Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 9:16 p.m.
Subject: Calvin COVID-19 Action Plan

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As you all know, we have been monitoring the global outbreak of COVID-19 and planning for a variety of contingencies as the virus has spread. Our highest priority is to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of every member of the Calvin community. We are also working collaboratively with government authorities at the federal, state, and local levels as we seek guidance and contribute to the general welfare of our communities. While we have no cases of COVID-19 on our campus, there are now confirmed cases in Michigan, and we have been advised to prepare for further spread throughout the state.

Ensuring health and safety now means taking actions that aim to limit exposure of Calvin community members to the virus, imposing social distancing where appropriate, and generally elevating preventive hygiene practices across the campus.

To that end, and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and our own public health safety experts, we are implementing a number of actions intended to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health of our Calvin community. We recognize that these actions will be disruptive and create challenges for many of you, as well as have financial implications for the university, but the health and safety of our community is our focus at this extraordinary time.

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS: Effective Monday, March 16, classroom instruction will be moved online. Classes will be held as usual on Thursday, March 12. However, all in-class instruction is canceled for Friday, March 13, so that faculty and staff have some time to prepare to move classes online. I have appreciated that more than 80 faculty and staff have been working to anticipate this possibility. I have been very impressed with the willing spirit of the Calvin faculty and staff as they have prepared for this possibility. I recognize that the coming week will involve difficult transitions for all concerned, but I am inspired by our community’s commitment to overcome obstacles to sustain our academic mission.

FUTURE CLASSES AND INSTRUCTION: All instructors will offer their classes online starting Monday, March 16. At this point in time, our intent is to resume classroom instruction starting Tuesday, April 14. Additional information regarding digital instruction will be shared with faculty later tonight.

HOUSING: During the time when classes are only being offered online, the campus will remain open, and we will continue to support students in our residence halls and dining facilities. To be clear, students in the residence halls have the option of choosing whether to stay in on-campus housing or to return home during this timeframe, though many may find it more comfortable to continue their studies away from the campus. Tomorrow, all students will receive information asking them to provide travel and housing plans during our online class weeks and spring break. The residence halls and apartments will remain open during spring break for students who need this. Regardless of where our students are, we encourage them to practice appropriate social distancing, avoid congregating in groups, and practice preventative public health measures.

ENGAGEMENT: The most important response to this challenging moment is to stay engaged with one another. To maintain social distance and take online courses can feel isolating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Students, faculty, and staff should remain connected electronically, check their Calvin email regularly for campus updates, and remain active in online discussion groups. This disruption need not undermine our vibrant community of learners.

DINING: Calvin Dining Services will operate under regular hours tomorrow. Additional information regarding adjusted hours for Friday and the days to come will be shared tomorrow.

TECHNOLOGY: Students who do not have access to a personal computer are encouraged to contact Amy Vander Slik in the Center for Student Success at or (616) 526-8397.

STAFF: Normal campus operations will continue at this time, and campus will remain open. However, there may be some modifications to campus services (e.g., open times for library, fitness center, dining). As this is an evolving situation, supervisors should be making plans around essential personnel and telework in case we need to take more aggressive actions. Human resources will be providing an FAQ regarding the application of PTO and other employment and benefit policies by the end of this week.

OFF-CAMPUS PROGRAMS: We are in regular contact with our students currently studying off-campus and will make decisions on the status of their programs based upon CDC guidelines and federal recommendations. In the next few days, the off-campus programs office will be in touch with students and faculty participating in these programs.

EVENTS: At the advice of state officials, effective Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 13, we are suspending all on-campus events of more than 100 attendees (including those sponsored by registered student organizations, campus departments, and external constituents). Where possible, organizers can explore ways of conducting the event through livestreaming or other technologies. A faculty or staff member who believes that they have an essential business reason to hold an event can request a waiver through their unit leader (i.e., dean, vice provost, vice president, etc.), but the expectation is that the granting of such waivers will be rare. At this point, we hope to be able to host the full slate of Commencement Week events, but a final decision regarding these events will be made at a later date.

TRAVELING WITH CALVIN: We are suspending all university-sponsored domestic and international air travel effective March 16 through April 13. Additionally, all Calvin-sponsored spring break travel is cancelled (e.g., service-learning trips, athletic trips, music ensemble trips). A faculty or staff member who believes that they have an essential business reason to travel by air can request a waiver through their division leader (provost, vice president), but the expectation is that such waivers will be rare. Non-essential travel by other means (bus, van, car) is strongly discouraged.

PERSONAL TRAVEL: We urge all travelers to carefully consider their intended
destinations for personal trips and check on restrictions or quarantine measures that may be recommended or required by the CDC upon arrival or return. Personal international travel is strongly discouraged.

ATHLETICS: We will provide more guidance on athletic travel and events after consulting the MIAA, NCAA, and our competitive partners.

BEST PRACTICES: We continue to ask everyone in our community to follow the CDC recommendations for preventive actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Trying to stay focused on your education at a time like this is challenging, but you remind me of so many Calvin alumni who have learned under adverse conditions before you. These are alumni who learned well while at Calvin and are now contributing in many places around the world in the fight against this global health crisis. They are the scientists, ethicists, physicians, nurses, public health workers, engineers, and entrepreneurs who are finding the solutions to today’s problems. As you learn to persevere under these unfavorable conditions, you join with our alumni in this work who persevered through the challenges of their time to honor God with their gifts, compassion, and knowledge. The world needs you.

Michael Le Roy