Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a collection of answers to commonly-asked questions about COVID-19 and its effects on university operations and community life.
If your question is not answered below, please email ResponseTeam@calvin.edu for assistance.
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Responding to COVID-19
- Face masks
Does Calvin recommend the use of face masks?
Yes. In the spirit of our community policy of "presumed positive," Calvin strongly recommends that everyone able to do so wear a face mask when in any public space, especially in spaces where social distancing practices can be difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores. Doing so is a way to fight the spread of coronavirus, and is a way to safeguard our community and our neighbors.
Does Calvin plan to supply its community with face masks? How can I help?
Yes, the Calvin community is encouraged to make face masks over Easter weekend for essential workers and other people in our community who especially need them. Our goal is to gather 500 face masks for this purpose by Monday, April 13.
If you want to donate one or more homemade face masks toward this goal, please drop off your finished cloth face masks at the Calvin Campus Safety office (near the Lake Drive entrance to campus). Leave the face masks in the clearly-marked box just inside the exterior door to the Campus Safety office.
What is the benefit of wearing a face mask?
The CDC recommends wearing a face mask as a way to prevent the transmissions of COVID-19 between people. Note that the primary function of a mask isn't to protect the wearer from possible infection—it's to prevent the wearer from inadvertently spreading the virus to others.
I'm not symptomatic and/or don't believe I have coronavirus. Should I still wear a mask?
Yes. It's possible for people to carry and spread the coronavirus without displaying symptoms, so wearing a mask is a prudent precaution for everyone—even those who have no symptoms or who believe they aren't infected.
Who should wear a face mask?
Anyone above the age of 2 should wear a face mask anytime they enter a public space or interact with other people. If you have difficulty breathing or have any physical condition that makes wearing a mask difficult or uncomfortable, please consult with your physician before using a face mask.
Should I buy an N95 or other medical-grade face mask for my personal use?
No—medical-grade face masks should be reserved for health professionals and first responders. You can instead build a functional face mask out of household materials by following this CDC guidance.
What materials should be worn as a face mask?
A face mask can be made out of common household materials. It should be built out of multiple layers of cloth of material that you can breathe through and which can be fit snugly around your face. It should preferably be made of cloth that can be laundered and dried for re-use. Please refer to the CDC guide to making a face mask.
When should I wear a face mask?
You should wear a face mask anytime you are in a public space or anticipate interacting, even at a six-foot distance, with other people.
Should I continue to practice social distancing while using a face mask?
Yes. While a face mask can help fight the spread of the coronavirus, it is not a replacement for social distancing practices. While wearing a mask, you should continue to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people, and should continue to practice the hygiene and social distancing routine you normally do.
How do I make a face mask?
You can find a guide to constructing your own face mask using homemade materials at the CDC website.
- Campus housing and dining
Can I still live on campus? Are residence halls and apartments still in operation?
All residence halls, on-campus apartments, and Calvin-sponsored residences (e.g., Project Neighborhood, Perkins House, Garden House, etc.) closed for the semester at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23. Students checked out of their campus residences by that time.
I am not able to relocate. Can I still live on campus?
We recognize that “going home” may be impossible for some and we will give special consideration to international students and those experiencing extraordinary circumstances. Please complete the linked Petition Form in order to be considered for an exception to live on campus through the end of the spring semester (May 21). Additional information will be provided in subsequent communications for those who are granted permission to live on campus through May 21.
What is the process for checking out of my Calvin residence?
In order to check out without additional charges, students will need to complete a self-checkout process. Students checking out of campus housing should remove all of their belongings, clean the space, return residence hall furniture to its original arrangement, and complete a Checkout Instructions and Checkout Form. Once completed, the Checkout Form should be placed inside the provided envelope, along with the room key, and the envelope should be deposited at the front desk of your residence hall. Please note, RAs will not be available for room inspection. A university representative will assess room condition at a later date, and residents will be responsible for damages to their room.
If I’ve already left campus, how can I retrieve my items and belongings?
Students who have already left campus and need to retrieve belongings from their on-campus residences should fill out the Retrieve My Belongings form. Residence life staff will work with students to arrange a time for them to pick up their belongings and complete the checkout process prior to May 21. Students who have already departed campus and are unable to return to retrieve their belongings will be given instructions on how arrangements should be made to have someone else pack and store their belongings.
I live off-campus. Does the decision to close down campus residences affect me?
Students living off campus in apartments/houses are free to make decisions as they determine, though we continue to assert that all members of the Calvin community should practice social distancing and limit in-person social interactions to the extent possible.
Will I be able to leave and/or return to campus housing as desired during the spring semester?
After Monday, March 23, campus residences will be closed, and access to non-residential spaces will be restricted to employees whose offices or labs are in those buildings, or to employees providing support to those buildings.
What residence hall or apartment policies will be in effect during this time?
