COVID-19 Information

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, our schedules and plans have all changed rapidly – and they continue to evolve as our leaders at all levels evaluate how to keep citizens safe. HSU will use this page for all updates and information our Hardin-Simmons family needs as things change.

Dear Students and Parents,

I hope you are enjoying your summer, taking classes, working, and spending time with your family and friends. On-campus, we are busy getting ready for the fall, and we continue to monitor COVID-19 because the safety and health of our campus community is paramount. Many of you have asked me whether we will be able to get back to “normal”?

Our New Normal

While we will always strive to provide a normal HSU experience, we must balance this with keeping our campus community as safe as possible. While Abilene has not seen the level of cases that other metropolitan areas in Texas have seen, our student population comes from many places and we all must work together for the benefit of each other. Sometimes this requires what feels like an inconvenience or sacrifice, but we all know that given the current situation we need to prepare for a new “normal”.

Necessary Precautions

Our desire is to continue to facilitate the rich and meaningful experiences and daily interactions that are so important to the Hardin-Simmons experience. Through coordinated effort and strategic discussion, we have come to better understand the risks and precautions needed to bring everyone back onto campus safely and effectively.  We are thoughtfully and carefully considering various health and safety measures and during the coming weeks we will be updating you on the precautions we are instituting.

Individual Responsibility

We know that each person’s individual behavior and choices must be aligned for the common good of everyone here at HSU. Things may quickly change, and we need to be ready to pivot and modify plans for the continued protection of our campus community. In the days ahead, we will have many opportunities to show we love our neighbor as ourselves – and thereby live out an education enlightened by Christian faith and values. Everyone’s cooperation will be critical to our success.

Weekly Updates

Over the next several weeks leading to campus arrival, we will communicate with you regularly regarding specific details of our campus safety plan including prevention measures, academic calendar updates, and campus enrichment activities.  So be watching your email inbox. The current calendar of important dates is available on our website.

Daily Prayer

Know that I pray for you daily as I walk around campus. Please be praying for us as we finalize planning for the fall semester. I look forward to seeing you here on campus and hearing about all the things you have been doing.

Eric

July 6, 2020 Update

In June 2020, it was discovered that one student who was originally distributed funding was not eligible. As such, funding previously distributed to this student was returned to the U.S. Department of Education on June 5, 2020.

As of July 6, 2020, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to HSU students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is $966,319.30. These funds were distributed on May 4, 2020.

Per the guidance issued and in effect at the date of distribution, 1,445 students were eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

As of July 6, 2020, each of the 1,445 eligible students has received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant in the amount of $668.74. Funds were distributed evenly to all eligible students.

May 22, 2020 Update

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) provides colleges with emergency grants for their students.

Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) signed and returned the Certification and Agreement form to the U.S. Department of Education on April 13, 2020. HSU intends to use no less than 50 percent of funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

HSU has received $967,003 from the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Financial Aid Grants to Students.

As of May 12, 2020, the total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to HSU students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is $966,988.04. These funds were distributed on May 4, 2020.

Per the guidance issued and in effect at the date of distribution, 1,446 students were eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. To be eligible, students must have been attending face-to-face classes before March 13, 2020, and have demonstrated eligibility to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

As of May 12, 2020, each of the 1,446 eligible students has received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant in the amount of $668.74. Funds were distributed evenly to all eligible students.

Each student attending the institution was sent email communication regarding the Emergency Financial Aid Grants. The information from the email can be seen in the May 1: CARES ACT Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund update below.

HSU Faculty and Staff,

I am looking forward to all our staff and some faculty returning to campus on Monday, June 8. It has been a blessing to see activities resuming on campus. It wasn’t the same without you!

There are some important protocols to remember as you return:

  • Most importantly, if you are sick, please be sure to stay home! If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact a medical professional. Any employee who has a medical condition that requires them to continue work from home must have a doctor’s note and approval from their supervisor and VP for the purpose of fulfilling FMLA requirements. Please contact HR if this is your situation and they will give you more direction of proper procedures.
  • Please be sure to have a mask with you at all times. While wearing a mask full-time is a personal decision, we always want to honor our coworkers by being ready to put one on when around others. Masks need to be worn in the Pod, Dining Hall and Gilberts, which is located in the Dining Hall through the summer.
  • Please wash your hands often, wipe down frequently touched surfaces and maintain physical distance as appropriate. Our hand sanitizer stations and campus signage have been ordered and will be fully in place before our students arrive in August.
  • The Fletcher Fitness Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The Brand Pool will remain closed until it is appropriately staffed. The Richardson Library will be open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I am excited about you being back on campus as we prepare for a wonderful Fall 2020 semester at HSU!

