Page last updated Tuesday, March 31, 2020
After very careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to hold the spring semester 2020 Commencement Exercises and related events for graduate and undergraduate students as originally scheduled.
In the midst of the global coronavirus crisis, we have consistently sought to protect the health, safety, and overall well-being of our students, faculty, administrators and staff. With so much uncertainty about the impact and scope of COVID-19, we have made both short- and long-term decisions which we believe to be in the best interest of St. John’s and the broader community.
After very careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to hold the spring semester 2020 Commencement Exercises and related events for graduate and undergraduate students as originally scheduled. We will explore possible options to have a suitable event to honor our graduating students at a later date. This decision will not impact the timing of degree completion for May graduates and issued diplomas will reflect each student’s actual graduation date.
To our graduating students, we fully understand how profoundly disappointing this news may be for you. Commencement is the culmination of years of hard work and is a special moment to celebrate the completion of your studies. However, the health and safety of everyone should be our priority in making this difficult decision. Please view our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
We ask for your patience and understanding as the University seeks to manage the significant and far-reaching impacts of COVID-19. I look forward to the time when, together, we can safely reconvene as a University community to celebrate the proud accomplishments of the Class of 2020.
Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D.President
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed NYS Executive Order 202.8. Read our full update on what Executive Order 202.8 means for St. John's University's New York campuses
March 22, 3:00 p.m.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed NYS Executive Order 202.8, which stipulates that “effective on Sunday, March 22 at 8 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely utilize. Each employer shall reduce the in-person workforce at all work locations by 100% no later than March 22 at 8 p.m. Any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions shall not be subject to the in-person restrictions. An entity providing essential services or functions whether to an essential business or a non-essential business shall not be subjected to the in-person work restriction, but may operate at the level necessary to provide such service or function. Any business violating the above order shall be subject to enforcement as if this were a violation of an order pursuant to section 12 of the Public Health Law.”
Accordingly, all St. John’s New York campuses will remain closed and all employees must continue working from home. The University has filed a petition seeking to be designated as an essential business in order to have a very limited number of employees work on campus in support of remote education, safety and security, and property maintenance and custodial services. You will be contacted by your unit head if it is necessary for you to work on campus to perform any of these essential functions. If you have not been contacted, you are not permitted to be on campus and should continue to work from home. For those identified essential employees, you or your unit head must inform Public Safety of your intent to come to campus when you are scheduled to work on campus, and the duration of your stay. These protocols will be strictly enforced. If you have any questions, please communicate with your unit head who will follow up with Public Safety, as necessary.
Remember to regularly check your voicemail, e-mail and to visit www.stjohns.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates.
We bear an institutional and individual responsibility in doing our part to assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and following the directives of local, state, and federal health agencies. At this time of global suffering and disruption, we pray for God’s loving protection for you and your family.
Joseph E. Oliva, Esq.Vice President for Administration, Secretary and General Counsel
We have made the decision to extend online instruction for the rest of the spring semester, and all University in-person events are cancelled for the remainder of the spring semester. Our full update on extending online instruction follows.
March 16, 11:55 a.m.
I write to provide you with an update on the University’s response to the escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. The safety and well-being of our students and the entire University community continue to be our priority.
In an effort to help contain the spread of COVID-19 on our campus, the University announced the suspension of face-to-face instruction on Monday, March 9 and moved to online instruction effective Thursday, March 12 through Friday, March 27.
On Friday, March 13, the University received a report that we have an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, March 15, we learned that a contractual employee working at St. John’s also tested positive for COVID-19. The DOH notifies individuals who may have had close contact with these two employees. We also took appropriate action including the deep cleaning of affected areas on campus by a third-party bio-hazard firm. As an additional precautionary measure, the University's Queens campus will be closed on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, except for essential personnel.
Since the University suspended face-to-face instruction on March 9, we have learned more about the rapid spread of the coronavirus in our community, with New York now reporting the largest number of positive cases in the country. In view of this and the latest CDC recommendation of halting gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, we have made the decision to extend online instruction for the rest of the spring semester.
St. John’s University will remain open with essential programs and services available albeit most, if not all, of these services will be provided using remote technologies. Resident students, with written authorization to remain in the residence halls, will receive detailed information from the Office of Residence Life regarding the process and deadline for vacating the residence halls. All students, including resident students who checked-out of their rooms or those who did not apply for authorization and are currently away from campus should not return to campus until further notice. Residence Life staff will make arrangements at a later date for resident students who have departed to retrieve belongings that they may have left. Finally, all resident students who have paid their room and board fees will receive instructions regarding a pro-rata refund from the Office of Financial Aid.
