Subject: Calvin COVID-19 Actions to Mitigate Community Spread
Sent: March 16, 2020 at 1:03 p.m.
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Let me begin by thanking you all for the excellent effort you are making to adapt to our life together as we live with the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I have been humbled and deeply touched by the problem-solving orientation to the many obstacles the university has encountered during this transition.
Each day brings new information and deeper understanding, but there is no playbook for this situation. We still have no confirmed cases of the virus on our campus. Based on the advice we have received from public health officials and our community partners, it is very clear that Calvin must be absolutely focused on the goal of limiting the spread of this virus. Fewer infections will help our local hospitals and care centers to be able to handle the influx of severely infected people anticipated over the next few weeks. To this end, I am directing faculty and staff to do the following:
MEETINGS: Suspend all face-to-face meetings. If you need to meet, do so using the phone, Microsoft Teams, Skype, WebEx, or FaceTime. This applies to meetings with both colleagues and students.
REMOTE WORK: I would ask that those who can do their work from home to please do so until further notice. If you cannot work remotely, or if your work requires you to be on campus, I ask you to speak to your supervisor about your work and determine how this can best be done. If you do need to remain on campus for your work, please do so in a way that limits social contact. Staffing service desks and reception functions will still be important but be sure to do so at a healthy social distance.
FACILITIES: Remote work will enable the university to take some buildings offline and allow those who must clean our facilities to concentrate their efforts on the areas used by those who remain on campus. This action will also reduce heating costs.
WORKLOAD: We recognize that this very sudden change in our work and patterns of life on campus has left some with a very heavy workload and others with far less to do. Already, we are re-assigning staff from tasks like writing donor communication to writing that supports Health Services. This reminds me that disruption upends our best-laid plans, but it also reveals opportunity for the use of hidden gifts and talents. Let your supervisor know if you could use some additional help, need to re-prioritize your work, or if you believe you could help your colleagues who might be carrying a heavy load at this time.
UPDATES: Over the past few days, we have received many questions and want you to know that we are working hard to provide answers to those questions. We are consistently adding new FAQs to our COVID-19 FAQ page. Please access this resource as questions come up.
HEALTH REPORTING: At this point, we do not have a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 at Calvin University. If you have been on Calvin’s campus in the last 14 days and just learned that you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR you are experiencing symptoms and are concerned you may have this virus, please click here to complete a Health Services form. The form will help you remain connected to Health Services during your illness. They have been helping many students, staff, and faculty navigate various symptoms of illnesses and learn how to remain isolated while recovering. Their team will provide students, faculty, and staff with timely advice on how best to remain isolated until there is no fever and no cough for 24-48 hours. Everyone with a Calvin email account is already in the confidential patient portal. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by your primary care provider, we ask that you let Health Services know so we can communicate with known on-campus contacts you may have interacted with in the days prior to your diagnosis. Again, the link to use for reporting contact, symptoms, or testing results is https://calvin.edu/go/symptoms-testing-reportingform.
SELF-CARE: As we are urging members of the Calvin community to practice physical distancing, we also want to encourage people to remain connected to those they care about during this time. As events, gatherings, and social interactions are reduced, replace them with other forms of communication (e.g., video-chats and texting). Think about what typically supports your mental health and find ways to do things that don’t require in-person interactions—activities like prayer, journal writing, listening to music, and looking at happy photos can go a long way in supporting our wellbeing during challenging times. I also invite you to connect with Mary Hulst on Facebook. She is posting an online chapel each weekday and gathering resources for prayer and scripture reading. Take time to engage in activities that ground you and help you to remain healthy—go for a walk or hike, take a jog, or bike outdoors. The more ventilated an area, the lower the risk of transmission as long as you are practicing proper physical distancing.
CARE FOR STUDENTS: Some students are anxious and fearful, while others may be more cavalier about the important role each one of us plays in limiting the spread of this virus. I firmly believe that your role as a faculty member or trusted staff person in a student’s life is far more influential than email reminders from the president. In your classes and in your interactions with students, I ask that you please reinforce the messages encouraging good health hygiene, social distancing practices, and reporting information when it is requested. Please use the student concern form at calvin.edu/go/concern to let the Center for Student Success know if you have a concern about a particular student.
We are all learning together, and the nature of this evolving situation will continue to evoke new questions. Please remember that in this time of uncertainty, we are carrying this load together and are here to support one another. Keep asking good questions. Keep demonstrating the care for one another that I am witnessing in countless ways (at a safe distance). Most importantly, I pray that you will stay connected to Christ, who is our ever-present help in time of trouble.
Michael Le Roy, president