Bearcat Blueprint: Spring 2021 Plans

The Bearcat Blueprint

Updated 3:52 p.m. Monday, January 25, 2021

Continue to check this page for the latest updates regarding COVID-19-related changes and operations plans. All information is subject to change based on health regulations and COVID-19 activity in each community where SBU operates a campus. These plans are developed in consultation with guidance from local health departments.


COVID-19 Dashboard

Frequently Asked Questions

Guiding principles

As the University works through its COVID-19 response, our mission remains at the forefront of our decision-making process: Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society.

Christian distinctiveness: The world is watching how we, as Christians, are responding to the pandemic. We must not live in fear, but rather place our hope in Jesus Christ. We must choose love and respect for our neighbors. 

Compassion and care for others: SBU is a caring community. Scripture teaches that all individuals are worthy in the eyes of God. Therefore, we will honor and serve one another in love. For the Bearcat Blueprint to be successful, the entire campus community must commit to caring for and respecting others. We have a tremendous opportunity to follow Christ’s example of loving our neighbors.

Student and employee wellness: The University must take every feasible action to ensure a safe and healthy campus environment. We expect to have some positive cases of COVID-19 on our campuses. Our goal is to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus among students, employees and guests on our campuses.

Maintain academic excellence: As an academic community, SBU pursues excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Students will be prepared to meet the challenges of a global society through the integration of Christian faith, liberal arts, research and professional studies.

Maintain the college experience: Social and spiritual development are an integral part of the Bearcat experience. Students should be provided intentional opportunities to grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally.

Guidance from  government and  health officials: The University will follow all requirements related to COVID-19 provided by any government agency; consult the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control; and work closely with local public health agencies to guide decisions made regarding the health and safety of the Bearcat family and local communities. If the guidance varies among the four communities SBU serves, some aspects of the Bearcat Blueprint may vary by campus.

Bearcat Blueprint Commitment

"Love your neighbor as yourself." — Matthew 22:39

The success of the Bearcat Blueprint for in-person classes during the Spring 2021 semester depends on each Bearcat doing your part by following the expectations listed below. We likely will have positive cases of COVID-19 on our campuses, but our community can work together to minimize the spread of the virus and create the safest environment possible.

Expectations of all students, faculty and staff while on campus

  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Follow basic hygiene guidelines:
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Use hand sanitizer.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Do not attend classes or other campus events when you are sick.
    • If missing class due to illness, contact your instructors to arrange for making up missed coursework.
  • Complete daily self-assessments.
  • Obey quarantine and isolation guidelines and instructions provided by an employee of SBU or local health agency.
  • Abide by these guiding principles:
    • We will love and respect each other (Matthew 22:39).
    • We will live not with fear but rather with hope in our Lord's unfailing love (Psalm 33:18).
    • We will persevere and build character (Hebrews 12:1).
  • Additional expectations may be established as circumstances may require.

Health and Safety

Extra health and safety measures being taken on all campuses for Spring 2021 include:

  • Requiring face coverings to be worn by students, faculty and staff in classrooms and public spaces.
  • Requiring all residential students to complete a health questionnaire before arriving on campus.
  • Providing new students with a care kit, including reusable face masks and thermometers.
  • Providing faculty with face masks and clear face shields for use in classrooms.
  • Requiring temperature checks and health questionnaires.
  • Increasing sanitization of facilities, including cleaning classrooms between sessions.
  • Installing plexiglass shields at various points of contact around each campus.
  • Installing temperature screening systems on all campuses.
  • Installing additional hand sanitizing stations on all campuses.

Every Bearcat — whether living in a residence hall or off-campus — can help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 within our community by utilizing these basic hygiene measures: 

Each new incoming student will receive a Bearcat Care Kit with items to assist with the procedures outlined below. Kits will be distributed in the residence halls for students living on-campus. All other students will receive information later about how to pick up their Bearcat Care Kits.

The kit will include:

  • Two SBU-branded washable face coverings
  • Health supply kit
  • Health education information

Additionally, students with a meal plan will receive a card to redeem for Green Box to-go meals from the cafeteria.

