Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Updated 3/24/20



Office of the President

24 March 2020

We have moved all classes to online instruction effective Monday, March 23 and everyone has worked hard to make this transition as smooth as possible. We have discovered in this process that we are nimble, agile and resilient to the challenges being presented before us each day. Our faculty and staff were ready for this unexpected turn of events and are doing outstanding work to provide a first-class education to all our students. In this transition, we did not miss any days of instruction.

Our Executive Team and Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) are meeting daily to review any changes implemented by these authorities, give updates on our campus and to make changes as needed. On Monday, our campus instituted a number of new protocols to protect the remaining students on campus who cannot leave due to travel restrictions or other personal reasons. We continue to follow all local, state and federal health requirements and are constantly updating our processes per CDC guidelines. Our physical plant crews are thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the campus each day. We have plenty of food and supplies.

On top of these measures we have placed a 10 PM curfew on all dormitories and there are no visitors allowed 24/7. The swimming pool and weight room are closed and all meals in the cafeteria are being served (vs. self-served) to the students. Our post office and library are now limited to student use only. In obedience to our local Bishop, we closed the Martha Burke Eucharistic Adoration chapel and Fr. Rick Martignetti has placed the Blessed Sacrament under his care. We are live streaming all Masses and invite you to join our priests at 11 AM for daily Mass. At this time, there are no known reported positive cases of the COVID-19 on the campus at Ave Maria University. We pray for God’s continued protection and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession for all our students, faculty and staff.

Thank you for your prayers for Ave Maria University. Tomorrow, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, we will virtually pray the Marian Consecration together as a community with Fr. Rick Martignetti live after the 11 AM Mass. Please join us online as we ask Jesus and his Blessed Mother to protect Ave Maria University from all illness, including all fears from this illness and the wisdom to guide our University into the future.

May God bless you and thank you for all your prayers and support.

Christopher P. Ice
President


18 March 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff and parents,

We have been doing our best to try to be as accommodating as possible for our students to allow everyone the option to remain on campus or return home. We feel that we have come up with some innovative solutions by offering a synchronistic academic setting online and in-person. So far, this has worked well and we have not missed a day of instruction.

The students have now been back on campus from Spring break for at least 10 days. At this time, we do not have any reported positive cases of COVID-19 at Ave Maria University or in the town of Ave Maria.

Unfortunately, we are faced with a new reality and there are a lot of unanswered questions and you need clarity. We will continue to communicate as best we can. You have been patient with us and we greatly appreciate everyone’s prayers and support during this trying time.

Given that we are in the midst of a national quarantine that includes avoiding congregating in public places, social distancing, and a ban on gatherings of ten or more people, the University has decided to suspend in-person instruction to students, effective Monday, March 23. Online instruction will be the exclusive mode of delivery for the remainder of the semester.

At this time, the campus will remain open to accommodate students who choose not to return home or who are unable to return home due to travel restrictions. Residence life will be sending further communication later today or tomorrow that will address new protocols for students who remain on campus, as well as students who need to return to retrieve their belongings.

We have been holding out hope that we would be able to enjoy our commencement ceremony on May 9th. Unfortunately, it does not appear that a gathering of this magnitude will be possible as soon as May, and therefore, the ceremony has been postponed. The Executive Team will develop an alternative schedule or delivery method in the coming weeks.

As the University brings its day of prayer and fasting to an end, let us join together in praying for our campus community and all those impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

God bless.
Christopher P. Ice
President


17 March 2020

Dear Ave Maria University Community,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We hope you put on your Irish today. Wear your green with pride!

Yesterday, President Trump issued the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidelines for Coronavirus. I would like everyone to review these here. Our Executive Team and our Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) is meeting on a daily basis to review the seemingly endless stream of information that is coming out each day. To keep the risk of spreading the virus as low as possible, we would ask that all students residing on campus refrain from non-essential travel. For the same reason, if you have chosen the temporary check out, we ask that you do not return to the residence halls until further notice.

I want to assure you that our team of faculty and staff were well prepared for this turn of events. Classes have continued without interruption and without a loss of a single instructional period. This is a great testimony to our faculty’s commitment to our students and academic mission, and our students’ commitment to their studies. In the midst of the uncertainty of this virus, it is consoling to know that the fullness of truth is continuing to be disseminated through the learning and scholarship that takes place on our campus under Our Lady’s mantle.