Furthermore, effective immediately, all University in-person events are cancelled for the remainder of the spring semester. Event organizers are responsible for informing guests and attendees that their event has been cancelled. This includes outside organizers renting space at St. John’s. In the weeks ahead, we will make an announcement about plans for the University’s various Commencement events and activities, currently scheduled to begin on Thursday, May 14. The coronavirus situation may prohibit these events from being held in person.
Please be reminded that the University has set up a COVID-19 page to post communications and up-to-date information regarding St. John’s preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of the members of our community at www.stjohns.edu/coronavirus.
We recognize that this extension of online instruction for the rest of the spring semester may generate more questions. Faculty are requested to consult with their program directors, chairs and deans. Administrators and staff will receive additional information as soon as plans are confirmed for teleworking and identification of essential personnel. We ask for your patience as we continue to develop contingency plans on how we can best ensure the safety and well-being of the entire St. John’s community while planning for academic and operational continuity.
We hope and pray that St. John’s proactive approach will help to limit the potential exposure and transmission of the virus not only within our campuses, but in the greater community as well. I wish to thank all of you for your continued support and understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times.
Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D. President
We have transitioned to a remote workforce and workplace. Our full update on this transition follows below.
March 16, 4:30 p.m.
As the entire St. John’s University community continues to adjust to the new and ever-changing realities of maintaining business operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) global health crisis, I am writing to inform you that effective immediately the University will be transitioning to a remote workforce and workplace until further notice.
I ask all unit heads including deans and vice presidents to review their respective business continuity plans to make sure it is applicable to the current COVID-19 crisis and prepare for its implementation as part of the University’s transition to a remote workplace. If your unit does not have a business continuity plan, please consult with your dean or vice president so a contingency plan for working remotely can be prepared. It is important for the University to continue offering uninterrupted business services throughout this time.
With the University’s extension of online instruction until the end of the spring semester, all academic and administrative departments will shift to a hybrid workforce made up of employees who will work remotely and essential on-site employees so we can maintain continuity in our administrative operations. Only those instructed to do so should report to work in-person at our campuses.
We are asking all supervisors and unit heads to help coordinate this transition to a remote workplace. If you have any questions as to whether you are an essential on-site employee or what your plan of work will be while working remotely, please contact your supervisor or unit head. Any question must be directed to your supervisors and unit heads who will in turn seek guidance from their respective deans and vice presidents as necessary.
Be advised that this is an unpredictable and fluid situation. Workload circumstances and special projects or events may require adjustments and changes to those designated as employees working remotely or essential on-site employees. Supervisors and unit heads in consultation with deans and vice presidents will regularly assess and implement timely work procedures and adjustments necessary to maintain University services.
Remember to regularly check your voicemail, e-mail and to visit www.stjohns.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates. The University will continue to communicate timely and appropriate information as it becomes available and will keep you updated of any new developments in our business continuity plans and implementation.
Be assured that the health and well-being of every member of the St. John’s University remains our highest priority. I appreciate your continued understanding and support during these challenging times and thank you for your commitment to our enduring mission as a Catholic and Vincentian institution.
New information about the COVID-19 is being updated daily sometimes hourly. Please visit the CDC website for the latest information about the situation.
It is always good practice to follow self-care habits to stay well – wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you cannot use soap and water, cover your cough, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth and don’t share food or drinks. If you get sick, stay home and rest.
The University is dedicated to fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus community where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued. Acts of bias or discrimination stemming from the association of COVID-19 with a particular population, ethnicity or, nationality will not be tolerated.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to seasonal flu and include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. For those with a weakened immune system, there's a chance the virus could cause much more serious respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis. Because it is cold and flu season, and this virus has similar symptoms, it is important to not make any assumptions and have any respiratory illness evaluated by a healthcare provider. At this time, the COVID-19 is primarily related to the outbreak in China.
It is flu season! Take the same precautions that you would during cold and flu season. Wash your hands often, cover your cough, and if you feel sick stay home. For more information, visit www.stjohns.edu/flu.
For additional frequently asked questions, please visit these pages:
In addition to the assistance of your faculty colleagues and Dean’s offices, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Online Learning and Services, the University Libraries, Office of Information Technology, and Office of the Provost stand ready to assist you through this transition and will continue to update the Course Continuity Planning page as additional information and resources become available.
