Frequently Asked Questions

Safe Return / Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a collection of answers to commonly-asked questions about Calvin's ongoing response to the pandemic, and its effect on university operations and community life.

For the latest information about the transition to remote learning, see the remote learning page. Information there takes precedence over the information on this page, which is still being updated.

If your question is not answered below, please email ResponseTeam@calvin.edu for assistance.

Trending questions

  • Transition to remote learning

    When will fully remote learning begin at Calvin during the Fall 2020 semester?  

    Beginning on Wednesday, November 18, we are accelerating our pivot to remote-only learning for the remainder of the fall semester. This represents a slight shift from our original plans to start remote learning after Thanksgiving. By Wednesday, November 18, all Calvin classes will be fully online as per the recent epidemic order from the state of Michigan. Faculty have been given the option to switch to remote learning immediately, so students should check their email before attending in-person classes before Wednesday, November 18. If students have any questions about individual courses, they should speak with their professor about their options. Students involved in laboratory courses, student teaching, other externships, and music ensembles will be given additional instruction in the coming few days. 

    What happened that made this switch to remote learning come sooner than planned? 

    On Sunday, November 15, 2020, Calvin was notified that key state agencies were announcing new statewide restrictions to combat COVID-19. Those restrictions were part of a three-week Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic order that, among other things, mandated that "colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes." Given this notice, the increase in cases in the local community and at Calvin, and the burdens facing our local health care system, Calvin decided to accelerate plans to move to remote instruction and adapt our on-campus operations.  

    Is the campus shutting down completely on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, because of the state order requiring all higher education to go fully remote? 

    No. We will remain open even as we transition a week earlier than planned to fully remote instruction.  Academics, student services, and university functions will continue to operate virtually. In addition, we had already planned to accommodate on-campus housing and dining services for around 200 students who requested and were approved for on-campus living between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As the campus moves to fully remote learning about a week earlier than originally planned, we will continue to adjust our plans to care well for all students.  
     
    Will faculty continue to have access to buildings and classrooms to conduct their remote courses? 

    Yes. If necessary, faculty will be allowed to come to campus to conduct their remote courses. These faculty members will be considered part of the employee group that has essential on-campus job functions. Any faculty member reporting to campus must continue to complete the daily #CampusClear app and should not report to campus if they have COVID-like symptoms.   

    Will students have access to academic buildings, particularly those who need specialized equipment to complete their academic projects (for example, ceramics students who need access to a kiln, etc.)? 

    Yes, pre-approved students will maintain access to specialized learning spaces and should work with their professors to ensure the proper access 
     
    Will students be given the option to take their classes pass/fail? 

    No. In Spring 2020, due to the sudden nature of our shift to online instruction, students were given the opportunity to take several of their classes as pass/fail. Because faculty and students have had ample notice to prepare for the fact that the last weeks of their Fall 2020 semester courses would be done remotely, we will not be giving students the option of pass/fail classes. 

  • What happens if I report symptoms using #CampusClear?

    If you report one minor symptom during your daily health check, then you will get a quick email asking you to learn remotely for one day and to wait to see if the illness defines itself over the next 24 hours. If no symptoms are present after 24 hours, then you should continue to fill out the #CampusClear App honestly that next day, and you may return to class. Keep in mind that taking even one symptom seriously and practicing self-quarantine initially may help protect your friends from needing to quarantine down the road if your symptoms worsen or you later test positive for COVID-19.   

     
    If you have several symptoms or if you have any one of the following symptoms— fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, then Health Services will order a COVID-19 test for you that same day and ask you to stay in your residence until your results are back (most results are returned within 48-72 hours). This is also the typical amount of time it takes for someone to recover from an illness. So, the majority of students who get this FREE test are going back to class about the same time they would have returned to class after a normal illness. 
     
    If you test positive, the Kent County Health Department and/or the Calvin Contact Tracing Team will determine your length of isolation. Isolation is a minimum of 10 days from symptom onset. During this time in isolation, you will need to learn remotely and will have meals delivered to your residence if you live on campus. 

  • What happens if I’m isolated or quarantined? What’s the difference?

    Isolation and quarantine are public health practices with the same goal. At Calvin, isolation and quarantine measures are taken with the goal of preventing students, faculty, and staff from being exposed to members of the community who may have COVID-19. 
     
    So, a student will be asked to go into isolation if they test positive for COVID-19 In this scenario, students will be asked not to move about campus and to remain in their residence hall or off-campus residence for the period of time that they are contagious. Meals will be delivered to students in this situation AND they will need to learn remotely during this time. This is typically a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms (or if that date is unknown, then 10 or more days from when the test was administered). 
     
    A student will be asked to quarantine if the contact tracing process reveals that they are a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  People in this category have been exposed to a disease, but do not know if their exposure will lead to infection. During quarantine, which is 14 days from date of exposure as a close contact, students will have limited ability to move about campus (if showing no symptoms, they may be allowed to pick up their meals and bring them back to their room or go for walks and be outside) and will need to learn remotely until cleared to leave quarantine. 
     
