Dear students, faculty, and staff,
A recent WOOD TV story noted that Spectrum Health front line workers have been receiving gifts that range from holiday cards to food, but what they really want is for people to help slow the spread of Covid-19, including maintaining social distancing and continuing to wear a mask.
A nurse named Rachel Chung said: "That’s the biggest thing for us."
At Calvin, we continue to support each other in numerous ways, including thinking of and thanking our amazing faculty members who have gone above and beyond this fall. And we recognize that among the best ways to support each other is working together to slow the spread of illness.
Last summer, as we planned and prepared for a return to in-person learning, we gathered around a Love Your Neighbor covenant that began with this:
"Because I am part of the Calvin University community, I promise to do everything I can to ensure a safe and healthy Calvin community and to care for my friends and neighbors by guarding their health as much as my own, just as Jesus Christ calls us to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves."
As we end the fall semester (this will be our last weekly email for 2020, barring unforeseen circumstances), it is good for us to circle back to this covenant and the promises we made to each other several months ago. The ways we committed to care for each other were important and led to a successful semester of learning and life together.
As we head into Christmas break, and as we plan and prepare for interim and second semester, the Covid Response Team thanks all of you for coming together this fall in the most unusual of circumstances to stay #CalvinStrong and ensure our collective success. We know this has been a tiring semester, and we are grateful to so many who have labored so hard for the good of the institution and our students. Thank you. Stay safe, stay healthy. See you in 2021.
NEW THIS WEEK
- Screening Tests
Recently the state of Michigan extended its latest epidemic order – which had been set to expire on Dec. 8 – until Dec. 20. This order includes remote-only instruction for high schools and for colleges and universities.
We don't know what the state will decide after Dec. 20. So, when it comes to interim, we are proceeding with our plans to have in-person learning. At this point, we plan to begin with two days of remote learning on Thursday, January 7 and Friday, January 8 and then transition to in-person instruction on Monday, January 11.
As has been the case since March 2020, we hold onto these plans loosely and with contingency plans in mind. Faculty received an email last week from the Provost's office with specific information about Interim and teaching, including an FAQ (at the end of the email) with some current questions and answers.
Some interim classes are being taught remotely in 2021. In addition, students with a need for a COVID-related accommodation to learn remotely should apply as soon as possible, with a deadline of January 4, 2021.
The CDC recently reduced the quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days, with daily symptom monitoring between days 10-14. In consultation with the Kent County Health Department, we will be reducing our quarantine time to 10 days for those who have not experienced symptoms. As we move into this new system, we will keep a close eye on things, especially any signs of symptoms in days 10-14, but we feel confident that this new approach will be a good one, based on guidance from the CDC and KCHD.
JANUARY SCREENING TESTS
We will be screening everyone upon their return to campus in January, beginning the afternoon of Monday, January 4, 2021 for specific employees and some early-arriving students. We’ll be utilizing a new self-swab test that will yield results in 10-15 minutes, typically serving up to 60 people per hour. Clinics will be held Tuesday-Friday from 8:30-4:30 and from 12-5 pm on Saturday and Sunday of that first week in January. Students, staff, and faculty who will be returning to in-person instruction in January will be invited to sign up for a time to complete testing. We are training Calvin employees to facilitate the clinics. Students, faculty, and staff should look for a detailed email next week with more information, including an Eventbrite sign-up link that will provide pertinent info on times, locations, and more.
We are celebrating the recent good news confirming that the U.S. now has emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine. But there is still much to be determined as to when the vaccine will be available in our area, how many doses will be received, what the vaccine roll-out might look like (in terms of who is prioritized), and more. Our Health Services and contract tracing teams are in regular, close contact with local hospitals and the Kent County Health Department, and while we don’t yet have confirmation of arrival dates, at this point, we know that vaccines are unlikely to be available at Calvin until the spring or maybe even early summer. We continue to work to acquire and facilitate the COVID-19 vaccination and believe it will be a key step in our ongoing response to the pandemic. Once we have access to the vaccine, we will do everything we can to facilitate distribution, which will include providing education about the safety of the vaccine.
The MIAA, Calvin's athletic conference, has released a 2021 schedule that will include Calvin men's and women's basketball and men's and women's swimming. Ice hockey (a non-MIAA sport) will also have a 2021 schedule. Athletes, as per NCAA rules, will be tested frequently during this upcoming season. Also, it is almost certain that fans will not be allowed to attend these contests, although those restrictions are subject to change. Please visit the Calvin athletics website for additional information as it will be the best place to stay updated on games, cancellations, fan restrictions, streaming options, and more.
All students, faculty and staff can stop using #CampusClear once they are no longer living, studying, or working on campus. Students who are still living on campus and anyone working on campus should continue to fill out the #CampusClear app daily.
If you have a positive COVID-19 test result between now and the return to on-campus instruction and work in early 2021, please report that to us. We plan to administer screening tests in January 2021, so it is important for us to track which members of the Calvin community may have 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.).
LINKS WE LIKE
The COVID-Response Team
Phil de Haan
Todd Hubers (co-chair)
Sarah Visser (co-chair)