Eric

HSU Faculty and Staff,

I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus on June 8. Thank you for being flexible during these changing times. I have missed our being together and I am excited to see each of you.

Our faculty will be teaching remotely this summer as our summer classes will be held online. I know some of you have extenuating circumstances that will prohibit you from returning to campus right away. Please make sure you have communicated with your supervisor and provided documentation to Tera Gibson in HR prior to June 8.

Please remember to follow the signs and directions posted around campus. We expect everyone to adhere to CDC guidelines such as, maintaining appropriate distance, wiping down frequently touched objects regularly, washing your hands often and staying home when you are sick.

We are asking everyone to have a mask readily available. When you approach others, please put it on out of respect for one another. Masks are required to be worn when you are entering the Dining Hall or Gilbert’s. Gilbert’s is currently located in the Dining Hall throughout the summer and food is available for carry out. You are not required to wear a mask while working out in the Fletcher Fitness Center.

I realize that these protocols are inconvenient at times, but I appreciate everyone working together to keep us all healthy. There will come a day when we will be back to some normalcy. Until then, thank you for doing your part!

Please mark your calendars for June 26, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will be having a come-and-go ice cream social in the Moody Center. It’s our way of celebrating being back together again!

See you on the 8th!

Eric

The Richardson Library is pleased to inform you that it will reopen on Monday, June 8, under summer hours of Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Gilbert’s will continue to operate in the cafeteria in Moody Center for the summer.

To ensure the safety of the campus community and visitors, a new list of guidelines and policies will be enforced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please know these guidelines are temporary and will change as the State of Texas alters guidelines public spaces. Below is a listing of new policies that must be followed when entering the library.

  • Richardson Library will operate at 25% capacity until further notice.
  • If at any point you come in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 or develop signs/symptoms set by the CDC, we ask that you not visit the library until you’ve been cleared. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
  • The library will have limitations of persons per floor. This means only a certain number of people are allowed on a particular floor at one time. Signs will be provided to inform you of max capacity numbers per floor. If the floor is at max number, we kindly ask that you wait to enter the area until someone leaves or move to a different floor.
  • Individuals should wipe down the tables and computers you utilize with the sanitizing wipes provided in the library.
  • Group study rooms will be closed.
  • You will be asked to wash your hands and/or utilize the sanitizer dispensers frequently.
  • Must always maintain a 6-ft distance from other people, unless from same family or household.
  • Please wear masks that cover your nose and mouth.

Same households are not required to maintain 6-ft distance when in the library.

Thank you for your cooperation and patience.

HSU Faculty and Staff,

Our COVID-19 Team continues to meet each week and make plans for our safe return to campus. We are closely following the recommendations of our state and local officials and making best decisions to keep all our faculty, staff, and students safe during this time.

Currently, we are bringing 50% of our faculty and staff back on campus. In addition, we are evaluating building openings and resuming certain campus activities.

We expect the majority of staff to return to campus by June 8. If you have a medical reason that will prevent your return or will have concerns about childcare, please contact your supervisor.

You will begin to see student-athletes working out at Shelton Stadium beginning June 1st. They will be led in their workout by our Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and will be practicing social distancing throughout their workouts.

The Fletcher Fitness Center and Shelton Stadium will be opening on June 8. All student workers will receive training in new protocols that will be implemented for the safety of each patron. The Fletcher Fitness Center will be operating at 25% capacity until further notice. Access to Shelton Stadium will be through the main entrance of the Fletcher Fitness Center and out on to the field from the patio.

Please take notice of the new signage around campus. The entrances into every building will have informational flyers about appropriate actions and what we can do to keep everyone safe. Please familiarize yourself with the details to keep yourself and others safe.

Tim McCarry has ordered additional signage that help direct social distancing round campus. Hand sanitizer stations will be available in various locations. All faculty and staff are expected to wear a mask on campus when they are around others.

There are conversations about possible summer camps and other activities during the month of July. We will keep you updated as soon as information becomes available.

Your health and well-being are our highest priority. While we are eager to have everyone back on campus, we want to do so wisely and safely. The dynamics of this situation can change suddenly and will be dictated by the most current information we have on the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be patient and flexible as we work together for our campus.

