Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As the calendar this week turns to October, we want to update the Calvin community on a few COVID-related items. We are heartened as the first month of the new school year draws to a close, and we are hopeful about what the rest of the semester might look like, though cautiously optimistic as the last 18 months or so have taught us that things can change quickly. We are grateful to have had such a good start to the 2021-22 academic year and grateful to so many in the Calvin community who have helped make it so.
This CRT update includes info on:
- Masks – Because Kent County is still categorized as “High” for transmission rates, we continue to require masks in most indoor public spaces, including classrooms, and we plan to update the campus on the mask requirement again in mid-October. You can find more information on masking at Calvin in the section below, including news about a couple of places where we have made modest adjustments to the mask requirement.
- Isolation and Quarantine Numbers on Campus – We are pleased with the current low numbers of COVID cases in the Calvin community, though quarantine cases (close contacts) took a pretty significant jump this past week. For more details, see the content below under the heading The Dashboard.
- Vaccines – Our campus vaccination numbers continue to slowly climb, and we encourage anyone who is interested but has not yet completed a vaccination series to consider doing so. More details are listed below under Vaccines.
Please see below for a variety of other COVID Response Team updates, and 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.
MASKS AND RESIDENCE HALLS
We have made some modest changes to the mask requirements in the residence halls, and students who live in the residence halls have received a communication clarifying what has and has not changed.
Essentially, we have expanded what constitutes “private/home space” in the residence halls, which gives residents the option of not wearing a mask in their hallway and in their floor’s coffee kitchen or other common spaces on their residence hall floor. We came to this decision after recognizing that these areas can be considered the equivalent of a private residence and that the CDC gives greater latitude in such spaces.
Dorm basements and the ground-floor dorm lobbies continue to be seen as “public space” where masks are required. In addition, visitors to floors, including students who live on a different floor and students who live in a different residence hall, need to be masked when visiting areas outside of their own residence hall floor.
MASKS AND PUBLIC SPEAKING
We also have made a small change to our mask requirement for public speakers in certain pre-approved venues on campus, so you might notice some scenarios in the coming days where speakers take off their mask to speak (but continue to wear it if on stage but not speaking).
The first stipulation is that this only applies to certain spaces on campus. This list of venues is still being fully developed but currently includes the CFAC Auditorium, the Chapel, Van Noord Arena, and the Prince Center Great Hall. Please note that there are additional stipulations that must be met in order for speakers to remove their masks while addressing a group in these venues (see below).
In addition to the stipulation of speaking in a pre-approved venue, public speakers who are given permission to unmask while speaking will have been tested and received a negative COVID test result on the day they speak. Additionally, the speakers will be required to maintain a distance of 12 feet or more between themselves and the audience, per state of Michigan guidelines. This slight loosening of the mask requirement for speakers is for special events on campus and does not apply to regular classroom teaching.
Those interested in knowing more about how to get a COVID test for a public speaker on campus in one of these pre-approved spaces should contact our COVID Screening Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the Tennis and Track Facility during open clinic times (Mondays: 8:30-11:45 a.m. or 1-4:45 p.m.; Tuesdays: 8:30-11:45 a.m. or 1-4:45 p.m.; Wednesdays: 8:30-11:45 a.m.; Thursdays: 8:30-11:45 a.m.; Fridays: 1-3:45 p.m.).
MASKS AND THE CLASSROOM
Our masking requirement for indoor public spaces on campus, including academic settings such as classrooms and labs, remains in effect.
We continue to align with the guidance of the Kent County Health Department and the CDC, which recommends wearing masks in indoor public spaces in counties of substantial or high rates of spread; Kent County remains at the “high” level. We will continue to evaluate the masking requirement on an ongoing basis and plan to send another update in mid-October.
Just a note that currently in the greater Grand Rapids area, indoor mask requirements similar to Calvin’s are in effect at Grand Valley, GRCC, Cornerstone, Grace Christian, Aquinas, Kendall, and Davenport, so we are not an outlier with our requirement, and we continue to stay in touch with local college and university health officials to collectively assess our mitigation strategies.
Indeed, we believe that masks continue to be vital in academic settings and other public indoor spaces on campus as an important layer of mitigation and protection for our community. We are encouraged on our campus by the levels of compliance we are seeing, and we continue to urge all students and employees to please wear masks correctly and to graciously remind others on campus to do so. We are seeing some signs of mask fatigue, which we understand, but during this mask requirement period, we need to be vigilant with mask-wearing and to help hold each other accountable.
If you are feeling sick, use the #CampusClear app or web portal to report your symptoms.
Using #CampusClear sets into motion a number of important steps that will benefit the person who is feeling sick. This includes having a member of the COVID Response Team follow up with information about what the person should do, how and where they can get rapid-testing, how meals can be delivered to their room, what academic resources and support are available, and more.
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.
A reminder that our daily COVID case numbers can be found on our Calvin University COVID Dashboard, and so far this fall, the Dashboard has provided very encouraging news.
We had 15 active student isolation cases on September 9 and 10. These are students who had a confirmed positive test and on-campus students needed to be in isolation in a residence hall designed for that purpose. Those numbers have steadily gone down since then, and our most recent report showed just three students in isolation.
On the employee side, our isolation numbers have been very low all semester, and our quarantine numbers for both students and employees have also been consistently low all semester (note that people are placed in quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 by a close contact AND if they are unvaccinated), though we have seen a little rise in quarantine cases this week that we are tracking.
We continue to make progress on the vaccination front. Last week, we passed the 83 percent mark for vaccination for our on campus residential students. In addition, just over 83 percent of our employees and just over 91 percent of our international students have received the vaccination (many of our international students were unable to get the vaccine in their home countries and have eagerly embraced the opportunity to get vaccinated for free at Calvin).
We are grateful for this response, 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).
SURVEILLANCE SCREENING TESTING
We are a couple of weeks into our surveillance screening for any students and employees who in August chose Option 2 (to participate in weekly screening instead of providing proof of vaccination). The surveillance screening clinics, held in the Tennis and Track Center, are going well. Students who have not responded to the invitation to schedule weekly screening tests or who have not been uploading test results from other clinics have been sent a formal warning and will be referred to the office of student conduct this week, but we have been very pleased with the compliance and cooperation of the majority of folks involved.
A reminder that the recommendation for this surveillance testing of unvaccinated individuals comes from our local health department, and we 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 is being kept as reasonable as possible.
The Covid Response Team (email@example.com)
Bear de Boo (Student representative)
Phil de Haan
Sarah Visser, chair