Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
A Message from President Mark Yarbrough
Fall Semester Overview
DTS Response Protocols
9/24/20 – Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 Educational Plan
The Fall 2020 term will start on Monday, August 24, 2020, as planned. Courses will NOT have a delayed start. Reading week is November 16–20, and the term ends Friday, December 18.
The Spring 2021 term will start on Monday, January 11, 2021, as planned. The World Evangelization Conference will be March 8–12 and Spring Break will be March 15–19.
We have, however, made some changes to ensure the safety of our community to the best of our ability. Those changes can be found on the Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 Educational Plan page.
9/24/20 – Spring 2021 Update: DTS will continue use the health and safety plan from Fall 2020 through the Spring 2021 term. Social distancing and masks will continue to be required and all courses (except for preaching) will continue to be offered through video conferencing for students who do cannot come to campus
8/13/20 – DTS's Mask Policy
Masks are required to be worn on DTS property at all times and in all classrooms, common areas, points of entry or exit, or in any location where other people are present or where you cannot control who you come in contact with. Exceptions to this rule would be if you are in your own residence, office, or enclosed workspace, or in an empty common area.
DTS recommends that students, staff, faculty, and visitors wear masks that meet or exceed the most recent CDC guidelines on masks. We also strongly recommend that washable masks be laundered frequently.
More information can be found on the DTS Mask Policy page.
7/28/20 – Changes to Chapel Requirements
Temporary Chapel Changes
DTS will offer live chapel sessions for a limited number of students, staff, and/or faculty from August 25 through November 13. In accordance with the seminary’s Preventative Health and Safety Policies and Protocols for Fall 2020, we have implemented several steps to ensure that attendees are as safe as possible. These include required pre-registration of attendees, one-way entrance/exits, socially-distant seating, and the requirement of attendees to wear masks. Those unable or uncomfortable attending chapel in person may view a live stream of the service at dts.edu/live or a recording at voice.dts.edu/chapel. Please visit our chapel webpage for more information.
In light of the unique circumstances created by COVID-19, DTS is waiving all chapel requirements for the fall 2020 semester.
Permanent Chapel Changes
Each chapel service is being extended by 10 minutes. The new 50-minute services from 10:40–11:30 A.M. will allow the seminary more time for prayer, singing, and other worship related activities.
For decades, DTS has offered chapel services Tuesday–Friday during the fall and spring semesters. However, student patterns have changed, and fewer students are on campus on Wednesdays. In light of this, chapel services will now be offered three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. We will also continue to offer select evening chapels as needed in order to minister to our students taking courses at night. Furthermore, in order to give more time to students to prepare for the end of the semester, chapel will discontinue services one week before finals each fall and spring. Please consult the chapel schedule each semester for exact dates.
6/11/20 – Plan for Reopening Campus, Step 1.5
Effective the week of June 15, staffing levels at the Dallas and Houston locations will increase to 50 percent for all departments. DTS-DC and DTS-PGI will open according to the host churches schedule and both will be announced separately. The safety protocols explicated in the DTS Plan for Reopening Campus Locations. Stage 1 apply, with the exception of the second bullet point: “Certain departments that can accomplish 100% of their job duties remotely will be encouraged to continue to work remotely.” With the move to 50% staffing on campus, we anticipate that each department will have some on-campus staff available every day.
6/1/20 – Plan for Reopening Campus, Step 1
PUBLISHED 4/29/2020 UPDATED 6/2/20
Steps for Reopening DTS Campuses on a Site-by-Site Basis:
The following outline is DTS’s process to gradually return our institution to normal working conditions at each of our locations, in holding with federal and state guidelines. Governor Abbott’s executive order for the State of Texas, issued on April 27, 2020, announces Phase 1 of his plan to reopen Texas. This executive order, while focused primarily on retail services, sets the upper boundaries not to be exceeded for reopening and allows businesses to take a more conservative approach. Therefore, DTS may, at times, choose to implement our plan in a more conservative manner. DTS’s current process to reopen assumes that any federal, state, and local government plans will continue to be implemented in stages, versus an all-at-once reopening. However, should an all-at-once approach be allowed at a future date, DTS will still follow a more conservative approach as outlined below.
Step 0: Seminary offices closed except for employees deemed necessary for essential operations per our earlier communications. All other employees work in a virtual office mode. Essential employees will follow the Mask Requirements on DTS Property.