The campus is well stocked with sanitary supplies and food. Our residence halls, library, and cafeteria will remain open for those who choose to remain on campus. There is no shortage of food from our vendors. The food service is following CDC guidelines to ensure that the cafeteria is sanitized.

Please join us for a day of fasting and prayer tomorrow, March 18th for the safety and protection of our community from the Coronavirus.

God bless.
Christopher P. Ice
President


15 March 2020

Dear Parents of Current Ave Maria Students,

In light of the recent announcement that the University will be moving all course instruction to the fully online mode of instruction, effective Monday, I am writing to seek your assistance in supporting and encouraging all of our students to continue with their studies. The faculty had been preparing for the possibility of going online all week. This preparation and quick action, which has continued through the weekend, gives us confidence that the University is well-prepared to make this switch. After meeting with the faculty on Friday evening, our Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Roger Nutt, sent an e-mail to students updating them on some academic-specific points that will be relevant in the upcoming days. We thought that it might be helpful to share some of this communication with you to keep you informed and to enlist your support for our students in the coming weeks. Here are some key points from that message to the students:

“It is important that you [student] understand that there will be no interruption in the University’s offering of your courses. There may be a few bugs to work out the first few days, so please be patient with us. We have been actively preparing for this possibility for the entire week, and we are confident that the faculty is very well prepared to make this switch.”

“Whether or not you are staying here on campus, you need to be prepared to continue your studies and to attend your classes, at least virtually, at the regular meeting times starting on Monday. You should be in touch with your professors and following your classes in Canvas so that you know what will be expected of you.”

“It is important to note that while we have moved to an online mode of instruction, the campus is not closed. The University facilities, including the library, will remain open for your use. Many of your professors will continue to work on campus from their offices, and many will conduct their online instruction from the classroom at the regular meeting time. You are welcome to seek out your professors or attend their teaching sessions in person, if they are working from campus.

“To continue to progress in your classes and to work towards a successful completion of the semester, you will need to be very focused and disciplined with your approach to your classes.”

This is not a vacation for you or the University faculty and staff; the coursework is going to be steady. The faculty have been asked to be patient and accommodating during this stressful time, but we need to keep in mind that classes remain in session online and you will be expected to participate and complete the work that is assigned.”

“We will be tracking your engagement in the classes through Canvas and we are committed to providing you with all necessary support to succeed as students.”

We are making every effort to provide all of our students with the instruction that they need to successfully complete the semester. Any support and encouragement that you parents can provide to your children during this period of online instruction will be most appreciated.

Also, students who are choosing not to stay on campus must complete a temporary checkout with residential life.  A communication with detailed instructions about the temporary checkout process was sent directly to students on Friday.

Be assured of our prayers for you and yours during this time of uncertainty!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Christopher P. Ice
President


13 March 2020

Ave Maria University has been closely following public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a top priority at AMU, as is our mission as an educational institution. As we watch and observe information about Coronavirus the statistics and data seem to change by the hour.

The number of confirmed cases in the state of Florida continues to rise and even though Ave Maria University and the town of Ave Maria do not have any confirmed cases as of this writing, we continue to be vigilant in how we approach this novel virus.

A number of students and parents have expressed concerns about the implications of the University continuing to hold in-person classes. In light of these concerns, the Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) has decided to take the following actions:

