Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
On this first day of September, we are settling in for a new semester of in-person learning, chapel services, sporting events, lectures, and more. It is a blessing to be together, even as we continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic and the coronavirus variants.
We begin the year with several guiding principles, including a goal to meet in person for the entire 2021-22 academic year, to design creative ways to live and have fun on campus, and to quickly adapt to our community health expectations as circumstances change.
We are determined to make every effort to contribute to the safety and health of our entire community—students, employees, families, and our surrounding community of Grand Rapids—while providing high-quality learning experiences.
Considering these principles, we want to highlight several important items, some of which have been communicated in past weeks but bear repeating here one more time. Also, please bookmark the Calvin Covid Response Page at https://calvin.edu/covid-response for the latest info, FAQs, all of our COVID Response Team communications, and more.
We are encouraged that 78.83% of our students who are taking six credits or more are already vaccinated, including 78.78% of those living on campus. We have another 200-plus students who have told us they are still planning to get vaccinated, which would push our overall student vaccination rate to almost 85%! Our employee vaccination rate is also currently over 80%. We are grateful, and we continue to strongly recommend that all members of the Calvin community get vaccinated as soon as possible.
There are vaccine appointments available at many local pharmacies and at Calvin Health Services (see [https://www.calvin.edu/go/covid-vaccine-clinic).
Any employees or students who have not yet reported on their vaccination status should have received a separate email asking them to do so as soon as possible. The deadline for student form submissions was Monday, August 30. As a reminder, students who choose not to fill out the Vaccine Status Form will be dis-enrolled from the university, so please check your Calvin email now to see if you received this notification, and please complete the vaccine status form, if applicable, as soon as possible. The vaccination status form can be accessed at www.calvin.edu/go/vaccine-status.
Employees should follow-up directly with Human Resources about their vaccination status by this Thursday, September 2.
We currently have a masking requirement for indoor public spaces as an important layer of mitigation and protection for our community and in response to the current status of Kent County as “high” for COVID transmission.
Over the past few days, the COVID response team has received a number of questions regarding this requirement for our campus, including a request for clarification about situations where someone is speaking to a group (for example, a faculty member in a classroom or a public speaker in a lecture hall or auditorium). As a COVID Response Team, we recognize that this was not as clear as it could have been during opening week festivities, and thus, speakers have sometimes not worn masks at recent events on campus, including Convocation.
After further review, we are clarifying that the expectation is that, regardless of the setting or circumstance, in indoor settings where speaking might take place, everyone, including the speaker, should be masked. This includes classroom instruction, public events, lectures, and other similar scenarios. The mask mandate will continue to be assessed on a regular basis and modified as needed. If the mandate is modified, it will be clearly and consistently communicated.
As long as masking requirements are being followed by our community, we will not be implementing any further event restrictions at this time. For example, we have no plans to implement occupancy limits, activity restrictions, or visitor bans. Also, masks are not required outdoors.
SURVEILLANCE SCREENING TESTING
Arrival screening testing is continuing this week, and unvaccinated students are required to participate, while vaccinated students may choose to do so.
Sign up here for an arrival screening appointment: www.calvin.edu/go/covid-screening
After the first week of classes, we will begin weekly testing for anyone in our community who is not fully vaccinated as we assess risk levels for the campus. The recommendation for this surveillance testing of unvaccinated individuals comes from our local health department, and we will continue to consult with them about the length of time this testing will be needed as well as the frequency of testing.
The cost to students will be kept as reasonable as possible. In the next week, anyone who will need to be part of regular surveillance testing will receive additional information outlining the costs of on-campus surveillance testing, scheduling instructions, and other program details.
As a reminder, Calvin is also participating this academic year in a local wastewater study with Grand Valley State University, which we hope may help lead to some early warnings about rising cases of COVID-19 in our on-campus living communities. If COVID-19 is detected in the wastewater of a specific residential building, students living there will be notified of next steps.
To promote health and safety on our campus, all members of the Calvin community should use the #CampusClear app or web portal to report any COVID-19 symptoms. #CampusClear is free, easy to use, and protective of users’ privacy. For 2021-22, please use the app only when you have symptoms to report. A member of the COVID Response Team will follow up with anyone who reports symptoms via the app. If you’d prefer not to download the app, you may also use the web portal to report symptoms. All the instructions for how to use the app or the web portal can be found on the main #CampusClear landing page. See https://calvin.edu/covid-response/campusclear/
OTHER LINKS WE LIKE
- Current Calvin sports spectator policy
- Calvin COVID Dashboard (re-launched this week and updated daily)
The COVID-Response Team
Phil de Haan
Todd Hubers (co-chair)
Sarah Visser (co-chair)