All residential policies that apply to your areas will continue to be in effect, including Open House hours and noise policies. Though we recognize that students appreciate gathering together in residential spaces, we are modifying access to several areas on campus to discourage groups from congregating. Calvin must be absolutely focused on the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19. In accordance with CDC guidance, we are asking all members of the Calvin community to practice social distancing, which means remaining out of settings in which people congregate, avoiding both large and small group gatherings that involve more than 10 people, suspending all face-to-face meetings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible. The general rule of thumb should be to limit all in-person social interaction as much as possible, instead leveraging tools that allow for virtual meeting (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Skype, WebEx, FaceTime, etc.).
Analyzing public data from places like Europe and Asia where the spread of the virus is widespread, we now know that many young people without symptoms were likely carrying COVID-19 and spreading it both through direct contact with others and through indirect contamination of common objects. We all need to practice good habits in keeping social distance and act as if we or those around us could be infectious. Fewer infections will help our local hospitals and care centers to be able to handle the influx of severely infected people anticipated over the next few weeks.
Are front desk operations continuing at residence halls and apartments?
Front desk operations for the Residence Halls and Knollcrest East Apartments have been suspended in accordance with social distancing recommendations. Signs are posted at each of the front desks in residential spaces to provide staff contact information.
Are mail services still available?
Although front desk operations in residence halls and apartments have been suspended, mail services continue to be available at the mail services building. Students can come to the mail services building from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday) to pick up their mail or packages. All outgoing mail should be brought to the mail services building as well. If there is a package currently behind the desk for you, you can contact an RA and they will retrieve it for you.
Are trash services still available?
Students remaining in residence halls will need to remove their personal trash to an external dumpster that will be placed outside each residence hall early this week. At that time, trash and recycling bins will be removed from kitchens and lobbies.
Residence hall bathroom trash bins must be used for bathroom paper waste only. Additional trash bags are available at departmental offices and residence hall front desks and apartments.
Knollcrest East recycling bins were removed on Friday, March 13.
These changes are meant to minimize secondary exposure to contaminated air and material before waste leaves campus. All student workers have been removed from waste stream activities.
Are cleaning products, toilet paper, and other supplies available?
Cleaning Products will remain in front of the desk available to all, along with disposable thermometers for anyone who needs to check their temperature. These thermometers are reusable (up to 20 times), so don’t throw them away after one or two uses.
Toilet paper will be available in the lobbies of the residence halls and Knollcrest East on Friday mornings between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We encourage students to stock up at that time. CJ floor bathrooms will still remain open and functioning. If you need additional toilet paper or other supplies, contact an RA to gain access to additional supplies.
How do I sanitize my environment?
Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but, by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but killing germs on a surface after cleaning lowers the risk of spreading infection.
Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces (tables, remotes, doorknobs, hard-backed chairs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants.
If a separate bathroom is not available for each individual, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by each person. Pay attention to the toilet handle, faucet handles, and door handles.
It works best to saturate a paper towel and wipe down each high-touch area instead of spraying the area and wiping it off with a dry towel.
When a person becomes ill in your dorm or apartment, they should remain isolated as soon as early symptoms appear. If living on campus, plan to notify housing staff as soon as possible to move the ill person to an isolation room. Isolation is key to limiting spread, so housing will assist with altering living arrangements when someone residing with others becomes ill during this outbreak.
To disinfect after an ill person was in the bathroom, see these tips from the CDC.
Is smoking permitted on the Calvin campus?
Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spread between people in close contact through airborne particulates, Calvin’s campus will officially become a non-smoking campus for the remainder of the semester. Smoke pits will not be cleaned during this time and we ask that, if you must smoke, you travel off-campus to do so or smoke inside of your vehicle.
What will happen with the Room Draw process?
We have students' preferences and will work to finalize their room placements for next year based on those preferences. More information will come out on room draw in April.
How will on-campus dining work during the period of online instruction?
Dining Services will remain open for the remainder of the spring semester in some capacity, and your existing meal plan will continue to be honored. Starting with breakfast on Monday, March 30, we will shift to delivering all meals to residence hall lobbies and a designated spot at Knollcrest East. This action is being taken in an effort to continually simplify the process and keep proper social distancing until we’re past any peak of COVID-19 activity in our area. To help our dining services staff, remember to share any dietary needs or concerns using this form. Additional information about meal delivery in residential areas will be shared in the next few days.
- Campus engagement
Will there be events on campus?
No. All university events are canceled through the end of the semester (May 21)and meetings have been moved online, in accordance with state and local health mandates. Student-news will be your source for relevant information about virtual activities and events.
Will we have Chapel or LOFT services on campus?
Unfortunately, no. While there will be no chapel or LOFT services for the remainder of the spring semester, we do hope to foster connection and spiritual formation through various virtual events, such as a playlist of worship music, sharing “best of” chapels from previous semesters, and live-streaming devotionals with Pastor Mary.
Can we continue Bible Studies and Discipleship Groups?
Very small groups (fewer than 10 people, with proper social distancing behaviors) may be okay, but generally, we are asking people to limit in-person social interaction as much as possible. Instead, we encourage the following:
- scripture memory recitations posted online and/or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (Josh 1:7–9 and Luke 24:25–32 are the texts we are using this spring)
- prayer walks
- the use of apps such as Dwell (still free w/ a Calvin email!), Pray as You Go, and the Public Reading of Scripture
During the period of online instruction, what recreation options are available for students?
