A Message From Fr. Dave

Peace and Blessings.

I am excited to have all of you on campus for the 2021-22 academic year. I look forward to meeting our new students and getting to know you. And I can’t wait for our returning students to come back, especially after all we went through together last year.  It is such blessing to study, to work, to play, and to pray together as our Franciscan University educational and faith community.

This coming academic year, like any other, will provide each of us many opportunities for grace and blessings as we reflect upon and live out our theme, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build” (Psalm 127:1). I know we can come together as a community, keeping our eyes on what matters most: Christ, our studies, and our care for each other. I ask, I challenge, and I expect we will treat each other with respect and compassion as we move through times that are still uncertain and sometimes frustrating or unsettling. We may have different perspectives on certain policies or prudential decisions, but in the midst of it all, we can be models of how to act with Christian charity, faith, and grace, trusting, ultimately, not in our own strength and abilities, but in the Lord who is King, not only of our University, but of the entire universe.

I look forward to being with you soon.


Father Dave Pivonka, TOR
President, Franciscan University of Steubenville



As we plan for the fall 2021 semester, Franciscan University strives to provide a dynamic and engaging setting that fosters effective student learning, ongoing conversion and holiness, and personal relationships and community life, all in the context of a safe environment for students, staff, faculty, and guests.

The University’s Guide to Campus Health and Safety will continue to develop and evolve as circumstances, guidance, and regulations change.

Prior to arrival/return to campus for the fall semester, all students, staff, and faculty are expected to monitor their symptoms and to avoid situations that put them at risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Any student or employee who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or another communicable disease, or who has been in close contact with any person who has tested positive for COVID-19, should not travel to/return to the University. Contact the Wellness Center’s Health Services at 740-284-7223 to discuss your situation.

The decision of whether or not to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 is very personal, and Franciscan University respects each person’s God-given right and freedom to choose what is in each person’s best interests, taking into account the common good. Students are encouraged to discuss this matter with their parents and health care providers. A person who wishes to receive a vaccine can find information regarding local vaccination sites here.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ's

REVISED 8.9.21

Is it morally permissible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? Is it morally obligatory?

It can be morally permissible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. At the same time, a person is not morally required to do so. Each person should make a well-informed prudential judgment regarding whether or not to include the vaccine as part of one’s efforts to fulfill the moral obligations to practice good stewardship over one’s own health and to promote and protect the safety of others. Students are encouraged to discuss this matter with their parents and health care providers.

The United States Catholic Bishops have provided this guidance regarding the morality of receiving the vaccines here.

If I decide to get the vaccine, where can I obtain it locally (in Steubenville or Jefferson County, Ohio)?

Students or employees who are interested in receiving the vaccine can find information regarding local vaccination sites here:


Does Franciscan University require the COVID-19 vaccine for students or employees?

The University does not require any student or employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and does not plan to do so in the future.

Will Franciscan University require students or employees to disclose or attest to their COVID-19 vaccine status?

No. However, students are asked to update their Confidential Health Record form with COVID-19 information; this information is utilized by the University’s Health Services to provide medical care and treatment.

Will other entities or programs associated with the University require the COVID vaccine or attestation regarding vaccine status?

This is possible. For example, clinical or internship sites or athletic conferences may require COVID vaccines or attestation. Some countries (e.g., Austria) may require visitors to be vaccinated. These requirements continue to evolve.


Please contact Health Services at 740-284-7223.

The University will provide optional, daily, PCR testing for incoming/returning students, staff, or faculty prior to and during Orientation, and through, at least, the beginning of the semester.

While the University will not require COVID testing as a condition of enrollment, other programs or activities associated with the University (e.g., clinical or internship sites, varsity athletics) may require testing for COVID.

As communicated to the University community on May 13, 2021, and in accordance with the lifting of COVID restrictions in the state of Ohio effective June 2, 2021, Franciscan University will not require face coverings, social distancing, or reduced capacities in University facilities or at University events.

Students, faculty, staff, and guests may choose to wear face coverings in certain settings and events; the University expects community members to respect each person’s decision in this regard. Face coverings will be available for students, staff, faculty, and guests at locations throughout campus.

This plan may be modified as circumstances change or in accordance with new local, state, and other guidance.

Hand sanitizer dispensers will continue to be available throughout campus. Sanitation and cleaning procedures and schedules will be conducted on a standard basis.

The University will make available voluntary testing for faculty, staff, and students who are asymptomatic (do not have COVID symptoms). This testing will be nasal turbinate (NT) swab, which is similar to using a Q-tip to clean your nose. Individuals who test positive will be informed of their results within 24 hours after the test. Those who test positive will be required to get a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab test and will have to follow the University’s COVID-19 isolation protocols. Students and employees may request an asymptomatic test by calling 740-232-9734 or by emailing [email protected] 

The University anticipates that all varsity teams will compete in typical seasons with typical schedules, and spectators will be permitted at competitions without COVID-related restrictions. The University will conduct its varsity athletics program in accordance with Presidents’ Athletic Conference and NCAA regulations; policies regarding surveillance COVID testing and masking requirements for student-athletes are still in development. Student-athletes who are COVID-symptomatic will be subject to standard University COVID protocols.

Symptomatic Testing, Quarantine, and Isolation


Faculty, staff, and students who have  COVID-19 symptoms, who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or who have themselves tested positive for COVID-19 are required stay in their room/at their home and to follow the directions from the University’s case investigator regarding quarantine/isolation.

