Subject: Introducing our Safe Return Team
Date: June 9, 2020

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

As we transition from the end of the spring semester to the beginning of summer, we understand that the next few months will look much different than any other summer at Calvin University. There’s much work to be done over the next several weeks as we diligently prepare for a safe return to campus in late August.

As we look ahead, we do so prioritizing the work that needs to be done to put ourselves in the best position possible to welcome students, faculty, and staff to campus for incarnate learning experiences. We know there is a lot that we cannot directly control, namely the status of COVID-19 and the law to which we are committed to following. But we also know we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure a safe return to campus for the start of the fall semester.

We have created a cross-divisional Safe Return Team (SRT) and four working groups that are responsible for bringing forth recommendations toward achieving our goal of returning safely to campus in the fall.

  • Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio. This working group is considering how to organize for the fall semester in ways that reduce people density, provide opportunities for hybrid instruction, and provide support for new means of instruction.
  • Health Maintenance. This working group is focusing on all medical, health-related, and safety issues regarding COVID-19 throughout the Calvin campus. They will make recommendations for testing and tracing protocols, social distancing, campus sanitation, and isolation and quarantine measures.
  • The Employee Experience. This working group is focusing on ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of all faculty and staff. They will make recommendations for required health protocols, staffing density, work environment, time away from work related to COVID 19, and personal and professional travel.
  • The Campus Experience, Alumni, and External Communities. This working group is focusing on the many dimensions, activities, and facilities of campus life outside the classroom, including Hekman Library, orientation, residence life, dining, athletics, campus events, alumni and parent programs (including Opening Convocation, Homecoming, etc.), admissions, and coordination with the city of Grand Rapids.

Recommendations from the working groups will be considered by the SRT, and all decisions will be communicated to the campus community every two weeks.

In the next couple weeks, our current Coronavirus Information Center website will be updated and revised with more details about the work of this team and how we will approach the fall.

In the meantime, we want to inform you about a few decisions that have been made.

You need to submit a proposal to host an event on campus this summer. All individuals or groups seeking approval to host events or programs on the Calvin University campus must complete and submit this Safe Return Event/Program/Project Proposal form.

We are still in an essential-worker-only mode on campus. The goal is to have a gradual reopening which will involve an initial COVID screening for each member of the Calvin community to identify the small percentage of asymptomatic carriers so that they can be isolated prior to their return to campus. In the coming weeks, as we gain clarity about when particular Calvin staff, faculty, and students should plan to return to campus, we will also communicate detailed information about the initial screening process. In the meantime, here are some general protocols that everyone will be asked to follow:

  • Take your temperature daily and report it on your healthy@work form for at least 72 hours prior to your first day of work or for any other reason you need to come on campus.
  • Learn how to avoid cross-contamination of shared specialized equipment in your workspace. Review expectations when working with others.
  • Plan to continue working from home, if you are able to, in an effort to limit the risk of spread as we attempt to reopen our community.

Calvin has not established any restrictions for personal travel. The CDC has provided some guidelines for travel outside your area and advises that all international travelers must quarantine for 14 days. This may change in the near future, so keep an eye on the CDC updates to get the most current information.

Also, consider self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days upon your return from travel outside your area, and use this link to understand the social distancing guidelines to limit your risk while traveling and upon your return.

Calvin has canceled the Semester in Hungary program for fall semester. We will communicate out decisions about other off-campus programs offered through but not sponsored by Calvin (e.g. Chicago Semester) as decisions are made.

As we live into and prepare for this newer reality, encouraged by our collective effort in responding to this challenge thus far. In many ways, this past spring provided a great testing ground for us and resulted in much learning. With nearly 200 students living on campus through the end of the semester and over 120 essential workers reporting for on-campus responsibilities, we were able to pilot a number of programs, and in the process, we discovered what worked well and what could be improved upon moving forward.

It is this level of care and attention to detail by our faculty and staff that gives us every bit of confidence that we can take additional steps this summer to create an environment here at Calvin that provides as much assurance as possible for the well-being of students, faculty, and staff.

The Safe Return Team

Sarah Visser (co-chair)
Laura Champion
Juli Haga
Todd Hubers (co-chair)
Todd Dornbos
Arlene Hoogewerf
Kristen Alford
Tim Ellens
Matt Kucinski
Russell Bray
Jim English
John Witte