Michigan’s governor released an executive order restricting access to gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, and spas as of Tuesday, March 16. In accordance with this mandate, Calvin has restricted access to all non-residential facilities. Despite this change, we encourage students to take time to engage in activities that ground you and help you to remain healthy—go for a walk or hike, take a jog, or bike outdoors. The more ventilated an area, the lower the risk of transmission as long as you are practicing proper physical distancing.
I’m involved in interviews for a student leadership role for next year. What will happen with this process?
Student selection processes will continue—we’re excited to have your interests and skills contributing to our community. The format and method of interviews may be adjusted to accommodate community safety standards and to ensure that applicants can engage the process regardless of where they are. Supervisors and mentors of these roles will contact you about any alterations in the schedule and will provide additional information about the hiring process, including the possibility of remote interviews.
- Student employment
I have an on-campus student job. How will the transition to online instruction impact my ability to work?
During the period of online instruction, many student employees will be able to continue working, though new expectations of remote work for the vast majority of employees at Calvin will likely impact students. There are a number of particular questions pertaining to student employment that we have attempted to answer below. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact the student employment office by emailing email@example.com.
Am I required to work during this period?
No. Students may choose to work during the period of time in which instruction is online, but they are not required to do so. Students who decide not to work during this period should notify their supervisor as soon as possible.
Will I be penalized and lose my on-campus job if I decide to leave campus and study from afar during the online instruction period?
No. Students will not be penalized or lose their on-campus job if they choose to leave campus during this timeframe. However, students must notify their supervisors prior to leaving and make arrangements with them that indicates when they intend to resume working.
Will the student be paid if they do not work?
No. Students will only be paid for the hours that they work.
Is there a chance that a student’s work schedule will change during the online period?
Yes, and this will depend on the particular role and type of work. For example, some student employment positions may be impacted by the reduction or cancellation of events and programs, which may reduce staffing needs. Other student employment positions may be called upon to work additional hours to support Calvin’s efforts to continue operations. Student employees should work with their supervisors to determine staffing needs and should clearly communicate their availability and preferences.
Can students work remotely?
Yes, depending on the type of work. There are some student employment positions that will accommodate student employees working remotely. Supervisors and student employees should work together to decide if working remotely is feasible. This option is only available if a supervisor offers flexible accommodations and approves the work in advance. Human Resources will be providing supervisors with more information and guidelines for employees interested in working remotely in the coming days.
Are there certain types of work that should be reduced or not performed during this period?
Likely, yes. Activities that expose students to situations involving large-group gatherings may be considered high-risk and should be avoided, if possible. The health and safety of all Calvin employees is a priority to us. Students who are concerned about their ability to stay healthy and safe in the course of their work should notify their supervisor immediately.
- Health and wellbeing
What sort of counseling resources will I have access to during this period?
The Center for Counseling and Wellness (CCW) continues to provide virtual mental health support for Calvin students during this emergency response period. Students are encouraged to access evidence-based online resources through the CCW website (calvin.edu/go/counseling) and to reach out to the CCW office for consultation about treatment and support options (firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-526-6123). HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing is available on a limited basis for in-state clients, in accordance with state licensure laws.
Online mental health resources include:
- Therapist Assisted Online (TAO): https://thepath.taoconnect.org (log in with your Calvin email address)
- Peer Listening (7 Cups): https://www.7cups.com (log in using org code calvin_listens)
- Mental health apps and websites: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/counseling-and-wellness/resources/self-help-resources/
- Instagram: follow CCW @thriveatcalvin for wellness tips
Mental health emergency resources include:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741)
- Local emergency services (911)
- Pine Rest Urgent Care & Contact Center (616-455-9200) - for West Michigan emergencies only
- Calvin University Campus Safety (616-526-3333) - for on-campus emergencies only
- Career coaching and Calvin LifeWork
Can students utilize career services if they are remote?
Yes, students will still be able to have coaching appointments with their Career Coach. To schedule an appointment, students should log into Handshake. When scheduling, students will have the option to select an appointment medium (Face to Face, Phone Call, Online, or Email). If necessary, the coach will follow up with appointment instructions for remote sessions.
Will Career Center events still occur during the online period?
No. All scheduled Career Connection workshops will be canceled during this timeframe. However, students are encouraged to utilize LinkedIn Learning for training on specific content areas. Students can access the site using their Calvin login credentials via https://www.linkedin.com/learning/me?u=41915364
The Career Center’s online resume tool, Optimal Resume, can be accessed using your Calvin credentials at https://calvin.optimalresume.com/
During the online period, will Calvin LifeWork students still be expected to complete modules?
Yes. Students participating in Calvin LifeWork are expected to complete all assignments as planned, with the exception of the sophomore teamwork module, which requires participation in a face-to-face experiential activity (Calvin Lifework Escape Room). There will be no penalty if the module is not completed by the end of March.
- Office operations/accessibility to staff and faculty
Will all offices operate as normal and will all Calvin staff and faculty be present on campus during this time?