I look forward to seeing you!

Eric

Hardin-Simmons University Recreation is excited to announce the Fletcher Fitness Center will reopen on Monday, June 8 under summer and family hours. It is important to note that pool will remain closed until further notice. A confirmed date has yet to be determined for reopening of the Brand pool, due to COVID-19. Once a date for the pool to reopen is set, University Recreation will communicate the news to HSU members.

To ensure the safety of HSU fitness center members, a new list of guidelines and policies will be enforced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please know these guidelines are temporary and will change as the State of Texas alters guidelines for gyms/fitness centers. Below is a listing of new policies that must be followed when entering the facility. For a full list of guidelines please visit https://www.hsutx.edu/student-life/wellness-recreation/.

  • Fletcher will operate at 25% capacity.
  • If at any point you come in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19 or develop signs/symptoms set by the CDC, we ask that you not visit the fitness center until you’ve been cleared. A full list of sign and symptoms has been listed on our website.
  • The facility will be divided into zones. This means only so many people per zone. Signs will be provided to inform you of max capacity numbers per area of the facility. If the zone is at max number, we kindly ask that you wait to enter the area until someone leaves.
  • No equipment checkout. This will include soccer balls, volleyballs, basketballs or fitness equipment. Must bring your own.
  • No towel checkout.  Personal towels for personal use only are permitted.
  • Must wipe down every piece of equipment you utilize with the sanitizing wipes provided in the center.
  • Locker rooms will be closed.
  • Will be asked to frequently wash hands and/or utilize the sanitizer dispensers on the wall.
  • Must always maintain a 6-ft distance from other members, unless from same family or household.
  • No contact sports (1-1 or large groups) following, but not limited to:
    • Basketball
    • Soccer
  • Workout regimes in group settings is prohibited (at this time).
    • Personal training
    • Weightlifting that requires spotters
    • Group fitness classes
    • Partner workouts

Fletcher Fitness Center Summer/Family Hours

Monday-Saturday:    9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday: 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Same households are not required to maintain 6-ft distance when in facility, this may alter contact sports or alter workout regime rules that are currently in place.

The CARES ACT Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund is an assistance program for students provided by the Federal government. The CARES Act provides emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted as they face financial challenges during this season. Students cannot apply for assistance directly from the U.S. Department of Education. However, HSU staff is working diligently to ensure every eligible student receives these funds using the quickest distribution pathway possible.

To receive CARES ACT grant funds, students must be a U.S. citizen, verified as eligible for Title IV financial aid, and enrolled in face to face classes as of March 13, 2020, the date of President Trump’s national emergency proclamation.

Only students who meet the federal guidelines will receive this funding from the federal government. Hardin-Simmons University does not select the criteria, and is only a conduit for the transfer of these federal funds.

HSU has received notification of approval for grant funding. We are required by the Department of Education to distribute these grant funds even if you currently owe a balance on your student account.

Each student who meets the federal guidelines will receive a deposit posted to their HSU student account. It is each student’s choice about how to use these funds. The intent is to help alleviate the financial challenges experienced during this past semester.

Once you see the funds appear in your HSU account in Self-Service, you may use BankMobile to move funds to your personal account. If you choose to apply these funds to help cover your expenses at HSU, simply make your payment using CashNet.

Dear HSU Family,

I wanted to send you an update regarding HSU’s plans for fall classes.

As many may already be aware, Hardin-Simmons University’s COVID-19 team has been meeting multiple times each week to ensure that we are able to plan ahead and respond to the pandemic. Based on the best available data and COVID-19 models, Hardin-Simmons University is planning to welcome back students and faculty to campus for classes this fall. Because the safety and well-being of our HSU family is paramount, remote learning and adaptive content delivery methods are being discussed that allow HSU to be flexible and responsive if the pandemic virus resurges.

Though we know social distancing was the right decision, and our students and faculty have adapted well to virtual interactive classes, there is no substitute for being together at HSU. All of us miss interacting with our students and each other in person.

May term and summer courses will remain online-only as we carefully monitor the peak and decline of coronavirus infections in Abilene.

HSU leadership is in continual conversation with Abilene and Taylor County leaders, health authorities, other local universities, churches, and all the agencies engaged in crisis response locally. This allows the administration access to the best available information in order to plan for various future scenarios. Currently the data shows our most likely scenario is a return to campus with a “new normal” that might include wearing masks, limiting class sizes and using larger classrooms, temperature testing for fever, intensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, and other preventative measures.