    A student will be asked to self-isolate if they have symptoms and are waiting to find out if its COVID-19. In this scenario, students will be asked not to move about campus and to remain in their residence hall or off-campus residence for the period of time until a negative test result is returned. Meals will be delivered to students in this situation AND they will need to learn remotely during this time.

  • When will open house hours resume?

    Residence Life has been phasing in additional opportunities for students to safely connect with peers in residential spaces. On Friday, October 9, Calvin expanded current visitation rules to allow four people from the same residence hall WING (regardless of floor) to gather together in a room so long as they wear masks, maintain social distancing, avoid consuming food or drink, and keep the room windows and door open for ventilation. Continued phased-in plans will be rolling out in the coming weeks as conditions allow.

  • Who is allowed on-campus at this time?

    Faculty, staff, and students are allowed on campus at this time. They must have their Calvin ID clearly visible and will need their ID to enter buildings on campus. Faculty, staff, and students may also be asked to show their “ALL CLEAR” on their #CampusClear App to access classroom spaces, dining halls, and other areas on campus. 
     
    At this time, visitors are not allowed to come to campus. If someone who is not a student, faculty, or staff member needs to access campus, prior approval must be given. See the current visitor policy for more clarification on the process for seeking approval for visitors and what protocols visitors must adhere to prior to and during their time on campus. 

  • Will Calvin be doing random testing?

    The week of October 12, we expanded the pool of students from whom we will randomly select names to be screened. In addition to student athletes, we now are surveillance screening two additional categories of students: those who are engaged in community engagement work as part of a Calvin course (i.e.- internships, practicums, clinicals, student teaching, etc.) and students who live in on-campus housing.

    Every Friday, we randomly select up to 15% of students in each of the categories for surveillance screening. The students selected are expected to complete a screening test the following week. The selection of people for surveillance testing is completely random, which means some students may be selected more than once or not at all, but all students whose names are randomly selected are expected to comply – even if two weeks in a row. If a student is randomly selected three weeks in a row, they are exempt from testing the third week. Students who have questions or concerns can contact covidsurveillancetesting@calvin.edu.

  • Can Groups Have Meals Together on Campus Outside of Designated Eating Areas?

    Eating together is a beautiful way to connect and build relationships, and in a time of COVID-19, the restrictions on communal meals are a particular point of pain. We recognize the tensions around this issue and are constantly looking at our approach to meals in light of the latest science and evidence. Here is our latest thinking on the issue as it pertains to meals that are not within designated eating areas such as the dining halls:

    • Groups of 10 people or fewer can meet and eat a meal together (while stationary and distanced)
    • The meal should happen at the beginning of the meeting
    • After the meal, everyone should put their masks back on to continue the meeting
    • Drinks with straws can be consumed throughout the meeting (with the straw slipped under the mask)

    Unfortunately, at this time, groups of more than 10 should not share a meal together. As always, this current restriction will be reassessed when and if the spread of the virus subsides. In the meantime, options for groups of more than 10 include:

    • The group could eat a pre-packaged snack together (which should be consumed at the beginning of the meeting while stationary and distanced)
    • Pre-packaged snacks can be offered to participants as they leave the meeting
    • After eating, everyone should put their masks back on to continue the meeting
    • Drinks with straws can be consumed throughout the meeting (with the straw slipped under the mask)
  • How Do I Get a Flu Shot On Campus?

    For the remainder of 2020, Health Services is not holding any more flu clinics in the office. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to call the office at 616-526-6187 to schedule an appointment to receive a flu vaccine, but the Eventbrite sign-up is no longer applicable.

Complete Safe Return FAQ

General Health and Safety Information

  • Basic Information About COVID-19?

    What do I need to know about COVID-19?
    For questions related to symptoms of COVID-19, how the disease is transmitted, and the best preventative measures you can take, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

    What’s the best way to contain the spread of COVID-19?
    The best ways continue to be wearing masks, observing social distancing, and washing our hands. But screening tests and quicker turnaround on getting test results are also very important. If students are symptomatic or are considered close contacts, we quickly isolate or quarantine. We do this so that we can quickly contain any potential spread. When test results come back, if the result is positive, then we have limited the amount of additional people who will need to go into quarantine simply by limiting contact early on. We’ve seen this approach prove effective thus far in helping us contain and avoid mass outbreaks. This approach will continue to help us, but it requires our community to provide good information by faithfully filling out the #CampusClear App daily.

  • COVID Cases in the Calvin Community

    Where can I find information about COVID cases in the Calvin community?
    The COVID-19 Dashboard provides a regularly-updated overview of the state of COVID cases in the Calvin community.

    Will the dashboard be updated to reflect how many students are in isolation/ quarantine?
    Yes. We have data about the number of students currently in quarantine or isolation, and we hope to incorporate this information into the dashboard soon. Whenever more data is publicly introduced, there is the possibility of confusion, so we are working hard to ensure that we can include this information in a way that is transparent and clearly understood. Stay tuned.

