Interview with Dean Tumolo About the Spring Semester


Courtesy of Villanova University

The University urges students to continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines. 

Julia Butch, Staff Writer

“No major, major changes.” 

Spring Semester has officially commenced, but COVID-19 regulations remain largely unchanged. The University’s administration is hoping to foster continued momentum and build on the first semester, or as Assistant Dean of Students Nicholas Tumolo puts it, “New Semester, Same Playbook!”

That said, there have been some changes made. For one, the University will expand surveillance testing. Specific numbers, however, are not disclosed. Surveillance testing is randomized, and students are required to take part when selected. If a student is chosen to partake in the program, he or she will receive an email to schedule a COVID-19 test within the week.

There is also a new way for students to voice concerns digitally, which is a direct result of the feedback from the end-of-semester survey students took in November. Tumolo says students wanted more “awareness and clarification of guidelines and opportunities to share concerns.” So, the University created a new reporting system ( All students are able to submit any concerns they have of fellow students not following the CARITAS guidelines. 

“Frankly, it centralizes a lot of the different options to share concerns that have already existed,” Tumolo said. 

While Tumolo appreciates the desire for anonymity, he says that it is often more difficult to address the problem when the source cannot be reached. That being said, there is an option to submit anonymously. 

He is confident with the procedures in place and stated that the success of last semester was fairly obvious. The University is even trying to facilitate varsity sports in the spring. This will include robust testing and protocols for athletes.  

Tumolo says the University was not overwhelmed by the hundreds of cases, quarantines and isolations that took place during the Fall semester. 

“We obviously planned to have cases on campus last semester,” he said. “We had plans and processes and resources in place for all of that. So, what happened is exactly what we planned for.”

Many students are wondering if we’ll make it through the Spring semester. 

“If everyone does what they’re supposed to do, and things go well, we can manage it,” the Dean said.

However, he says that there is still a “finite amount of resources and capacity.” This statement came just before the recent spike on campus and a related communication from University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. reiterating the need to follow established guidelines. 

When asked about a threshold of cases that would necessitate shutdown, Tumolo said there is still no finite number. “There are so many factors that determine that,” he said. 

While the campus community and administration remain hopeful, there are simply no guarantees.