May 13, 2020 | Matt Kucinski

A  monument sign that says Calvin University located at the university's main entrance to campus

Calvin University is partnering with Helix Diagnostics in its plans for a safe return to campus operations this fall. The partnership agreement, which university leaders believe is the first of its kind in the state of Michigan and perhaps in the entire country, guarantees that Calvin will have access to 5,000 tests, ensuring all faculty, staff, and students will be tested and screened for COVID-19 as they return to campus. This will ensure that anyone who tests positive will receive proper care before integrating with smaller groups on campus.

“At Calvin University, our goal is to demonstrate that we are willing to adapt to the conditions, act quickly, and do what it takes for a safe and healthy return to learning on our campus,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin University. “We recognize that reliable and timely access to testing for infection is an essential component of our overall strategy. Our partnership with Helix Diagnostics is one example of a number of initiatives we are undertaking to serve our students well and keep faculty and staff safe.”

While most of the 5,000 tests will be employed for the initial screening, the remainder will be used over the balance of the school year to test members of the community who are symptomatic and will help support the university’s contact tracing efforts.

Leading the way

“I think it shows Calvin’s leadership in this area to be at the front of this challenge on how to get back to normalcy. They have taken this seriously on how they can get their students back to campus and provide them the best care that’s out there,” said Brian Tierney, president of Helix Diagnostics. “I’ve talked with a lot of other schools, and I am impressed with both the depth and how far along Calvin is in their plan for opening. They are doing everything they can to ensure that the students are in a safe environment.”

And the university is not keeping these plans to themselves. Michael Le Roy also serves as chair of Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities and says that this approach could be an effective model for others across the state.

“We believe this approach provides a pathway for colleges and universities similar to Calvin, like members of Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, schools that have smaller campus populations, smaller class sizes, a nimble ability to implement campus-wide changes quickly, and strong collaborative community relationships.”

Committed to highest standard

At Calvin, leaders continue to rely on the best science and public health advice as they develop their plans for a return to campus. Dr. Laura Champion, Calvin’s director of health services, has been a physician in the Grand Rapids area for 25 years, and her relationships with the local health department and medical professionals in the area have been invaluable. She and her team of health professionals have been methodical in their alignment with the CDC playbook.

“We decided early on before the CDC had a plan for higher ed institutions or businesses that we were going to adopt the highest standard for our community. If it is good enough for all U.S. hospital systems, then it will become Calvin's standard of operation,” said Champion.

To learn more about Calvin’s commitments to students and families and to stay updated on the university’s plans for the fall, visit https://calvin.edu/unconditionally-calvin.

For interview requests, contact Matt Kucinski at msk23@calvin.edu or 616-307-7429.

About Calvin University

Founded in 1876, Calvin University is a top-ranked, liberal arts university that equips its more than 3,600 students from 45 U.S. states, 63 countries and seven Canadian provinces to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. Calvin offers 100+ majors and programs, including graduate-level offerings in accounting, education, and speech pathology and audiology. Calvin students engage in intensive internships, community-based service learning, and significant research that results in publishing and presenting alongside world-class faculty.

And the university’s 400-acre campus, located in the vibrant city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, serves as a launching pad for students who, in any given year, participate in 40 faculty-led off-campus programs on six different continents. Discover more at www.calvin.edu 

About Helix Diagnostics

Helix Diagnostics is a state-of-the-art clinical laboratory that incorporates the latest technology and methods to provide comprehensive diagnostic testing including;  urine and oral fluid drug monitoring, pathogen detection, Pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing, blood testing, and coronavirus testing. Helix takes pride in its ability to generate precise and accurate results in a timely manner.

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