Date: November 12, 2020

Subject: MDHHS Epidemic Order   

Dear students, 
 
Late this afternoon, the Calvin leadership team was notified that key state agencies were announcing new statewide restrictions to combat COVID-19. Those restrictions were part of a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic order that was publicly announced this evening. This will influence many aspects of our operations. Given this notice, the increase in cases in the local community and at Calvin, and the burdens facing our local health care system, the administration has decided to accelerate our plans to move to remote instruction and adapt our on-campus operations over the next few days. 
 
In short, here’s what this means for you: 
 
Remote learning begins Wednesday 
 
Beginning on Wednesday, November 18, we are accelerating our pivot to remote-only learning for the remainder of the fall semester. (This represents a slight shift from our original plans of starting remote learning after Thanksgiving.) 
 
Please check your email before each of your classes on Monday and Tuesday as professors are being given the option to switch their classes to remote learning as early as tomorrow. If you don’t hear from your professor, plan to attend in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday. 

While many Calvin courses have been designed to accommodate remote learners, some classes, such as those requiring clinical placements or other in-person experiential elements may necessitate in-person engagement. These examples may preclude an early switch to remote learning. If you have any questions about individual courses, please be sure to talk with your professor about your options. 
 
Students involved in laboratory courses, student teaching, and music ensembles will be given additional instruction in the coming few days. Again, please stay tuned for information from your instructors. 

Residence Halls and Campus Dining remain open
Residential students may choose to stay on campus during the pre-Thanksgiving remote learning period. Residence halls and dining halls will remain open, and other campus services, such as the Hekman Library and Morren Fitness Center, will offer limited hours at reduced density.

There will be no extra room and board charges for anyone who needs to stay longer into the Fall semester, nor are there any refunds for those who choose to leave campus earlier. Please contact a residence life staff member if you would like to discuss your plans.

No need to fill out a form when leaving 
Given the acceleration of our post-Thanksgiving operational status, you no longer need to fill out the early-remote learning form when you leave campus for the fall semester. Residential students who opt to leave campus before Thanksgiving should notify their RA and ensure that all necessary check-out procedures are completed before departure. 

Testing is limited to those who absolutely need it 

Testing is limited to those who absolutely need it Some students plan to return to areas that require a negative COVID-19 screening test. We can support students who fit this criterion, but on-campus PCR COVID-19 screening tests must be scheduled as soon as possible and are available only on the following dates: November 17, 18, 19, 20, and 23. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate requests outside of these dates. Please review your travel requirements and sign up as soon as possible for a timeslot. 

Please note that most states do not require a COVID-19 screening prior to travel, but they do expect or strongly encourage people to quarantine upon arrival (this helpful article has additional information). Over the past few days, due to increasing requests for diagnostic tests in our local area, availability of asymptomatic screening tests is now quite limited. States that are requiring negative screening tests for travelers have back-up stipulations for those who are not able to be tested before arrival; when travelers find themselves in this situation, they are advised to quarantine in place upon arrival. Travelers may then complete a screening test at their local destination and should remain in quarantine until they receive verification of a negative screening test. As a reminder, self-quarantining for 14 days remains the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if there is a negative test result shortly after your arrival to your destination. 

Unfortunately, Calvin is no longer able to accommodate screening test requests for asymptomatic students and those who simply want peace of mind prior to heading home for the holidays. Consider exploring other local testing sites that may be able to accommodate this. Thank you for helping us reserve the limited testing slots on campus for those who require them for travel (on the dates specified above) as well as those who are truly ill and in need of diagnostic testing. 
 
Updates to FAQ coming Monday 
Please check the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Safe Return site by Monday morning. We are working to update the FAQs and add additional ones that will help provide you with as much clarity as possible. 

Finally, it is important to remember that Calvin University is not 'closed.' We will continue to serve our students who need to remain in residence with us as well as those who are learning remotely. We are grateful for the strong partnership we enjoy with our local health care providers, county and state public health officials, the governor, and our state legislators. Because of these partnerships, and the careful planning we have done together, we have been ready to adapt to circumstances as they have changed on the ground. We will get through this, and we remain committed to our mission to educate our students and overcome the obstacles in our way. This is a time to remember God’s promises. I hope you find encouragement in the promise that “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.” (Ps. 145:13b) 

MESSAGE TO FACULTY/STAFF 

Subject:  MDHHS Epidemic Order 

Late this afternoon, the Calvin leadership team was notified that key state agencies were announcing new statewide restrictions to combat COVID-19. Those restrictions were part of a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic order that was publicly announced this evening. This will influence many aspects of our operations. Given this notice, the increase in cases in the local community and at Calvin, and the burdens facing our local health care system, the administration has decided to accelerate our plans to move to remote instruction and adapt our on-campus operations over the next few days. 

Here's what this means for you and for your students: 

Remote learning begins Wednesday 
 
Beginning on Wednesday, November 18, we are accelerating our pivot to remote-only learning for the remainder of the fall semester. (This represents a slight shift from our original plans of starting remote learning after Thanksgiving.) 

While the plan is to begin remote instruction on Wednesday, faculty may switch to remote learning on Monday or Tuesday if they prefer this option. However, we ask that you communicate this change ASAP to your students. At this point, if students do not hear from you, they are planning for in-person instruction on both Monday and Tuesday of this week. 

While many Calvin courses have been designed to accommodate remote learners, we understand that there are some classes, such as those requiring clinical placements or other in-person experiential elements, that may necessitate in-person engagement. If you teach one of these courses, please make sure to clearly communicate with your students as soon as possible about what is expected of them for the remainder of the fall semester. If you need help navigating this, please reach out to your department chair and dean for additional guidance. We have told students involved in laboratory courses, student teaching, and music ensembles that they will be given additional instruction in the coming few days.   
 
You have building access, but work remotely if/when possible 
We anticipate that some faculty and staff will continue to work on campus (for example, faculty members may facilitate an online course session from their regular classrooms, and staff members may need to be on campus to perform critical functions of their work), but faculty and staff who don’t have work that needs to be done on-campus should work remotely whenever it is feasible to do so.  

For those faculty and staff who need to work on campus we are planning to keep building access to academic spaces and offices the same as it has been throughout the semester. 

Updates to FAQ coming Monday 
Please check the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Safe Return site on Monday. We are working to update the FAQs and add additional ones that will help provide you with as much clarity as possible. 

Finally, it is important to remember that Calvin University is not 'closed.' We will continue to serve students who need to remain in residence with us as well as those who are learning remotely. Calvin University is grateful for the strong partnership we enjoy with our local health care providers, county and state public health officials, the governor, and our state legislators. Because of these partnerships, and the careful planning we have done together, we have been ready to adapt to circumstances as they have changed on the ground. We will get through this, and we remain committed to our mission to educate students and overcome the obstacles in our way. This is a time to remember God’s promises. I hope you find encouragement in the promise that “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds” (Ps. 145:13b).