Archived COVID-19 Letters from the Executive Team

June 28, 2021

GTU Community Members:

After conducting campus operations remotely for well over a year, it is with great pride in the patience, fortitude, and resilience of our community that I share news of the GTU’s plans to begin to reopen for many in-person activities as of Monday, August 2, 2021.

Within our local Bay Area community and across the United States, we are witnessing the worst of the pandemic begin to subside as COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to grow. While this turning of the tide in the pandemic’s trajectory has already led to changes in public health guidelines, as well as persuaded national and local authorities to relax certain restrictions, at the GTU our highest priority continues to be one of maintaining a healthy and safe environment for work, learning, and research.

As we take steps to reopen campus, therefore, the GTU will be adopting several new policies and protocols to ensure the continued well-being of our community:

  • Students and faculty wishing to participate in classes on campus, in-person, will be required to provide proof of vaccination. This provision pertains to all students and faculty across the consortium, as well as UC Berkeley. Each member school of the GTU will be responsible for tracking the vaccination status of their academic community, which will be held in trust with their respective Registrars’ offices. 
  • As shared with staff last week, in accordance with Cal/OSHA COVID-19 rules put into effect by Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent executive order, masks will continue to be required of all non-fully vaccinated individuals when inside a GTU building.
  • The GTU’s remote work policies will continue to evolve, allowing for greater flexibility as well as adjustments to the responsibilities associated with remote work arrangements, depending on the requirements and scope of each role. 

Updated policies will be shared with staff in the coming weeks, at which point employees will have an opportunity to work with their supervisors in determining the approach that best fits with the duties and needs of their position.

As we draw closer to August 2nd, further details about these policies and others will be shared with faculty and students by the Dean’s Office, and with staff through Human Resources, as well as made available on the GTU’s COVID-19 resources web page, here:

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus, to once again enjoy the abundant pathways, intersecting perspectives, and transformative impact that contribute to the vibrancy of campus life at the GTU.

With peace and blessings,


It has come to our attention that there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 within the GTU community. The individual has not been on campus or had direct, in-person contact with other GTU community members this term. The individual will remain quarantined, and we wish the individual a speedy and complete recovery. 

This news is a reminder of the importance to continue adhering to the precautions we have in place for the health and safety of our community, including reliance on remote modalities for work and learning, practicing social distancing, following protocols outlined in our SPP when visiting campus, and continuing the use of masks and frequent hand washing as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

If you test positive for COVID-19, students should notify Wendy Arce (; staff and faculty, please notify your supervisor and the Manager of Human Resources Sylvie Tisando ( Please refrain from coming to campus or engaging with members of the GTU Community if you test positive for COVID-19. Please continue to visit this site (Coronavirus Resources Page) for any updates, guidelines, and best practices during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

We thank you for your ongoing cooperation.

October 26, 2020

Dear GTU Community,

Last March, we turned to remote modalities for all instruction and nearly all campus operations. Since then – for much longer than any of us had initially imagined – we have remained in shelter-in-place, with many working remotely. The GTU community has proven to be resilient and adaptive, following public health guidelines and connecting with one another virtually instead of face-to-face. To date, we have been successful: there have been no confirmed, reported cases of COVID-19 at the GTU.

As eager as we are to be together again, we must continue to take precautions to safeguard our community’s health and well-being. To that end, GTU instruction will continue to rely on remote modalities for Spring 2021. (See below for each school's policy on instruction in the Spring 2021 semester.) This decision was not made lightly, but in consultation with GTU leadership and the COVID-19 Response Team, as well as with the guidance of health officers from Alameda County and the City of Berkeley.

Many of you may want to enroll in Spring courses taught by faculty from GTU member schools and affiliates. Most of these institutions will rely on remote modalities, some for the entire Spring semester, others for at least the beginning of the term. Please check each school’s website for scheduling information.

Over the past eight months or so, the GTU has developed a slate of resources to help us all – students, faculty, and staff – manage the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 restrictions:

For some of us, participating in programs or engaging in conversation through Zoom has kept us connected with our community in new ways and provided emotional support as well. The GTU offers a multitude of connection points, some of which are listed below.