    Will the dashboard include people who have been hospitalized?
    We are not aware of any students who have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 this fall semester. For this, we are grateful! If this number is or remains quite small, then it is unlikely this information will appear on the dashboard as reporting this information may compromise our ability to maintain confidentiality.

  • Campus Health Protocols

    Are students, faculty, and guests free to come to campus?
    Before anyone can come to campus, they must be cleared to do so by the #CampusClear app. This involves a daily health assessment check-in. Learn more about #CampusClear. (Note: We have limited visitor-access to campus at this time. See the visitor policy for details.)

    What happens if I report symptoms using #CampusClear?
    If you report one minor symptom during your daily health check, then you will get a quick email asking you to learn remotely for one day and to wait to see if the illness defines itself over the next 24 hours. If no symptoms are present after 24 hours, then you should continue to fill out the #CampusClear App honestly that next day, and you may return to class. Keep in mind that taking even one symptom seriously and practicing self-quarantine initially may help protect your friends from needing to quarantine down the road if your symptoms worsen or you later test positive for COVID-19.

    If you have several symptoms or if you have any one of the following symptoms— fever, shortness of breath, cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, then Health Services will order a COVID-19 test for you that same day and ask you to stay in your residence until your results are back (most results are returned within 48-72 hours). This is also the typical amount of time it takes for someone to recover from an illness. So, the majority of students who get this FREE test are going back to class about the same time they would have returned to class after a normal illness.

    If you test positive, the Kent County Health Department and/or the Calvin Contact Tracing Team will determine your length of isolation. Isolation is a minimum of 10 days from symptom onset. During this time in isolation, you will need to learn remotely and will have meals delivered to your residence if you live on campus.

    How does contact tracing work?
    If you report being a close contact on the #CampusClear App or through the COVID reporting form, a member of the Calvin Contact Tracing Team will reach out to you either by phone or e-mail to get more information unless you were already identified and contacted as a close contact by our team. We will help you determine if you meet the definition of a close contact by asking you a little bit more about when and how you interacted with a person who tested positive for COVID.

    The contact tracing process is where we learn more about the spread of illness and attempt to contain it to prevent further spread. In order to do this, we conduct extensive interviews with those who test positive for COVID to learn about the severity of the illness, risk factors, potential exposure points, and people and places they may have come in close contact with during their infectious period. We describe the isolation process and provide guidance on isolating well. We then follow-up with all those who are identified as a close contact. Close contacts are placed into quarantine and monitored through their quarantine period. The contact tracing team at Calvin University works in coordination with the Kent County Health Department and collects information for the Michigan Disease Surveillance System.

    What happens if I’m isolated or quarantined? What’s the difference?
    Isolation and quarantine are public health practices with the same goal. At Calvin, isolation and quarantine measures are taken with the goal of preventing students, faculty, and staff from being exposed to members of the community who may have COVID-19.

    So, a student will be asked to go into isolation if they test positive for COVID-19. In this scenario, students will be asked not to move about campus and to remain in their residence hall or off-campus residence for the period of time that they are contagious. Meals will be delivered to students in this situation AND they will need to learn remotely during this time. This is typically a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms (or if that date is unknown, then 10 or more days from when the test was administered).

    A student will be asked to quarantine if the contact tracing process reveals that they are a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. People in this category have been exposed to a disease, but do not know if their exposure will lead to infection. During quarantine, which is 14 days from date of exposure as a close contact, students will have limited ability to move about campus (if showing no symptoms, they may be allowed to pick up their meals and bring them back to their room or go for walks and be outside) and will need to learn remotely until cleared to leave quarantine.

    A student will be asked to self-isolate if they have symptoms and are waiting to find out if its COVID-19. In this scenario, students will be asked not to move about campus and to remain in their residence hall or off-campus residence for the period of time until a negative test result is returned. Meals will be delivered to students in this situation AND they will need to learn remotely during this time.

    What am I allowed to do indoors and outdoors?
    Students are allowed to take in-person classes, study in various places around campus, and use fitness facilities following the stated protocols for each space. There may also be some student organization meetings that occur indoors, in properly sized rooms. In general, indoor public spaces require the wearing of a mask and the maintaining of six feet of distance between each person.

    Students are also able to enjoy various outdoor activities, everything from sand volleyball to yard games, from walking in the 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve to hammocking. Check out the specific health and safety protocols for many of these activities, here.

    Who is allowed on-campus at this time?
    Faculty, staff, and students are allowed on campus at this time. They must have their Calvin ID clearly visible and will need their ID to enter buildings on campus. Faculty, staff, and students may also be asked to show their “ALL CLEAR” on their #CampusClear App to access classroom spaces, dining halls, and other areas on campus.

    At this time, visitors are not allowed to come to campus. If someone who is not a student, faculty, or staff member needs to access campus, prior approval must be given. See the current visitor policy for more clarification on the process for seeking approval for visitors and what protocols visitors must adhere to prior to and during their time on campus.

    Are face masks be required on campus?
    Yes, Calvin University requires faculty, staff, students, and visitors to campus to use face masks in public spaces. This includes dorm lobbies, classrooms, dining halls, hallways, and other indoor spaces on campus. Masks will also be required in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible. This is consistent with the state of Michigan’s current requirements and recommendations.

    Calvin University initially provided each student, faculty, and staff member with one face mask. We recommend that members of our Calvin community acquire a few additional masks to supplement what the university is providing.

    Learn more about why masks are considered a top prevention measure to take in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

    How do I address non-compliance among my peers?
    We’ve found that the best way to address non-compliance is to say something in the moment, when you notice it. We encourage you to address your peers in a way that is non-judgmental, but rather serves as a friendly reminder. If you are in a situation where there are people in authority who can help address the concern, let someone know. If you are in a classroom, talk to your professor; if in a residence hall, notify your RA or Area Coordinator/Graduate Assistant; if on-campus, notify someone nearby or call Campus Safety. We are in this together, so please do your best to encourage safe behavior.

    Have students been punished for breaking COVID-19 protocols?
    Yes, students have been held accountable when their behaviors do not align with safety protocols. We have responded to a number of reports of non-compliance, and we’re focused on reminding students that their actions impact the people around them as well as the broader Calvin community. For the most part, we’re impressed with the level of care and responsibility that students are demonstrating. When students fail to comply, disciplinary sanctions are assigned, and these sanctions become increasingly more severe with repeated offenses. While we don’t enjoy the burden of enforcing policy day in and day out, we also recognize that compliance with health and safety protocols is the best way to ensure that we are able to continue in-person classes.

    What are the recommendations for off-campus travel?
    The recommendation is for students to not leave campus unless for essential reasons. If a student needs to leave campus for example to get groceries or for an off-campus job, they are asked to abide by the same standards that Calvin requires for on-campus living and to abide by the state’s guidelines. Students are strongly discouraged from visiting other campuses or attending gatherings that are outside of the State of Michigan’s guidelines.

    Are face shields an acceptable alternative to face masks?
    No, shields are not a replacement for a mask. By themselves, they are not proven to be an acceptable option according to both the CDC and the Kent County Health Department. So, when should shields be worn? They should be worn in addition to a mask if you are working in closer proximity than six feet for a period of time (a lab would be an example of a space where this may be appropriate). Note: If you want your students to see your mouth as you talk, then a clear mask is your best possibility. Ask Jennifer Ambrose in Environmental Health and Safety if you would like a clear mask.

    Are gaiters as effective as cloth face coverings?
    Our Environmental Health and Safety team has spent a fair amount of time researching this question. What we’ve learned is that the effectiveness of a face covering is not determined so much by the type of face covering as it is by the composition and fit. Please evaluate your face covering to make sure it is two-ply and meets the CDC standards. All students should have received an effective face mask from Calvin University when they returned to campus this fall. Those who have not yet picked up their mask are invited to visit the Student Life Office to do so.

    Note: Calvin University requires all faculty, staff, students, and approved visitors to campus to use face masks in public spaces. Masks are also required in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.

    How does social distancing work?
    We recommend that each person maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves and others as often as they can. We are working hard to make this possible in all classroom and common areas. We also advise that everyone maintain proper social distancing while passing through common areas. Congregating indoors within 6 feet is not permitted outside designated class settings. Please note that wearing a mask and social distancing are not either/or propositions—both practices work together to limit the transmission of COVID-19.

    Is it necessary to maintain six feet of social distance from others everywhere on campus?
    We want to keep everyone at six feet wherever possible, but face shields (that go over your mask) are available if people need to spend time working within six feet for a period of time. This should only be used in spaces where distancing is not possible and with the knowledge that anyone within six feet for more than 10 minutes will be considered a close contact.

    Are Calvin students tested for COVID-19?
    Yes, incoming Calvin students received a COVID-19 screening upon arrival at campus. See the COVID-19 Testing section below for details.

    Will Calvin encourage the use of contact tracing apps?
    We are exploring the possibility of an app that could help with both personal symptom tracking and contract tracing. We’re encouraged by the possibilities that we’re pursuing. More information about this is coming soon.

    Will students be tested if they leave campus for an off-campus job, or for a short-term excursion (such as a trip to a restaurant or movie theater)?
    Students are not expected to get tested when returning from short-term excursions. However, we expect students to engage in recommended safe behaviors both on and off-campus. This includes avoiding crowded private and public events that do not comply with public health recommendations. If a student receives notification that they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, they must report this to Calvin’s Covid Response Team and comply with quarantine expectations. For more information about COVID-19 testing at Calvin, see the COVID-19 Testing section below.

