Coronavirus Update and Precautions
Updated: September 23, 2020
This page details actions Soka University of America is taking to prevent and/or limit the spread of the novel coronavirus on campus and within the campus community. Soka is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy campus while supporting our fundamental purpose of delivering a quality education.
There have been 52,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County, including 375 in Aliso Viejo. The Orange County Health Care Agency’s website reports that there is laboratory evidence of community transmission in Orange County, indicating that the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is spreading locally. OCHCA holds regular phone conferences for college and university health care providers in the county. Soka takes part in these phone conferences. Among the Soka responses to the situation:
- The SUA campus is closed to guests and visitors until further notice.
- Instruction for the Fall 2020 semester will be remote.
- Soka will not offer on-campus housing during the Fall semester.
- No increase in tuition, room and board: The tuition, room and board fees for 2020-21 will remain at the 2019-20 levels. The previously announced increase has been rescinded. No room and board charges will be applied for Fall 2020.
- Coronavirus relief grant: For 2020-21 academic year, all students will receive a one-time coronavirus relief grant of $8,062 that will be applied toward tuition. This grant will be added financial aid packages and may impact eligibility for other financial aid awards.
Daily Symptom Checker
Faculty and staff members are required to fill out a survey reporting symptoms before coming on campus.
The COVID-19 daily symptom checker is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- We understand that students and families have many pressing questions about their college search process, preparing for college, and paying for an education, especially during the coronavirus crisis. We hope to provide answers and information as new policies are implemented and respond to your questions and concerns as quickly as possible. Read more details on the Admission COVID-19 FAQ page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The US government agreed Tuesday, July 14, to rescind a directive that would have required international students taking online-only coursework in the Fall semester to return to their home countries. Guidance now reverts back to a March guidelines that allowed international students to remain in the US while taking a fully online course load.
- For Soka international students currently residing in the US who are planning to return home, our financial aid office will continue to provide additional need-based support. Further details on this financial aid assistance will be sent directly to affected students by Andrew Woolsey, Dean of Enrollment Services.
- The Office of International Student Services is continuing to monitor information from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it may impact our international students. To address the fluid and rapidly changing situation, we have created an FAQ page to provide answers for international students.
Federal Cares Act Aid
- As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress allocated $14.25 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF allocations have been awarded to institutions using a methodology that focuses 75% on the number of full-time Pell Grant recipients and 25% on the institution’s overall enrollment.
Using this formula, Soka University of America will receive $351,126 of HEERF funding. While the act requires that at least 50% be allocated to Title IV eligible students, SUA has decided to distribute 100% of these funds to Title IV eligible students and has awarded and disbursed HEERF funds to these students based on financial need. Federal guidelines stipulate that international and undocumented students are not eligible for the HEERF funding. The university will provide funds from its own resources to support international and undocumented students.
- The Office of Financial Aid, with guidance from the US Department of Education, is working to address questions and concerns of Soka students who are impacted by the recent developments from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have created a COVID-19 FAQ page to provide answers. (Updated June 4)
Soka Loan Forbearance
- To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, SUA Soka Loan borrowers in regular standing are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making monthly loan payment. This suspension of payments will last until Dec. 31, 2020, but you can still make payments if you choose. Please refer to the COVID-19 Loan Forbearance Information page for details.
Science Faculty Committee Fact Sheet
- The SUA Covid-19 Scientific Advisory Committee committee has created a fact sheet of consensus scientific thinking and emerging perspectives that may be helpful in applying precautionary principles to protect student, staff, and faculty health.
“The information we present is widely available as published by public health, medical, and scientific authorities,” the committee reported. “Our role is to assist SUA policy makers in understanding how to apply it to our unique situation at SUA.”
- Please continue to ask for our assistance via phone, email, and Microsoft Teams. Library staff are working and providing all library services.
Soka Performing Arts Center
- Soka Performing Arts Center has postponed all performances for the remainder of 2020. Tickets for postponed shows will automatically be valid for the rescheduled date. No action is required. Tickets may also be refunded or returned for an account credit in the amount of the original purchase price.
- The Soka Performing Arts Center Box Office is closed to walk-up service. The preferred method of communication is through email at email@example.com. You may leave a message at the Box Office at 949-480-4ART (4278); however, please note that due to current circumstances, call volume and length of wait-time for a response has increased dramatically. Emails and phone call messages will be returned within 24-48 hours during our business hours Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- The Recreation Center, including weight rooms, gymnasium, pool, courts, aerobics room, fields, and track, is closed.
- The Soka bookstore is closed.
- The academic administration and Information Technology Services are working to help faculty use online platforms effectively to provide online courses and prevent disruption of the course of study.
- Student employees who live in California may work remotely with approval of their supervisors. If you have any questions about student employment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All in-person university-sponsored events and activities are postponed or canceled until further notice.
- All individual and group campus tours are canceled until further notice.
- To enable social distancing, we are implementing a Temporary Emergency Situation Teleworking period for faculty and staff. This went into effect on March 17 and will continue until further notice. This does not apply to employees whose area head has determined that they need to continue to work on campus. As a reminder, employees who need to continue to work on campus should practice healthy hygiene and social distancing per CDC recommendations. For those who will be able to work remotely, employees need to communicate to their direct supervisor if they have the equipment needed to work remotely. Each area head will need to communicate with their staff if they are expected to work on campus or remotely. Each staff member will need to complete the Temporary Emergency Situation Teleworking Agreement, which has been sent to all staff via email, prior to starting to work remotely. Please send the completed forms to HR through interoffice mail or email to email@example.com.
- Please continue to follow all the CDC recommended guidelines including frequent hand washing and social distancing.
- University-sponsored travel will be restricted to essential travel only, and everyone will be required to monitor both State Department travel advisories and news about all affected areas before traveling. Faculty and staff will need to inform the academic deans or area head/supervisor, respectively, about their personal travel plans as well.
- As previously communicated, faculty and staff who are not feeling well are to remain home and communicate directly with their supervisor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that normal hygiene practices are most effective for prevention of the spread of coronavirus:
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Cover nose and mouth with elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Limit close contact, like kissing, or sharing cups or utensils, with sick people.
- Put distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- How to select, clean, and wear a mask
We urge anyone on campus feeling ill (fever, cough, shortness of breath, other respiratory symptoms) to contact Student Health at (949) 480-4143.
- May 22: SUA to Continue Remote Class Instruction for Fall Semester
- March 18: Campus Closure, Community Update
- March 13: Letter to the Community from President Daniel Y. Habuki
- March 12: Soka Performing Arts Center Cancels Season
- March 12: Coronavirus Update
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- California Department of Public Health
- Orange County Public Health
- CDC Coronavirus College and University Guidance
- American Biological Safety Assn. COVID-19 Toolbox
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- How to make a cloth face covering (CDC)