  • Wash your hands often: Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.  
  • Use hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Sanitizer stations will be placed in community spaces on all campuses.  
  • Avoid close contact: Physical distancing of 6 feet between yourself and others is expected both indoors and outdoors. Furniture in classrooms and community spaces will be arranged to promote appropriate physical distancing. Do not move furniture from its designated location.  
  • Cover coughs and sneezes: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.  
  • Obey quarantine guidelines: Follow all quarantine instructions provided by campus officials or local health authorities.  
A face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Face coverings are worn out of respect for others.  
  • Students, faculty and staff will wear face masks or other coverings in classrooms and public spaces. 
  • SBU will provide each student and employee with fabric face coverings at the beginning of the semester.  
  • Face shields will be provided for all instructors to facilitate effective communication for all students. 
  • Remember: A face mask is not a substitute for physical distancing but is an added layer of protection.  
Requiring face coverings is one way we are coming together to protect each other’s health and safety in every way possible. This expectation: 
  • Ensures we are meeting or exceeding requirements of government ordinances in all the communities we serve. 
  • Increases our classroom capacity from 40% to 65%, allowing for an additional 157 classes to have the potential to be conducted completely in-person this fall. 
  • Enables you to live the SBU mission by loving your neighbors and caring for the vulnerable as Jesus taught us. 

Example SBU face mask:

purple face mask with S-B-U logo

To help identify potential cases of COVID-19 in the earliest stages, students and employees are expected to self-monitor by recording symptoms and temperature readings daily. Recording this information will help you if you test positive or have been in direct contact with someone who tests positive and need to provide information to health center employees conducting contact tracing. 

Many free mobile apps are available in the Apple and Google app stores for smartphones to assist with recording this information. 

Each building will have contactless thermometer stations, and residential students will be given a thermometer at the beginning of the semester. 

What to do if you think you are sick: 

  • Stay home. 
  • If you live in a residence hall room, immediately notify your Resident Assistant or Resident Director. 
  • Notify your professor immediately to make arrangements for completing missed coursework.
  • Contact the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888 for further instructions. 

SBU’s facilities staff has added new protocols and disinfectants to further ensure the cleanliness of all facilities. These include:  

  • Hand sanitizer stations in every building.  
  • Cleaning frequently used surfaces, such as handrails and doorknobs, at least twice a day.  
  • Cleaning classrooms in between use. 
  • Use provided cleaning supplies for cleaning prior to and after using equipment or technology in community spaces.  

Before Arriving On Campus


  • COVID-19 reporting: Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 and/or a positive COVID-19 test within 14 days of arrival on campus must call the Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888 for further guidance before arriving on campus.
  • Sign up for a move-in time for residence halls on the Bolivar campus: Unless instructed to arrive early, new and returning students may arrive Sunday, January 17, through Tuesday, January 19, from 2 to 6 p.m. You may bring only two guests to help with move-in. You and guests will go through a brief health screening.  You will receive an email to your SBU email address with more information by January 6. If you do not receive the email, please call (417) 328-1885.
  • Sign the Bearcat Blueprint Commitment: All new incoming students will be required to sign the Bearcat Blueprint Commitment. More information about how to complete this process will be sent by email before the start of the fall semester. 


  • Two weeks before arriving on campus: We suggest you limit travel and social exposure and closely monitor any changes to your health. If you experience any of the symptoms known to be a possible indication of COVID-19, reach out to your healthcare provider before you arrive on campus.

Testing for International Travelers

Anyone flying internationally will be quarantined upon arrival to the Bolivar campus and required to be tested for COVID-19. Upon a negative test result, residents will go to their assigned housing assignment location.

Vulnerable populations

Individuals with underlying health conditions or who have other factors believed to make them at high-risk for COVID-19, may request accommodations according to existing procedures. Employees should contact the Office of Human Resources at (417) 328-1513. Students should contact the Office of the Provost at (417) 328-1598.


In the Classroom

Our goal is in-person, in-class instruction. We are planning for as many courses as possible to meet in classrooms where appropriate physical distancing is possible. In cases where physical distancing is not possible, we have developed options for a combination of in-person and online class sessions. In all cases, most of the instruction will be in-person. 

Log in to the Blackboard Learning Management System after January 18 for details about the courses in which you are enrolled. The syllabus will include course delivery details.

Fully Face-to-Face Instruction

Assigned classroom is large enough to accommodate faculty and all students enrolled in the class while maintaining appropriate physical distancing between desks. 

Face-to-Face/Online Options

All classes determined not to be able to meet fully face-to-face will utilize one of these two options, to be determined by the faculty member teaching the course. 