When it comes to protecting our campus community, our risk tolerance with this virus is very low. We know we can never eliminate all risk, but we can adapt our on-campus experience and our residential life in ways that promote health and safety as we continue to move forward in our mission of providing an education enlightened by Christian faith and values.

Eric

In light of the recent communication from Governor Abbott, Abilene City Council, and the HSU COVID-19 taskforce, we are asking that all students who are able to return to their permanent address to finish out their courses, to do so with proper checkout with your RD.  Although the current situation in Abilene is not at “lockdown” status, this step is needed as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Abilene area.  We understand there are students still living on campus for a variety of reasons.  Any student who originally remained in housing due to a job, needs to provide a letter from their supervisor indicating their essential status to continue living in campus housing.  If you have other extenuating circumstances for remaining in campus housing, please communicate with your RD your need to stay in campus housing.

Students who have not returned to move out (and are able) we ask that you do so by Sunday, April 5 or wait until the first week of May (which concludes our semester) to come retrieve your belongings.  This is our tentative end of semester move out date and subject to change pending the COVID-19 status at that time.  If planning to move out by April 5, please notify your RD in advance to schedule your move out time.  The university will allow you to store your belongings through the end of the semester if you are unable to come move out by Sunday, April 5.

Students who need to remain in HSU campus housing need to know the additional expectations to keep our HSU community safe and healthy during this time.  Expectations for residential students include:

  • No guests are allowed in the HSU living spaces. Only the HSU student assigned to that housing area should be residing there.
  • Practice social distancing at all times. Group size needs to remain fewer than 10 people (indoors and outdoors) while practicing social distancing.
  • Moody Center will be open for grab-and-go meal pick up and to access the post office. No other area will be open for student use.
  • Please limit travel outside of the Abilene area.  If choosing to make a necessary trip, you need to notify your RD before leaving. If traveling to an area where there are highly documented number of COVID-19 cases, you may be asked to self-quarantine upon your return.
  • Seek medical treatment if you feel ill, run a fever, or begin showing symptoms. Please inform your RD as well.

All students need to be aware that the following areas on campus are CLOSED:

  • Gilbert’s Coffee Shop (as of 5 p.m. Friday, April 3)
  • 2nd floor & basement of Moody Center (as of 5 p.m. Friday, April 3)
  • Shelton Stadium and track area (as of 5 p.m. Friday, April 3)
  • Fletcher Fitness Center
  • Intramural Field, Volleyball & Basketball Courts
  • Hale Golf Center
  • Richardson Library
  • Sandefer Fieldhouse
  • Softball, Soccer, Track Complex and Fieldhouses
  • Streich Tennis Center
  • Johnson Building
  • All Academic Buildings
  • All Fine Arts Areas

Semester Course Grades: Academic deans and university administration decided letter grades will still be assigned at the end of the spring semester for each course.

Graduation: Hardin-Simmons currently plans to hold commencement exercises for Spring and Summer graduates on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at the Abilene Convention Center at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  The 10 a.m. ceremony will include graduates from the Holland School of Sciences and Mathematics, the Parker College of Liberal Arts, the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing, the College of Health Professions, and the Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary.  The 2 p.m. ceremony will include graduates from the College of Human Sciences and Educational Studies, the Kelley College of Business, and the College of Fine Arts.

Official Class Rings and Ring Ceremony: Regarding the distribution of official class rings, the Spring 2020 Ring Ceremony for graduating seniors has been cancelled. Class rings will be mailed to each graduating senior’s home address April 6, 2020. Students should receive their rings via mail shortly after that date.

  • The only outdoor field/practice facility at HSU that will remain open is Shelton Stadium, from  7 a.m.-7 p.m. All other outdoor facilities will be closed and locked.
  • No other changes to the campus buildings that have been closed or open, at this time.

For 40 days, HSU Chaplain, Dr. Travis Craver, will lead a daily video devotional for the HSU family, called HSU Together. You can watch them on our YouTube playlist updated with the newest devotional first.

Richardson Library will be closed to patrons effective 5 p.m. Friday, March 20,  until further notice. The Smith Music Library is now closed until further notice.