  • See our ongoing series, Spiritual Care and Ethical Leadership for our Times, with inspiring new contributions from students. (
  • Even though we remain in shelter-in-place mode in the Bay Area, the GTU calendar includes a wide array of workshops, lectures, and presentations – most via Zoom, but there are a few actual events, too. (
  • GTU students, don’t hesitate to reach out to Associate Dean Wendy Arce ( or Director of Student Life Chai Motupalli ( with questions or concerns. Visit their office hours on Zoom:
    • Wendy’s office hours: Tuesday 2-3pm, Friday 11am-12pm
    • Chai’s office hours: Monday 2-3pm, Thursday 11am-12pm
  • And, stop by “Hang Out with Wendy & Chai” every Wednesday from 4-5pm for conversation! (
  • Students from throughout the consortium are welcome to visit Director of Digital Learning Diandra Erickson, during her Wednesday Office Hour, 1-2pm. Email Diandra for a Zoom link:
  • Faculty, staff, and students, come chat with me at my Tuesday morning “Coffee Hour,” 9-10am. (

All of these digital resources are a different way of connecting than discussions around the seminar table, the face-to-face meetings, and even (or especially) the casual hellos and conversations on Holy Hill; and yet, we are learning that there are benefits with digital modalities that we had not imagined. Our learning during this past year will help us to better serve our geographically widespread community in the future. 

Our vigilance with social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing has helped to stabilize and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. We must continue to do our part, while looking forward to the day when we once again get back to work on our beautiful campus.

Until then, let’s stay safe and support one another.

With best wishes,

Elizabeth S. Peña

Interim Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Institution Spring 2021 Plans For more information
BST Remote start, possible change if conditions warrant


Remote start, possible change if conditions warrant

DSPT Remote start, possible change if conditions warrant with option to attend or teach remotely if desired

GTU Remote instruction

JST-SCU Remote start, possible change if conditions warrant with option to remain remote if desired

PLTS-CLU Remote instruction

PSR Remote instruction

SFTS-Redlands Remote start, possible change if conditions warrant with option to remain remote if desired No link provided
SKSM Remote instruction

September 1, 2020

Members of the GTU Community:

With the start of the Fall 2020 semester less than a week away, it is apparent that we are together embarking on a term unlike any other. This follows an especially robust period of activity over the summer months, and I wish to extend a special note of gratitude to the GTU’s faculty and staff, and especially our COVID-19 Task Force, for responding to numerous challenges with admirable agility, ingenuity, and innovation. 

Looking ahead, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a few helpful reminders regarding GTU policies in response to public health guidelines, as well as steps being taken to ensure the safe, incremental reopening of campus:

  • The GTU’s COVID-19 dedicated webpage is your resource for the most current information regarding campus updates, policies, and guidelines relevant to the novel coronavirus, including recently updated CDC guidance regarding symptoms, as well as resources for spiritual care and mental health counseling. 
  • The GTU’s dedicated COVID-19 Resources Page may be accessed at this link:
  • Next, with the onset of “flu season” around the corner and the novel coronavirus continuing at a high rate of transmission, the GTU strongly urges all of our community members to arrange for a flu shot, either through your regular medical provider, or by taking advantage of other locally available resources. Human Resources will soon reach out with further information.
  • The GTU’s Library will continue its very popular curbside service, scanning service, and online chat throughout the fall semester. In addition, the Library has vastly increased its number of electronic resources. Further details can be found in the most recent edition of the Dean’s Newsletter, as well as the Library’s website:
  • Once it is safe to resume expanded library access and in-person services, we will be sure to let you know.
  • Recognizing that some faculty and staff will be spending more time on campus as the fall term gets underway, the Facilities Team has worked to safely reinstate refrigerator and microwave use in both the Library Building and North Building (formerly referred to as the LeConte Building). 
  • At the Library Building, both will be available for use in the third floor lounge (the large refrigerator in the kitchen will remain out-of-service for the time being); in the North Building, they will be available in the basement. Signs will be placed with information pertinent to safe storage and cleaning practices, and we kindly request that all items be removed from common areas by Friday of each week. 

Maintaining the good health and overall wellness of the GTU community, as always, remains of the utmost importance. To that end, as we observed over July 4th earlier this summer, I am again calling for a moratorium on email from Friday, September 4th at 6pm PDT, through Tuesday, September 8th at 6am PDT, in hopes that this will help encourage all of us to take time for some well-deserved rest and rejuvenation. 

As always, thank you for your dedication and many contributions in support of the GTU.

Peace and blessings,

Dr. Uriah Y. Kim
Graduate Theological Union

June 30, 2020

Dear GTU Faculty and Staff: 

This year the preoccupations of summer are looking very different for all of us, as we continue to navigate the shifts necessitated by COVID-19, as well as reflect upon our values and commitment to change in light of continued racially motivated violence across our nation. I greatly appreciate your work and dedication during such time of urgency and importance. At the GTU, we take pride in our community’s response and resilience as we press forward in a spirit of resolve to work towards the greater good — time, and time again. 

