A Message from President Mark Bailey
The following overview of DTS’s plan for the Fall 2020 Semester is not meant to be exhaustive but rather a brief overview of the steps DTS is taking to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and campus communities. All plans for Fall 2020 are subject to change as the current situation develops and in holding with all federal and state guidelines at the time.
Fall 2020 Term Start Date
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.
Course Delivery Options
DTS is hopeful the Fall 2020 term will allow for a return to a traditional semester with in-person teaching and learning occurring at all DTS campuses and regional locations. Moreover, we have planned several levels of contingencies that would allow us to deliver the same quality education to our students in a variety of flexible ways in the event a traditional semester is not prudent. The following detailed plans are in place to address three possible scenarios this fall:
- A full return to campus—All courses that would normally be held in-person at our campuses and regional locations would continue to meet in that format with enhanced safety measures and the allowance for appropriate social distancing measures.
- A partial return to campus—In order to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community, campus capacities will be monitored and reduced as needed. This may involve any or all of the following steps:
- Some courses may be moved to larger classrooms to enable appropriate social distancing for in-person meetings.
- Some courses may be able to operate in a staggered manner.
- Some courses may need to move online sooner depending on the campus location, classroom size, travel considerations, and professor needs.
- A “virtual campus” model—Should the situation dictate, DTS would either start the semester entirely online, or once underway, pivot the semester to an entirely online educational format using video conferencing and online delivery.
Additional Enhanced Safety Measures
By the start of the Fall 2020 term, DTS will have implemented the following safety measures:
- All DTS campuses and locations will follow all public health requirements and safety recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their state and local government.
- Additional hand sanitizing machines will be placed through DTS facilities.
- DTS classrooms and facilities will undergo enhanced cleaning protocols and will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day.
- Additional requirements (such as social distancing, the use of face coverings, etc.) may be enacted as outlined by federal, state, and local governments.
Changes to Campus Events
- Fall New Student Orientation will happen online for all campuses.
- Chapel requirements are reduced to ensure smaller public gatherings.
- Select events will serve boxed meals, rather than buffets.
- The number of event attendees will be limited to meet the social distancing requirements of the space available.
Campuses and Regional Extension Sites
- Each campus and teaching location will follow their state and local guidelines and the building guidelines in place during the fall term. If certain locations are under different guidelines or circumstances than the main Dallas campus, DTS will determine necessary changes and communicate them to students, faculty, and staff at those locations.
We are asking all students, staff, faculty, and members of our campus community to remain flexible during this unprecedent time. Our motto is to “Teach Truth. Love Well.” We will do our best to honor the educational and personal commitments we have made to our community.
One of the primary responsibilities for Dallas Theological Seminary is to set policies that protect the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and visitors. In recognition of this responsibility and in light of the April 27 executive order by Governor Abbot to allow the State of Texas’s Shelter-in-Place/Stay-at-Home order to expire this Thursday, April 30, DTS is announcing a stepped reopening of the Dallas, Houston, and Washington DC locations. 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. These practices will be consistent with Step 0.5 on the Steps for Reopening DTS document.
- 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 https://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. The steps for Reopening DTS document provides a general plan for how the Seminary leadership intends to reopened over time in a way the ensures the safety and wellbeing of our greater seminary family. As additional services are reopened, they will be communicated by email.
All other employees and departments will continue to work remotely until DTS moves to Step 1 of our “DTS Steps for Reopening” plan.
In closing, the seminary leadership intends to reopened over time in a way the ensures the safety and wellbeing of our students, employees, and their families. As additional services are reopened, they will be communicated by email and on the COVID-19 website.
Masks are required to be worn on DTS property at all times and in all 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.
Washable fabric masks are available for any employees working on campus during this time, and a certain amount of masks are available for residents of campus housing as well. Masks can be picked up at the Campus Police desk on the first floor of the library.
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.