Starr King School for the Ministry is determined to protect the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff, while continuing our mission of training religious and social-change leaders. School leadership will continue to watch developments closely and take all necessary and responsible steps for the sake of our community and society at large. If you have any questions or comments about our efforts, please contact the SKSM COVID-19 Monitoring Group: Dr. Gabriella Lettini (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Christopher Schelin (email@example.com).
As of March 9 2020, all in-person Spring classes were shifted to meeting online via Zoom.
Summer courses will take place remotely, in both synchronous and asynchronous online modalities.
In light of the persisting challenges and safety concerns posed by the pandemic, all SKSM Fall 2020 courses will still take place online, either asynchronously or synchronously. Our website explains the modality of each course and students should refer to the website for the most current course information: www.sksm.edu/academics/full-course-catalog.
Links for COVID-19 at member schools:
Health & Safety Information
What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a subfamily of viruses that normally cause mild respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. The novel coronavirus or SARS-COV-2 (often just referred to as “coronavirus”) is a specific viral strain which causes the disease formally labeled Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19. The virus appears to have begun with an animal-to-human transmission in Wuhan, China, sometime in December 2019.
What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. Less frequently, persons may experience other cold-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat) or diarrhea. In rare cases, the virus can lead to organ failure and death.
How is the virus transmitted?
The virus is transmitted through close contact through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus has a typical incubation period of 2-14 days before symptoms develop and there is some evidence that it is transmitted even when such symptoms are absent.
How dangerous is this?
So far, it appears that about 80% of persons who contract COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, with the remainder requiring hospitalization. Estimates for fatal cases range from 0.7% to over 3%. While the vast majority of infected persons will recover, it is important to note that the fatality rate for novel coronavirus is significantly higher than the flu (around 0.1%). Persons at greater risk for complications include the elderly and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease.
What precautions should I take?
If you are concerned about becoming infected or infecting others, please take the following steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze. Try to do so with your elbow or a tissue rather than your hands.
- While face masks such as surgical masks or N95 respirators can reduce the risk of infection, the CDC currently recommends facial protection only for persons who are already infected.
- Persons with a higher risk of complications, or who wish to avoid infecting friends and family with a higher risk, may wish to consider preparations to self-quarantine as necessary. You may want to stock up on extra supplies of food and medicine in order to avoid going out in public at a time when infection appears more likely. As you are able, make arrangements to work from home.
Email Scam Safety
Unfortunately, scammers are hard at work attempting to take advantage of the chaotic environment due to the coronavirus. There is a possibility that you may get some texts or emails which appear to have come from President Rosemary Bray McNatt or someone else at Starr King School for the Ministry. This is happening to congregations as well. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Please take the time to look carefully at the email addresses that these messages come from. Official communications from SKSM during this time will come from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Currently, the school does not utilize mass texting as a means of communication.
- The school will never ask you to send gift cards.
- However, the school is preparing for a Relief Fund campaign to raise funds assist to our students who may be struggling. When this occurs, emails will come from firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide secure links to a giving page on our domain sksm.edu.
- If you receive suspicious messages or solicitations from someone claiming to write on behalf of Starr King School for the Ministry, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
The following tips were shared with us by the Director of Security from Endsight IT Company:
- Never assume all the links in a Google/Yahoo/Bing search are safe.
- Think before you click anything.
- Hover over the link to be sure it’s actually going to the intended location.
- Refuse to open attachments or click links from untrusted sources.
- Verify attachments and links with an alternative communication form like text or phone.
- Never transfer any kind of money or gift cards without verifying with the source. Use text, or phone call to verify, but never the email address making the request as it could be compromised.
- Be extremely cautious when giving any personal or other information requested.
- Keep your home workstations patched and make sure antivirus (AV) is up to date.
As indicated above, all SKSM Fall courses will still take place online, either asynchronously or synchronously. Our website explains the modality of each course and students should refer to the website for the most current course information: www.sksm.edu/academics/full-course-catalog.