Further information and University updates are available in the Coronavirus Internal Updates “organization” which can be found by clicking on the Organizations link in the left-hand navigation once you have logged into Blackboard.
The coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about 2019 novel coronavirus.
According to the CDC the risk of contracting the COVID-19 in the United States is very low. Most patients with COVID-19 have been linked to those who live in or visited Wuhan, China. There is only one documented case in the United States of human to human transmission of COVID-19 and in this case it was the spouse of someone who recently returned to Wuhan, China.
Concerns about a new and unfamiliar illness are understandable.
If you are feeling anxious or uneasy, please don’t hesitate to turn to the Student Health Services (718-990-6360, select option 4) or the Center for Counseling and Consultation (Queens, 718-990-6384; Staten Island, 718-390-4451) or the St. John’s University Mental Health Helpline (718-990-6352).
For information and support resources, please visit Following an Emergency Situation or a Traumatic Event.
St. John’s is using multiple communication channels to keep the campus community informed. This includes:
If you do not have any of the above symptoms we recommend following the guidance from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene which suggests that, “All New Yorkers should go about their daily life, but take the same precautions that you would during cold and flu season."
The protective value of wearing a surgical mask is limited, and no health agencies currently recommend general wearing of a surgical mask to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Masks can help in the following way: if you are starting to experience symptoms, wearing a mask can help to prevent you from spreading illness to others, i.e., if you start experiencing symptoms of a respiratory illness (coughing, sneezing, congestion.
COVID-19 symptoms and flu symptoms are similar. The majority of the cases of the illness have occurred in and around the city of Wuhan in China. If you have not been to the area of the outbreak, chances are you might have the flu.
If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and body aches, it is important to not make any assumptions and have any respiratory illness evaluated by a health-care provider. Students should call Student Health Services immediately at 718-990-6360 (select option 4). If Student Health Services is closed, please call the Department of Public Safety at 718-990-5252. Faculty, administrators, and staff should call their primary care provider.
If you recently traveled to China or have been in contact with someone known to be infected with the COVID-19 AND have a fever and cough or shortness of breath, you should:
Please contact to Student Health Services at 718-990-6360 (select option 4) if you are interested in self-quarantining yourself. Student Health Services will help evaluate your situation and consult with medical professionals and determine if the self-quarantine is the best option for you.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) is the official source of information about confirmed cases of COVID-19 at St. John’s or anywhere in the New York City area. The university will work closely with the NYC DOHMH if a notification is needed.
If you become aware of a University faculty, employee, or student who has is believed to have a case of COVID-19, please call Student Health Services immediately at 718-990-6360 (select option 4). Student Health Services will confirm this with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and take appropriate action.
Yes. Student Health Services is taking proactive and prudent measures to ensure the health, and the University reached out to all St. John's students from China and those who may have traveled to mainland China and provided guidance and support.
Each study abroad program, including short-term programs, is reviewed on an ongoing basis, up to the point of program departure. To date, we have made the difficult decision to cancel some short-term programs and semester opportunities. We understand that these changes are disruptive to students and employees; however, the safety of all is of the utmost importance.
Rome Campus: On Friday February 28, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed the travel guidance for Italy to level 3: “Avoid Nonessential Travel”; since then, some areas of the country have been designated level 4. As a result St. John’s has discontinued academic programs on the Rome Campus until further notice. The University is working to assist students in Italy return to their permanent/home residences in the U.S. or abroad (for international students) for the remainder of the semester. These students will complete the rest of their course work for the semester online from home.
Discover France program and the Western Europe Semester program rotations currently in Limerick and Paris: In light of an escalation in the number of COVID-19 cases and rapidly changing travel restrictions that are often put into place with little or no notice, the Office of International Education decided to discontinue academic programs in Limerick and Paris for the Spring 2020 semester. The University is working to assist students in these programs to return.
Future study abroad programs will be assessed on a case-by-case basis closer to the time of departure, with the expectation that they will be able to move forward. The Office of International Education will keep you updated, and welcomes any questions in the meantime.
If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding study abroad programs, please contact the Office of International Education at +1 718-990-6105 or [email protected].
The US Department of State and CDC have issued travel advisories warning against all travel to China.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency. As a result, beginning on February 2, 2020, at 5 p.m. (EST) the United States has initiated the following actions:
For up-to-date information, please check the following websites: