Date: February 2, 2021

Dear residential students, 

We are now welcoming everyone back to campus as we celebrate the first day of spring semester!

Considering the COVID-19 landscape, we had an extremely successful fall semester.  Although there have definitely been challenges, many of you have carved out a sense of belonging in your community, have gotten to know your roommate really well, and are finding a real sense of Christian community where you live, in spite of the many obstacles and challenges.  Many folks at Calvin have worked around the clock to make sure that we maintained our in-person status, because we believe it’s a key part our community and the Calvin experience.  

In our society, there is a lot of future optimism regarding vaccination and an eventual return to something like normal.  Due to the spirit of current optimism and our memory of last semesters successes, I believe that we all have the potential to slowly loosen up and lesson our personal and collective precautions. This is no time to relax.

Given that we are still at the height of this Pandemic, not paying close attention to personal and collective mitigation strategies allows us to slip into a state of unconscious carelessness.  Without knowing it, we get sloppy in our practice of protecting ourselves and others.  Covid 19 continues to be a hyper contagious and very dangerous virus...and most would agree that we are just now starting to get over the hump/high point.

As we move forward this semester, if we want to continue to enjoy great in-person opportunities, we need to covenant to maintain basic personal and collective mitigation strategies.  I realize that people will need to leave campus for work or errands.  We recognize once and while, that you will use a public restroom off-campus.  There are other isolated situations where we put ourselves at slight risk.  Mitigating risk has everything to do with a personal commitment to considering all of your situations and doing everything in your own power to minimize and reduce transmission.    

For us to successfully move forward as an in-person a living and learning community and program staff, I would like to us to continue to commit to the following protocols and procedures:

  1. Identify a safe bubble.  Currently your roommate/suitemates.  These are your close contacts, whom you are around without a mask, who will also be in quarantine if you were to become ill. Let’s keep this number small.
  2. Wear your Mask Correctly.  If you're inside hanging out with someone other than your roommate, keep your mask on.  Self-monitor.  Do not put others in a position where they have to tell you to wear your mask correctly. Don’t wait for your RA to tell you, take responsibility for yourself.  
  3. Isolate and get tested if you feel any Symptoms including cold and flu.  Testing is readily available and is expected if you feel even cold and flu symptoms. 
  4. Be Honest. If you have been around someone who tests positive, make it known that you have been in close contact (campus clear app), report, and isolate until you get further direction.  
  5. Minimize External Social Situations.  Things are not societally normal.  It can be a basic assumption that a critical mass of our society is not taking mitigation as seriously as they should. Experts estimate that we may feel some "normal" return to our society by this fall once our local, regional, and national population hits 70-80% vaccination.  For now, it should be assumed that external social situations are at high risk for transmission.
  6. Realize that you are taking part in a highly successful social experiment.  In-person living, education, and programming worked last semester at Calvin because we lived and learned as a small and controlled internal social experiment.  We were successful because we all practiced the same mitigation strategies.  
  7. In Social Opportunities, practice 6' of social distance.  Give people space. Don't put others (professors, staff, friends) in a position where they have to ask you change your behavior/distance.
  8. If you have to be in a vehicle with other people, keep your masks on and keep your windows open.  If necessary, you are encouraged to share your vehicle with those in your safe internal bubble.  Sharing a small vehicle with a COVID-19 carrier quickly becomes a highly contagious situation. 

Thanks for taking the time to read and think about the gravity of our situation.  This whole thing hangs together on everyone doing their part.  Given the circumstances, we are having a great year!  I strongly believe that we will move forward in positive ways as we move further into the semester and get into spring. 

But for now, don't be fooled.  THIS WHOLE COMMUNITY LEARNING EXPERIENCE IS ALL FRAGILE AND VOLATILE...and as we learned in November, things can change in a moment.  Most of your college aged peers nationwide are sitting in their parent's basement learning from home.  What we have at Calvin right now is really special.  I love that we get to be together in person every day! I cherish our opportunities to journey together.  Let's all do our part to protect it.

If we all work together and see our on-campus covid- case numbers level out, we look forward to opening up visiting in private rooms, hopefully within a few weeks.

For now, remember: Mask up, nose too, 6 feet apart! We can do this!

- Becki Simpson (Residence Life) & Ryan Rooks (Outdoor recreation)