Staff and faculty have been asked to continue their regular duties but work from home. All employee meetings are taking place on Zoom.
Chapel will continue to operate as a monthly, fully-online service. We meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 11:00 am PT, September to December and February to May.
No public events sponsored by Starr King are being scheduled on campus until further notice. All of our events will take place online.
Travel: SKSM recommends that students, faculty, and staff avoid all international travel as well as avoid or restrict nonessential domestic travel.
The GTU Library is currently closed to all but essential personnel in compliance with a Shelter-In-Place Order issued on March 16, 2020. However, the Library continues to provide access to digital resources and provide remote services to our academic communities. Please check the website for the most current information: https://www.gtu.edu/library. The following services are in place:
- Ask-a-librarian chat: available from the library webpages, the reference librarians will be online M-F from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
- Email: send all questions (about anything) to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zoom by appointment
- Distance Students Guide: Guide for Distance Students
- Remote Materials Pick Up
- Extended due dates: No items will be due while we are closed, we have extended all due dates. Please login to your library account to see these changes. However, if students are leaving the bay area, the book return at 2400 Ridge Road is available for drop off of items.
- Online workshops: Yes, we are preparing more workshops to be held in Zoom. Workshops will be advertised on the library homepage and workshops page.
- Full access for special students: Some categories of people (like auditors) only had in-library access to digital materials like ebooks. For the duration of the semester the Library has extended full remote access to anyone sitting in on classes. If you have students in these categories, and they don’t know how to login, please have them email email@example.com
This information can also be found on the Remote Library Resources page.
CARES Act – HEERF Report
Starr King received an allocation of $23,860.00 earmarked for students from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Starr King has signed and returned the HEERF certification and agreement form and has used or intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students. No funding has been distributed as of June 22, 2020. Starr King is required to make accessible to the public a report describing the use of funds and how they were distributed, 30 days after the allocation of funds, and must update it every 45 days thereafter.
The regulation states that only students who are or who could be eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV (TIV) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) may receive emergency financial aid grants. The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to apply for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 84.
The total number of students who received Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is currently 0 as of June 20, 2020.
Emergency Fund Request Form
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which is a component of the CARES Act, is intended to provide federal funds for student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. Eligible expenses include food, housing, course materials, healthcare, childcare, technology, and transportation.
Only students who have completed a FAFSA are eligible to receive these funds.
The application is due by August 1, 2020 but funds are limited. Please apply as soon as possible.
The method(s) that will be used by SKSM to determine which students receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is described in detail below.
- SKSM believes that high-residency students enrolled in Spring 2020 term were impacted most by the closure of the college campus and the migration of coursework to online/remote. Therefore, funding is to be offered first to eligible high-residency students who were attending classes on campus. The precise impact will be different for each student, but may include additional expenses related to food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care expenses. Funding is to be awarded to eligible low-residency students, once all high-residency students who applied have been processed for determination of a grant. Low residency students will be determined eligible by the same criteria.
- Students are deemed eligible for the HEEERF funds if they met the following requirements:
- They were enrolled for at least 6 credits in the Spring 2020 term, including Intersession, and pursuing an aid-eligible degree or certificate
- They had a 2019-20 FAFSA on file that confirmed Title IV eligibility criteria including but not limited to the following: U.S. citizenship or eligible noncitizen and a valid Social Security.
- They were meeting institutional SAP requirements
- Completed an application for the HEERF funds that was approved based on their written impact statement and the criteria above.
The application for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds is provided below. For more information on HEERF and the CARES ACT please click here.
Apply for funds at the link below:
Resources – Information
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Information
- Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Information
- Alameda County Public Health Department Situation Updates
- Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Information
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map
Resources – Faith Communities
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- UUA Learnings About Worship Online
- Faithlead.org – I Have Lifestreamed the Lord
- CDC Resources for Faith Leaders
Resources – Social Justice Advocacy
Resources – Personal Resilience
- Harvard – Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety
- Educational Resources for Families with Children
- A Listening Care Package for Uncertain Times
All School Meeting – PM