Subject: Safe Return to Campus Update
Date: June 24, 2020

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

Since our last communication on June 9, our cross-divisional Safe Return Team has made significant progress. Each of the four working groups brought forth numerous recommendations that are helping us move closer to achieving our goal of returning to face-to-face learning for the fall semester.

As we prepare well, please keep in mind that given our status as a residential campus, we are held to different standards than other organizations. In many ways, we function like a small city. This may mean that you will see some individual businesses or non-profit organizations operating in certain ways and may wonder why we just don’t follow suit. Please know that we are working hard to slowly demonstrate our ability to mitigate risk and return to safe operations on campus.

We will outline some of the ways in which we’ve made headway over the past two weeks in this letter. We will also launch a website within the next few days that will provide a more detailed and comprehensive view of our planning efforts toward a safe return. We aim to have this site, which will be regularly updated throughout the summer, up and running by Friday afternoon. When ready, a link to the safe return site will be accessible from the Calvin University homepage.

For now, here are a few important updates from each of the working groups:

Health Maintenance

  • We are continuing to see that research supports the benefit of rapid access to COVID-19 testing, and some evidence supports the use of pre-screening. This summer, we have had a chance to test this out as more staff and students have returned to campus for summer research, speech pathology clinicals, and student health services, which is now fully operational and seeing our students.
  • Employees and students are being screened for COVID-19 as they return to campus life. We’ve performed approximately 350 screening tests over the past few weeks, and we are making preparations to handle mass screenings this fall.
  • We continue to see wearing masks and practicing social distancing as primary ways of limiting the spread. This will be part of all our lives for the next several months.
  • Self-monitoring for early symptoms and remaining isolated is still the best way to limit the spread. We encourage all students, staff, and faculty to get in the habit of monitoring your symptoms, which includes checking your temperature daily.
  • Our experience managing isolated and quarantined employees and students within our Calvin community throughout the spring semester and this summer is helping us plan properly for the fall. Even if there is a small increase in the outbreak of COVID- 19 in our community, we are setting up guidelines and instructions so sick and exposed employees know how to manage their safe return to campus after being tested for COVID-19.
  • PPE materials, safe return processes and procedures, and distribution and acquisition of necessary cleaning supplies are our main focus for the next two weeks. These tools and supplies are key to a smoother reopening of campus.

Campus Experience, Alumni, & External Events

  • Things are starting to take shape for what the residence life experience will look like. We are working on a phased move-in schedule, which will allow for social distancing during the move-in process. Plans are being made for spreading out occupancy as much as possible in the residence halls, with some single-room options being made available for immune-compromised individuals. Regulations designed to promote health and safety in the indoor shared spaces are also being considered. More details on “all things” residence life will be communicated to students next month.
  • Dining services is working on plans to minimize the risk of spread, including the elimination of self-service in the dining halls.
  • New student orientation will include educational and engaging online content as well as small-group-based opportunities, following the best guidelines of the county health department and the State of Michigan.
  • We have approved the hosting of a number of modified Calvin-affiliated athletic camps this summer, following protocols that prioritize social distancing, increased attention to sanitizing and cleaning, wearing masks when possible, and practicing good hand hygiene.
  • We are beginning to pilot careful openings of public areas on campus, in accordance with health guidelines and campus protocols that prioritize social distancing, mask-wearing, lower density, and good cleaning/hygiene practices.
    • Calvin Bookstore will open on June 29
    • Library will open by appointment only on July 1
    • Campus visits for prospective students and families will resume July 6.
    • Please contact admissions to set up an appointment.
    • The Prince Conference Center’s targeted opening is later this summer, in accordance with guidelines from local authorities

Instruction and the Classroom, Lab, and Studio

  • We are working diligently to preserve the existing class schedule by making use of larger spaces, ensuring appropriate social distancing, and addressing classroom and lab safety precautions without compromising the educational experience.
  • Our information technology and instructional design specialists are developing hybrid courses that can easily flex as needed.
  • We recently launched a summer program to support our faculty in the development of their fall courses in the online format. Our goal is to strengthen the quality of online teaching through intentional pedagogical design. Faculty already have access to a set of resources in the form of templates, guidelines, self-paced courses, and an excellent series of video and workshop discussions.
  • We continue to work to ensure safe opportunities for off-campus study at the local, regional, and international program levels and are reviewing safety plans for academic programming that serves external audiences. (Please note we have already canceled the Semester in Hungary program that was slated for fall 2020.)

Employee Experience

  • While we remain in a work-remotely-if-possible mode, we are preparing to welcome more faculty and staff back to campus over the next several weeks. Each divisional vice president of the university is working on return-to-work plans to coordinate our return.
  • Employees who are authorized to return to work will receive approval from their divisional vice president and will receive instructions on return-to-work protocols prior to their first date of work back on campus. These protocols will be posted on the Safe Return website that launches on Friday. All staff and faculty returning to on-campus work are also asked to review this video, which contains important safety information.
  • We have adopted a COVID-19 leave grant (up to 80 hours) for employees who may need to miss work if they or someone they are living with contracts COVID-19.

The work continues, but each day we become more confident in our ability to ensure a safe return to campus. Please continue to help us prepare well by practicing social distancing, using good hand hygiene, and self-monitoring for symptoms. These are essential practices for us to remain a safe and healthy campus over the next several months.

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