Date: November 20, 2020

Dear students and faculty,

This is our last email communication before Thanksgiving (barring an unforeseen circumstance!). Following the state of Michigan’s Nov. 15 announcement that all colleges and universities were required to move to remote instruction by Nov. 18, we sent along quite a bit of information earlier this week. Today’s CRT update is briefer but contains some items we think will be of interest to you.

First, we want to wish the Calvin community a happy Thanksgiving. We recognize that it’s been a challenging year and that we all will be celebrating a little differently in 2020.

This year, Advent starts just three days after Thanksgiving. A website called, a collaborative project of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and, describes the posture of Advent as one of hope and waiting and points out that Advent begins not on a note of joy but with a searching inventory of our deep uneasiness and aching need.

In this time of COVID, it is likely easy for us to inventory our uneasiness and our need. Both are perhaps close to the surface, especially as we work toward finishing the semester well. We hope that in the coming days and weeks, we all may have occasion to give thanks and to wait in the comfort of God's promised rest.


  • Students staying on campus
  • Health Services hours and availability
  • Contact tracing in Kent and Ottawa counties
  • #CampusClear App pause
  • Our new FAQ
  • Holiday parties


As anticipated, a few hundred students have requested permission to reside on campus during the week of Thanksgiving and throughout the winter break. Students needing on-campus housing past Thanksgiving should have submitted a request through the housing survey last month. Students who have additional questions about this option should contact or call 616-526-6120.

In the past, students who remained on campus for the holidays have often shared a holiday meal in the homes of Calvin faculty and staff members.  Unfortunately, COVID precautions will not allow for this practice this year. But please know that we are working to care well for our on-campus students during this upcoming holiday season. In addition to coordinating meals with Creative Dining Services, we will continue to foster a sense of “home” through access to campus facilities like the fitness center and library, as well as connection to a team of people ready and willing to respond to urgent needs.


Health Services continues to care for students living in the local area and on campus through the end of the term. Those living outside of Kent County are expected to seek care locally from their hometown provider. During Thanksgiving week, the office will be open until 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24. COVID test results from Monday, Nov. 23 will be reported when they return, but no testing is available on campus on Tuesday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Nov. 29. The Health Services office will reopen on Monday, Nov. 30.

Students on campus next week who might need immediate medical attention or assistance with isolation measures will be assisted by housing staff and our first responders from Campus Safety. If symptoms arise over the long weekend, students should complete the test request form in the patient portal, and patients will be notified on Monday Nov. 30 about testing and virtual appointment times. No onsite testing is available without an order from Health Services.

Local off-campus students who become sick while still living in Kent County can access the patient portal at the following link:  Local off-campus students may also fill out the #CampusClear app to indicate symptoms when they arise, which will direct them to the patient portal. Please note, local off-campus students (residing within Kent County) who are symptomatic are the only student group (other than on-campus residents and on-campus workers) who should continue to use #CampusClear app between now and the end of the fall term. 


As you prepare for Thanksgiving next week, please know that both Kent and Ottawa counties are running pretty far behind with regard to contact tracing as case counts and positivity rates soar in both counties. What this means for you is that you may not receive notice of having been exposed to COVID-19 before Thanksgiving, even if you were. Sometimes we assume that “no news is good news”. But given the rising case counts, we urge you to continue to avoid social gatherings that might unintentionally expose you or others around you to the risk of contracting the virus. If you gather with others outside your immediate household, please follow health and safety guidelines.


All students, faculty, and staff can stop using #CampusClear once they are fully remote and no longer living, studying, or working on campus. Students who continue to live on campus should fill out the #CampusClear app daily as should any employees who are working on campus.

We plan to administer screening tests in January 2021, so it is very important for us to track which members of the Calvin community may have previously had COVID-19. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 at any point, please report through the COVID Reporting Form so that we can note this in our records. When reporting through the form, please attach supporting documentation (i.e., health department letter indicating isolation, notification on your patient portal, etc.).

Also, we are not requiring employees to be screened for COVID-19 before reporting back to on-campus work following Thanksgiving.


After the state’s decision on Nov. 15 to move all colleges and universities to fully remote learning by Nov. 18, we created and shared a new FAQ that contains important information about a number of topics, including exit testing, quarantine and isolation students, and employee considerations.  Please continue to review the site for up-to-date information and answers to commonly asked questions.


We’re nearing the time of year when many Calvin departments have traditionally celebrated the Christmas holidays with festive gatherings, including parties and potlucks. As a reminder, these sorts of gatherings are not permitted this year, whether on campus or off campus. The CDC, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Kent County Health Department have all flagged household and other gatherings as sources of community spread of COVID-19. So, this is a year in which the Calvin community is encouraged to think creatively about how to celebrate the Christmas season in alternative ways that privilege safety and put the needs of our colleagues and community above our desires to gather in-person.


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