There will be disruption to the normal operations of some offices across campus. When the absence of campus employees disrupts the normal hours or operations of a Calvin office, we will do everything we can to ensure that services and supports to students are maintained. Departments across campus are finding creative ways to engage students through virtual means (e.g., email, video conferencing, online workshops, etc.).
When will I hear from my faculty members about on-line instruction?
Calvin’s faculty are being creative and resourceful, as they step into this brand-new mode of instruction. Students have heard by now from their professors about what their online experience will look like over the next several weeks of class.
Will Campus Ministries still offer pastoral care?
Yes, pastors are available for online conversations by appointment during usual office hours. Students are encouraged to use Microsoft Teams to have a pastoral conversation online.
- Campus safety
What service will Campus Safety offer?
The Campus Safety Department will continue to operate on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis. The front desk area will remain open between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm Monday through Friday. Officers will still answer calls for service and provide escorts, though most escorts will be done by walking, which may slow response time somewhat.
Where can I park?
Normal parking regulations will remain in effect, so park in the same areas as normal. Vehicles left in short term lots for extended lengths of time or parking overnight in non-overnight lots will be ticketed. Please be courteous to fellow students who might also need access to short term parking.
Will I have access to academic buildings?
Access to all non-residential buildings will be restricted to employees whose offices or labs are in those buildings, or to employees providing support to those buildings, unless an exception is granted by the area vice president.
How can students report an incident or issue during this time?
Students can report in-person to a Resident Life staff member, Campus Safety or any member of the Student Conduct Office. The Office of Student Conduct will be open and staff will be available on-call if you would like to meet with someone about your concerns. Make a report online.
For emergencies, please contact Campus Safety: 616-526-6333. For non-emergency needs call 616-526-6452.
To talk to someone in person and set up a meeting, please contact the interim director of student conduct, Martin Avila: email@example.com or 616-526-7598.
- Online transition
Are classes canceled?
The university is not canceling classes, rather starting on Monday, March 16, all classes moved online for the remainder of the spring semester (through May 21).
What resources are available for faculty/staff related to online learning?
There are a number of “peer-to-peer tips” available for faculty/staff as they transition from traditional classroom instruction to an online learning environment.
In addition, our information technology staff held, one-hour online training sessions for faculty and staff between Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16. Faculty and staff can check out www.calvin.edu/go/remote to access tutorials on how to use various tools and video and audio lessons that address the most common questions and tasks required to work and teach online.
What is some good advice to help students transition to this new model of online learning?
- Keep a normal schedule. Plan to engage with your classes and your coursework for at least the same amount of time that you would if you were taking classes on campus.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of how your professor plans to move your course online and what your specific requirements will be. Be patient with your professors! They are figuring this out, too.
- Check your Calvin email regularly—at least daily, and if possible multiple times per day. This is how the university (including your profs) will communicate with you.
- Don’t forget the resources that are still available to you: peer tutoring, academic coaching, rhetoric center, academic counselors, and your faculty members are all available to you if you need assistance. Watch for communication from all of these folks about how to connect with them during this month.
- Practice self-care—regular sleeping, eating, and exercise is important and will help you be in the best position possible to tackle any academic challenges that you encounter.
When will faculty members connect with students about online instruction?
Calvin’s faculty are being creative and resourceful as they step into this new model of instruction. Students have already heard more details from their professors about what their online experience will look like over the next several weeks for their class, including how professors will be delivering their content and what tools and resources are available to students.
What if I have a lab—will those be online too?How will that work?
Calvin’s faculty are being creative and resourceful as they step into this new model of instruction. Students have already heard more details from their professors about what their online experience will look like over the next several weeks for their class or lab, including how professors will be delivering their content and what tools and resources are available to students.
Are resources like tutoring and drop-in help sessions still available?
Academic tutoring and coaching are still available for students to participate in during the transition to online learning. Tutoring is available for most 100 and 200-level classes. Please encourage your students to sign up for a tutor if they would like additional academic support. Academic coaches are also available to help students with time management, study strategies, task prioritization, and healthy mindsets.
All help sessions for accounting, calculus, chemistry, physics, and stats 143 are still being held virtually.
To sign up for an academic tutor or coach, or for further information about online help session, please visit www.calvin.edu/go/tutor
- International students
How is Calvin supporting incoming/enrolling students for fall 2020?
Calvin’s admissions team is making additional considerations to help alleviate some concerns about the application process. Further questions may be directed to the Calvin University International Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m an international student who cannot easily return home. What options do I have?
Calvin will assist international students who are unable to return home and need to remain in on-campus housing throughout the semester. International students seeking permission to stay in on campus housing must complete the Petition Form in order to be considered for an exception to live on campus through the end of the spring semester (May 21).
Can international students continue their studies online from outside the United States?
The Department of Homeland Security and ICE agency have released the following policy change: International students are now permitted to continue their studies via online classes outside of the United States. This means that international students may complete the spring semester either here in the U.S. or choose to return to their home country without any conflict to their immigration status.
I’m an international student who wants to travel home. What do I need to do this?
