Frequently Asked Questions

COVID Response / Frequently Asked Questions

Here 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.

If your question is not answered below, please feel free to email for further assistance.

Complete Safe Return FAQ

General Health and Safety Information

  • Basic Information About COVID

    What do I need to know about COVID-19?
    For questions related to symptoms of COVID-19, how the disease is transmitted, and the best preventative measures you can take, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

    Where can I find information about COVID cases in the Calvin community?
    The COVID-19 Dashboard provides a regularly-updated overview of the state of COVID cases in the Calvin community. In addition, the dashboard includes information about screening and diagnostic testing at Calvin (updated weekly) as well as daily updates on the number of Calvin students in quarantine.

    Members of our health maintenance team, which include specialists in public health, a medical doctor, and environmental health, and safety team members, trained extensively with the local county health department on our COVID-19 response and know both how to respond to cases and how to determine who else might be at risk of contagion.

    Our standard response for unvaccinated students includes the isolation of the affected individual and a quarantine process for anyone who may have been exposed. It also includes testing and an observation period, with the goal of returning people to their normal routines once it is safe to do so. We have good systems and protocols in place that enable us to respond well.


    What happens if I report symptoms using #CampusClear?
    If you report one minor symptom during your daily health check, then you will get a quick email asking you to learn remotely for one day and to wait to see if the illness defines itself over the next 24 hours. If no symptoms are present after 24 hours, then you may return to class. Keep in mind that taking even one symptom seriously and practicing self-quarantine initially may help protect your friends from needing to quarantine down the road if your symptoms worsen or you later test positive for COVID-19.

    If you have several symptoms or if you have any one of the following symptoms— fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, then Health Services will order a COVID-19 test for you that same day and ask you to stay in your residence until your results are back (most results are returned within 48-72 hours). This is also the typical amount of time it takes for someone to recover from an illness. So, most students who get this FREE test are going back to class about the same time they would have returned to class after a normal illness.

    If you test positive, the Kent County Health Department and/or the Calvin Contact Tracing Team will determine your length of isolation. Isolation is a minimum of 10 days from symptom onset. During this time in isolation, you will need to learn remotely and will have meals delivered to your residence if you live on campus.

    How does contact tracing work?
    If you report being a close contact on the #CampusClear App or through the COVID reporting form, a member of the Calvin Contact Tracing Team will reach out to you either by phone or e-mail to get more information unless you were already identified and contacted as a close contact by our team. We will help you determine if you meet the definition of a close contact by asking you a little bit more about when and how you interacted with a person who tested positive for COVID.

    The contact tracing process is where we learn more about the spread of illness and attempt to contain it to prevent further spread. To do this, we conduct extensive interviews with those who test positive for COVID to learn about the severity of the illness, risk factors, potential exposure points, and people and places they may have come in close contact with during their infectious period. We describe the isolation process and provide guidance on isolating well. We then follow-up with all those who are identified as a close contact. Close contacts are placed into quarantine and monitored through their quarantine period. The contact tracing team at Calvin University works in coordination with the Kent County Health Department and collects information for the Michigan Disease Surveillance System.


    How were Calvin students and faculty tested in 2020-21 and what will 2021-22 look like, especially the fall arrival?
    All students and employees were screened for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus in August 2020 and then again at the start of the Interim/spring 2021 semester. We also did several weeks of random surveillance testing during both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Testing helped us identify anyone who needed to be isolated and cared for. For the Interim/spring 2021 testing, we were able to use rapid antigen tests with results returned in 15 minutes.

    For the fall of 2021 we will require all unvaccinated students to be screened for COVID upon their return to campus (or within 3 days prior to their arrival if testing off-campus) and then again 3-5 days after their arrival. Rapid antigen tests will be used for these screening clinics and will cost $20 (billed to the student’s miscellaneous account). Sign up for your date and time at

    Exemptions include:

    • Students can be exempt from the first test if they come to campus with proof of a negative COVID test from 24-72 hours prior to their arrival on campus but will still be required to take the second test.
    • Any unvaccinated students who can present proof of having had COVID in the 90 days prior to their arrival on campus will be exempted from both tests.
    • Fully vaccinated students who present proof of vaccination will be exempt from both tests.

