Date: May 14, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As we have responded to the COVID pandemic at Calvin since March 2020, we have consistently followed the science behind the decisions around such topics as masks, social distancing, contact tracing, vaccines and more.  

We have looked to the scientific and medical leadership in our country (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), our state (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services), our county (Kent County Health Department) and on our campus (our medical director, epidemiologists, and public health experts) to inform our decision-making at every step of the way.

Yesterday (May 13) the CDC made a major announcement about the use of face coverings in non-healthcare settings by those who are fully vaccinated.  

Today (May 14) the State of Michigan announced that our state’s Gatherings and Mask Order will be aligned with the CDC’s latest guidance on face coverings.  

The new order in Michigan will go into effect on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m., and as a result, fully vaccinated people no longer are required to wear a mask or face covering indoors or outdoors

Also, under the updated MDHHS Gatherings and Mask Order, anyone who is outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status 

Finally, people who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others indoors.  

At this time, it does not appear that the state has changed, or will change, any of its current capacity limits in indoor and outdoor venues. We continue to seek guidance and clarity on that question. 

So, what does this mean for Calvin? 

We will follow the CDC and State of Michigan guidelines for outdoor mask use, beginning on May 15 at 9 a.m. along with the rest of the state. 

In terms of indoor mask use and fully vaccinated people, we have decided the following: 

Commencement and Related Activities  

All events for Commencement and other related activities that are indoors will not change. We have no way right now to verify vaccination status of visitors and guests, so we will expect everyone to remain masked at indoor events this weekend and will update the guidelines for other events early next week.  

Workplace Guidance 

Next week Monday, May 17, we will implement the state’s new guidance and allow people who are working on campus to be unmasked indoors if they are fully vaccinated. We also will allow anyone to be unmasked outdoors as per the state and CDC guidance.  For now, while we work out some further details, we would ask that meetings continue to be fully masked by all regardless of vaccination status

Instructional Guidance for Summer Term 

We have only a few classes that will meet on campus this summer, and we will allow students and faculty who are fully vaccinated to be maskless in classrooms and labs. 

Please remember that at this point this new set of opportunities from the CDC and the State is on the honor system, including for members of the Calvin community. If you are not vaccinated and not wearing a mask you will be acting contrary to the guidance both the CDC and the State have outlined.  

If you do so at Calvin, you will potentially be harming your community. So, as a CRT and as a university, we expect the only people to be maskless on campus in indoor settings to be people who are vaccinated. Please do your part and stay masked if you are not vaccinated. 

Finally, recognize that some people who are fully vaccinated may choose to continue to wear a mask indoors for various reasons, including being immunocompromised. Anyone who continues to want to wear a mask on campus indoors should feel free to do so.  

Note that the CDC has said the new mask guidance was possible due to the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines, the drop in U.S. cases and universal vaccine availability in the U.S. for people ages 12 and older. So, if you’re not yet vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible.  

There are also some caveats to the new rules.  

For example, fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a well-fitted mask in healthcare settings, including in Health Services. They also need to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. 

Those caveats aside, this is obviously a significant change in what we have all been doing for more than a year now, and, for those of us on CRT, it is both a cause for celebration and a cause for concern. As a country, as a state and as a Calvin community for this new CDC and State of Michigan guidance to work, people are going to need to get vaccinated. 

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more next week on next steps for our community as we continue to respond to the pandemic and the changing guidance around mitigation strategies. 

If you have questions, please email: responseteam@calvin.edu .

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