Date: November 2, 2020
Subject: URGENT NOTICE: Elevated Cases, Cause for Concern
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As we enter a critical time in our campus-wide effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are sobered by recent stats, both in our local community and at Calvin. The number of infections in Kent County is increasing, and numerous community leaders are warning about what is to come if individual and collective behavior does not change. Please know that we remain in constant contact with a number of local, state, and national sources as we strategize about what is best for Calvin students, faculty, and staff. We are actively discussing our approach for the coming weeks.
Though our COVID-19 circumstances at Calvin are not as severe as they are across all of Kent County, we are seeing troubling trends and behavior within our campus community that absolutely cannot continue if we are to stay together until Thanksgiving.
CURRENT DASHBOARD NUMBERS RISING
Calvin's current Dashboard numbers include 19 positive COVID-19 cases. This figure—the highest number we have seen all semester— includes eight on-campus students, nine off campus students, and two employees.
We also have 82 students in quarantine currently, which means they have been confirmed as close contacts of people who have COVID-19. This is the highest number of Calvin students in quarantine this semester.
Our contact tracing team and health care professionals have learned a lot about the conditions under which students have become infected. Over the past week, our team has learned of several instances of students gathering with others (often while mild symptoms were present) as well as situations where close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases have become symptomatic several days after being exposed.
We know that responding quickly and putting impacted students in Quarantine and Isolation plays an important role in reducing community spread. That said, it is very important that all students remain attentive to campus officials who may be attempting to reach them with health-related information. We expect full compliance with community health mandates and adherence to the instructions and behavioral expectations outlined by campus health officials.
Because of the heightened number of cases, we are taking a number of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the Calvin community and may need to do more if cases continue to rise. For example, today we decided to close the Fitness Center to all activities other than classes and varsity sports (both of which are directly supervised by staff) until at least Monday, November 9. This was not a decision we made lightly, but it is necessary and will allow us to reassess safety protocols currently in place and to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.
WHAT STUDENTS CAN BE DOING
As we make these decisions, we also know that every Calvin student will help determine our path these next three weeks. So, what can Calvin students do right now to protect themselves, protect one another, and ensure that we will be able to finish the face-to-face part of the semester?
Our COVID Response Team recommends the following:
- If you're feeling ill, self-isolate and report your symptoms immediately—no matter how minor they are—using the #CampusClear app (see below for what Health Services considers major and minor symptoms).
- If prompted, fill out the form at the end of the #CampusClear app and supply the requested information, which will expedite the process to provide you with the care and resources you need.
- Report your symptoms right away (not a day or a week later), even if they are minor, and isolate yourself while you await guidance and next steps. We have noticed an alarming trend where individuals minimize their symptoms and later find out they are positive for COVID-19. This means that they have unintentionally put those around them at risk.
- If you are symptomatic, do not attend classes or events.
- Do not go to restaurants in groups, and in general, avoid eating near others, especially those outside of your household.
- Avoid riding in a car with others.
- When you are in class, wear your mask and avoid eating and drinking.
- Avoid situations that put you in contact with people outside of your current household. This means limiting contact with family members and close friends you are not currently living with. Several students have become infected after unmasked visits with family and friends.
- If you are a commuting student, do not have guests inside your home.
- When voting tomorrow, please keep at least six feet of social distance from others.
- Encourage healthy behavior in others and model it yourself; revisit the “COVID conversations” you had with roommates early this semester and ensure you are living up to your commitments to help reduce the risk of spreading illness.
Know that our Health Services department, contact tracers, case managers, and other campus support teams (residence life, center for student success, facilities, etc.) are working 10-12 hours per day, seven days a week, to help keep our campus safe and running. They want nothing more than to see us persist to Thanksgiving, and we owe many people a big debt of gratitude for their labors. We can thank them by following these safety measures and confining in place early when we notice even minor new symptoms.
MAJOR AND MINOR COVID SYMPTOMS
As you assess your health, note that Health Services considers the following to be major symptoms of COVID-19: fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of sense of taste or smell, and a new cough.
The following are considered minor symptoms of COVID-19: a sore throat, congestion or runny nose, muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If you have one major symptom or more than one minor symptom, COVID-19 diagnostic testing is indicated, and you should confine in place. If you have one minor symptom for more than one day, COVID-19 diagnostic testing is also indicated. Separate yourself from any roommates. Disinfect the bathroom and kitchen and other surfaces if you must use them. Wear a mask when you are around others. And seek testing using the link at the end of your #CampusClear app.
Finally, our COVID-19 FAQ has lots of good information that you are encouraged to review. You can also email ResponseTeam@calvin.edu with additional questions and concerns.
The challenge we face right now is significant, and the end of the term is near. Don’t let your guard down. Stay positive. The finish line is in sight.
Michael K. Le Roy