If you are an international student who chooses to depart the U.S., you must ensure that you have a signed I-20 with a valid travel signature. If you have questions about this requirement or any concern related to international student services, please email Brent Wilkinson at email@example.com or Tara Braun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m traveling outside the United States, but have special medical needs. What support does Calvin provide?
If you are traveling to a location outside the United States, we want to help you with any medical needs as you transition to care from your local provider. If you are currently taking any prescriptions, please contact Health Services for a refill before your departure. We also encourage you to stay in touch with us through the secure patient portal.
I am worried that the U.S. consulate will not be open in time to apply for a student visa.
We understand that this can be a stressful situation that is constantly changing. For now, we ask that you keep checking back for when the consulate will be open and then book the earliest possible appointment. Please keep communicating with your admissions counselor for more information.
My school is not open, and I cannot obtain an official transcript or final testing from my country.
For now, we will accept an unofficial transcript for application review. Once you can obtain the official transcript, please send it to your admissions counselor.
- Academic support
Will Calvin continue to provide academic support during this time?
The Center for Student Success will remain open to help students remotely during this month.
Will Career Center events still occur during the online period?
No. All scheduled Career Connection workshops will be canceled during this timeframe. However, students are encouraged to utilize LinkedIn Learning for training on specific content areas. Students can access the site using their Calvin login credentials.
The Career Center’s online resume tool, Optimal Resume, can be accessed using your Calvin credentials. [https://calvin.optimalresume.com]
Is the Rhetoric Center still available to help me with my work?
Yes. The Rhetoric Center offers online sessions via Microsoft Teams. Students can schedule appointments here.
Are semester abroad students able to join Calvin online classes should families decide on their own that it’s no longer safe to be abroad?
We will do everything possible to ensure that students are able to finish their full slate of courses that they began at their program site. Affected students will be contacted for details about their situation. Learning your schedule will help us create a plan that will be developed by early April.
- Student teaching
Will student teachers continue to be in classrooms this semester?
On March 12, Michigan’s governor ordered all K-12 schools to close from March 16 to April 6. Therefore, student teachers will not be going to schools during this time. However, there are still expectations for students to interact with their courses in an online format, which may include video demonstration of a lesson, teaching each other online, preparation of unit plans, etc. The education faculty are communicating with students in their courses about course expectations.
Finances and financial aid
- Housing, dining, and tuition costs and credits
Will Calvin be adjusting students’ costs for room and board given the move to online instruction?
Yes. We recognize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on all within the Calvin community. Given the university’s decision to continue online instruction through the end of the spring semester, we have decided to issue partial refunds in the form of student account credit to students who have moved out of campus housing.
How much will be credited back to students?
Residential students who have paid for the full semester of room and board and who move out of campus housing by March 31 will receive a credit in the amount of 40% of the spring semester room and board (this includes students who have already left campus but will need to return later to retrieve their belongings). This credit will be applied toward the cost of tuition, room, and board for the 2020-21 academic year for returning students. Graduating seniors and non-returning students will be accommodated differently.
Students who had room and board subsidized in any way will receive the appropriate prorated amount based on their room and board payments for interim/second semester.
How was the percentage determined?
Student housing contracts include a room and board refund schedule that specifies how much a student is eligible to receive should they leave campus housing before the end of the academic term. We have utilized that schedule for determining the appropriate refund amount. Students who are granted permission to stay in campus housing but leave before the end of the semester may be eligible for a prorated credit. Students who have moved out of campus housing but will need to return to retrieve their belongings sometime before May 21 will be considered “moved out” for the purposes of issuing the credit.
In summary: students leaving campus housing before March 31 will receive a 40% credit. Students who are granted permission to extend their stay in campus housing and who check out before the end of April will receive a 15% credit.
Was Calvin required to reimburse this amount?
Technically, no. This circumstance constitutes a legitimate reason to alter the university housing contract terms. However, we have determined that our best course of action is to honor our students and families, moving forward with trust and assurance that God will provide for our institutional needs. We believe this aligns with our missional commitment to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.
Can I choose to gift the room & board refund to Calvin University and receive credit for this as a charitable donation?
Yes! As we work within the reality of resource constraints and aim to meet the unique and rapidly changing needs of our campus community, we would welcome you to consider donating your refund to the Calvin Annual Fund. These undesignated funds are the primary way we will accommodate our community’s evolving needs, both now and in the months to come. Those who choose to contribute in this way will receive a tax receipt for their donation.
What is the process for issuing the credit?
As mentioned above, the refunded amount will be added to a student’s account and shown as a credit to the tuition, room & board costs for 2020–2021.
We recognize that some of our students have family members whose financial security has been significantly impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in these circumstances may fill out an application to have their room and board refund credited against the current balance owed rather than obtaining a credit for the 2020-21 academic year, OR they may request that the credit be dispersed directly to them. Students may use this form to apply for either of these options. Each submission will be evaluated individually. We humbly request that only families who have an urgent and immediate financial need submit this form.
(Graduating seniors and students who do not intend to return to Calvin in fall 2020, please see below.)
What if I am staying in campus housing through the end of the semester?
