Subject: First Steps Toward a Safe Return
Date: May 13, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff:

As you know, we are making plans to return to learning on campus in the fall. Our contingency plans depend upon the infection rate in our region, regulations and executive orders in the State, and also Calvin University’s ability to adapt to changing conditions in our community. Our leadership team and operational leaders on campus have played a central role in the effort to develop operating plans and protocols to demonstrate that non-profit higher education institutions in the state, like Calvin, are capable of doing what is necessary to return to incarnate learning in the fall. It won’t be easy, and it will require adaptation, creativity, and a lot of self-discipline.

A critical period along our path to re-opening will be in the month of August. Assuming the infection rate has diminished, we will need to receive students who will be coming from all over the country. By this time we will need to be sure we can identify students, faculty, and staff who may be infected with COVID-19 or those who might be asymptomatic carriers of the disease. We will also need a quick and reliable way for anyone in our community who has symptoms and needs to be tested. As you can see, Calvin’s guaranteed access to quick, reliable testing is critical to this effort.

For these reasons I am pleased to announce that Calvin has entered into a partnership agreement with Helix Diagnostics. Helix is a commercial laboratory based in Michigan and has agreed to provide guaranteed access to 5,000 tests for Calvin students, faculty, and staff as we return to living and learning on campus. I believe that this agreement is the first of its kind in the State of Michigan or the country. We have vetted this relationship carefully and have consulted with Dr. Laura Champion, Dr. Edwin Kornoelje, and our own molecular chemist, Dr. Brendan Looyenga to be sure that Helix Diagnostics can deliver what we need as we prepare for the fall semester.

We are excited about this partnership, and Helix is excited to be in partnership with Calvin. Helix has enjoyed getting to know us and has expressed strong interest in collaboration with our faculty and providing internship opportunities to Calvin students who may be interested in careers in science and industry. I am also pleased to announce that they will become our newest employer partner!

Testing is a key component of our overall strategy to return to learning safely, but it won’t be the only part. Much of what we do to keep ourselves safe will depend upon our ability to do most of the things we have been doing for months (e.g., maintain safe social distance, wash hands frequently, etc.). We will continue to keep you all posted as our specific plans unfold, but we wanted to keep you apprised of this important development.


Michael K. Le Roy