  • All classes will move to the online format effective Monday, March 16th. On April 3rd, we will announce whether in-person classes will resume after Easter Break.
  • Residence halls, dining halls, and other campus facilities and buildings will remain open.
  • Students may choose to stay on campus or may choose to go home.
  • Credit-bearing clinical rotations, student teaching, and other internships will continue.
  • Faculty will be expected to teach their courses online, with necessary adjustments as needed, and remain available and accessible to their students.  Further information from faculty will be forthcoming.
  • Students will be expected to follow their courses without interruption, and to take all necessary steps to stay engaged with their courses and professors.
  • Florida Governor DeSantis has strongly advised that we consider limiting large gatherings as this poses an increased risk. Following this directive, we are postponing all public events including the Inauguration, Annunciation Celebration, and Battle of the Bands.
  • Seminars and conferences will be canceled or postponed effective immediately. Updates will be provided in the Daily Bulletin.
  • Further updates on Commencement will be announced on or before April 3rd.
  • Off-campus community outreach and service will be discontinued until further notice.
  • Athletic activities will follow the Sun Conference guidelines; the Sun Conference has postponed athletic competitions through March 27th with updates to follow.
  • Campus Ministry will continue to meet the sacramental needs of the AMU community. Schedule updates will be forthcoming.
  • All non-essential University business travel is suspended.
  • Students with existing health problems or compromised immune systems should limit their exposure to the general campus population.
  • AMU will continue to take extra precautions on cleaning and sanitizing the campus.
  • Students should continue to practice good hygiene as recommended by the CDC.
For general updates and information on COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
A page that is particularly helpful is the CDC’s website on preventing the spread of the virus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.
The U.S. Department of Education link is: https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus?src=feature

We continue to plan, prepare and pray. I ask all of you who have joined in our Marian Consecration to continue in earnest. We will also be asking the AMU community to join us in a day of fasting and prayer for all those impacted by COVID-19. More information will be forthcoming on this event.

May God bless you,
Christopher P. Ice
President


12 March 2020

Dear Ave Maria University students, faculty, and staff: 

I pray you all are doing well and settling into your classes following the Spring Break. I realize that with the recent outbreak of coronavirus around the globe, you all have many concerns regarding what the University is planning to do. I would like for us to look at the facts together and try to dispel any fears.

The Ave Maria University Coronavirus Response Team (CRT) has been meeting for the past two weeks and met again this morning to review the current status of the virus and best practices moving forward. The CRT is comprised of experts from several departments and fields of experience, and they are working extremely hard to navigate all concerns. The CRT has been in constant contact with local, state, and federal health departments, along with reviewing all updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

There has been a lot of inaccurate and unreliable information spreading throughout our AMU community. I would like to share with you some of the facts: 

1.       Unlike many other universities, AMU students have been back from Spring Break and mission trips for several days now.

2.       AMU students who visited or were studying abroad in Italy have returned to the United States, but are not allowed to return to campus until after their 14-day period of self-quarantine is up, and only then if they remain symptom-free.

3.       Florida has had 30-some positive cases of coronavirus; of these cases, there are no known cases in the state of Florida for people of our student’s age demographic.

4. There are no known cases of coronavirus on the AMU campus, and we are not aware of any positive cases in the town of Ave Maria.

At this time, the CRT views that keeping AMU open and keeping students on campus is the best approach for the safety of our students, and for their academic success.   

Online coursework can be difficult for some students, as it robs them of the freedom to take part in regular office hours and one-on-one meetings with faculty and peers, so moving to “online-only” classes could present a different set of challenges. In light of this, we have chosen to continue to hold in-person classes in the classroom.

We would ask that you adhere to the below instructions and practices as per CDC guidelines; The guidelines which informed these decisions are posted on our website, and include practicing standard safe hygiene precautions.

1.       The University has added cleaning crews who have been tasked with additional cleaning rotations; this will continue indefinitely.

2.       Please limit all unnecessary trips to and from campus as a precaution.

3.       We are reviewing activities, such as guest speakers and other visitors from outside of the community, on a daily basis. All on campus events will continue as planned for now.

4.       Decisions will be forthcoming about large events like the Inauguration, the Annunciation Celebration, and Commencement.

We have planned, we have prepared, and now I am asking you to pray. I would ask that you join me in prayer for Ave Maria University’s CRT as we continue to discern the appropriate decisions each day. Please pray our local, state, and federal government leaders, along with healthcare workers who are responding to this virus. And finally, I would ask Our Blessed Mother to spread her mantle of protection across the Ave Maria University campus and the residents in the town of Ave Maria from the fear of this virus. 

We will continue to update you frequently on our website. 

Thank you for your time and may God bless each of you.