Quarantine  is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows he or she is sick or if he or she is infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home if feasible, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.


Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those who are infected but asymptomatic) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it is safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific room or area and using a separate bathroom if available.


Symptomatic Testing.   Students, staff, and faculty who have symptoms or who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, should contact the COVID hotline at 740-283-4500 and will be directed to complete an intake form on MyFranciscan. The hotline and the intake forms are monitored seven days a week. A student who has COVID symptoms will self-isolate until test results are received. The student’s roommate(s) and other close contacts may be directed to self-quarantine until the results from the symptomatic roommate’s test are received. If the student test comes back positive, he/she will be directed to isolate, and the roommates/close contacts will be directed to quarantine and may be tested at later time.


Isolation Procedures. Students and employees who test positive must isolate for at least 10 days or until symptom-free. The case investigators, in collaboration with the University Health Service and the Jefferson County Health Department, will determine and communicate the dates of isolation.

Resident students who have tested positive will be placed in University housing designated for such purposes. Residence Life Staff will assist with the move to University-controlled isolation housing. Students may isolate at home if they live within a reasonable driving distance.


Contact tracing. The case investigators will coordinate contact tracing when a student or employee tests positive for COVID. The case investigators will make a determination regarding close contacts who must quarantine in conjunction with the University’s Health Service and the Jefferson County Health Department. Generally, those who have previously tested positive for COVID, those who have COVID antibodies, or those who have been vaccinated will not be required to quarantine; however, in some cases additional precautions such as face coverings may be required until the results of a day-6 PCR test are obtained.


Quarantine Procedures  

Persons determined to be close contacts will be required to quarantine and/or self-monitor.

Resident students who must quarantine will be placed in University housing designated for such purposes or, in some circumstances, may be directed to self-quarantine in their own rooms. Residence Life Staff will assist with the move to University-controlled isolation/quarantine housing. Students may quarantine at home if they live within a reasonable driving distance.

Those who are in quarantine must monitor their symptoms and report them on a daily basis; a person in quarantine who develops symptoms should contact the Wellness Center Health Service at 740-284-7223 to discuss his/her  symptoms and determine If  a PCR test or other  action is needed.

An employee or student who is quarantining locally or in University-sponsored housing can take a PCR test on or after day six of quarantine. If positive, the employee or student will be required to isolate. If negative and asymptomatic, the employee or student will  generally  be released  from quarantine  after day six.

An employee or student determined to be a close contact who declines a PCR test will be required to quarantine for a period of 10-14 days following guidelines from Ohio Department of Health and Jefferson County Health Department.


University-Controlled Isolation and Quarantine Housing

Resident students who have tested positive or who are close contacts will be isolated/quarantined in appropriate University-controlled housing. Resident students in some situations (e.g., Assisi Heights, St. Junipero Serra, and St. Agnes Halls) may isolate in their own rooms under certain circumstances. Positive students who live off campus/commute will be expected to isolate/quarantine in their off-campus home/housing.

Resident students who are isolating/quarantining in on-campus housing will receive a “Smile Box” with breakfast and snack items; lunch and dinner will be delivered daily. Students quarantining/isolating in off-campus housing or at home will be responsible for their own meals.

Resident students who are isolating/quarantining in on-campus housing will be able to receive Holy Communion on Sundays.


Academic Assistance

Students who are isolated/quarantined should contact their professors to arrange for reasonable accommodations. Students who need to make up tests due to isolation/quarantine should contact Student Academic Support Services to schedule an appointment.


Ongoing Care and Communication

Student Life and Health Services staff will communicate with students in quarantine/isolation on a regular basis. Counseling Services will be available to assist students in quarantine/isolation.


Wellness Center

COVID Hotline (for any student or employee experiencing COVID symptoms)



Health Services

Charlotte Jones, Associate Director of the Wellness Center

[email protected]



Counseling Services

Matthew Burriss, Director of the Wellness Center

[email protected]


COVID Testing and Contact Tracing

Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, COVID Response Team Director

[email protected]


Academic Programs

Virginia Garrison

Coordinator of Advising and Academic Operations, COVID Academic Resource Coordinator

[email protected]

(740) 284-5759


Student Life



Quarantine and Isolation Housing

Matthew Schaefer, Dean of Students

[email protected]


Serra Alongi, Assistant Director of Residence Life

[email protected]


Dr. Daniel Dentino, Vice president of Student Life

[email protected]


Parkhurst Dining Services

Lee Dortmund

[email protected]




Sarah Albaugh, Athletic Trainer

[email protected]

(740) 283-6933


Anita Hartzel, Athletic Trainer

[email protected]

(740) 284-5397


Human Resources and Employee Policies and Concerns

Mary Lynn Lewis, HR Benefits & Administrative Specialist

[email protected]



Information Technology Services


[email protected]



Facility Cleaning and Sanitation

Physical Plant Services




[email protected]



General Questions Regarding Franciscan University’s COVID Planning

David Schmiesing, Dean for Personal Vocation

Jenn Simms, Administrative Assistant

[email protected]


This plan may be modified as circumstances change or in accordance with new local, state, and other guidance.
Please check your email regularly for notices regarding updates to Franciscan University’s health and safety practices.