Date: August 9, 2020
Subject: Important Information for Commuting Students at Calvin University

Dear Commuter Students, 

Some of you are returning students who will be living with friends in local houses, apartments, duplexes, etc. Living off-campus is a privilege and a blessing—a great opportunity to experience new freedoms and responsibilities and to focus on academics and your core group of friends. Others of you will be commuting from a family home and will experience the blessing of regularly being with family and having a foundation of support, particularly during these uncertain times. We’re eager to see all of you on campus for classes this Fall!

You’ve been receiving a lot of information lately, as the university shares plans to reopen for classes. Thanks for staying on top of everything—we’re counting on you to help us return to classes safely. While a lot of planning has gone into life ON campus, it’s time for you to be thinking about life OFF campus as well. And to get you started, we want to share some important information for commuting students. 

Reporting your off-campus address

Because you'll be living off-campus, please fill out the form to update your Local Address and Confirm City Ordinance Compliance at http://www.calvin.edu/go/checklist. The deadline for this is Friday, September 25, which is a long way off.  But since most of you know your address now, fill out the form today—it's simple and will take just 90 seconds of your time! 

COVID-19 Guidelines for Commuting Students

Having “COVID Conversations”

As you think about beginning the academic year at Calvin in a few weeks, we’re asking you to plan a house or apartment meeting for those with whom you’ll be living this Fall. Yes—a “meeting” …we’re serious! Sit down with each other and have a “COVID Conversation,” where you review the various points of this letter as a group of peers or family members.  Make commitments to each other to take health, cleaning, and house rules seriously. Use the three areas outlined below to guide your conversations: 

Your housing

  • Cleaning: Pay attention to cleanliness—disinfect common touch points regularly (i.e., door handles, cupboards, light switches, etc.). Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it. Avoid sharing personal items such as hand towels, dishes, and utensils. 
  • Isolation Space: Create a space within the place you live where an ill student could be isolated—a private space to sleep and hang-out, and access to an individual bathroom if possible. If a separate bathroom is not possible, disinfect the bathroom before and after every use. Having a mini-fridge and good internet service in an isolation space would be a bonus. 
  • Quarantining: The better you plan for isolating someone who is ill, and the sooner an ill person isolates away from other household members, the more likely others in the household will be to stay healthy. Keep in mind that if someone in your household becomes ill, you still may have to quarantine, and quarantine may extend longer than you’d want, especially if members of your household are not diligent about isolating and committing to other health and hygiene practices.  
  • Support one another: In the event that one or more of you is ill or in quarantine due to potential contact with another ill person, support one another with food delivery and other needs, so that the affected students can recuperate safely while isolated from other household members. Food and other necessities should be left outside the door of the ill person; avoid interactions until symptoms have passed and the ill person has been cleared by a health professional to resume normal activities. 

Your social life

  • Limits: Limit your physical social circles. The more contact you have with people, the greater the risk of spreading the virus if someone gets ill.  By all means, have fun and stay connected, but do it in smart, safe ways. 
  • Masks: In public settings with those outside of your living unit, masks and social distancing are the rule of the day.  If we all do this together, it becomes tolerable and normal for all of us. Seriously, mask wearing should be the norm... they’re no big deal to wear, and they really help. 
  • Visitors and Travel:  Don’t have visitors inside your house/apartment. If you must, ask people to wear a mask. And we strongly recommend that you do not travel outside of the local region until after Thanksgiving.  Let’s start the year cautiously, until community guidance allows us to relax restrictions. 
  • Accountability: Follow all local and state guidelines, particularly those that reference gatherings and parties. You, your neighbors, and your fellow community members will be holding each other accountable. 
  • Connect: Commit to having fun, finding ways to safely grow together as friends, and looking out for each other’s well-being! 

Being on campus

  • Daily monitoring: Complete daily symptom monitoring every day before coming to campus—and yes, there will be an app for that (more details coming soon)! Follow instructions on the app if you’re ill, and be sure to respond quickly to Calvin staff who reach out to you to coordinate care and support your recovery. 
  • Transportation: Take care driving to campus, only sharing transportation with those you live with. If you drive with others, wear a mask. 
  • Masks: Masks will be required in all buildings, classrooms, restrooms, and public spaces on Calvin’s campus, so be prepared. Be sure to clean reusable masks regularly, and keep in mind that masks will also be required outdoors when you are within 6 feet of others for more than 15 minutes at a time or in congested areas (like a busy pathway as you walk to class).   
  • Eating: Commuting students are generally asked not to eat on campus, particularly not indoors. We now know that COVID-19 often spreads among people who are eating in close proximity to one another. To the extent possible, plan to eat meals when you are at home, rather than when you are on campus. If you need to eat on campus, be sure to socially distance at least 6 feet away from others who are not members of your household, or find a private spot outside, in your car, on the lawn, etc. 
  • Classroom rules and more: Follow the instructions that Calvin staff or faculty members provide—for classroom seating arrangements, group project guidelines, on-line meetings, dining protocols, reservations for study spaces in the Library, etc. Unique protocols will be in place for the safety of all members of our community, and all of this helps with the important work of contact tracing in the event of illness on campus. 

THANK YOU!

Thanks for the important role you play in keeping our community healthy and functioning so that we can continue in-person education during this time. Pray with us that as we work together to establish safe practices early in the fall semester, we might see some lessening of the coronavirus in our region and, as a result, be able to move toward an even more open campus.  

God’s grace and blessing be with you in this new academic year! 

-- John Witte, Dean of Students, Calvin University