Subject: Calvin responds to a COVID-19 situation
Date: March 10, 2020

In the coming days and weeks, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) potentially spreads across the country, we have been advised to prepare for an increased risk of exposure for our faculty, staff, and students. From the onset of the COVID-19 threat, a group of Calvin leaders has been actively monitoring the situation, regularly reviewing guidelines from the CDC, and enacting prevention and advanced planning strategies. To date, more than 50 staff and faculty members from across campus are involved in task forces focused on ensuring safety and continuity of operations. Calvin is working closely with the Kent County Health Department and the State of Michigan to be proactive in our planning and carefully deliberate in our responses. Over the past week, we have seen the disruption that can accompany increased cases of COVID-19 in areas like Washington, California, and New York. As we think about possible disruptions and their impact at Calvin, we are eager to enlist the cooperation and support of all within our community; together, we can manage the disruptions we're likely to feel.

We’ve already had an occasion to practice our response this past weekend. Eight Calvin students recently returned from an out-of-state conference where one of the other attendees (not affiliated with Calvin or the students) has since been diagnosed with COVID-19. The likelihood of them being exposed to the virus at the conference is considered to be low. Acting with an abundance of caution, while seeking further clarification from the Kent County Health Department, we made arrangements for these students to have private spaces to live. It was later determined by the Kent County Health Department that this will not be necessary for situations like this, and these students can self-monitor without self-isolation or restriction of activities as long as they remain asymptomatic.

Since these kinds of situations are likely to increase in the next couple of months, those in our community who are immunocompromised (e.g., cancer, HIV) or have other underlying health conditions should seek instructions from their medical care provider on how to manage their health and safety. Students who are immunocompromised and would like assistance or support should contact Amy Vander Slik in the Center for Student Success at or (616) 526-8397. Staff and faculty who are immunocompromised and would like assistance or support should contact human resources or their academic dean.

At this point, Calvin continues to follow the CDC advisory for travel and only restricts travel to Level 3 countries (e.g., China, Italy). And the CDC continues to recommend self-monitoring without self-isolation for anyone that goes to a place with widespread confirmed cases.

The best advice for all community members in staying healthy is to take everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cough into your elbow, and after you sneeze, place the tissue directly into the trash and then use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch-point surfaces frequently.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Students who feel sick can seek advice by contacting the Health Services office at (616) 526-6187, Monday–Friday (8:00–12:00 and 1:00–4:00). The staff is responding to a large volume of calls at this time. If you reach our voicemail, please leave your name and contact information, and please clear out your voice message inbox so we can leave a detailed message when we call back. Students who feel sick but do not need an appointment can talk to their RA about “to go” meal options from the dining halls. We have coordinated efforts with the local urgent care to be responsive to student needs.