    Are there measures in place specifically for immunocompromised students? How does Calvin include immunocompromised students in student life and the learning environment?
    Students who are immunocompromised and have special needs are encouraged to work with Calvin’s Center for Student Success, which often partners with students to make sure that they have the accommodations they need.

    For students who are worried about being in a classroom space, the Center for Student Success will work with you to accommodate your needs. Questions and concerns about student housing can be sent to housing@calvin.edu. Calvin offers many avenues and methods of supporting immunocompromised students, including remote learning that is still synchronous, and we’re eager for you to reach out.

  • Classroom safety protocols

    How are classrooms and desks be kept clean?
    While the building services team go through each evening and do a deep cleaning of each classroom, it is the responsibility of the professor to figure out how the space is disinfected before their class begins. Some professors have decided to make it a shared responsibility, where students take turns and sign up for a day to disinfect the desks before the class.

    What happens if somebody arrives at class without a face mask?
    Professors may have a limited supply of these in departmental offices in case a student forgets one on a given day (bags of disposable masks can be picked up at Physical Plant). While students shouldn’t be able to enter a building without a mask, if they do enter a building without a mask we want to make sure they have access to a disposable mask before entering class. If you notice a pattern where a student continues to need a disposable mask, please ask how you can help them perhaps get access to a more permanent solution.

    Can students remove their masks if the class meets outside?
    It depends. If you have a larger class size (25+), we would recommend that professors and students keep masks on. In smaller class (fewer than 25 students), it may be possible to remove masks outdoors, as long as the group is not near spaces that have high traffic or near popular spaces on campus where people tend to gather. The biggest concern is congestion and the ability to keep six feet of distance at all times. This is harder to control in larger groups or when you are near spaces that have regular traffic flow.

    Should classroom doors be kept open during class?
    Yes; when possible, keep classroom doors open. We also suggest that keeping windows open if the classroom space (and weather) allows for this. The more airflow, the better.

    What if a classroom runs out of cleaning materials?
    Contact the facilities team for assistance.

    I’m a faculty member and have other questions about keeping my classroom safe.
    If you have questions about what you can do to optimize the health and safety of your students and yourself in your specific classroom space, please reach out to Jennifer Ambrose in Environmental Health & Safety at jambrose@calvin.edu. She would be happy to find a time to meet with you in your classroom to talk through best practices for your space.

  • COVID-19 Testing

    How and when did Calvin test students and faculty for COVID-19?
    All students and employees were screened for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus in August. Helix Diagnostics, our partner in this effort, has worked with us to ensure a safe transition back to campus. The cost of the initial screening was covered by the university. Screening results were typically returned within 24 hours.

    Why did Calvin test students and faculty for COVID-19?
    Testing helped us identify anyone who needs to be isolated and well cared for. Anyone who needs to be isolated is accommodated and able to thrive while also protecting the rest of Calvin’s community from increased risk of infection.

    Is there a way to get test results back faster?
    While we continue to receive test results back, on average, within 48 hours from our partners at Helix Diagnostics and Spectrum Health, we are eager to increase our capacity for even more rapid turnaround of results. Our Health Services team plans to receive two types of rapid analyzers for limited on-campus diagnostic testing. These units and the necessary supplies have been backordered due to national demand, but we are eager to receive them when available.

    Will Calvin be doing random testing?
    Yes. We are working on ongoing surveillance testing plans, and we will hope to have some clearer plans in the coming weeks. Athletes are already being randomly tested weekly, due to the nature of their activity and potential travel, and we’re now figuring out who else it makes sense to screen in an ongoing way. The prevalence of asymptomatic carriers is quite low, so our best bet is still symptomology—and that’s why filling out #CampusClear is so important in keeping our community safe. If we know who has symptoms, we can make decisions that best help to keep the community safe.

    Has Calvin considered wastewater testing?
    Calvin doesn’t see this as a solution that would help us detect new cases. Because students who have already had the virus can still test positive weeks and months later, the presence of viral markings in wastewater does not mean there is a new or active case. Additionally, Calvin’s sewage system is organized in such a way that makes it hard to isolate wastewater from specific buildings, making tracing in this way very difficult.

    Should a student report if they got tested for COVID-19 outside of Calvin?
    Yes. We are asking students to do this, especially because our ability to do contact-tracing (which includes supporting close contacts) depends on our knowledge of positive cases. By handling contact-tracing ourselves, we are able to follow up, track, and provide the resources students need. When a student realizes all the support that they get from Calvin, they will see the benefit of sharing this information with the university. Note: students are highly encouraged to get tested through Calvin’s Health Services, since the results are typically received much faster and there’s no out-of-pocket cost to the student.

    What’s the plan if the residence hall being used for isolation/quarantine fills up?
    Fortunately, we weren’t maximizing our COVID-19 related housing capacity in RVD even when we had our peak number of cases in mid-September. But, if we needed to use other spaces for quarantine or isolation, we do have a number of empty suites in other residence halls that are open and could be used if needed. We also have the ability to house students at Prince Conference Center on campus should the need arise. Similarly, we have the ability to partner with local hotels for additional housing.

