Trinity University under COVID-19: Year-in review

One year later the university is still grappling with the realities of the pandemic


Claire Sammons

Picture of Thomas and Lightner in the distance

On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. The first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on Jan. 21, 2020. March 11, 2021, marked the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Here’s everything you need to know about Trinity’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.


Feb. 13, 2020 | Coronavirus ends China study abroad trips: Last spring, six Trinity students were abroad in China, with one other student awaiting a late start to their semester. On Nov. 17, 2019, the first strain of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, China. The WHO officially granted the novel coronavirus the name “COVID-19” on Feb. 19, 2020.

March 3, 2020 | University announces further precautions against coronavirus outbreak, including quarantine for some intl. travelers: The university required a 14-day quarantine for select traveling students, among other precautionary measures set in place.

March 11, 2020 | Trinity cancels classes, closes residence halls: Last spring break, students all across the nation were abruptly met with the news that the remainder of their semester would be continued online-only. University president Danny Anderson sent an alert out to students, infamously known as “the email” among Trinity students.

March 16, 2020 | University closes gym, athletic facilities for student safety: Beginning on March 16, athletic facilities on campus began closing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

April 6 | University postpones graduation ceremony, will still give diplomas in May: On April 6, graduating Trinity students were notified that their graduation ceremony would be postponed, but their diplomas would still be given to them in May.

April 24 | Admin. amends pass/fail policy for spring 2020 courses following student feedback: On April 22 of last year, Vice President for Academic Affairs Deneese Jones sent an email to students about changes to pass/fail deadlines. The Office of Academic Affairs would approve all pass/fail requests for electives, Pathways, and major/minor coursework until Dec. 17, 2020.

April 30 | Trinity temporarily goes test-optional: In a March 31 press release, the Office of Admissions announced that, starting with the class of 2025, they “would not require applicants to submit standardized test scores for a three-year pilot period.” Trinity was among many universities who made the decision in response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

FALL 2020

August 26, 2020 | CARES funding distributed to students over summer: Trinity received a total of $1,665,508 in federal funding for immediate disbursement to students in financial need. This came after Betsy DeVos, former U.S. Department of Education Secretary, released a letter with the university’s eligibility for aid.

August 27, 2020 | Trinity reopens campus to select students: Of the 967 students that returned to campus in August, 535 of them were first-year students. Trinity also suspended the three-year residency requirement in order to further de-densify campus.

August 27, 2020 | Class of 2024 breaks records, faces challenges: Despite the difficulties of the pandemic and the health and safety requirements set in place, the Class of 2024 is one of the most diverse classes to enter Trinity.

Sept. 3, 2020 | Party on Prassel rooftop: Between 15-30 students attended a “party” on the Prassel residence hall rooftop. Though administration was quick to address the situation, rumors about what actually went on at the party continued to fly betweens students.

Sept. 3, 2020 | COVID-19 causes uncertainty in Study Abroad planning: Nearly seven months after study abroad students were sent home from their trips, the study abroad office is looking forward to Summer 2021 with cautionary optimism. Between looking at social distancing guidelines for each location and browsing alternative housing options, the office is adamant in keeping students safe abroad when the time comes.

Sept. 9, 2020 | Isolation vs. quarantine, and everything else you need to know about COVID-19 treatment: Learn the difference between isolation and quarantine, and what it means for students living on campus.

Sept. 16, 2020 | COVID-19 testing reveals low positivity rate: Mass testing conducted among students, faculty and staff shows a low community positivity rate, including those in San Antonio living on- and off-campus.

Sept. 16, 2020 | Student Conduct Panel, dean’s office issue Health Pledge violation sanctions: The panel encourages students to come forward if they believe someone has broken the promise made in the Health Pledge. The infraction is handled by either the Conduct Panel or via administration.

Sept. 16, 2020 | Trinity prepares for a virtual Fall Family Weekend: The usual in-person weekend, which allows for students and their families to attend a myriad of events, is being held in a virtual format, prompting Trinity to determine new ways to connect with the community.

Sept. 18, 2020 | Facilities Services sanitizes, cleans campus: Facilities Services worked diligently to ensure campus was sanitized by Aug. 14, the day students would appear on campus for their first round of COVID-19 testing. Efforts by Facilities Services to keep campus spaces and residence halls safe have continued throughout the pandemic.

Sept. 23, 2020 | Best for Trinity winners grapple with pandemic effects: ‘Best for Trinity’ winners attribute some of their struggling to the absence of Trinity students living on campus.

Sept. 23, 2020 | Writing Center embraces virtual operations: The Writing Center reflects on being more equitable during the pandemic, and how to maintain that inclusion post-pandemic.

Sept. 23, 2020 | Care Team provides services to isolated students: Meals are delivered twice a day to students in isolation, with breakfast and dinner being delivered together. The students are also connected with emotional and academic support teams if needed.

Sept. 30, 2020 | Responses to COVID-19 vary among San Antonio schools: University of the Incarnate Word and St. Mary’s University are among schools to accommodate select students on campus.

Oct. 14, 2020 | Students strive for global health equity: Trinity’s Partners in Health Engage program addresses health inequity in the San Antonio community.

Oct. 14, 2020 | Faculty balance work, parenting during pandemic: Faculty members Kelly Carlisle and Gary Seighman detail their experience of balancing work and parenting during the pandemic.

Oct. 14, 2020 | Nerve Center monitors COVID-19 threshold indicators: Threshold indicators were determined by public health officials and then accommodated to fit Trinity’s needs based on the university’s collective response.

Nov. 5, 2020 | COVID-19 testing made available to students before break: The testing ensured that students returned to their home destinations safely and with a lowered risk of spreading COVID-19.

Nov. 11, 2020 | Faculty, staff avoid health pledge violations: Faculty and staff notably avoid major violations by practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

Nov. 11, 2020 | Professors adapt to new normal for spring: Faculty discuss the process behind adapting to remote learning.

Nov. 11, 2020 | University holding virtual graduation: Students who held out hope for an in-person December graduation ceremony were met with the news in November.


Jan. 28, 2021 | Title IX Trainings remain a timely requirement despite pandemic: Sheryl Tynes, vice president for Student Life, sent out an email warning students about putting their Spring semester in danger if they failed to complete the training.

Feb. 7, 2021 | Trinity is cautiously “opening up” as quarantine anniversary approaches: Though strict health and safety guidelines are still set in place, the campus is gradually opening up with caution.

Feb. 10, 2021 | Trinity approved as distribution site for COVID-19 vaccines: The university is in the process of taking the next steps to vaccinate the community.

March 7, 2021 | Students express concern over reinstatement of residency requirement: The three-year requirement has been reinstated as the fall is planned to look more like a typical semester.