Fletcher Fitness Center will be closed at 5 p.m. on March 17 and will remain closed until further notice because of CDC and other government recommendations during the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic for an extended social distancing period.

Telework Guidelines for HSU Faculty and Staff

Dining Services Update for students currently on campus:  Beginning Wednesday, March 18 – new dining hours and options:

  • Brunch
    • Monday – Saturday – 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
    • Sunday – 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Dinner
    • 7 days a week – 4-6 p.m.
  • Gilbert’s Coffee Shop
    • Monday – Friday – 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

HSU Post Office – Forwarding Mail Service (until you return to campus): 

For those of you who have remained off-campus and would like to receive your mail at your current location; please fill out this form: https://hsustudentlife.wufoo.com/forms/campus-change-of-address-post-office-apt/. Please anticipate 2-3 business days before you will begin receiving your mail at the forwarded address.

Dear HSU,

A plan has been formulated for Hardin-Simmons University that would allow us to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community while helping to slow the spread of the Coronavirus known as COVID-19 and to ensure the continued education of our students. This plan is consistent with the plans that other universities are now implementing nationwide.

The plan includes the following:

  • Spring Break: Spring Break is extended to include Monday, March 16 to March 22 for students only. Faculty and staff will need to report to campus as normal. However, academic instruction will not begin until March 23 for all students both undergraduate and graduate. (Physician Assistant and Nursing students see the paragraph below.)
  • For Students: We will transition to an online/remote learning mode on Monday, March 23.  Course work will begin on March 23 and continue to April 13.  We will hold all courses remotely in order to allow you to continue your courses this semester with as few disruptions as possible. Students will receive detailed information in a separate email on accessing your courses via online learning.
  • For Physician Assistant and Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing Students: We plan to transition to an online/remote learning mode on Wednesday, March 18. After Spring Break and at least until April 13, we will hold all courses remotely in order to allow you to continue your courses this semester with as few disruptions as possible. Students will receive detailed information in a separate email on accessing your courses via online learning.
  • Faculty: You will be hearing from your dean soon with more details about moving your classes online. The Office of Online Education is prepared to assist faculty with this transition. Faculty should report to campus on Monday, March 16th and be available for online training.
  • Staff: For the time being, all staff should continue reporting to work as usual and take the recommended steps to prevent illness. Vice President approval is required to work from home and that will be approved on a case by case basis. We ask that staff who are feeling sick to please remain at home and follow normal protocols.
  • On-Campus Housing, Dining and Activities: Residence halls and dining facilities, based on demand, will be open during the next three weeks; however, we ask students to determine whether their campus or permanent residence is safest. As students think about and make decisions on returning to campus, please consider the CDC’s criteria for people considered to be at higher risk, including older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions by clicking this link.
  • Campus Events: All campus events through April 13 have been postponed or modified. You will receive additional information from your event’s sponsor in the near future.
  • All persons: Anyone in the HSU community who develops a cough or fever, or is feeling ill, should remain at home and off-campus if possible. Please follow CDC and local health department protocols regarding self-isolation. Click here for: CDC information website or Texas Department of State Health Services site.
  • Athletes: Students who are involved in Spring sports (Golf, Tennis, Baseball, Softball and Track) will be allowed to participate in practices and scheduled competitions. Coaches and Athletic Trainers will continue to exercise and encourage the preventative measures that can help reduce the risk of an infectious disease.

For student-athletes who are not in a traditional season sport, please refer to the On-Campus Housing, Dining and Activities paragraph above.

Fans are encouraged to watch the live stream broadcast of certain events or follow live stats through the HSU Athletics App.

We realize that this decision will create some disruption and disappointment. However, it is compelling that we take these steps in order to keep the risk of spreading relatively low and hopefully make it through the remainder of the semester without a confirmed case on campus.  We feel that the spread of the virus is our #1 concern and these measures will hopefully do that before the first case arrives.

Numerous questions will rise as the events unfold. We are setting up a website with answers to frequently asked questions and will be sending out more detailed communications about various elements of this plan, which we will also post on the website.  As this is an evolving situation, we will also provide updates if there are significant changes to the plan outlined in this email.

During this time, I ask that all involved exercise patience and understanding as we pivot to provide and protect in such a short period of time. Your prayers are also greatly appreciated.

We’re thankful for those who work to help keep us safe and continue to be dedicated to providing an “excellence in education enlightened by Christian faith and values.”

– Eric Bruntmyer