of operation. On this calendar, “restricted access” refers to the Booher Library’s secured front door system: during restricted hours, Southwest students, faculty, and staff must use their Southwest ID to swipe into the library. Please note that the Booher Library will close daily, Monday through Friday, from 12:30pm – 1:30pm for lunch and cleaning.

    Will the bookstore be open in the fall?

    Yes, with certain restrictions. You can find those restrictions here.

    If I opt for an in-person class option how will I stay safe in the classroom?

    Southwest is implementing measures to mitigate risk of the spread of COVID-19 to its best ability. Please refer to the ‘Basic Plans for Gathering’ policy located here more info.

    How will fall classes be offered?

    All classes will offer a remote teaching modality, either in their entirety or as part of a mixed teaching model. Some classes are offering a voluntary ‘in-person’ option for participation. Once the semester has begun, students can choose to move from ‘in-person’ to ‘remote’. Moving from ‘remote’ to ‘in-person’ will only be done on a case-by-case basis, as each class will have unique restrictions and available space.

    What common spaces will be open?

    Many common spaces will be repurposed to support academic and formational life. The Weeks Center is being converted into an a study space and the library will be open with restrictions. Classrooms and Chapel will only be open for specifically indicated usage. In all cases, social distancing rules will be in effect.

    The Motte and other outdoor spaces will be open and fitted with additional outdoor furniture. Using outdoor spaces is encouraged.

    Will there be a meal plan?

    A voluntary meal plan will be offered, serving individual meals for lunch on Mondays and dinner on Thursdays. Meals will be packaged individually and distributed with social distancing protocols. To learn more, visit here.

    How will work study work in the fall?

    Daytime grants will continue to carry the obligation of on-campus employment of about 6-8 hours per week for full time students. While not all of the details are known as of early July, we expect these to be a combination of remote work and work that can be safely accomplished at social distancing. Students will be notified of their on-campus employment assignments no later than August 1.

    Will there be letter grades or just pass-fail?

    All classes will return to the regular practice of giving letter grades.

    Will there be a designated safe and socially-distanced space on campus for online study and learning?

    Quiet, socially-distanced spaces will be provided in the Weeks Center and Library. The need to reduce noise and reduce speaking precludes these spaces being used for Zoom classes. Some closed carrels will be available in the library for meeting with a class on Zoom.

    Will the assignments be the same as in-person classes?

    In classes with mixed attendance all students will have the same or commensurate assignments.

    Will Southwest be open in the fall?

    Yes. Seminary of the Southwest recently announced instruction plans and will begin the fall semester as regularly scheduled. Seminary of the Southwest has enrolled students for Fall 2020, and we are welcome a robust entering class who have already joined us.

    Will online-only classes meet at their regularly scheduled time slots?

    Yes, online-only classes will meet via Zoom during their regularly scheduled time slots. This will be the synchronous portion of the class. If there are other meetings or if smaller group Zoom discussions are desirable for the learning goals of a particular class, the instructor will find a time that is agreeable to all participants. The official fall schedule, including time slots and room assignments (for classes that have an in-person option), will be released as soon as room assignments can be completed.

    Will online class sessions meet via Zoom?

    Yes, online-only and the online portion of mixed attendance classes will be conducted over the Zoom platform. In addition, significant content and class engagement will happen through Populi and other online tools.

    Will classes be outside?

    It is possible classes will be held outside. Given the Texas fall weather, however, it is impossible to reliably plan for that now. If classes meet outside, social distancing will be maintained and participants will remain masked. The instructor or presenter may remove their mask when at least six feet from other participants.

    Which rooms will be used for classes?

    The courses with in-person participants will meet in 210A/B (opened to be one classroom), 213, 214/215, 259, and Christ Chapel. These rooms have been reorganized to allow for social distancing. They will be cleaned between each class session.

    Which guidelines and restrictions from national, state, and local authorities should we follow?

    The seminary requests all students, faculty, and staff to follow the mandates issued by Austin Public Health and the City of Austin, which can be found here:

    As of August 25, the City of Austin has entered stage 3 of it’s Risk Based Guidelines. Please review these guidelines, but know they generally:

    • Require the wearing of masks at all times outside the home, except when participating in allowable exercise.
    • Prohibit gatherings of 10 or more.

    What will the assignment load be like? Will they be adapted because of the pandemic?