Step 0.5: Beginning Monday, May 4, in addition to the “essential services” that have remained open and operational, the following services will be reopened at significantly reduced occupancy levels and following social distancing practices.
- Library Services: the libraries at both Dallas and Houston will open to students and faculty at 25% occupancy levels. The Houston library will be open from 9am to 3pm Monday – Thursday. The Dallas library will be open from Monday – Friday from 9am to 4:30pm. Those who come to the Library are required to follow the Mask Requirements on DTS Property.
- DTS-Dallas Bookstore: the Bookstore will reopen to students and faculty at 25% occupancy levels and mask requirements (see Mask Requirements on DTS Property). The online presence will be restored to receive and ship orders. Customers may come to the store but must wear a mask and follow the social distancing signs posted.
- Hope Coffee: Hope Coffee will be opened at 25% occupancy with social distancing and mask requirements.
- Luke’s Pantry: Luke’s Pantry will continue to fill food orders (while supplies last) every week through the month of May. Place your order online anytime at students.dts.edu/lukes-pantry-distribution. Your food order will be ready for you to pick up the following Wednesday. Bags will be labelled with your name and apartment number on carts/shelves on the patio area outside Luke’s Pantry. If your last name begins with the letters A-L, come between 12-1pm. If your last name begins with the letters M-Z, come between 1-2pm. Masks and social distancing are required and only one person per family is allowed to pick up each order.
All other employees and departments will continue to work remotely until DTS moves to Step 1 of our plan.
Step 1 (Current situation): On Monday, June 1 the seminary will move to Step 1. This phase is a gradual relaxation of Step 0 where the great majority of employees continue to work remotely (including all employees with underlying health conditions) while a small number of additional key people are allowed to work on site.
- Supervisors will ensure that employees work in staggered shifts to minimize close contact. (e.g., one group of employees in a department might work Mon/Wed while another group works Tues/Thurs). These would be departments that have direct interaction with students, residents, and core infrastructure.
- Certain departments that can accomplish 100% of their job duties remotely will be encouraged to continue to work remotely.
- Meetings will continue to be conducted through teleconference software when possible, even when held on campus. Any meetings that must take place in person should be small (less than 5 people) and social distance must be maintained.
- Employees who come into the office will be asked to take their temperature each morning before work, and if they have a fever they must not come in.
- Additionally, those who work on campus must wear a mask when leaving their private work areas or anytime they might come into contact with others. (Please see the document Mask Requirements on DTS Property.)
DTS leadership will determine when a move from Step 1 to Step 2 is warranted based on the available local and state government recommendations and public health data available at the time. This date will be communicated on the website, and via email and text alert to students and employees.
- Employees who come into the office will be asked to monitor their temperature each morning before work, and if they have a fever or present any other symptoms, they should not come in.
- Depending on the medical and health recommendations at the time, limits may be placed on the size of groups that can meet together and social distancing measures will likely remain in effect, such as having employees use stairs over the elevators, etc…
- DTS will also continue to request that employees to wear a mask when in proximity to others or in the common areas (Please see Mask Requirements on DTS Property).
Step 3: When DTS is finally able to return to pre-COVID-19 operations, there will likely remain in place enhanced cleaning protocols as well as other precautions as recommended by public health officials as well as government entities.
In short, DTS will move slowly but methodically to ensure that we are protecting our students and employees while still providing and maintaining excellent customer service to our community.
3/24/20 – Shelter-in-Place and original announcement from 3/18/20
DTS continues to follow the State of Texas Executive Order as well as the Dallas County "Shelter-In-Place"order which essentially limits state activities to essential services only. This is in effect until April 30 (or to the date indicated in any additional extensions).
This order has the following impact on Dallas Theological Seminary through at least April 30, 2020 (though the order can be extended at any point). The Dallas campus is officially closed to faculty, students, and the public and staffing is limited to only those services deemed essential (such as housing-related services, campus police, custodial, maintenance, construction, and IT):
- Both Swiss and Washington Towers remain open for residents and staffed appropriately.
- While the Turpin Library is official closed to the public and off-campus students, the first floor of Turpin Library will remain open (8am-4pm, Monday through Friday) in order to provide study space and WIFI access to students living in campus housing. Please note the following:
- Only students living is Swiss or Washington Tower may use the study space.
- No circulation desks, nor reference materials will be available and books will not be accessible during this time due to the shelter-in-place order.