    How will future COVID-19 tests be handled?
    Helix provided all of our initial screening tests for all students and employees, and provides them for organizational groups like athletic teams as necessary. If students experience symptoms and Calvin health providers recommend diagnostic testing, students will first be urged to seek testing through local testing sites such as Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health.

  • In the Event of a COVID-19 Case on Campus

    Is Calvin equipped to respond to a COVID-19 case on campus? What would Calvin’s response look like?
    Members of our health maintenance team, which include specialists in public health, a medical doctor, and environmental health, and safety team members, have been training with the local county health department and participating as volunteers in contact tracing in our community. They know how to respond to a COVID-19 case, and how to determine who else might be at risk of contagion. We maintain close ties to our county health department, which equips us to call on their services in the event that it becomes necessary.

    In the event that somebody on campus contracted COVID-19, the response would include the isolation of the affected individual and a quarantine process for anyone who may have been exposed. It would include testing and an observation period, with the goal of returning people to their normal routines once it is safe to do so. The exact process would depend on the details of the situation, but Calvin is equipped with contingency plans for any such event.

    We don’t assume that nobody on campus will be exposed to COVID-19. We’ve focused our efforts on responding effectively if and when it happens. We have good systems and protocols in place that enable us to respond well. Calvin’s planning has been praised by both the local health department and the governor’s office for taking a systemic approach to the safety and wellbeing for our campus community.

    If a student is isolated/quarantined, how are their meals provided?
    On-campus residents in isolation will have their meals delivered to them.

    If someone I have been in close contact with tests positive for COVID-19, how long do I need to quarantine?
    You will need to quarantine for 14 days from your last exposure to that individual. For example, if student A was in close contact with student B on Friday and then student A developed symptoms on Sunday and received a positive COVID-19 result on Tuesday, student B would be quarantined for 14 days from Friday.

    What happens if a student becomes sick and is unable to complete the term?
    We are expecting all faculty to be able to teach their classes with remote access for students who need it. (This means that students who are not sick, but are unable to come to class, should be able to keep up as well.)

    If a student is sick, we will follow the same procedure that we normally do for sick students--faculty will work with students as needed to help them catch up on their studies. This might take the form of extra time to do assignments or take a test. Sometimes it might mean a grade of “incomplete,” but we found in the Spring 2020 semester that most faculty and students were able to work out these differences in expectations and workload. So, please know that faculty will work closely with students in cases of illness to help them succeed.

    If there were to be a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, what would happen?
    We’re determined to preserve the learning experience for our students in the safest and healthiest way possible. We are deeply concerned about the health and safety and wellbeing of all students, faculty, and staff. We are committed to behaving responsibly with regards to the health and safety of the lives entrusted to us.

    If an outbreak occurs on campus, we are prepared to make the best public health judgment to ensure the health and safety of our community. The plans in place are intentionally flexible enough to adapt to any outbreak situation. We’re planning as though we’re expecting that infections will happen, so that we know what steps to take if and when they do happen.

    If Calvin had to transition to online-only classes, can students be confident they’ll continue receive a great learning experience?
    All of our courses are designed to move online if necessary. Faculty are already expected to shape their courses to accommodate those who need to join remotely; if we need to pivot fully to online learning, they will be well prepared for that transition. Faculty have been working on this over the summer (which is much more time than they had this spring, when they needed to change course quickly!).

    Faculty have undergone significant training and preparation to help them teach effectively in an online environment. Our faculty are learners also, and they are approaching this challenge with enthusiasm and commitment. We’ve also invested heavily in tools and technology to support both faculty and students in an online learning environment.

    We are confident that, in the event of a transition to online learning, students will experience the high-quality learning experience that they expect from Calvin.

Academics

  • Academic schedule

    Why did Calvin move forward with in-person learning in fall 2020?
    Calvin’s mission is to equip students to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal. As we prepared for students’ arrival, we thought long and hard about the best way to fulfill that mission in the context of current events. And we believe that Calvin’s mission is most effectively fulfilled in community on campus, face to face.

    Our goal is to be an institution that is most effectively prepared to fulfill its mission in person, in community, in the way that we promise. We do that with a deep commitment to health and safety. We’re not ignoring concerns about health and safety; on the contrary, we are confident that we are well-prepared to carry out our mission in a pandemic-shaped environment. We remain highly engaged with Michigan decision-makers at the county level (in fact, the Kent County Health Department has commended Calvin as the most prepared institution in the county). We are training volunteers in contact tracing and other skills that will equip us to manage our situation effectively. And students doing research and work on campus throughout summer 2020 demonstrated that they can engage in community while adhering to strict health and safety practices.

    For these reasons, we decided to fulfill our mission with our students in face-to-face community in the fall.