At an institutional level, this work continues as we begin preparations to enter “Phase Two” of our campus reintegration plan. While we had initially targeted Monday, July 6th, as the date when “Phase Two” would commence, due to the worsening rate of COVID-19 transmission in California and the United States more broadly, the GTU’s COVID-19 Task Force has unanimously determined that it is in the community’s best interests to postpone. An announcement will be made once a new date has been set, along with applicable policy updates. In the meantime, current guidelines regarding remote work policies, health and safety measures, etc., remain in effect and are detailed at

Additionally, in accordance with guidelines published by Alameda County and the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Departments, the GTU will be implementing its Site-Specific Protection Plan (SPP). This effort will be led by Debi Walker, Director of Human Resources, and Osborne, Facilities Director, under the supervision of Ellen Peterson, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration and Finance, working in collaboration with the GTU’s COVID-19 Task Force. As part of the SPP’s implementation, employees will be required to certify that they have read the SPP prior to returning to campus. Further details and instruction will be forthcoming from Human Resources, shortly. 

Of equal importance to everyone’s well-being is attention to moments of rest. For that reason, I am also calling for a moratorium on work-related email, chat, or any other communications from Thursday, July 2nd at 6pm PST, through July 6th at 6am PST. During this time, please consider your own wellness as your number one priority; all other GTU-relevant matters will wait until we collectively return from the holiday weekend.

Thank you for your continued dedication and admirable work on behalf of the GTU—this summer, and all year-round.

Peace and blessings,

Uriah Kim
President (Interim)
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

May 19, 2020

Dear GTU Staff:

This week marks the last in our 2020 spring term. Needless to say, it is likely to be one that many of us will consider unforgettable. Though our community has faced many challenges as the impacts of COVID-19 have continued to unfold, I hope that we can all take pride in the way that we have responded—exemplifying qualities of resilience, agility, collaboration, and generosity of spirit.

As announced at our Staff Meeting last week, on Monday, June 1, 2020, we anticipate initiating “Phase One” of plans to incrementally re-open the GTU’s campus. While we look forward to fully reinstating all GTU operations in time, this is a process that we must take step-by-step. As always, in this effort all policies and protocols are guided by the primary goal of protecting the health and safety of our staff, faculty, students, and larger public with whom our community interacts, and is responsive to guidance from local orders and ordinances of the City of Berkeley, Alameda County, and the State of California, as well as recommendations from the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

On June 1st, therefore, all staff will be required to adhere to the following provisions until  further notice:

  • If you are displaying any COVID-like symptoms for any reason, you are prohibited from coming to campus. Symptoms include fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, headache, fatigue, sore throat, new GI or sinus symptoms or new loss of taste or smell. A complete list of symptoms and resources for seeking diagnosis and support are available on the CDC website at Further public health guidelines for Alameda County may be found at
  • If you are on campus or have been on campus recently and symptoms develop, notify your supervisor and the Director of Human Resources (Debi Walker, immediately. If you notice these symptoms while on campus, please return to your place of residence or seek medical attention as the severity of symptoms indicate. Please self-isolate and do not return to campus until cleared to do so by your physician.
  • All staff who are over 65, or have medical conditions that could lead to COVID complications, are strongly discouraged from coming to campus except to fulfill essential business.
  • All staff who are able to work remotely should continue to do so, with once weekly visits to campus permissible for the handling of essential business. If you do come to campus, take care to stagger your timing with colleagues to ensure social distancing is practiced, and continue to hold meetings using remote modalities (Zoom, tele-conference, etc.) Any essential on-campus meetings should be limited to a maximum of 3 people, held in an area that is well ventilated and where social distancing is possible, and cannot exceed 15 minutes. Otherwise, all manner of congregating is prohibited.
  • Campus buildings will remain closed to the public.
  • Remote library services will continue, including curbside service. No patrons may enter the library.  Updates on the expansion of services may be found at, or by visiting the library’s website at, as they become available.
  • While on campus, all relevant safety protocols must be followed, including:
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times, and be particularly aware when entering or exiting buildings and in common areas. 
  • Use sanitizer immediately upon entering any building.
  • Regular handwashing is strongly encouraged. Gloves are not necessary for general use and washing your hands often is considered best practice for common tasks.
  • Wearing of face masks that cover nose and mouth is required at all times while on campus, and prior to entering any GTU building. Masks will be made available at the entrances of all buildings, though we strongly encourage bringing your own to campus. (We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with best practices for care, washing and use of face masks, available at
  • Use staff mailboxes whenever possible, rather than entering office spaces.
  • When using common equipment such as copiers or coffee makers, use sanitizer before and after use and wipe down the keypad and other areas with supplied cleaner.
  • Only one person at a time should be in a staff lounge or equipment room (copier, etc.).
  • No more than one person may enter the elevator at a time.  Use sanitizer before entering and after exiting.
  • All utensils, beverages, etc., will be single use.    
  • Those taking meals on campus must do so in a self-contained space, and all employees will be accountable for sanitizing any common area of which you are making us   We suggest that you bring meals which can be safely stored in your work area, and that you supply your own utensils and cooling system, if needed.
  • Microwave ovens, toaster ovens, refrigerators, ovens, and coffee makers (other than single use) may not be used.

