The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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What You Need to Know Before Returning to Campus

Torch Photo/ NICK BELLO

Students arriving to campus on Monday, Aug. 24 will find it is not quite the same as how they left it in March. From limited gate entry to limits on exactly where people are permitted to be on campus, changes to policy and procedure, as well as general campus activities have been implemented across the board. Before you arrive back to campus for the fall semester here’s what you need to know. 

Aug. 24 is the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, and the last day to add/drop classes is now Aug. 29 (full 2020-2021 academic calendar located here). Students from certain U.S. states or territories or from abroad must submit a PCR COVID-19 to Health Services three days prior to arrival on campus. Affected students were given the option to quarantine in campus housing beginning on Aug. 1, paying $32 a day ($512 in total) for meals with limited contact with outside persons. 

Students who do not fall under either of these umbrellas are not required to take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Those who test positive for COVID-19 at any point are required to notify Health Services. 

For those arriving on campus for in-person classes, Gate 1 and Gate 6 are the only gates open for student access (Gates 1, 2 and 6 are available for University employees), according to the St. John’s website. In the afternoon, Gate 2 will be open only for those exiting campus. 

Prior to arrival each day, all students, faculty, staff and visitors  must complete the “Campus Pass” self-screening survey through the St. John’s University Connect app or fill out the survey online. The Campus Pass consists of five Yes or No questions, which ask whether you have tested positive or come in contact with anyone who has tested positive or displayed symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have traveled to an area with a high rate of COVID-19 infections within the last 14 days. 

After completion, an email will be sent with either a green or red pass – this pass must be shown to a Public Safety officer at whichever gate you enter each time you come to campus. Without this pass you cannot enter campus. 

On Aug. 19 at 10:29 a.m., an internal communication from Anne Rocco Pacione, University Chief Information Officer and a member of the Return to Campus Task Force, indicated that “due to increased demand” the self-screening survey on the St. John’s app was experiencing issues. Anyone coming to campus that morning had to answer health screening questions from a Public Safety officer to receive a campus pass. The issue was resolved by 5 p.m. that afternoon. 

While on campus, everyone must wear a face covering. This applies to “walking around campus and inside University buildings, including classrooms, common areas and any location where social distancing is difficult to maintain (e.g., offices, hallways and elevators).” All community members must also maintain a six-foot distance and adhere to social distancing protocols. 

According to the St. John’s website, any students that observe individuals not wearing a face covering or not practicing social distancing should submit a “Social Distancing Violation Reporting” form. The form includes a way to describe the incident, including the date, time, location and details of the incident, the parties involved and the option to add documentation, such as photos. While the form can be submitted anonymously, the form states that “doing so may greatly limit the University’s ability to address your concern.”

While the University has closed the library for quiet study – with only the first floor of St. Augustine Hall open with limited capacity – “touchdown areas” have been created on campus, which will “provide quiet space to take online classes while on campus.” These touchdown areas include rooms in Bent Hall, Sullivan Hall, DAC, St. Augustine Hall and Marillac Hall, all of which will be occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Opportunities for campus involvement  will primarily occur virtually this semester, as student organizations transition to an online format.  Since students are expected to refrain from gathering in groups, even with appropriate social distancing measures and with masks, all events will take place virtually. According to the University website, “The Division of Student Affairs has begun working with SGi and student organizations to move as much of its programming to virtual formats as possible.” A virtual Activities Fair will take place on Aug. 31 on several of Campus Activities’ social media platforms, including their Instagram (@sjuactivities).

Campus Activities is also providing resources for other virtual activities to keep students busy, including virtual tours of New York City, multicultural programs and even virtual Java Johnnies. Queens campus virtual activities can be found here


For more information, go to the St. Johns Reopens Website.


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About the Contributors
Alicia Venter
Alicia Venter, Editor-in-Chief
Alicia is a senior Journalism major with a minor in English. She joined the Torch during her freshman year as Assistant News Editor and later became News Editor. In her last year, she is now serving as the Editor-in-Chief. She is excited to expand the Torch’s online presence through the Torch’s newsletter and other digital platforms. She is a native Kentuckian and loves painting, blaring music too loud and strong coffee! You can reach Alicia at [email protected].
Sophie Williams
Sophie Williams, Digital Editor
Sophie is a senior majoring in Photojournalism with a minor in Public Relations. She has held several positions including Staff Writer, Photographer, Assistant Features Editor, Co-Features Editor and Features Editor. Sophie is serving as the Digital Editor this year and hopes to revamp the Torch's digital presence. Some fun facts: Gossip Girl is her favorite TV show, she is an educator at lululemon Soho and her enneagram is Type 6. You can reach Sophie at [email protected].
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