    What is Calvin’s plan for interim and spring semester?
    We are planning for interim and spring semester courses to occur in-person, on campus.

    What is the status of international off-campus programs in 2020-21?
    Due to COVID-19, the Off-Campus Programs office has made the difficult decision to cancel all international travel for both fall and spring semesters and for the January interim. The health and safety of our students is our top priority. Some international January interim programs are planning to move to May. Some programs have changed their program site to a domestic location. Please consult individual program leaders for more information.

    Students who have made a deposit but whose programs have been canceled will see a credit on their next statement.

    What is the status of domestic off-campus programs?
    Currently the Chicago Semester Program is continuing for the 2020-21 school year, and is still accepting applications. The Washington D.C. Semester will take place as planned during the spring semester.

  • Classes and learning

    How have classroom environments and class size been affected by health and safety policies?
    We’ve outfitted all classroom spaces for our student’s optimal safety, without compromising the educational experience or reducing class sizes. This involved strategies such as using larger learning spaces, assigned seats (to facilitate contact tracing, in the event of an illness), appropriate social distancing, and required masks for students and faculty.

    Can students participate in internships, social work practicums, student teaching, and similar experiences?
    We anticipate that most students will be able to do student teaching, and where possible, clinical hours, internships, and social work field education placements. The details of student teaching will depend on the policies of local K-12 schools. If clinical sites and internship locations allow our students to be present, studnets can participate in them. In cases where nursing clinical sites are not available to our students, we will use virtual simulation software instead.

    Are students able to audit courses?
    Yes, students may audit courses in normal fashion, for the usual audit fee.

    How will you meet the needs of students who may need to learn remotely for a period of time?
    While we expect the majority of student learning to happen in the classroom, Calvin professors also worked through a summer program to strengthen the quality of their online teaching. This means that any student who needs to participate online will have an experience that meets Calvin’s high standards for learning.

Campus Life

  • Residence Life

    What is the campus dining experience like?
    We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about diversifying the ways that students can get food on campus. We offer in-person dining options when permitted, but also take-out options. We’re hoping to provide mobile or online ordering, so that students can place an order and pick it up.

    We also have an emergency contingency plan in place if we need to move to a meal delivery system for a time due to state regulations. The dining services team is prepared to provide quality service to the students on campus.

    Are there indoor spaces for commuter students to eat on campus?
    Yes. Calvin has identified four areas that would be well-positioned locations for commuter students to eat. In consultation with the Kent County Health Department, we hope to confirm a plan to open these eating areas in the next couple of weeks. Once permitted to open, these indoor eating spaces will be available during set times, and staff will be wiping down tables regularly. Stay tuned for more information.

    Can I eat or drink during class?
    Consumption of food is not permitted during class. In addition, you may not remove your mask to eat or drink while in a classroom. If you need to drink water during class, we encourage you to use a water bottle that has a straw attached to it, so you can slip the straw under your mask to drink.

    Are masks required within our residence hall floor communities?
    Think of your floor as more of a public space, and your room as your private space. There is no requirement to wear a mask when you’re in your residence hall room. However, when in more public places—laundry rooms, residence hall lobbies and basements (which are often study nooks and communal gathering areas)—students must wear masks.

    When will open house hours resume?
    Residence Life has been phasing in additional opportunities for students to safely connect with peers in residential spaces. On Friday, October 9, Calvin expanded current visitation rules to allow four people from the same residence hall WING (regardless of floor) to gather together in a room so long as they wear masks, maintain social distancing, avoid consuming food or drink, and keep the room windows and door open for ventilation. Continued phased-in plans will be rolling out in the coming weeks as conditions allow.

    Why are there so few trash and recycling bins on campus?
    Because food waste has direct contact with individuals, it is considered a COVID-19 exposure risk. In addition, we have found that smaller trash receptacles around campus can only hold about 12 food waste containers at a time. For these reasons, Calvin has chosen to remove many of the smaller trash receptacles in common spaces on campus. The dumpsters on campus are much larger and do not require staff to physically touch the trash. We have appreciated that most students and staff/faculty are willing to walk a few extra steps to a dumpster in order to assist in keeping our facilities staff members safe. Calvin remains committed to sustainability, and we are eager to reinstitute our recycling program just as soon as it is safe to do so.

  • Campus Worship and Ministry

    What does chapel look like?
    We’re working out creative ways to provide formative worship experiences in the context of COVID-19. In addition to outside worship, we’re considering options for small group connections and virtual worship opportunities. A lot of these plans are contingent on local state and community health policies.

    Right now, Grand Rapids, Michigan restricts the number of people who can gather for indoor and outdoor events. If the trajectory of the rate of infection improves, we’ll be able to do more. But until that time, we’ll develop alternative ways to safely provide the chapel experience for our students. We will provide more specific details soon.

    Does Campus Ministries still offer pastoral care?
    Yes, pastors are available for conversations by appointment during usual office hours.