    The assignment load will be determined by each professor with attention both to course objectives and to the pandemic’s impact on students’ time, energy, stress levels, and family commitments.

    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 

    What safety measures will be taken for classes that meet in person?

    Classrooms are being adjusted to create six-foot social distancing between seats. When indoors, all students and faculty members will be required to wear masks for the entire class period. New air filters have been installed in classrooms to increase filtration of aerosolized particles. When possible, windows will be opened to maximize airflow. Students will be instructed to enter and exit in such a way that social distancing is maintained. In order to avoid passing by other students during class, students are asked to plan so that using the restroom during class is less likely. Classes may, on occasion, meet outside. In such a setting the instructor or presenter may remove their mask when at least six feet from other participants.

    What kind of technology will be used?

    Students will be expected to have access to a computer and internet. Wifi service on campus will continue to be provided by the seminary. If you have concerns about accessing the needed technology please reach out to us.

    What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?

    Synchronous learning is when a group of students engage in learning at the same time, either online or in person, usually with the instructor present. Asynchronous learning is when students learn on their own outside of a class session, usually without the instructor present.

    What is the difference between a “mixed-attendance” class and an “online-only” class?

    Classes that have an in-person option will also have the option for students to attend online. These classes that include both modes of attendance are called “mixed-attendance” classes. In an “online-only” class, all class sessions, learning, and assessments will happen online.

    What data and criteria regarding COVID-19 cases would make the in-person classes shift to online-only classes?

    The seminary will look to Austin Public Health and the City of Austin’s Key Indicators for Staging to guide decisions about class meetings and other gatherings on campus. If Austin enters into Stage 5, the seminary will reassess in-person classes. If a student or professor tests positive for COVID-19 the classes they teach or attended will be moved online for an appropriate period of time. Changing conditions within our community or in the overall pandemic situation may require revisiting decisions about on-campus gatherings.

    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.

    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.

    Is the Southwest Campus closed?

    No. All outdoor spaces are open, and buildings are open for specifically indicated use. Classrooms, Christ Chapel, and other indoor gathering areas are only open for previously schedule use.

    Outdoor areas are accessible, with new furniture being installed in spaces all over campus, but we ask you observe Social Distancing if you gather in these areas.

    In a mixed-attendance class, will the online students be attending class synchronously with the in-person students?

    Various models are being discussed for mixed-attendance classes. Professors will choose the model that works best for their class and teaching style. One option is for in-person and online students to meet synchronously – online students accessing the in-person class via Zoom. Another option is for professors to divide the class into in-person and online sections that meet at separate times. In either mode, much of the course content will be accessed online via videos, readings, and other resources. If you have questions about a specific class, please reach out to the professor for more information.

    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.

    Please report the results of those conversations by contacting Fred Clement, Executive Vice President via email or at (512) 439-0390.

    If I sign up for online attendance in a mixed-attendance class, will I be able to switch to in-person attendance if my situation changes or if the pandemic gets better?

    Classrooms will be assigned based on the number of students asking for in-person attendance at the beginning of the term. Given the need for social distancing, far fewer seats will be available in each classroom. It is likely that classrooms will have one or more extra seats, but it is possible that the number of in-person students will match the number of seats exactly. In that case, there would be no room for an online student to join the in-person class unless one of the in-person learners shifts to online attendance.

    If I sign up for in-person attendance will I be able to switch to online attendance if my situation changes or if the pandemic gets worse?

    If you sign up for in-person attendance, you may shift to online attendance at any time. However, spots in the in-person class are limited, and re-entry into the in-person portion may not be available. If you consider making this switch, please speak with you professor beforehand to ascertain each unique situation.

    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.

    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:


    How will this affect my school age children?

    Most area districts have announced how they will manage operating school in the fall. Southwest is monitoring these decisions closely.


    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 Virtual Operations website complements or is in addition to information we communicate to you via email. All members of the community will receive at least two informational emails weekly (on Mondays), should check Populi, and monitor email for other special announcements.

    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 can I mitigate spread of COVID-19?

    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. Maintain social distancing and wear a mask at all times when outside the home.

    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.

    Article on Social Distancing from The Atlantic

    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. Over the summer, IT re-evaluated the network infrastructure and has increased campus coverage and bandwidth to meet increased demand.

    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.

    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.