Option 1: Hybrid Instruction

  • Roster is equally divided into two groups for seated course attendance on alternating days.
  • Online instruction can be completed at any time within a timeframe specified by the instructor. Online content is provided through the Blackboard Learn LMS.

Example Class Schedules:

diagram showing two weeks of hybrid classes divided by groups (explained in bullet point text)

Option 2: Hyflex Instruction

  • Roster is equally divided for seated course attendance on alternating days.
  • On each day of instruction, half of the class will receive content live in the classroom and half of the class will receive content live through an online medium, such as Zoom video conferencing. Methods of instruction will be swapped the next class period.
  • Additional supplemental content may be provided through the Blackboard Learn LMS.

Example Class Schedules:

diagram showing two weeks of hyflex classes divided by groups (explained in bullet point text)

Term start and end dates remain the same, and Spring Break remains in the calendar for Spring 2021.

However, the academic calendar does remain subject to change at any time. We continue to monitor COVID-19 caseloads within SBU and the broader communities where our campuses are located and will make adjustments if needed as we follow local, state and federal guidance. Especially as you consider making plans for Spring Break, please do so knowing you may have to cancel or adjust your plans.

Key dates in the academic calendar for WinterFest and Spring 2021 include: 
 • January 2-19 — WinterFest seated and hybrid courses meet 
 • January 20 — Spring classes (seated, hybrid and online) begin 
 • March 15-19 — Spring Break
 • May 14 — Last day of classes
 • May 14-15 — Commencement ceremonies

Download Academic Calendar (PDF)

Some interactive learning components, such as science labs, music lessons, healthcare clinical experiences, internships and student teaching, present some unique challenges for the Spring 2021 semester. We are working diligently to review these learning experiences and offer creative solutions. Details will be posted in your Blackboard courses by January 18 as part of the syllabus.

If you enroll in a face-to-face course, you are expected to attend all face-to-face class sessions unless you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or other health-related concerns.  

  • You should not attend class if you are not feeling well.  
  • You are responsible for notifying your instructor of your absence and completing all missed coursework.  

We strongly recommend each student bring a personal computer for completing coursework in between in-person class sessions. The University recommends the use of a Windows PC or Apple computer. A Chromebook may not be the best choice for many disciplines. However, computer labs will be open for use by students who do not have a computer. Cleaning supplies will be available for students to clean computers before and after use. 

The SBU Campus Store inside the Goodson Student Union is open with increased safety measures and operational changes.

Student are encouraged to order their textbooks online as soon as possible. With only 10 customers allowed in the store at a time, advanced ordering will expedite your textbook retrieval once you are on campus.

  • Bolivar campus: Choose to have the books shipped to your house before arriving on campus or to have the books held for you to pick up on campus.
  • Springfield, Salem and Mountain View campuses: Have the textbooks shipped to your home address. On-campus distribution is not available.

Store Hours:

  • Winter Hours (now through January 15): 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Spring Term Hours (beginning January 18): 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Extended hours on January 20-22: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Curbside service: Available for online order pickup only by calling (417) 328-1530.

For more information, contact the SBU Campus Store at or (417) 328-1530.

Order textbooks online

Covid-19 Case Plan

Any student on any campus who tests positive for COVID-19 should immediately notify the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888. 

In consultation with governmental health agencies, we have developed these guidelines for when we have a positive COVID-19 test on any of our campuses. 

SBU’s nurse will coordinate contact tracing with the appropriate local governmental health agency. 