–President Christopher P. Ice


11 March 2020

We want to assure you that the Ave Maria University Coronavirus Response Team has been meeting regularly to discuss COVID-19, receive updates on the latest developments, and review the actions that need to be implemented. At this time, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 within the University Community. To our benefit, our campus is located in a fairly isolated area in the warm sunshine of SW Florida and away from the larger population areas, which has allowed us to continue to keep our campus open.

We have received another shipment of sanitizer stands that will be placed strategically throughout the campus. Physical Plant employees are conducting extra cleaning of doorknobs and table surfaces every night, and, beginning today, cleaning solution will be left in each classroom for faculty and students to wipe down desks and chairs after each class. We are in touch with the local health authorities and have plans that will be implemented if the virus breaks out on our campus.

All Ave Maria University students who were studying at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts campus in Rome have officially departed from Rome and are either en route or have arrived to their respective homes. Students were screened prior to departing Italy. Study Abroad students will complete their semester online through Thomas More College and will not return to the Ave Maria campus. 

We urge all students, faculty, staff and their families to follow CDC directives to help safeguard the public health of the campus; a link to these directives may be found here

We want to confirm that we are aware of two students who traveled to Italy during Spring Break; these students are currently in self-quarantine at their homes. Neither student has shown symptoms related to COVID-19, but as a precautionary measure, they will not return until after the quarantine period ends, and even then, only if they are symptom-free. 

Our Coronavirus Response Team will continue to meet on a regular basis, and will continue to receive frequent updates each day from local and state health authorities, the CDC, WHO, and other resources. We will continue to post relevant updates as the situation unfolds. 

Finally, President Ice asks everyone to adopt this motto, “Plan, prepare and pray, but don’t panic.” 

Let us join in prayer as a University community for all those suffering from this illness and ask for the protection of Our Lady:

O Most Holy Virgin, Mother of God and my Mother Mary, I thank you for all the graces you grant here to those who turn to you. Nobody ever prayed to you in vain. I, too, resort to you and beg you for the Passion and Death of Jesus and for your pains: welcome me, o’ merciful Mother, under your mantle, which is a maternal mantle; grant me the particular grace that I ask of You to protect Ave Maria University students, faculty, and staff from the Coronavirus and protect me from all evil and especially from sin, which is the greatest evil.

Oh make, oh Mary, my Mother, that I always enjoy your loving protection in life and even more in death and then come to see you in heaven and to thank and bless you forever. Amen.

Sweet Madonna, pray for us.

O sweet Virgin, pious mother of love,
Like this Ave rising from the heart.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria
Ave, ave, ave, Maria

O Virgin, shine as a star in the sky,
Motherly defend your faithful children.
Ave, ave, ave Maria
Ave, ave, ave, Maria


9 March 2020

In light of Prime Minister of Italy, Guiseppe Conte’s unexpected announcement this afternoon (March 9) that he has put the entire country of Italy under “stay at home” rules due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it is with great sadness and dismay that Dr. William Fahey, President of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and our study abroad partner, has chosen to shut down the program in Rome effective immediately. Dr. Fahey and I have been conversing multiple times a day over the last week and I support his decision.  We both feel this is the best decision for our students studying in Rome.

I want to be clear that we do not feel that there is any health risk to our students, but the Italian Prime Minister’s decision severely limits the program’s effectiveness in Italy and we believe our students will be better served by studying online at home in the United States. Thomas More College is committed to allowing students to finish their semester online at their homes. These students will not return to the Ave Maria University campus.

The Thomas More College staff in Rome is working with students to schedule departure travel over the next 72 hours. Their staff will stay in Rome until every student has departed. The “stay at home” rules do not affect essential travel or travel of foreign nationals to their homes.  

Please join me in prayer for my colleague Dr. Fahey and his wonderful staff at Thomas More College. We appreciate all of their due diligence during this unfortunate turn of events. I would ask for prayers for all the Rome students and for their safe travels back home.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Alex Bartsch at alexandrea.bartsch@avemaria.edu or 239-280-2540.

-President Christopher P. Ice


8 March 2020

The following communication was sent out to students on todat, March 8, 2020.

Dear Students:

We hope that this e-mail finds you well-rested after Spring Break. We are writing to give you an update on the University’s current response to the coronavirus.