As our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve, our policies and plans will be updated accordingly.

On behalf of the Executive Leadership Team and the GTU’s COVID Task Force, I thank you for your adherence to these guidelines to ensure our community’s continued health and safety.

Peace and blessings,

Uriah Kim
President (Interim)
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

March 13, 2020

Members of the GTU Community:

Over the past week, the scope of COVID-19’s impact has continued to rapidly evolve locally, nationally and globally. As many individuals and organizations have taken measures to adjust, I would like to commend our students, faculty and staff in demonstrating incredible resilience, agility and professionalism as our campus joined other higher education institutions nationwide in shifting all in-person courses and many administrative functions to an online format, as well as taking steps to postpone or cancel gatherings and non-essential travel.

Many of you may already be aware that today the President of the United States declared a national emergency in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. To reiterate, at this time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the GTU community, nor at neighboring UC Berkeley. That said, the fluid nature of events necessitates that we take even broader, decisive precautionary measures intended to support efforts to contain and mitigate transmission of COVID-19.

To that end, the GTU is taking the following immediate steps to ensure the safety and health of our community:

  • All face-to-face courses are suspended through the end of the Spring 2020 semester, and will be conducted using remote modalities. This applies to all schools of the GTU Consortium, with two exceptions:
    • JST face-to-face courses are currently planned to resume on April 13th, until further notice. Learn more here.
    • SFTS is adopting policies consistent with the wider University of Redlands, until further notice. Learn more here.
  • LeConte, Annex, and 3rd Floor Library buildings will close to the public. Student services, inclusive of Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life, Registrar and Student Accounts, will all remain operational, but in-person services will be by appointment only.
  • The library will shift to limited hours, remaining open from 10am-5pm on weekdays, and closing on weekends. In-person services will be suspended, with the exception of book checkout. Remote services will continue.
  • Due to reduced campus access, the GTU will not be providing inter-campus mail beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, and continuing through the end of the Spring 2020 semester. If you need to send something to another school, please prepare it for mailing as you would any other mailed item. If the Mailroom receives an item for another school which is not mailable, it will be returned to the sender. Mail within GTU will continue to be processed and delivered as usual.

Further updates regarding remote work accommodations for full-time, part-time and student staff will be forthcoming, as will guidance on events (inclusive of Commencement). These and any other changes will be continually reflected on the GTU’s dedicated webpage, Questions or concerns not addressed on the site may be directed to

We appreciate your continued cooperation and flexibility as we navigate this situation together.

Peace and blessings,

Uriah Kim
President (Interim)
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

March 9, 2020

Members of the GTU Community:

The GTU administration considers it essential to keep the members of our campus community healthy and safe. As you are likely aware, the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly changing, prompting neighboring campuses such as UC Berkeley and Stanford University to move most courses online.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of the GTU Consortium’s campuses, nor on UC Berkeley’s campus. However, as public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, many institutions of higher learning are proactively taking steps that will help to protect their communities. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, the GTU will shift all in-person courses to an online format beginning Tuesday, March 10th and continuing through Sunday, March 29th, at the conclusion of Spring Break. Additionally, full-time, part-time, and student staff are encouraged to work with their supervisor and in accordance with GTU’s policies to make suitable arrangements for remote work during the same period. All other campus services and the library will operate as usual. Currently, it is anticipated that regular classes and work arrangements will resume on Monday, March 30th.

Further updates and information regarding the GTU’s preparations for, and response to COVID-19 may be found below. This includes dedicated sections for Health & Safety, Campus Operations, Academic Resources (Faculty & Students), Staff Resources, Travel Guidelines, and Guidelines for Events and Activities. Additional questions or concerns not addressed by the resources on this webpage may be directed to

Instructions for moving courses online have been shared with faculty and are accessible in the Academic Resources section below. If faculty require assistance in moving their course online, they may refer to guidelines provided by the Director of Digital Learning or email, or Students with questions or concerns regarding course accessibility may address those questions to their instructor. The GTU remains committed to making sure that all students are equipped and empowered to make academic progress in their classes through this time, and will be making maximum use of alternative modalities for learning and instruction, such as Moodle and Zoom.

Please keep in mind that as we take steps to help ensure the health and safety of our community, we are also trusting our community to respond in a spirit of calm, decency, and mutual support and respect. We ask everyone to be mindful and steadfast in observance of these values, and to learn more about stigma and resilience with facts and information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Thank you for your partnership, cooperation, and flexibility as we work to keep our campus and our community healthy, vibrant, and safe.

Peace and blessings,
Uriah Kim
President (Interim)
Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs