Subject: Calvin COVID-19 Actions to Mitigate Community Spread
Sent: March 16, 2020 at 1:05 p.m.

Dear Students,

We want to express our gratitude to each of you for rising to meet the challenge before us and investing much time and energy to explore new ways of living and learning amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This transition is daunting, and at times, many of us feel like we have more questions than answers. It has been heartening to see and hear the many ways you are supporting one another, practicing social distancing, and taking seriously the call to protect the most vulnerable among us.

CAMPUS 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.

In the event that we have a confirmed case involving one of the students in our residence halls, we would follow the advice of the local health department to isolate the student and any other residential students who had been in close contact with that individual in recent days. As we work to encourage social distancing behaviors, we recognize that residential living may not be practical in all circumstances. Living with roommates and sharing a bathroom when one person might be symptomatic could put more people at risk.

ACCESS AND INTERACTION ON CAMPUS: In addition to encouraging social distancing in residential spaces, with increased restrictions mandated by the governor of Michigan, you will continue to see changes in our life on campus, from building closures to modified dining hall operations, all of which make the situation less conducive to having many students living on campus. Access will be limited to discourage groups from congregating and to ensure that we are strategically focusing our efforts to clean and sanitize campus. In addition, faculty and staff have been asked to suspend all face-to-face meetings with both colleagues and students. The general rule of thumb should be to limit all in-person social interaction as much as possible, instead leveraging tools that allow for virtual meeting (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Skype, WebEx, FaceTime, etc.).

RESIDING ON CAMPUS: As students weigh the risk of staying on campus, our goal is to encourage everyone to be where they are most safe and healthy. We recognize that some students can best realize safe and healthy social distancing away from campus. If you are able to return home and help reduce the number of students on campus, we would encourage this. For others, Calvin may be the best option for safety and health, and we are committed to helping these students. If you have not yet completed the Student Travel and Housing Plans form, please do so immediately. If you already filled it out but your plans have since changed, simply go back in and complete the form again. If you need to remain on campus, please indicate this in the form. We will still provide critical infrastructure for resident students who must remain in the residence halls.

SPRING BREAK TRAVEL: Based on increasing risk of exposure across the United States and CDC guidance, we are strongly discouraging Spring Break travel to places other than home. While we know that many students have been looking forward to vacation travel, we continue to assert the importance of social distancing and limited exposure to places and people that may put others within our community at greater risk. Analyzing public data from places like Europe and Asia where the spread of the virus is widespread, we now know that many young people without symptoms were likely carrying COVID-19 and spreading it both through direct contact with others and through indirect contamination of common objects. We all need to practice good habits in keeping social distance and act as if we or those around us could be infectious. Calvin must be absolutely focused on the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19. 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.

SELF-CARE: As we are urging members of the Calvin community to practice physical distancing, we also want to encourage folks 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, dancing, listening to music, and looking at happy photos can go a long way in supporting our wellbeing during challenging times. Visit the Center for Counseling and Wellness website for tips on how to care well for your mental health in the days to come. I also invite you to connect with Pastor Mary on Facebook; she is posting an online chapel each weekday and gathering resources for virtual 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. Many campus departments are finding creative ways to support students and foster intentional virtual connection during the weeks ahead—I encourage you to stay engaged!

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing major disruption in all areas of our lives, so again we want to thank you for the energy you are putting in as you navigate the transition to online instruction and do your part to keep vulnerable populations safe from infection. Please continue to offer support and extend grace to one another as we navigate this uncharted territory together.

With gratitude,
Sarah Visser
vice president for student life