Students with extenuating circumstances who have been granted permission to reside on campus for the remainder of the semester will not receive a credit for room and board. We will continue to provide critical infrastructure for these students and commit to doing our very best to care well for them under these challenging circumstances.
What if I am graduating or not planning to return to Calvin in 2020-2021?
Students who are graduating this spring will see a credit on their account sometime after June 1. As this is a manual process, please note that this credit balance will be refunded as the bursar’s office is able to process each individual refund; in other words, this will take some time. The credit for graduating students will not appear until conferral of degree has been confirmed. Once posted, the credit for graduating seniors will be refunded to the student.
Students who are not graduating this spring and also not planning to return to Calvin in the fall 2020 semester will see a credit balance on their student accounts, which will be available to cover the cost of tuition, room, and board in a future semester.
What if I do not live on campus but have a dining plan?
Some Calvin students who live off campus participate in our dining program by purchasing community dining plans. For students who have meals remaining on their community dining plans, we have determined that the remaining meals will carry over to the 2020-2021 academic year. Credits for community dining plans will only be issued to graduating seniors and will be based on the percentage of meals used. Graduating seniors who currently have siblings at Calvin or who will have a sibling attending Calvin in the 2020-21 academic year may request to have their remaining meals transferred to the sibling. We would also welcome graduating seniors to donate unused meals through Calvin’s “Swipe Out Hunger” program. Graduating seniors who wish to apply for a community dining plan refund should email their request to Steve McBride (Calvin Dining Services) at email@example.com. Please note that requests will not be accepted until after June 1, once degrees for graduating seniors have been posted.
When will the credit notifications be completed?
Given the complexity of our housing and dining options as well as the wide variety of student situations we are seeking to accommodate, this process will require a great deal of administrative effort. We are working to implement this process as quickly as we can, but it will take some time. Additional communication will be sent out just as soon as the university is ready to begin processing credits (likely early April).
Should I pay my April 1 bill?
If you are on a payment plan or have a balance owed, you are still responsible for paying your tuition bill in a timely manner. Late fees will be incurred if student account bills are not paid on time. Please note that financial holds may also be placed on a student’s account in the event of an unpaid bill, which could affect a student’s ability to register for classes for the Fall 2020 semester.
Will tuition be prorated for this current spring semester?
Calvin is continuing to offer classes through the end of this academic year and therefore will not provide refunds for tuition. Despite the unexpected circumstances, we are committed to maintaining excellence in instruction and learning. We are grateful to our gifted faculty who have stepped into this new reality with gracious optimism and creativity. In addition, we thank God for dedicated staff who have shared their expertise and worked tirelessly to equip our students and faculty to do this work well. As our community adjusts to this “new normal,” we are eager to see the many ways that Calvin will continue to foster formational student learning through the provision of excellent Christian education.
Can my room and board credit be used toward tuition for Calvin’s summer term?
Yes. Students may use their room and board credit toward summer tuition for Calvin’s on-campus or online courses. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by April 10th to request that your room and board credit be applied to your 2020 summer tuition.
How does the decision to credit room and board affect the university's operating budget?
Given the current circumstances, Calvin is anticipating a significant deficit in the amount of $3 million this fiscal year. This unanticipated deficit in the final 3 months of the university’s fiscal year presents significant challenges. Considering this new reality, we are taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of the financial impact as best as possible through reductions of expenses, such as the suspension of all non-essential purchases and university-sponsored travel through June 30, 2020. We have determined that issuing returning students a room and board refund as a credit to their fall 2020 semester will help us minimize job loss by university employees during this tumultuous time.
I am studying away from campus for the remainder of the semester; how will I return my course textbooks?
Calvin’s campus store partner, Follett, has been very responsive to institutional and student needs throughout these disruptive weeks. They are offering free shipping on all online orders and easing the process of book rental returns and buy-backs for students who are studying away from campus. All Calvin students were sent information about these options via email on Thursday, March 19. For additional details, please visit the Calvin Store website.
- Financial aid
Will my current financial aid be affected by changes to the 2019-20 academic year?
Changes in family resources related to Covid-19 will not impact your financial aid positively or negatively for the 2019-20 academic year.
How will my financial aid be affected for the 2020-21 academic year?
For both current and prospective domestic students, the Financial Aid staff will consider and evaluate known changes in family resources that are shared with us through this Special Circumstances Form. Evidential documentation is required in order to be considered. Prospective International students should email email@example.com to describe their circumstances and request consideration. Current International students should review and submit the Returning International Application for Financial Aid Form to FinAid@calvin.edu. We highly recommend NOT submitting these requests and forms until later this summer (July or later) when job impacts and income estimates for the July 1 – June 30, 2021 academic year period are better known. Current students can expect to receive their 2020-21 financial aid packages during May and so consideration of coronavirus circumstances will not have been considered. The Financial Aid office will accept special circumstances requests throughout the upcoming academic year and evaluate adjustments to initial financial aid packages.
What is the status of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) for students?
