Date: November 6, 2020

Dear students, We are less than three weeks away from Thanksgiving as we wind down a semester that has lived up to many of the expectations we had for it when we decided to pursue face-to-face instruction at Calvin University this fall. We can celebrate what has been accomplished.

We are also seeing COVID-19 cases and positivity rates rising in both Kent County and at Calvin University as the weather allows for less outdoor activities and as people let their guards down when it comes to masks, social distancing, and more. This is cause for concern.

When we began the semester, we said that we were "determined to preserve the learning experience for our students in the safest and healthiest way possible" and that the health, safety and wellbeing of all students, faculty and staff was of utmost importance.

This is still the case.

We also knew we might need to adapt some of our approach, and we are indeed adapting as we work to reach our goal of in-person learning until Thanksgiving.


We have put into place new restrictions that we believe will play an important role in keeping us healthy and safe as a Calvin University community.

Effective Friday, November 6, we are halting formal in-person social events, including both indoor and outdoor meetings and social gatherings hosted by student organizations or campus departments. We encourage groups and departments to transition their events to an online format whenever possible and to consult the FAQ for further questions about events.

This new restriction on in-person events aims to reduce the number of places where people come together outside of their residences and academic courses to reduce social spreading of COVID-19. We also expect off-campus students to avoid social interactions with people outside of their immediate households. This means that students should not be hosting groups, parties, or gatherings of friends in their off-campus residences. Given the importance of this, we intend to respond to reports of off-campus policy violations with significant sanctions through our Office of Student Conduct.

While we are not changing necessary activities like eating in the dining halls or studying in the library, we are aware that in-person event restrictions could add to the already-significant mental and emotional toll COVID-19 has taken on many of us. Please know that we are taking this step because we believe it is necessary to reduce future cases and close contacts.

And as we face a rise in positive cases within our campus community, as well as a rise in the number of students currently in isolation and quarantine, we are proactively anticipating the impact of this reality on Thanksgiving plans. Kent County Health Department mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation for confirmed positive COVID cases and 14 days of quarantine for asymptomatic close contacts. These numbers start to become especially relevant next week for students who are put in quarantine and the week after for students who are in isolation. In both of these examples, students would likely not be permitted to travel home for Thanksgiving.

This is a scenario we want to avoid. We desire to protect the health of our students and employees and to preserve our ability to learn in-person. We also want to support students' ability to join their loved ones for Thanksgiving without increasing the risk of exposing others to illness.


We have already received requests from students who have determined that it would be a more positive experience for them to transition to remote learning away from campus before Thanksgiving. We want to accommodate those students and any others who make such a decision.

Students who wish to travel home and participate in remote off-campus learning for the remainder of the semester may do so beginning next week.

To register this change, please coordinate your plans with the Center for Student Success by filling out the brief form located at:

On campus residential students who opt into early-remote learning will be required to leave their on-campus residences and will not be allowed to return to on-campus living and learning until Interim or spring semester. These students should notify their RA of their intentions to leave campus to initiate any necessary dorm checkout process.

Off campus students who opt into early-remote learning may elect to travel home or to remain in local off campus housing. In either case, once the

transition to early remote learning takes effect, remote learners will similarly not be allowed to attend classes or engage with on-campus services until Interim or spring semester.

While many Calvin courses have been designed to accommodate remote learners if necessary, some classes, such as those requiring clinical placements or other in-person experiential elements may necessitate in-person engagement. In these examples, the option for early remote learning may not be possible. If you have any questions about individual courses, please be sure to talk with your professor about options.

We remain committed to providing quality in-person instruction until Thanksgiving while also working to accommodate students who desire to transition to remote learning prior to Thanksgiving.

Our new FAQ will answer any other questions you might have as you weigh whether to make this decision.


As we work to achieve our goals for healthy in-person learning this fall, we are also planning for our return to in-person learning in early 2021. This includes devising plans for additional COVID-19 screening tests for all students and employees as well as coordinating safe arrival and transition to on-campus residential and academic learning spaces for Interim and spring semester.

To accommodate return-to-campus testing and staggered arrivals for on-campus residents in January, we have made the decision to begin Interim with two days of remote instruction.

Interim courses will now begin on Thursday, January 7, 2021, with two days of remote learning (Thursday and Friday). In-person instruction will resume on Monday, January 11. Stay tuned for additional information later this month regarding screening tests and on-campus move-in dates for residential students.

We know this is a lot of information to process. We encourage you to read the FAQ. Additional questions can be emailed to Stay healthy, stay safe, and take heart—we're in this together!

--The COVID Response Team


How will the new restrictions on in-person social events impact Athletics? 

Decisions about athletic training and competition will be made in consultation with the Athletics department and handled on a team-by-team basis. If teams can avoid having players in isolation and/or quarantine, and demonstrate compliance with health and safety protocols, they will likely be permitted to train and compete. Depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 at Calvin or in the broader community, the number of spectators allowed may be further limited or eliminated.

Will music courses and ensembles be permitted to rehearse and perform this fall as originally planned?

Like athletics, decisions about music rehearsals and performances will be made in consultation with the Visual and Performing Arts department. Depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 at Calvin or in the broader community, audiences may be reduced or eliminated. If musicians and ensembles can avoid isolation and/or quarantine, and demonstrate compliance with health and safety protocols, they will likely be permitted to rehearse and perform.

If I opt to leave campus and engage in early remote learning before Thanksgiving, will I be given a refund for tuition and/or room and board?

No. We intend to continue with our plan to offer in-person instruction until Thanksgiving while also accommodating students who desire to voluntarily leave campus early and engage in remote learning.

I am opting to leave campus and engage in early remote learning before Thanksgiving. How do I communicate this to my professors? How do I check out of my on-campus residence hall or apartment?

Students who opt to leave campus and engage in early remote learning should notify the Center for Student Success by filling out the brief form located at: They should also ensure that their professors are updated as to their plans. In addition, on-campus residents who intend to check out prior to Thanksgiving should notify their RA and ensure that all necessary check-out procedures are completed before departure.

Why am I not allowed to return to campus if I opt for early remote learning before Thanksgiving?

We know that the risk of community spread increases when people are exposed to people outside of their immediate households. To limit the risk of exposing members of the Calvin community, students who have opted to leave campus and learn remotely before Thanksgiving are not permitted to return. Once you leave, you should not plan to return until early 2021.