COVID-19 Update: Need to Know Newsletter, Issue 1
March 30, 2020 | Issue 1
Good afternoon, Andrews community,
Our University and our world continue on a new and profoundly different journey as we seek to understand, react and respond to the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its heartbreaking impact on families, communities, countries and the world. The changes inspired by these risks and realities seem to literally and profoundly change day by day, if not hour by hour.
As a result, we’re introducing this newsletter for our Andrews University community as a quick and simple weekly overview of the latest, most relevant information about the impact of COVID-19 on our University.
Remote learning/teaching began today.
This Monday morning the main campus of our University turned to remote learning and teaching for all students (our online students are already old pros at this way of learning). There are resources online to support our students and faculty who are new to remote learning and teaching.
The Andrews Speaks podcast has been relaunched.
Our Andrews University colleague Jeff Boyd has just relaunched the Andrews Speaks podcast with a special 15-episode season, “Pressing Together (Remotely),” for Andrews University’s COVID-19 pandemic impacted journey. You can listen, watch and subscribe on SoundCloud.
Courses will continue to be offered remotely through August 1, 2020.
As we continue to pursue an educational journey that is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrews University will continue its remote learning model through the summer semester. Study tours, conferences and face-to-face meetings planned for this summer have also been canceled. Additionally, May Express will now be offered through a remote learning option, with further details available shortly.
University formally considers Pass/No Credit system proposals.
The University administration was considering a pass/no credit grading option because of the disruption caused by COVID-19. At the same time, a student petition asked the University to consider a pass/no credit option in light of the COVID-19 impact on the final weeks of the school year. The proposal reflects similar options being introduced at universities across the United States. A number of campus groups, including the Faculty Senate, are reviewing the proposal, and a final decision will be made this Wednesday, April 1.
There are no new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Andrews community; all original cases have recovered and been cleared.
The three individuals in our campus community who tested positive for COVID-19 are doing well. Additionally, nearly all those who had been quarantined due to their direct connection with those three individuals are now out of quarantine. In addition, none of those secondary contacts have been diagnosed as positive with COVID-19, which is excellent news.
We continue to encourage each one of you, whether you’re on or near our main campus here in Southwest Michigan or now living and studying at your current home/residence, to be sure to carefully take all the right steps to protect yourself and to reduce and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our own commitment to these personal steps is a key part of any institutional, state or national efforts.
The United States $2 trillion stimulus package will have a direct impact on the Andrews University community.
The recently voted and signed legislation by the House, Senate and President Trump will temporarily reduce federal student loan interest rates to 0 percent and suspend payments for six months. You can read more here.
Direct stimulus payments to U.S. taxpayers are also part of this Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act and related State of Michigan actions also expand the amount and duration of unemployment benefits for those who are placed on temporary unpaid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
In addition, Andrews University will directly receive stimulus funding of around $1.2 million. Half of this is to support students (in areas such as rent and food) and the other to offset operational institutional costs. This will start to bridge the revenue-expense gap resulting from this crisis.
Made to Matter: Chaplain José, Campus Ministries and Campus & Student Life focus on faith and community, even when we’re apart.
Late last week, Chaplain José Bourget shared a “Made to Matter” faith engagement update with the campus community. The theme to this semester’s studies will be from the book of James, “The Disruption: Finding Joy in the Unknown.” Last Friday night’s vespers was streamed online on the Andrews University Facebook account. As of today, that online vespers service had reached over 6,000 people.
Andrews University maintains an existing and ongoing commitment to collaborate with Berrien County Health Department and Spectrum Health Lakeland to help respond and care for rapidly growing COVID-19 needs in our community.
As we think of our own Andrews University community, we are reminded that our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, can be found everywhere in a time of need. Our Office of Campus Safety was already actively participating with the Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) and related county emergency planning.
We are further identifying concrete ways in which our University, given its human and physical campus resources, can work collaboratively with the BCHD and Spectrum Health Lakeland as they seek to care for our neighbors in Southwest Michigan during this dramatic time of need.
Updates will continue to be posted at andrews.edu/go/covid19 and questions can be asked at email@example.com.
We’ll continue to use our COVID-19 website to share an expanding set of relevant resource tools for learning, teaching and/or working remotely, student resources, key information and ongoing updates. Also, there is now a central email address related to COVID-19 questions or concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org. That email address is monitored by Campus Safety and Campus & Student Life, and those individuals will work to answer (or find answers for) the questions and concerns raised.
Your ongoing prayers for our campus and our world are essential for strength, encouragement and vision as Andrews University moves forward in a world complicated by the spread of this COVID-19 pandemic.
Those prayers remind us that we are a community—even though we’re physically scattered around the world right now—and that God is a central force for inspiration and perspective in this new and unexpected journey.