    Please note too that all students should actively self-monitor for symptoms during their first seven days on campus and follow protocols for reporting illness if they are noticing symptoms of illness.

    In addition, quarantining of unvaccinated students will NOT be required upon arrival to Calvin. However, quarantine space will be available for any on-campus residents who desire it upon arrival. Students should contact the Housing Office for this request. Finally, free vaccinations will be available on-campus at various times during move-in week and the week after (usually corresponding to the testing times, for convenience).

    Has Calvin considered wastewater testing?
    Calvin will be participating in a local waste water study with Grand Valley State University, which we hope may help lead to some early warnings about any cases of COVID-19 in our on-campus living communities in 2021-22. When covid is detected in the waste water of a specific residential building, students living there may be asked to participate in COVID screening tests to monitor the health of those living in the community.

    Should a student report if they got tested for COVID-19 outside of Calvin?
    Yes. We are asking students to do this using the #CampusClear app or via the Health Services online patient portal. Our ability to do contact-tracing (which includes supporting close contacts) depends on our knowledge of positive cases. By handling contact-tracing ourselves, we can follow up, track, and provide the resources students need. When a student realizes all the support that they get from Calvin, they will see the benefit of sharing this information with the university. Note: students are highly encouraged to get tested through Calvin’s Health Services, since the results are typically received much faster and there’s no out-of-pocket cost to the student.

    If someone I have been in close contact with tests positive for COVID-19, how long do I need to quarantine?
    Students who are vaccinated for COVID-19 will not need to quarantine unless symptomatic or if they begin to experience symptoms (such students should reach out to Health Services). Students who are not vaccinated will need to quarantine for at least 10 days from their last exposure to that individual who tested positive. Individuals who do not develop COVID-like symptoms in the first ten days of quarantine will be released from quarantine and should continue self-monitoring.

    Will there be housing available for quarantine or isolation cases?
    Knowing that there may still be cases of COVID that touch our community, we will still have quarantine and isolation spaces available and required for affected students. Non-vaccinated individuals will continue to face quarantine requirements if they have contact with confirmed cases. Like last year, Residence Life staff will assist students in finding safe spaces, and meal delivery will be available for isolated residents. Isolation and quarantine measures are taken with the goal of preventing students, faculty, and staff from being exposed to members of the community who may have COVID-19.

    An unvaccinated student will be asked to quarantine if the contact tracing process reveals that they are a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. An unvaccinated student will be asked to self-isolate if they have symptoms and are waiting to find out if its COVID-19. In this scenario, students will be asked not to move about campus and to remain in their residence hall or off-campus residence for the period of time until a negative test result is returned.


  • What accommodations will be made for students in 2021-22 because of COVID?

    The Center for Student Success (CSS) will be providing space for students with test accommodations related to disability. Students with approved testing accommodations will provide instructors with accommodation memos, as in previous semesters. But, unlike last year, students generally will not be able to request remote learning through CSS. Calvin is not offering remote learning as an option in 2021-22 and is not encouraging or approving individual requests for remote learning. Students who require accommodations for health reasons should contact Disability Services.

  • What will classrooms look like and will faculty know which of their students have been vaccinated?

    At this point, we are monitoring a vaccination rate for the general student population, but not at the course section level. Instructors should not ask about vaccination status or inquire about other aspects of an individual’s medical record or condition.

    In addition, given that we are starting the year with a mask requirement, distancing and special seating arrangements are not needed at this time. Classrooms will be disinfected by the facilities team daily. Disinfection stations will remain in place and classrooms will be supplied with disinfectant and cloths to use as needed.

