Subject: Safe Return Update (Oct 9, 2020)

Dear students, 

Over the past week, we have no active on-campus cases of COVID-19. This is tremendous, and we want to remind you that every one of you is playing an important role in this result. It is clear that you have been diligent in following health and safety protocols, approaching this fall as a marathon and not a quick sprint, and for that we are grateful.  

Please know that our #CampusClear participation rates have been terrific thus far (in the 90% or higher range for faculty and staff and anywhere between 85-90% for students). We urge you to continue to participate at these levels (or even higher!). 

This week, in addition to reporting positive cases on our COVID-19 Dashboard, we have also begun to include information that shows the number of students in on-campus quarantine; these students are not sick but have been determined to be close contacts of positive cases.  Additionally, the dashboard contains information about the number of COVID-19 screening tests and diagnostic tests administered within the Calvin community.  As a reminder, screening tests are given to asymptomatic individuals to help us monitor increasing or decreasing prevalence of COVID-19 within our community, and diagnostic tests are given to symptomatic individuals to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. 
Also, last week, we announced some additional engagement opportunities we would be opening up this week—more opportunities for you to build community. While we knew some specifics last week and announced those in last Friday’s communication, we wanted to follow up this week with additional details. Please note that all of the changes listed below have now gone into effect. 
Residence Halls 
Here are the two most recent changes to the residence hall guidelines:

  • We are extending current visiting policies to include room visitors from your own wing of your residence hall. For example, a resident of 3rd Eldersveld could visit 1st Eldersveld, but not Schultze. 
  • We are also increasing occupancy limits based on the size of the space. In short, this means more than 10 people will be able to gather in the large basement rooms of residence halls and in some vR spaces. Please note that occupancy will depend on the size of the room, and maximum occupancy will be posted in each space. 

Here’s what’s NOT changing: 

  • Visitor policies for Knollcrest East 
  • Residence hall lobby occupancy limits (since these spaces are not large enough to expand beyond 10-person capacity) 
  • The requirements of keeping six feet of social distance AND wearing a mask  

Indoor Eating Spaces 
We are expanding the number of indoor eating areas on campus. Please note that the hours listed below apply only to weekdays at this time. 

  • Students are able to eat in a section of Johnny’s. We have pipe and drape separating the eating area from the walkway. This area is available all day. 
  • The Spoelhof Café is available for seating, and eating is now allowed in the Café from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 
  • Hiemenga/Library Lobby area remains open, and eating in this space is permitted from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.  
  • The Prince Conference Center Fireside Room has seating open for eating all day. 

In addition to staff being available to wipe down tables, self-service cleaning supplies are also available in these spaces. Please do your part and help keep the areas as clean as possible, and please take your own trash to appropriate bins or dumpsters on campus. 
Events on campus (Event Services) 

Good news! Given the changes to the order from the state of Michigan, more people are now allowed indoors for events, including concerts and movies. We are excited about this and what it will mean for the Calvin community. 

The current guidelines are as follows:  

  • Non-curricular indoor events: 20 people per 1000 sq ft for ‘flexible’ set up venues. 20% of occupancy for fixed seats, such as the CFAC Auditorium and Recital Hall.  
  • Outdoor events: 30 people per 1000 sq ft for flexible venues. 30% of occupancy for fixed seats, such as the soccer bleachers.  

What remains the same are the requirements for social distancing and mask wearing and the need for officially reserving space through the proper vetting channels.  

Calvin Athletics remains operational and students will see some outdoor intrasquad scrimmages and events. Students are welcome to attend as long as the total number in attendance does not exceed the recommended number in our COVID-19 protocols. Attendees will be asked to sign in and out of the event, and when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, masks must be worn. Spectators will not be allowed at indoor scrimmages or events until after October 9. The athletic department and event services are working on attendance protocols for those events. We’ll share more information about those as soon as possible.   

Surveillance Testing 

You might know that we have been doing surveillance testing of student-athletes this semester, and that process is generally going quite well. Next week, we are adding two other student groups to our surveillance testing program. One is students who are actively engaged with the greater community through their course work, including things like student teaching, nursing practicums and other such Calvin-related programs that place students in proximity to community members. This testing will be of benefit to both our campus community and to the communities around West Michigan in which our students engage and interact. The other group that will participate in on-going surveillance testing is on-campus residents. Beginning next week, we will randomly-select up to 15% of these two student groups for screening tests each week. When combined with the athletics surveillance testing that is already happening, we will be testing approximately 600 students per week. 
Hekman Library 

  • The second floor is a drop-in/unscheduled individual study area and no longer requires a check-in or reservation process (except for a few study/listening rooms). 
  • The third floor has open access (an increase in seating of 64 seats), allowing for group study while maintaining social distancing. 
  • We hope to open the fifth floor later this month (if library users maintain masking and distancing requirements). 

Note: Library hours, health and safety protocols, and the process for requesting resources from closed floors, all remain the same. For more info, see Phase 3 of the Library Reopening Plan.  

One final bit of good news this week: we anticipate that the new fire pit on the patio outside of Peet’s Coffee will be ready by next Friday, October 16, just in time for fall weather!  We are excited to expand opportunities for you to connect with friends on campus. We are able to do this in large part because of your proven commitment to the health and safety protocols here at Calvin, all of which are supported by the CDC and the state and based on the latest research and scientifically-sound practices and principles. 

As we approach the midpoint of the fall semester, it is important to reflect on the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Galatians. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).  

The commitment you have made to taking your temperature and filling out your #CampusClear app daily, the practicing of social distancing, and the wearing of masks are all ongoing demonstrations of you showing love for your neighbors. 
Let’s stay the course, together! 

The COVID-Response Team 
Kristen Alford  
Jennifer Ambrose  
Laura Champion  
Todd Dornbos  
Jim English  
Todd Hubers (co-chair)  
Matt Kucinski  
Brian Paige  
Sarah Visser (co-chair)  
John Witte