Fall 2021 Updates

Thank you to all students, faculty and staff for their ongoing adherence to our community health guidelines. During the Fall 2020 semester, more than 50,000 TopperSafe screenings were completed, and the university did not see any cases of campus-based or co-curricular transmission of Covid-19. 

For Fall 2021, the university is planning for increased on-campus capacity. The majority of classes will be held in-person, and all students can expect to have on-campus, in-person classes. (Fully online graduate programs are not impacted.)

Registration for Fall 2021 on-campus housing will begin in February and will be open to all students. Physical distancing will continue to be in place, and students will have single rooms with no more than two students sharing a bathroom. 

Students and families will be well-informed of specific academic plans before course registration for Fall 2021, which begins in early April. 

The university remains committed to the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff. We continue to work with our team of medical advisors on safety precautions for Fall 2021. The university plans on expanding on-campus health services, as well as implementing asymptomatic Covid-19 testing. We are also working with regional health providers on general vaccine access for the campus community.

We pledge to keep students and families well-informed via Healthy Hilltop as plans for the new academic year develop.


TopperSafe screenings


contact trace rate


cases of campus-based
or co-curricular transmission


Student Support

The university community remains committed to supporting our students through the pandemic. Students can apply for emergency assistance, and community members can submit a Student of Concern form for any student (undergraduate or graduate) experiencing an emergency. Examples of emergencies include assistance with technology needs, rent, utilities, food and other essential household expenses. Learn more about support and resources for student emergencies. 

Support emergency grants for Hilltoppers impacted by Covid-19.

Student Choice for Spring 2021 

The university’s goal throughout all pandemic-related disruptions has been for students to remain on schedule for their graduation, while providing safe, personalized and vibrant experiences. We continue to rely on national, state and regional data about Covid-19 transmission rates, healthcare access and contact tracing, and we work with medical advisors to provide the best combination of virtual and in-person curricular and co-curricular programs. 

  • March 10 and April 30 are student wellness days. No undergraduate classes will be held.
  • Spring break has been removed from the academic calendar to preserve health and safety and will be replaced with three wellness days dispersed throughout the semester, based on student feedback. With the majority of students on campus or in the Austin region, it is critical that we do not create a large super-spreading event following the return of spring break.
  • Easter break has been condensed and will now only include Good Friday (April 2). Classes after 4 p.m. on Holy Thursday (April 1) are canceled. Classes will be in session on Monday, April 5.
  • The semester will end as scheduled on May 3.
Student graduation

Commencement Updates

St. Edward’s University will celebrate Commencement for the Class of 2021 and 2020 in May 2021 with current plans that include an in-person graduation experience in alignment with all relevant health and safety protocols. An additional update on our Commencement plans will be shared by university leadership by April 5, 2021.

Our Ongoing Commitment 

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On-Campus Experiences

  • Convenience and flexibility of online classes with holistic on-campus community support, services and selected activities
  • Outdoor and physically distanced in-person meet-ups between students and faculty members, as possible
  • Physically distanced in-person activities that allow for more interpersonal experiences in and out of the classroom
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Virtual Experiences 

  • Superior virtual experiences that are only found at St. Edward’s, such as student projects that foster creative and critical-thinking and continuation of co-curricular activities and programming
  • Prioritization of faculty-student engagement across disciplines and courses, such as small group faculty-led discussions and one-on-one mentoring
  • Focus on degree progress and a pathway to graduation without disruption

Our Planning Structure

The university’s Covid-19 planning is led by the Risk and Emergency Management Team (REMT), university leaders who guide the safety and planning of all university issues related to any emergency, including a global pandemic. The team is led by vice presidents and reports to the university president. Eight cross-campus workgroups consist of faculty and staff who are experts in their respective fields. In addition, the workgroups incorporate student input through surveys and focus groups. 

St. Edward’s University is extending its expertise by working with a panel of medical advisors. A core team of physicians and other subject-matter experts are assisting the university with student and staff training, risk assessment, and policy changes. Dr. Nick van Terheyden, former chief medical officer for Dell, and Fred Goldstein, an expert in population health at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, lead the team of advisors. 

Updated Feb. 15, 2021