  • Testing protocol: Anyone being tested for COVID-19 must quarantine until receiving a negative test result and being symptom-free. If the test is positive, the individual must follow self-isolation procedures.
  • Testing availability: The Bolivar and Springfield campuses have rapid-testing available for students with symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Bolivar campus: On the Bolivar campus, free rapid testing is available for students on the Bolivar campus who have COVID-19 symptoms. Testing is available by appointment only by calling the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888. A positive test result requires a 10-day isolation period before being released to resume normal activities. With a negative rapid test result, you will be referred to the Polk County Health Center to schedule an appointment for the next day to receive a free PCR test. If this test confirms the negative test result, your quarantine period will end. If you do not follow-through on the second test, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the first date of symptoms.
    • Springfield campus: If you have symptoms of COVID-19, schedule an appointment online for a free rapid test. At the onset of symptoms, students should still report symptoms to the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888. After test results are received, student will report results to the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888 for further guidance. A positive test result requires a 10-day isolation period before being released to resume normal activities. A negative test result may not prevent a quarantine from campus. We encourage follow-up with a healthcare provider regardless of test results. A repeat negative test may reduce quarantine period. If you do not follow-through on the second test, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the first date of symptoms. 
    • Mountain View and Salem campuses: Work directly with your local health department for testing. 
  • Self-isolation: Anyone testing positive will be required to self-isolate. Students living in residence halls are encouraged to leave campus, but a self-isolation facility is available for residential students without other options. 
  • Quarantine: Anyone who has been in direct contact with a person who has tested positive will be required to quarantine for 10 days. You will be required to continue taking your temperature twice a day and monitoring for symptoms for the remainder of the traditional 14-day quarantine period. Students in quarantine are not allowed to be on campus, unless living in a residence hall.
    • Contact protocol: “Direct contact” with someone who tests positive is defined as being closer than 6 feet of each other (or 4 feet if both individuals are wearing face coverings) for more than 15 minutes. 
    • Residence hall quarantine procedures: Students living in a residence hall are encouraged to go home during the quarantine period but may stay in their residence hall room but likely will transition to a designated quarantine room. They are not allowed to leave the room. Meals will be delivered to the student’s room. 
      • If one roommate has had direct exposure to the virus, the roommates will be separated during the quarantine period. 
      • If both roommates have been exposed, they may quarantine together.
      • If one roommate tests positive, the positive person will be required to self-isolate and the other person will be required to quarantine, as outlined above. 
    • From quarantine to self-isolation: If a student in quarantine in a residence hall starts showing symptoms or tests positive, the student will need to follow the self-isolation procedures outlined above.
    • Testing for asymptomatic early release from quarantine: You may be released from quarantine due to direct contact if asymptomatic and with a negative test result on the 7th day of quarantine. This testing IS NOT available at SBU. Testing options in this case on the Bolivar campus include:
      • Calling the Polk County Health Center at (417) 326-7250 to schedule an appointment for testing. Cost is $60. 
      • Scheduling a virtual appointment through Citizens Memorial Healthcare to receive a doctor’s order for testing at the CMH COVID testing site, which is open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Cost is $25 for a virtual visit plus the cost of the test.
      • In either of these scenarios, you will need to provide a copy of your negative test result to both the Polk County Health Center and the SBU Killian Health Center.
    • Self-monitoring: Any student should self-monitor for symptoms during the quarantine period. If symptoms appear, contact the SBU Killian Health Center at (417) 328-1888. 
  • Daily monitoring: The local governmental health agency will call anyone in self-isolation or quarantine daily and will notify the individual when the quarantine or self-isolation period has ended. 

Housing, Dining and Campus Life

This section applies to undergraduate students on the Bolivar campus only. While some components apply only to students living in residence halls, many apply to all students, regardless of their housing location. 

Move-in Procedures

The Office of Residence Life is facilitating move-in time scheduling and will provide instructions in an email sent to residents by January 6. Each student is allowed up to two guests. Face coverings are required.

New and returning students will move-in beginning Sunday, January 17, through Tuesday, January 19.

You will receive information from the Office of Residence Life with details on how to set up a move-in time. If you have not received an email regarding this by January 6, contact the Office of Student Life at (417) 328-1885. 

Housing Precautions

  • Face coverings are required when in a community space within the residence hall. Face coverings are not required in your own room. Be respectful and use face coverings when visiting other rooms or hosting guests within your assigned room. 
  • Physical distancing is required in community spaces, and each space will have posted occupancy limits. These spaces will be cleaned and sanitized frequently. 
  • You must make a reservation for using community kitchens in residence halls. 
  • Residence life activities will continue where we can make adjustments with appropriate health protocols. 

SBU continues to work closely with Fresh Ideas, the University’s food service provider, to implement protocols providing a safe dining environment.

Changes to the dining experience include: 

  • Limited dining hall occupancy — With COVID-19 procedures in place, the occupancy limit in Mellers Dining Commons has been reduced to 216. You are asked to limit your time in the cafeteria to 25 minutes per meal. 
  • Green Box — Each student who has purchased a meal plan will receive a card inside their Bearcat Care Kit for a dining hall Green Box for to-go meals.
  • To-go lunches — Pre-packaged lunches will be available for pick-up at the Sports Café from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. 
  • Face coverings — You are required to wear a face covering inside the cafeteria except when you are sitting and eating. 
  • Self-service stations — You are required to use gloves when using the self-serve ice cream station, salad bar or condiment pumps.