Our grant application for these funds was approved May 7 and the funds are now held in a federally-managed system. Those funds will be drawn by Calvin as they are distributed to eligible students over the coming weeks. Students receiving the grant have received a personal email on May 18 noting the amount of their grant and steps they need to take to receive it. As noted previously, the distribution has been mindful of students’ socioeconomic circumstances. Based on recent clarification from the Department of Education, only students who are eligible to file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) are eligible for the grant, meaning International students are not eligible.
How do I know if I received a CARES Act grant?
You would have received a personal email notification from Calvin University on Monday, May 18 providing you the amount of your grant and instructions for receiving it.
When and how will I receive my CARES Act grant?
You will receive your grant within two weeks of providing direct deposit bank information to us, following the instructions you received in your grant email. This the most prompt, simple, and secure way to receive your grant. You will need your bank’s routing number and your account number. It is important that you are the primary or joint holder of the bank account. This grant cannot be sent to the bank account of a parent or other family member per government regulation. If you have questions or technical difficulties, please contact the Accounts Payable office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I appeal for more CARES Act grant?
No, these grants are final and are fully expended.
Were there differing levels of CARES Act grants?
Yes. Grants ranged up to $1,500 with higher amounts provided to those students with the greatest need.
How were the CARES Act grants determined?
The grants were determined based on the estimated expenses of students and need as reflected on previously filed FAFSAs and special circumstances.
How many Calvin students received the CARES Act grant?
Calvin was able to provide funds to about one-third of the student population based on FAFSA eligibility, estimated expenses of students, and with a focus on socioeconomic circumstances of students as strongly encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education. Students enrolled as of March 13 were eligible. Guest, dual-enrolled, and auditing students, in addition to employees and employee spouses, were not eligible. Students on hiatus or not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress were not eligible.
Do I need to have expenses up to the amount of my CARES Act grant?
No, this is not a requirement. We have estimated overall expenses of students due to the disruption of Calvin’s campus operations and closure. Distribution of the grants was based on estimated need. The grant covers past, current, and potential future expenses as well. Students may share their grant with others if they wish.
What expenses is the CARES Act grant intended to cover?
Any additional expenses you have incurred such as, but not limited to, food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child-care caused by Calvin’s campus operations and closure due to COVID-19. Housing could include additional utilities, repairs, maintenance, or supplies. Technology could include a computer, internet access, enhanced internet access, and other equipment in order to receive and participate in continued course instruction. Course materials could include purchase of online materials otherwise already provided on-campus.
Is the CARES Act grant taxable? The IRS has recently ruled that these grants are not includable in your gross income for tax purposes.
Will I be considered for academic scholarships if I was unable to take the ACT/SAT prior to March 1?
Yes. Newly admitted students for Fall 2020 will be considered for academic scholarships based on other submitted materials, including high school GPA, recommendations, and admissions materials.
Will a credit for room and board charges, if issued, impact my current financial aid (2019-20)?
Most likely not. There are rare cases where the provider of an outside scholarship may require Calvin to return funds if they were provided to cover costs for room and board. The Financial Aid office will contact you directly if you are impacted in this manner.
Will a credit for room and board charges, if issued, impact my financial aid for next year (2020-21)?
It may. Currently, the Department of Education requires that these monies be considered Estimated Financial Assistance in the determination of subsidized loan availability.
If I need additional assistance for educational related costs, can I still accept my federal student loans for the 2019-20 academic year?
Yes. To see if you have eligibility for federal student loans, visit Financial Aid Self-Service to view your available awards. If you need assistance in accepting your loans, please email FinAid@calvin.edu.
Parents may also apply for Federal Parent PLUS or Private loans. Please visit our loan page for information on how to apply.
I’m about to graduate and need to complete federal loan exit counseling. How do I do that, how do I know who my loan servicer will be, and when will loan payments start?
Please visit the Federal Student Aid loan information page. You will find links there to get answers to these questions and more.
If I receive a check for an outside scholarship I was awarded, what should I do?
If the check is made out to Calvin University, please mail it to the mailing address shown below. If the check is made out to you personally, please contact the sender and have them reissue the check made out to Calvin University and then send it to the mailing address shown below. All outside scholarships (non-Calvin) that a student is awarded should be reported to us through this link: Outside Scholarships.
If I need to respond to the Financial Aid office with information to complete FAFSA verification, how do I do that?
We will continue to send you reminders of the information that we need, so continue to check your Calvin and personal emails for instructions. You may mail, fax, or email the information using the contact information below.
How do I contact the Financial Aid office?
Financial aid staff continue to work regular business hours from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (EST), though many are currently working remotely to adhere to social distancing guidance and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to assisting you and appreciate your patience as we respond to the many questions we are receiving. Our goal is to return your message within 48 hours. Email is our preferred method of contact: FinAid@calvin.edu.
Is all university-sponsored travel canceled?
All university-sponsored domestic and international air travel is suspended, effective March 16 through the end of the fiscal year. A faculty or staff member who believes that they have an essential business reason to travel must request approval by a vice president. Non-essential travel by other means (bus, van, car) is strongly discouraged.
Should I travel?