- Space will be limited so that appropriate group size limits and social distancing can be maintained.
- The second and third floors will be closed.
- Hope Coffee will remain open for take-out orders ONLY. Staff will be wearing gloves and ensuring proper procedures are followed per CDC recommendations.
Functional Campus operations that will continue in order to support Housing and Operations are:
- Campus Police – starting March 24, the police will relocate their office to the Turpin Library collection desk.
- Maintenance – During the shelter-in-place order maintenance will only process high-priority work orders on campus as needed. Should maintenance need to enter a residence on campus, they will sanitize hands, wear fresh gloves and a mask.
- Custodial – During the shelter-in-place order, the custodial team will focus their efforts on cleaning the open areas such as the library and housing. The open portion of the library will be cleaned every two hours (Monday – Friday). Common areas in housing will be cleaned every two hours all seven days of the week.
- Mail Services – During the shelter-in-place order, mail services will be open from 10am – 4pm for on-campus residents in Swiss and Washington to receive packages.
- Construction – shelter-in-place order allows for construction projects on campus to continue, so early phases of the new chapel and student-life building will proceed during this time.
We understand that there is some confusion about what it means to “shelter-in-place” and we would encourage all students living on campus to read the State of Texas Executive Order and official Dallas County Order.
All other offices/services will move to a “virtual office” model, remaining open during their normal working hours, but with employees working remotely.
If the department you are trying to contact is not physically open, please email or call them to set up a virtual appointment.
DTS remains committed to serving students, and we believe a virtual model will provide the highest level of service and safety during this pandemic.
Chapel – We encourage you to enjoy some ”best of" chapel content from some of our past professors who you may have never heard preach before. Classic sermons from Dr. Howard Hendricks, Dr. Dwight Pentecost, Dr. Don Campbell, Dr. Eddie Lane, etc. There is no reporting requirement for these.
All student events and gatherings have been cancelled until further notice.
Campus Tours for prospective students have been cancelled until further notice.
- 3/16–3/21: Spring Break will be extended for an additional week, meaning that all in-person classes on all campuses will be canceled from Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 21. This time will allow faculty and staff time to prepare to move course materials online. (Existing online/streaming classes will continue as normal).
- After 3/23, all traditional campus and hybrid courses will be held in an online format until the end of the Spring semester. Please check https://online.dts.edu for information about your courses.
- Extension Site Courses: All remaining in-person classes at extension sites (Atlanta, Austin, NW Arkansas, PGI, San Antonio) will be moved online. Classes in Houston and DC taught by traveling faculty will also be moved online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
Note: all classes that were considered face-to-face before this change will continue to count as face-to-face.
Travel Returning from Spring Break
- All students, faculty, and staff returning from any air travel or any visitors returning from CDC Level 2 and Level 3 travel advisory locations for COVID-19 (including airport layovers) are required to contact DTS by emailing the following account: CoronavirusTravel@dts.edu, and self-quarantine for fourteen days before returning to campus. This requirement applies to both seminary-sponsored and personal travel. For information on the latest travel advisories, see U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. State Department Travel Advisory updates.
Future Travel for Teaching Faculty
- All faculty travel for DTS teaching-related activities have been suspended for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.
- All extension site courses in Austin, Atlanta, San Antonio, PGI, and Northwest Arkansas will be moved online. Courses in DC and Houston utilizing out of town faculty will also be moved online.
- Your safety, security, and well-being are our highest priorities. During this time, DTS faculty and staff will work with you and be as flexible as we can to ensure you finish the semester well.
- Please be patient with us and pray for us as we transition courses online and continue to make challenging decisions.
- The entire faculty, staff, administration, and board will be praying for you. May God be honored through your life and witness during this time.
Staff and Faculty
- DTS continues to follow the State of Texas Executive Order as well as the Dallas County "Shelter-In-Place"order which essentially limits state activities to essential services only. This is in effect until April 30 (or to the date indicated in any additional extensions).
- As of March 16, 2020, Seminary operations will move to a “predominantly virtual” office model with the bulk of faculty and staff working remotely. Only a small essential physical staff presence will remain on campus to operate essential services.
- DTS anticipates office hours and department hours to remain the same as always in the new virtual setup.
- Human Resources will communicate with all employees (faculty, staff, and student employees) regarding needs for temporary alternative work arrangements and additional employment resources. See employees.dts.edu for more information.