COVID-19 Update: Need to Know Newsletter, Issue 6

   COVID-19 Updates | Posted on May 4, 2020

May 4, 2020 | Issue 6

Good afternoon, Andrews University friends,

It’s wonderful to check in with you after a busy and amazing (and unusual) weekend with our graduates, family and friends as we celebrated from thousands of computers and live stream connections around the world, beginning Friday morning and going through late Sunday afternoon. As we shared previously—the circumstances of this weekend are far beyond what any of us might have expected just a few months ago.

We’d like to share some highlights of this weekend, plans for the summer months, and updates on Andrews University’s work guidelines, funding and food for students facing significant need. And, if you missed it yesterday, we want to make sure you are blessed with a brand new special music video from our Department of Music. It brought singers and musicians from everywhere to bless and inspire our Virtual Commencement services (and the world beyond).

  1. Report on Virtual Commencement & Celebration of Graduates services

If you missed this weekend’s programs, you can find archived videos of many of our Celebration of Graduates services on the Andrews Facebook page.

Even though we couldn’t all gather together in one space, literally thousands were able to take part online in a variety of programs throughout the weekend.

As we shared last week, our invitation still stands to the Class of 2020—December grads included. We’ll let you know when it’s possible to gather and celebrate together.

Here are some highlights of this weekend:

  • Friday morning: Campus & Student Life hosted an online undergraduate awards ceremony with more than 4,000 viewers and more than 200 comments/reactions.
  • Friday evening’s Cultural Stoles Celebration was watched by nearly 3,000.
  • More than 6,000 viewed the Seminary’s Virtual Commencement, with 59 shares and more than 500 comments and reactions.
  • 2,000+ watched the College of Education & International Services Commencement with more than 100 comments and reactions.
  • More than 3,500 watched the College of Health & Human Services Commencement, with more than 200 comments and reactions.
  • 1,700+ watched the College of Professions Commencement, with nearly 100 comments and reactions.
  • More than 4,400 watched the College of Arts & Sciences Commencement, with 350 comments and reactions.
  • Other programs during the weekend used Zoom and other online platforms, including a Zoom gathering Sunday afternoon after graduation by AUSA for undergraduate students. You can find the complete listing, including upcoming programs for nurses and teachers here.
  • You can also find a digital version of this year’s Virtual Commencement & Celebration of Graduates program here.
  1. New “State of Emergency” guidelines for Michigan (and cloth face mask details)

The State of Michigan’s most recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Executive Order remains in effect through May 15. Additionally, late last week Governor Whitmer extended a State of Emergency Order that is now in place through May 28 at 11:59 p.m. The new State of Emergency Order does not modify the “Stay Home. Stay Safe.” Executive Order currently in effect through May 15.

As we shared last week, current State of Michigan guidelines require individuals to wear a cloth face mask when in enclosed public spaces (like grocery stores). Additionally, employers are required to provide cloth masks to their essential employees. Andrews University essential employees are encouraged to contact Campus Safety if they do not have their own cloth face mask.

As cloth face masks are required for essential workers, Human Resources has posted new guidelines on the proper use of these face masks on the “Working Remotely” page within the website.

Thank you for continuing to fully honor these restrictions. It gives each one of us a personal responsibility and opportunity to slow the spread of COVID-19, including in our own Andrews University community.

  1. Emergency financial funding distributed to qualified students

Last week, qualified student applicants received emergency funding.

The recently voted U.S. Government Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included stimulus funds for students who are U.S. citizens or residents and who are eligible to complete a FAFSA application for federal student aid.

Altogether, more than 200 U.S. students qualified to receive funding from the CARES stimulus funding, and more than $200,000 has been distributed so far.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act does not allow international students to receive funding from this stimulus package.Through the generous gifts from friends of Andrews University the Student Life COVID-19 Emergency Fund was established. So far, more than 200 qualified international students have received a modest grant from the amount of funds that have already been received by the University.

We appreciate all who have given (or are planning to give) to this Emergency Fund, which will help our international students and their families as they face the realities of lost employment and growing expenses in the current environment. 