Based on increasing risk of exposure across the globe and CDC guidance, we are strongly discouraging personal travel to places other than home. Analyzing public data from places like Europe and Asia where the spread of the virus is widespread, we now know that many young people without symptoms were likely carrying COVID-19 and spreading it both through direct contact with others and through indirect contamination of common objects. We all need to practice good habits in keeping social distance and act as if we or those around us could be infectious. Calvin must be absolutely focused on the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Fewer infections will help our local hospitals and care centers to be able to handle the influx of severely infected people anticipated over the next few weeks.
If avoiding travel is not an option, we urge all travelers to carefully consider their intended destinations and be aware of any restrictions or quarantine measures that may be recommended or required by the CDC upon arrival or return.
What can travelers do to protect themselves?
While traveling, to help prevent the spread of any respiratory viruses, take a few simple, but important steps beyond basic hygiene behaviors recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- If possible, when buying food, shop in a grocery store that is in a low risk region and plan meals to avoid restaurants.
- Avoid sharing personal items (water bottles, toothpaste, etc.) with roommates, housemates, friends, or family members.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow to minimize the spread of germs.
- When blowing your nose, blow into a tissue, immediately discard the tissue into the trash and wash your hands each time.
- Maintain proper hygiene practices. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (hum/sing the Calvin fight song), especially after using the restroom, before and after eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Rub sanitizer between and behind fingers and continue rubbing until hands are dry.
- If possible, when buying food, shop in a grocery store that is in a low risk region and plan meals to avoid restaurants.
- State of study-abroad programs
Do I need to return to the United States if I’m studying abroad as part of Calvin’s off-campus programs?
The residential portion of all of our off-campus study programs has ended and students have returned.
What should I do if I’m returning to Calvin after international travel?
As per U.S. Government regulations, it appears that anyone entering from abroad will be screened at the airport of entry and required to submit to a 14-day quarantine. This quarantine would have to occur at the student’s home, not at the Calvin University campus. We will do all we can to help the students continue their instruction in an online format upon their return to the U.S.
If you have not already been immunized against the flu, contact Health Services to schedule your flu shot.
How will students complete the academic component of their semester abroad?
The off-campus programs directors will continue to teach their classes, albeit in a different format and perhaps with somewhat altered content. If the host university has moved to online instruction, the students will continue those classes. We will transfer those credits in the same way we would have if the students had been meeting face-to-face.
Students are asked to inform us of their spring schedules to enable us to identify solutions to help them complete the semester. We expect to have plans in place by the early April.
- State of Calvin events
Are all meetings and events canceled on campus?
We are suspending all university events (including those sponsored by registered student organizations, campus departments, and external constituents) through the end of the semester (May 21). We are additionally asking groups to strongly consider how necessary it is to meet in person. We are asking groups, wherever possible, to explore ways of conducting the event through livestreaming or other technologies.
Is Commencement still on?
The traditional commencement ceremony for 2020 will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2020. We will continue to work through additional details raised by this change of dates. For more information and for answers to commonly-asked questions about the new Commencement date, see the Commencement website.
Are all athletic events canceled?
The President’s Council of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) has voted to cancel all-conference and non-conference competitions for the spring season effective Monday, March 16. The MIAA will work with the NCAA and the other Division III commissioners to have this season of eligibility reinstated for the spring sports student-athletes who would like to compete next spring.
- State of Calvin athletics
Will there be a spring sports season?
No. The President’s Council of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) has voted to cancel all-conference and non-conference competitions for the spring season effective Monday, March 16. The MIAA will work with the NCAA and the other Division III commissioners to have this season of eligibility reinstated for the spring sports student-athletes who would like to compete next spring.
- Building hours
Note: You will need a Calvin ID card to access all buildings during open hours.
- Students: 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Monday–Friday; 7 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday; closed Sunday
- Faculty and staff: 24/7 access with a Calvin ID card
Hekman Library: CLOSED
Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex: CLOSED
Morren Fitness Center: CLOSED
Venema Aquatic Center, Van Noord Arena, Rock Climbing Wall, Hoogenboom Recreation Center, and Tennis & Track Center: CLOSED
- Passcodes, ID cards, and building entry
I've forgotten the passcode I use to enter buildings.
If you've forgotten your passcode, visit Cherwell to reset it.
I've lost my Calvin ID card.
Lost ID cards may be replaced at the Campus Safety Department front desk from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Monday–Friday).
I have a problem or a special request regarding building access.
Card access issues and special requests can be addressed during regular business hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) by emailing email@example.com or calling 616-526-6452. The Dispatch Center is available 24/7 to handle phone calls, and Campus Safety officers will continue to be available 24/7 to respond to calls and emergencies.
- I'm a Calvin employee with questions about working from home, childcare, time-off policies, or other topics affected by COVID-19.
The Calvin University Human Resources office has compiled a comprehensive set of FAQs and information for employees which covers common questions about how the COVID-19 situation affects your work at Calvin. Please visit the COVID-19 for Employees site (log in with your Calvin credentials) to get answers to your questions.
Still have questions?
Please be sure to contact ResponseTeam@calvin.edu with any questions that you have that are not answered in this FAQ.