  • What will be expected of faculty to support students who are quarantined or isolated during the semester?

    A student in isolation or quarantine should be granted a “normal” excused absence for illness, according to an instructor’s absence policies in a non-COVID semester. Faculty are not expected to record all sessions or manage a bi-modal classroom. Students who test positive will be required to isolate for 10 days. Only unvaccinated students will need to quarantine. According to the Kent County Health Department guidelines, students in quarantine who test negative on or after day 5 can be released on day 7, rather than doing the full 10 days.

  • Can faculty request cameras so they can record their classes for students who are unable to attend?

    Yes. If needed for special circumstances, cameras can be reserved via the Audio-Visual department. That said, and as noted above, we hope to prioritize in-person learning and are not expecting that faculty will facilitate bi-modal learning.

  • What about off-campus learning experiences for students (i.e., internships, student teaching, practicums)?

    Students should abide by the policies determined by their host sites. For example, if a vaccine is required by the host organization, the student would be expected to honor this requirement to successfully complete their practicum experience.

  • Will the mask requirement be in place for the entire academic year?

    We are hopeful that this will be a short and temporary measure, with re-evaluation beginning after the first weeks of class, and modifications made to the policy as the dynamics of disease transmission in our community are better understood. We are working to preserve the greatest chances of a normal semester, and eventually we assume we’ll be mask free again, just as we were for most of the summer months.

  • Will faculty be permitted to hold in-person meetings with masks (and/or social distancing)?

    Yes.  Besides the mask requirement for public spaces, we are not implementing any further restrictions at this time. For example, we have no plans to implement occupancy limits, activity restrictions, or visitor bans.

  • Are there measures in place specifically for immunocompromised students? How does Calvin include immunocompromised students in student life and the learning environment?

    Students who are immunocompromised and have special needs are encouraged to work with Calvin’s Center for Student Success, which often partners with students to make sure that they have the accommodations they need.

    For immunocomprised students who are worried about being in a classroom space, the Center for Student Success will work with you to accommodate your needs. Questions and concerns about student housing can be sent to Calvin offers many avenues and methods of supporting immunocompromised students, including remote learning that is still synchronous, and we’re eager for you to reach out.

Campus Life

  • Will there still be any COVID restrictions in place in 2021–22?

    Calvin will be following the advice of our local county health department and the state of Michigan when it comes to COVID-related guidelines. If COVID cases are rising above certain thresholds in our community, Calvin will respond with health-related guidelines that make sense (for instance, increased masking or surveillance testing). With rising levels of vaccinations among our community members and the proven safety and effectiveness of these medicines, we are optimistic that the year ahead will feel more “normal” that last year.

  • What can I do to continue the prevention of COVID at Calvin?

    Follow whatever the current guidelines are on campus, including guidelines around masking and testing. We continue to anticipate that residential and dining activities will look a lot like they did pre-pandemic. Open House hours for visitation will resume for all residents, but students can still limit guests and make sure friends are healthy. Food services at Calvin will be fully operational, along with full occupancy of seating areas, though the “green-to-go” program will continue for anyone who’d like to take their meals back to their rooms, eat outside, etc. Most importantly, if you’re not feeling well, stay in your room and report your symptoms using CampusClear or the Health Services Patient Portal.

  • What will chapel look like?

    Thankfully, chapel will look more like it used to look! We’ll be following any guidelines about spaces and audience sizes that might come from the state or local health department. Calvin has been livestreaming chapels for many years, and that will continue, for anyone who can’t make it over to the Chapel or who would prefer to avoid large gatherings. Signs on the doors of the Chapel will alert you to whether or not masks will be required. Singing may be allowed, depending on the transmission and positivity rates on campus and in the community.

  • Are all campus offices operating normally?

    Yes, the expectation is that all offices will operate fairly normally and in-person, though some changes in hours or services made over the last year may still be applicable. For the best information, contact the offices individually—or just stop in!




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