Message from President Mary Finger - Return to Campus Updates

July 15, 2020

As our August 17th start date for classes nears, I write to provide you with additional updates on Seton Hill University’s plans to prioritize the health and safety of our campus and the ways we will return to the Seton Hill University community.

If you haven’t done so already, please take the time to read the Return to Campus Plan that I shared with you on June 24. The Plan is posted at 

Class Sizes and Physical Distancing

As a small, Catholic liberal arts university, Seton Hill has always offered our students small classes. In light of the pandemic, we have been extra vigilant about ensuring that our class sizes and classroom, laboratory and studio configurations allow for proper physical distancing so that we may offer the face-to-face instruction that our students have come to expect. Seton Hill’s average class size this fall will be 18 to 24 students and there are no large lecture classes. 

Move-In Updates 

Consistent with guidelines communicated by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office on July 2 and updated on July 11, Seton Hill will be requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to campus from any one of 19 states with high coronavirus case numbers. At this writing, those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. In addition, students should not travel to those states within 14 days of their arrival to campus. Students who do travel to those states will be subject to the 14-day quarantine when they arrive to Seton Hill and need to inform the Office of Residence Life at, so they may plan for your early arrival. Students who live in one of the listed states – or any state that may be added to this list by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – must arrive to campus two weeks prior to the start of classes. 

Universal Testing

Seton Hill University will require all students attending face-to-face classes in the Fall 2020 semester to undergo pre-arrival testing for COVID-19. Seton Hill is partnering with Quest Diagnostic on its “Quest Back to School Program.” Some students will be tested on campus, while others will be able to receive testing near their homes prior to their return to campus. 

July 27—International students, resident assistants and orientation leaders will be tested on campus.

July 28 and 29—First-year commuter students and first-year resident students who live within a 50-mile radius of Seton Hill will be tested on campus. 

July 30 through August 1—Returning commuter students, returning resident students who live within a 50-mile radius of Seton Hill, and Adult Degree Program and graduate students taking face-to-face classes will be tested on campus.

August 2—Students living in or arriving from one of the states identified as a hot spot by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be tested on campus. All other resident students will be able to obtain testing near their homes through the “Quest Back to School Program.”

Additional information on the testing program will be shared by the Office of Counseling, Disability and Health Services soon.

Daily Self-Screening 

As a member of the Seton Hill University community, you will be responsible for monitoring your own health and staying in your Residence Hall room or at home if you are sick. As described in detail in the Return to Campus Plan, you must complete a Daily Self-Screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to leaving your Residence Hall room or coming to campus. I would ask you to please start getting into the routine of conducting the Daily Self-Screening – including taking your temperature – before you arrive on campus. Conducting the self-screening on a daily basis prior to your arrival will help you better understand what is normal for you – especially when it comes to your baseline temperature – and help you be aware of any changes that could signal a COVID-19 infection. With this in mind, we ask all residential students to bring a thermometer with them to campus - and all commuting students to have access to one at their home – in order to complete the daily self-screenings. 

Contact Tracing

Seton Hill staff members have been trained on Contact Tracing efforts in the event that a member of the Seton Hill community has been diagnosed with COVID-19 during the upcoming academic year. All Seton Hill community members who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should report that information to our Contact Tracing team at This information – which will be kept confidential – will provide Contact Tracing team members with important medical history information that will be helpful if they need to reach out to community members who may have come into contact with an infected person on campus. 

Mask Distribution and Temperature Station Locations

Every Seton Hill student will be provided with two reusable fabric face masks upon their return to campus. Seton Hill students may also use fabric or disposable masks that meet CDC guidelines that they bring from home. Masks with valves should not be used as they may not be sufficient to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets. In addition, infrared touchless thermometers will be available throughout campus in the event a student or employee begins to feel ill after arriving on campus for the day and wants to check their temperature. Resident students will receive masks during move-in. Commuter students can obtain their masks at locations throughout campus. A complete list of locations where masks and thermometers will be located will be included in the Return to Campus Plan prior to the start of the Fall semester. 

Staffing Addition

Seton Hill has hired an additional registered nurse to join the staff of the Office of Counseling, Disability and Health Services. Jacquelyn Greathouse has more than a dozen years of experience ranging from emergency to family medicine and most recently developed and maintained a COVID-19 clinic for Excela Health – the main health care system in Westmoreland County. She will join Nurse Practitioner Annette Smiach in providing health care services for our Seton Hill students.

Athletics Update

Late yesterday, the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) – of which Seton Hill is a member - voted to cancel athletic competition through the Fall 2020 semester with the intention to move all athletic competition and championships to the Spring 2021 semester. You can find the announcement issued by the PSAC this morning here. We are hopeful that this approach will provide the opportunity for Seton Hill student-athletes – and those throughout the PSAC – to safely compete in athletics in the spring. We understand the disappointment this decision will cause to our student-athletes, coaches, families and fans. We will continue to keep you informed of all developments on how we will approach athletic competition in the Spring Semester in a safe and healthy way.

Lunch in Lowe Dining Hall

We continue to plan for physical distancing during peak meal times in Lowe Dining Hall, particularly during the lunch hours between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The Office of the Registrar will be reaching out with more specific information soon. 

Virtual Orientation (New Students)

Virtual Orientation is a series of online programs developed to help students and families feel more comfortable and supported prior to your arrival for Welcome Weekend in August. I invite you to visit for more information on our Virtual Orientation events. 

Technology Distribution (New Students)

As an Apple Distinguished School, Seton Hill is a leader in advancing the use of technology across our liberal arts curriculum.  The university is pleased to provide all traditional undergraduate students with MacBooks.  Seton Hill will ship MacBooks to the homes of new students by August 1. Students who are required to arrive to campus early due to the mandatory quarantine will be given their technology upon their arrival to campus. 

Seton Hill University’s response to the pandemic and our Return to Campus Plan continue to evolve as guidelines and regulations on the federal, state and local level change. We will continue to keep you informed throughout the rest of the summer as new information is developed. 

I pray that you and your families continue to stay healthy and safe. I look forward to seeing you on campus in August. 


Dr. Finger