  • Office Operations and Accessibility

    Are all campus offices operating normally?
    There has been some necessary disruption to the normal operations of some offices across campus. When the absence of campus employees disrupts the normal hours or operations of a Calvin office, we will do everything we can to ensure that services and supports to students are maintained. Departments across campus are finding creative ways to engage students through virtual means (e.g., email, video conferencing, online workshops, etc.).

    Can students utilize career services remotely?
    Yes, students can still have coaching appointments (face to face, online, or via phone or email, as appropriate) with their Career Coach. Appointments can be scheduled through Handshake.The Career Center’s online resume tool, Optimal Resume, can be accessed using Calvin credentials at OptimalResume.com.

Finances and Financial Aid

  • Financial Aid

    How is my financial aid affected for the 2020-21 academic year?
    For both current and prospective domestic students, the Financial Aid staff will consider and evaluate known changes in family resources that are shared with us through this Special Circumstances Form. Evidential documentation is required in order to be considered. Prospective International students should email intladm@calvin.edu to describe their circumstances and request consideration. Current International students should review and submit the Returning International Application for Financial Aid Form to FinAid@calvin.edu. We highly recommend NOT submitting these requests and forms until later this summer (July or later) when job impacts and income estimates for the July 1 – June 30, 2021 academic year period are better known. The Financial Aid office will accept special circumstances requests throughout the upcoming academic year and evaluate adjustments to initial financial aid packages.

    What is the status of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) for students?
    Please see the latest report at the CARES Act website.

    How do I know if I received a CARES Act grant?
    You would have received a personal email notification from Calvin University the week of May 18 providing you the amount of your grant and instructions for receiving it.

    You will receive your grant within two weeks of providing direct deposit bank information to us, following the instructions you received in your grant email. This the most prompt, simple, and secure way to receive your grant. You will need your bank’s routing number and your account number. It is important that you are the primary or joint holder of the bank account. This grant cannot be sent to the bank account of a parent or other family member per government regulation. If you have questions or technical difficulties, please contact the Accounts Payable office at accountspayable@calvin.edu.

    Can I appeal for more CARES Act grant?
    No, these grants are final and are fully expended.

    Is the CARES Act grant taxable?
    The IRS has recently ruled that these grants are not includable in your gross income for tax purposes.

    I have graduated and need to complete federal loan exit counseling. How do I do that, how do I know who my loan servicer will be, and when will loan payments start?
    Please visit the Federal Student Aid loan information page. You will find links there to get answers to these questions and more.

    If I receive a check for an outside scholarship I was awarded, what should I do?
    If the check is made out to Calvin University, please mail it to the mailing address shown below. If the check is made out to you personally, please contact the sender and have them reissue the check made out to Calvin University and then send it to the mailing address shown below. All outside scholarships (non-Calvin) that a student is awarded should be reported to us through this link: Outside Scholarships.

    If I need to respond to the Financial Aid office with information to complete FAFSA verification, how do I do that?
    We will continue to send you reminders of the information that we need, so continue to check your Calvin and personal emails for instructions. You may mail, fax, or email the information using the contact information below.

    How do I contact the Financial Aid office?
    Financial aid staff continue to work regular business hours from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (EST), though many are currently working remotely to adhere to social distancing guidance and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to assisting you and appreciate your patience as we respond to the many questions we are receiving. Our goal is to return your message within 48 hours. Email is our preferred method of contact: FinAid@calvin.edu.

  • Student Employment

    What student employment opportunities are available this fall on campus?
    Many student employment opportunities are available on campus. Visit Handshake to learn about what options are available for students for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Facilities

  • Facilities Hours and Access

    When are Calvin buildings open?
    Details about hours and access to campus buildings during the fall 2020 can be found here: https://calvin.edu/directory/policies/academic-building-access

    Is the library open for study and research?
    The library is available, but library access is limited in certain ways to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. See the guidelines for library re-opening for hours and other access details.

    Are fitness facilities open?
    Beginning on Monday, Sept. 14, the Morren Fitness Center, Venema Aquatic Center, Hoogenboom Health & Recreation Center, and Huizenga Tennis & Track Center will all re-open (with restrictions). Please visit the Athletic Facilities website to learn more about hours of operation and what the required health and safety protocols are for each space.

  • Passcodes, ID Cards, and Building Access

    I’ve lost my Calvin ID card.
    Lost ID cards may be replaced at the Campus Safety Department front desk from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Monday–Friday).

    I’ve forgotten the passcode I use to enter buildings.
    If you’ve forgotten your passcode, visit Cherwell to reset it.

    I have a problem or a special request regarding building access.
    Card access issues and special requests can be addressed during regular business hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m.) by emailing safety@calvin.edu or calling 616-526-6452. The Dispatch Center is available 24/7 to handle phone calls, and Campus Safety officers will continue to be available 24/7 to respond to calls and emergencies.

Still have questions?

Please be sure to contact ResponseTeam@calvin.edu with any questions that you have that are not answered in this FAQ.

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