Classes will resume on campus tomorrow, as planned. There are currently no known cases of the virus among the University community (students, faculty, and staff) or in the town of Ave Maria. During Spring Break the University took careful measures to safeguard the public health of the campus-based on directives from the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and local authorities. These measures included the installation of hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas around campus and the (extra) cleansing of all surfaces. These extra precautions will continue after classes resume. Updates are available on the landing page of the University’s website. The most recent update includes the following CDC recommendation for students (or faculty and staff) who have traveled to high-risk areas or who may be experiencing symptoms: “The University is restricting University-affiliated travel outside of the United States to locations where a level 3 travel warning has been issued related to COVID-19 and coronavirus. In addition, we strongly discourage personal travel to these areas. Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, if you traveled to these affected areas you may be asked to do a 14-day self-quarantine off-campus upon return. Please see [below] for CDC resources regarding travel.” 

ALL students and employees returning from China, Italy, South Korea, Iran or Japan – and/or – who have had close contact with a lab-confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) patient – are directed to self-quarantine for 14 days.  During this time, those students or staff should not come to any part of the campus, including the student residence halls or offices. Also, students needing to self-quarantine must notify the office of residential life of their circumstances by emailing the Director of Residence life at: Ryan.Welch@avemaria.edu.

The best way to prevent the spread of the virus for all students and employees is to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and stay home if they are sick.  Students who develop flu-like symptoms or are concerned that they may have COVID-19 can contact the local health department regarding COVID-19 testing or to make an appointment.  If you are severely ill, you should call an urgent care, emergency department at a local hospital, or call 911 before going in person.  They will direct you on the steps to take to get help without infecting others.  Keep in mind that this is the cold and flu season, so you should not assume you have the Coronavirus even if you have similar symptoms.  If cases of COVID-19 are identified among residents of on-campus community housing, the University will work with local health officials to take additional precautions and determine next steps, which when possible, may include having them return home to recover. Students can get answers to frequently asked questions on the CDC website:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.

As the COVID-19 virus circumstances continue to change, updates will be provided on the University website. Students who believe that they need to self-quarantine for any reason should contact Ryan.welch@avemaria.edu to discuss their situation so that the office of residential life is aware and can also verify the status with faculty. Again, please do not attend class or the dining hall if you are sick and notify your professors if you will need course accommodations.

We look forward to seeing students back in class this week.

-Coronavirus Response Team


6 March 2020

The University is restricting University-affiliated travel outside of the United States to locations where a level 3 travel warning has been issued related to COVID-19 and coronavirus. In addition, we strongly discourage personal travel to these areas.

Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, if you choose to travel to these affected areas you may be asked to do a 14-day self-quarantine off-campus upon return. Please see below for CDC resources regarding travel.


4 March 2020 

Our Ave Maria University Emergency Preparedness Committee is closely monitoring the latest information related to the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page will continue to be updated if information changes.

Regarding Classes: 

  • Class will be in session on Monday, March 9, after spring break. While there are two confirmed and one presumptive positive case of coronavirus in the state of Florida, none of these cases are connected with Ave Maria University. Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) among the University faculty, staff, or student body. Furthermore, there are also no known cases of COVID-19 in the town of Ave Maria adjacent to the University. 
  • University officials have been and will continue to be in regular contact with the Florida Health Department. There are currently no public health directives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Florida Department of Health, or local county authorities that recommend against holding classes. The public school system in Collier County and other local universities are currently in session.

Advice for Travelers: 

  • Students who are traveling during the Spring break should follow CDC guidelines regarding good hygiene and regular handwashing. Any student who feels they may have been exposed to the coronavirus or is displaying symptoms should see a physician and remain home until they are clear of any threat of spreading the disease. More advice for travelers may be found on the Florida Department of Health & CDC websites

University Response: 

  • The University is taking advantage of the spring break week to follow public health recommendations related to the prevention of COVID-19. These measures include the acquisition of additional hand sanitizing stations for high traffic areas around campus, extra cleaning of potentially at-risk areas with disinfectant agents, the posting of public health directives regarding proper handwashing and cough/sneeze etiquette, and the sanitization of surfaces around campus that are prone to contact (door handles, desks, and tables). These measures will continue after students have returned from break.

Resources: