Date: October 16, 2020
Subject: Safe Return Update for faculty

Dear faculty and staff,

Perhaps you saw the recent article in Chimes by staff reporter Alex Raycroft.  It was titled "I've Bean Thinking About Gratitude," and if you read it, you'll understand the pun.

In her piece, Alex, who is also an RA, wrote: "I'm so grateful for all those who have been working day and night to keep us here on campus, feed us, and teach us. Thanks for scooping our ice cream, for bringing us coloring books and Oreos while we’re quarantined. Thank you for wearing a mask and making the hard choice to distance, even when it’s uncomfortable. Thanks for leading us in prayer and worship, for learning new technologies and not throwing them out the window when they don’t work … there is so much to be grateful for."

In a Facebook Live Town Hall this past week, President Le Roy expressed that same theme of gratitude, sharing his appreciation for the students, faculty, and staff of our community.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without your diligence and commitment to living and learning safely together. THANK YOU!

This week, we celebrated reaching the midway point of on-campus, in-person instructional days (Tuesday, October 13). This is a significant milestone! President Le Roy also noted that we need to stay vigilant as we move into the second half of the fall semester. Below are some updates on what we’re doing and some areas we especially want to mention for your attention and continued vigilance.

A “Third Wave” in Kent County

You may have seen media coverage recently of what the Kent County Health Department is calling a "third wave" of COVID-19. On Wednesday, October 14, Kent County had the highest number of new daily cases in the state at 185. This is a worrisome trend, to say the least, for our county and our Calvin community.

Dr. Adam London of the Kent County Health Department noted recently that a month ago they were only seeing about 48 cases per day, and now they are seeing 134 new cases per day (based on a seven-day average). Hospitalizations have also increased. In addition, a month ago around 2-3% of COVID-19 tests were coming back positive, and now that number is almost 5%.

London believes the sharp increase in numbers could be linked to young adults getting and spreading the illness (one of the populations seeing an increase is 19-24-year olds). The good news is that the spread doesn’t seem to be linked to classroom or work environments.  Instead, it is likely due to people letting their guards down in social gatherings and to the increasing tendency to congregate indoors as the weather gets colder. 

So, how should the Calvin community respond? We need to stay vigilant, now more than ever. Keep practicing physical distancing (6 feet apart), wearing your face masks, and practicing good hygiene and sanitation of commons spaces (see the next item for more on our communal responsibilities in this area). Complete the #CampusClear app daily and stay home even if you have mild symptoms. If you know someone who tests positive for COVID-19, be understanding and compassionate. This is a highly infectious disease, so avoid judgment and seek ways to support people while they are in isolation. Our Center for Counseling and Wellness offers fantastic advice on how to support a friend during quarantine or isolation.

Sanitizing Public Spaces

A big part of our campus response to COVID has been our sense of solidarity and working together in service of a larger purpose.  Cleanliness and hygiene are everyone’s job and responsibility. The entire university community must work together to keep others healthy and safe.

Facilities provides daily cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms, breakrooms, bathrooms, buildings, and all public spaces. Facilities also provides disinfecting wipes or sprays for individuals to clean common space surfaces in computer labs, classrooms, and public spaces (like tables under outdoor tents). These supplies are often in plain sight, and we encourage their use. If you are ever unsure about where supplies might be found, or if supply is low, please let us know via ResponseTeam@calvin.edu.

A Safe Halloween

Calvin's annual Light in the Night (a trick or treat event held at the Knollcrest East Apartments) has been canceled for 2020.  Please consider how you can stay safe and keep your friends, family, and others safe this Halloween. The CDC has some great advice and tips for a healthy Halloween.

Visitor Policy

Our primary goal this semester has been to provide an environment for learning, living, and work that is safe for all students, faculty, and staff. For the most part, we continue to limit campus visitors.  Please visit the Visitor Policy page for additional information.

Flu Clinics

Because of COVID-19, the flu shot is more important than ever this fall. We strongly encourage all members of the Calvin community to receive a flu vaccine. Students, faculty, and staff can participate in a Flu Clinic sponsored by Health Services (appointment only this year). Use your Calvin email to sign up for an appointment through Eventbrite. Please print and complete a flu consent form and bring it with you to your appointment. Please contact Health Services at 616-526-6187 with questions.

Other Questions

Our Frequently Asked Questions page is a collection of answers to commonly asked questions about Calvin's ongoing response to the pandemic and its effect on university operations and community life. We update it frequently, including a special Trending Questions section. If you have a question that is not answered, please email ResponseTeam@calvin.edu for further assistance.

Finally, as we head into the weekend, please remember to do your #CampusClear each day (yes, including the weekend) and let’s stay the (non-complacent) course, together!

The COVID-Response Team

Kristen Alford 

Jennifer Ambrose 

Laura Champion 

Todd Dornbos 

Jim English 

Todd Hubers (co-chair) 

Matt Kucinski 

Brian Paige 

Sarah Visser (co-chair) 

John Witte