Campus Community Followed New Guidelines to Ensure Safe Return to In-Person Learning

It had been five months since the University of Saint Mary hosted a lecture on its historic Leavenworth campus. From mid-March to August 2020, USM was quiet.

The growth of COVID-19 in the surrounding Kansas City area caused USM to announce a transition to remote learning on March 12, 2020. Spires finished the remainder of their semester at home.

While the USM community did its best to stay connected during the spring and summer months, students wanted to be on campus – even if they had to stay six feet apart from one another.

When in-person learning resumed in August, students moved into Maria and Berkel Hall in strategically designed shifts. They took a seat in Xavier Theatre, which transformed into a lecture hall for large classes. They ate lunch in assigned timeslots to help limit the number of people inside Saint Joseph Dining Hall.

Students lived and learned differently throughout the academic year. They wore masks whenever they were on campus, quarantined in local hotels when they were exposed to COVID-19, and endured multiple nasal swab and saliva diagnostic tests.

Despite the challenges, students continued to pursue their God-given potential. A modern record of new undergraduates enrolled at USM’s main campus, student-athletes won conference and national titles, and Spires landed impressive internship and research opportunities.

“Life at Saint Mary has looked a little, no, a lot different lately,” said Clayton Steward, a digital communications major and the 2021 USM Student Leader of the Year. “One of the things I’ve told all the first-years and transfers here is that we will get back to the regular Saint Mary. We will get back to having Matriculation and Convocation. We will get back to having big meals together and back to joining the Sisters for a Mardi Gras celebration.”

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