Help is still needed for these students (see the item below, as well); you can make a donation to this Emergency Fund here.

  1. Bon Appétit/Dining Services (and friends): sharing boxes of fresh food

As we’ve reported in earlier issues of Need To Know, Chef Linda Brinegar has developed a new program where interested individuals are given the opportunity to sponsor a $20 box of fresh fruit (with strawberries, pineapple, grapes, oranges, lemons and more) and/or a $30 box of fresh vegetables (celery, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, potatoes and more) for families in need. After last week’s appeal in the Need to Know newsletter, Chef Linda received enough funds to deliver both fresh fruit and fresh vegetable boxes to 13 student families. Here’s a note we just received from Chef Linda this Monday morning: “I happened to be in the van when one of my team delivered the boxes to the family they were assigned. The father ran out of the apartment and was so excited he began to jump up and down! There was such rejoicing and tears! I will never forget it as long as I live.”

One initial generous donation will allow us to share boxes next week as well with those families, and then additional funding will be needed to share with our families in need.

Incidentally, there were three friends who offered to “adopt” three different student families throughout the summer and are shopping to help care for specific ongoing needs in those families (such as diapers).

If you’re interested in joining in those efforts, please send an email to Chef Linda, and she’ll share further details about how you can help with this outreach.

  1. Summer details and new school year plans

As we’ve shared in earlier Need to Know newsletters, there will be no in-person meetings, events or activities on the Andrews University campus during the summer months.

With this weekend’s Celebration of Graduates concluded, Andrews University is turning to its Spend Your Summer programs, some—like May Express—begin today. You can find complete details on the summer’s programs here.

We will also begin planning this week for the details related to the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year, and fall semester in particular.

That planning will focus on the goal of beginning a phased return to in-person education this August but will also fully take into account current and developing health guidelines and best practices as the pandemic continues to threaten our country and world.

We will announce further specific details and plans within the next four to six weeks, including sharing those details directly with our new and returning students.

  1. Caring for those affected by COVID-19 in our extended Andrews community.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our world, country, state and community, we will continue to work closely with and follow guidelines from the Berrien County Health Department, Spectrum Health Lakeland and the State of Michigan, as well as guidance from national and international health experts.

We do have an exciting update on the journey of our friend Dr. Lowell Hamel who had been hospitalized due to his COVID-19 infection. His hospitalization in Grand Rapids included the use of convalescent plasma therapy, and in an exciting answer to our prayers, and excellent care and wisdom from frontline healthcare workers, we were happy to share a picture of Dr. Lowell Hamel standing in front of the Apple Valley sign last week (which featured a message welcoming him home for his continued recovery). If you haven’t seen that picture, and want to read more about this incredible development, visit the Andrews University Facebook page.

As we’ve shared before, please let Andrews know if you are part of our community and you have tested positive for COVID-19. We want to be there for you and your peers/colleagues.


One of Our Favorite Comments About the Emergency Student Fund

“What the committee may have thought was a small fraction of what you probably would have liked to have given...for me and my family this was monumental! and I will ever be grateful… Thank you so much for allowing our family another month of shelter, food and utilities....”

Quote from one of the letters received by Campus & Student Life after grants from the Student Life COVID-19 Emergency Fund had been disbursed to students (and student families)

We want to again congratulate our Class of 2020 (and their family and friends who supported them), all of our students and the employees here at Andrews University who have successfully committed to the unusual and often challenging circumstances of this “pandemic” semester.

Each one of you has our thanks—and, significantly, our ongoing prayers.

The realities of our transformed world, and the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to influence our journeys as we continue into a summer of remote learning and connecting.

And, it’s with hope and careful strategy that we are continuing to explore how to prepare for a new school year and—if it is safe and appropriate—to begin gathering together as a University community here in Berrien Springs, a place where World Changers for a changing world gather together to learn, be inspired and prepare for that calling.

PLEASE NOTE: We’ll now be sharing these updates twice a month during the summer. We’re grateful for the ongoing chance to let you know about information and details that are relevant to our ongoing, shared and complex journey in this changing world.

Andrea Luxton

Christon Arthur