Date: March 23, 2021

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Spring is officially here, Easter is just around the corner, and Exam Week starts May 7. Our second semester together is proceeding apace! Keep up the good work, and please peruse the newsletter below for important updates on our life and work together.

NEW THIS WEEK 

  • Dashboard Numbers
  • Vaccination Updates
  • Links for Holy Week Worship
  • Troubling Trends in Hekman Library
  • Commuter Students and Johnny’s Hours, plus Tents

Dashboard Numbers

It is quite remarkable to look at the Calvin Dashboard and see the ways in which our numbers have dramatically dropped in the last month or so. The most recent figures show just one on-campus student in isolation compared to February 17 when there were 91 on-campus students in isolation! We remain grateful to the Calvin community for the many ways in which students, staff, and faculty responded last month to our enhanced physical distancing period. It made all the difference and allowed us to continue to learn together in-person. We are also keeping a close eye on our state and county COVID numbers, which are increasing at rates which are quite worrisome to health officials. Please continue to do all that you can to keep our campus safe.

Vaccination Updates

The CDC has issued its first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people, recommendations that the state, Kent County, and Calvin will be following. At this time, one of the recommendations that our contact tracers are especially excited about is the news that anyone two weeks past their second vaccine shot (or first and only shot for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine) can refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure to a positive COVID case if they remain asymptomatic. In short, if you have been fully vaccinated and are exposed to a positive case, you will still be contacted, but you will not need to quarantine unless you develop COVID symptoms.

As Michigan continues to expand eligibility for vaccination this month and next, the CDC recommendations for those who are vaccinated continue to create incentives to receive the vaccine, and our on-campus health professionals highly recommend it as well. When your turn comes, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated.

Calvin Health Services has been approved as a vaccination site and has been able to administer vaccine over the past two weeks to those Calvin students and employees meeting the Tier 1A and Tier 1B criteria. Health Services just received approval to vaccinate those in our community over 50, and those who are eligible to receive a vaccine, can call for an appointment at 616-526-6187, x4. This includes faculty and staff and their spouses, and the vaccine is the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Appointments are only made based on the amount of vaccine that comes to Health Services which varies and remains sporadic. We are being asked to administer the vaccine within a week from the time we receive it, so we cannot set up appointments far into the future. 

Also, if you had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you likely have some immunity to one strain even if your infection was mild. The vaccine has been shown to lower the severity of disease for multiple strains, so you are encouraged to still get vaccinated after having COVID-19, but some are preferring to wait 90 days to allow others to get immunized while supply is limited.

Finally, if you have received any other vaccine in the last 14 days, you will need to wait for a future offering. 

Links for Holy Week Worship

As a reminder, there will be a Tenebrae worship service at 4 p.m. in the CFAC auditorium on Good Friday (April 2). We are also planning a short Easter Service at the Seminary Pond at 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday (April 4), which will be led by our Worship Apprentices.

In addition to these special events, daily chapel during Holy Week will feature four sermons meditating on Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, and death. Each day, 128 people will be invited to participate in-person in the chapel (see below for reservation links). These chapel services will also be livestreamed. We encourage you to consider worshiping on campus this Easter to decrease the likelihood of any accidental or unknowing transmission into a local church congregation.

Troubling Trends in Hekman Library

Even in the midst of our gratitude for the rapidly decreasing isolation and quarantine numbers, we remain vigilant as a campus and mindful of the places where we might be growing complacent.

Currently, one such area where we see room for improvement is Hekman Library. Unfortunately, in the last week or so, library employees have been put in the tough spot of having to regularly remind students about appropriate behavior when it comes to COVID mitigation.

The two main problem areas are masking and distancing protocols within Hekman. Both of these risk further re-opening of other areas of the library and even bring the possibility of spaces being closed again that have been re-opened earlier this semester, including individual study rooms. The library team is eager to be able to phase in additional spaces, but unsafe behavior will certainly hinder their ability to move in this direction.  Please continue to practice masking and social distancing in the library as signs of respect and love for your fellow students and for the library staff.

Commuter Students and Johnny’s Hours

We have expanded eating hours in Johnny’s, especially to benefit commuter students who have been asking for more times in which to eat on campus. We will be taking down the signs that have limited eating hours and will be allowing students to eat at times that are convenient to their schedules in those areas. As always, we do so reminding students to continue to practice all the necessary safe behaviors that are part of eating on campus, including social distancing and mask wearing when not eating and drinking.

We also are adding outdoor eating opportunities this week with tents back on campus in the CFAC lot and in front of Beets-Veenstra. Both tents are available for dining; both can also be reserved through the Campus Events reservation system for other uses. Because of the addition of these tents, we have changed traffic patterns: Knight Way (the residence hall road) has become a one-way street for emergency vehicles, resident hall directors, and service vehicles only. And “No Parking” spaces will be designated in the CFAC lot to allow for vehicular turn-around.

Asymptomatic Testing at Calvin

Our weekly random surveillance screening clinic is for students who do not have symptoms, and it is going very well. We are sampling around 800 students each week from those eligible, so the likelihood of being invited for a random screening multiple times this semester is high.  But so is our confidence that this practice is making a difference in preventing asymptomatic spread of the virus!  Students with symptoms—no matter how mild—should report their symptoms through #CampusClear and the Health Services patient portal. Same-day testing appointments are available Monday-Friday for sick students as indicated by CDC guidelines.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay #CalvinStrong.

LINKS WE LIKE

    The COVID-Response Team

    Kristen Alford

    Jennifer Ambrose

    Laura Champion
    Phil de Haan

    Todd Dornbos

    Jim English

    Todd Hubers (co-chair)

    Brian Paige

    Jane Prins

    Sarah Visser (co-chair)

    John Witte

    Cindy Wolffis