You still will have many of the same food options served by Fresh Ideas staff: 

  • Culinary Expo serving traditional entrees 
  • Chef’s Table serving oriental entrees 
  • Deli Bar with build-your-own deli options 
  • Pizza Station
  • Bearcat Grill serving a variety of grill entrees 
  • Dry Foods Bar with cereal, breads, etc. 
  • Dessert Station (self-serve using gloves)

Because seating in Mabee Chapel is limited to comply with occupancy limitations as outlined by local governmental health authorities, several changes are being made for chapel attendance during the Spring 2021 semester.

In-person attendance requires pre-registration

A pre-registration system will be used for students to sign up for in-person Chapel services. A link to the registration app is on the student portal. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and we ask that all students register before entering Mabee Chapel.

Chapel livestream

All Chapel services will be available for viewing via livestream for personal enrichment and participation in the important discussions on brokenness, race, anxiety, and politics we will have during chapel this fall

  • No CLW points will be given for watching the livestream.
  • Links for each Chapel service’s livestream will be available in the CLW section of the MySBU portal.
  • You must be logged in to MySBU to view the livestream.

CLW point policy for Spring 2021

Students will receive 11 “free” CLW points, meaning that students will only need to acquire 14 points to reach the 25-point total for the semester.

In addition, two CLW points will be given for each chapel service attended in person. The number of points a student may earn through other CLW categories will remain unchanged. Therefore, students may attend seven chapel services during the semester to earn 14 points or combine chapel attendance with other CLW point options (small groups, etc.) to reach 14.

More information regarding CLW points is available in the CLW Handbook posted on the MySBU portal.

Other CLW point options for Spring 2021

On-campus small groups, community service through pre-approved organizations, short-term mission projects (as available), and other special interest opportunities for CLW points will be available throughout the semester as usual.

The Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center is open with extra precautions in place in response to COVID-19. Find the most-current information on the Wellness Center page on the SBU website

For more information, contact the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center at or (417) 328-1411.  

Events and Gatherings

Campus life activities will continue where we can make adjustments with appropriate health protocols. We also will be increasing the number of events and activities we offer throughout the semester.  

Status of outside events events hosted by outside organizations being held on campus will be determined on a case-by-case basis.


All sports will operate with a reduced competition schedule in accordance with NCAA and GLVC rules and guidelines. All decisions related to athletics will follow NCAA and GLVC guidance as it becomes available. Game day operations plans are developed in compliance with GLVC and local health department guidelines.

Planning for the Unexpected

While the University strongly desires face-to-face, on-campus instruction for the entire Spring 2021 semester, new developments throughout the semester could cause the University to change approaches. University administration is planning for various scenarios.

Important Resources

Residents of Polk County, Missouri may use the Community Connections Resources Helpline by calling (417) 777-7411. This helpline is a resource for those needing help finding supplies or connections, or who have questions about living needs. It is not an information line for COVID-19.

CARES Act funding distribution to students

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF),  Southwest Baptist University has received $1,150,794 in funding to provide emergency financial aid grants for students experiencing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Funds will be awarded to eligible students on all four campuses who have demonstrated the greatest need as determined by the FAFSA. In the initial round of distributions, Southwest Baptist University identified a pool of 1,537 eligible students who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 related disruptions to normal campus operations.

Application process for additional funding

Anyone who was a student during the Spring 2020 semester and meets the following guidelines is eligible to apply for an additional Emergency Financial Aid Grant award of up to $2,000.

  • Title IV-eligible
  • Was enrolled in a non-distance learning degree-seeking program during the spring 2020 semester
  • Estimated family contribution (EFC) of $20,000 or less for the 2019-20 academic year
  • Must have expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus that were not covered by the first round of Emergency Financial Aid Grant awards
  • Applications must be received by August 21, 2020

Funds are limited for the second round and only those students with exceptional circumstances will be considered. You will have to provide a brief statement of your current financial need as it relates to disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

The application is available for download on the MySBU Portal. For more information, contact

Cares Act Information

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