COVID-19 Update: Need to Know Newsletter, Issue 7
May 18, 2020 | Issue 7
Good afternoon, Andrews University friends,
Last week was a significant week for Andrews University as we announced our intention to reopen Andrews University for face-to-face and in-person education this August. We also shared updates on our plans for summer graduation (as with spring graduation, our plans will include a virtual commencement as part of our Celebration of Graduates).
You can read more about those and other updates below.
Also, here in the State of Michigan, we continue to be part of “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” guidelines, that remain in effect through May 28, 2020. In the final days of this “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Executive Order, and in the weeks and months ahead, we pray and are thankful for God’s guidance and strength as we continue to pursue this important and challenging journey, including our hope to begin carefully gathering together once again as a physical community.
Best of all, as we begin these careful and hope-filled pivots to the future, it’s been amazing to see the shape and potential of our future emerge, even amidst challenging times.
That includes the opportunity we’ve had within the last week to virtually welcome more than 100 students—literally from everywhere in the world—who enrolled in our online Summer Physics intensive. We also got the exciting news that our Enactus team, from our School of Business Administration in the College of Professions, just placed first place in their league.
Plan announced to re-open the University for in-person education this August
Last week, Andrews University announced its plan to reopen for in-person and face-to-face instruction in August.
The current plans are to start the fall semester of classes on August 24, 2020. Final exams will be scheduled from Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, through Tuesday, Nov. 24.
We believe we have a strong plan in place to mitigate risk, based on Michigan’s MI Safe Start Plan put out recently by the Michigan Governor’s Office, that articulates the steps for reopening the state, including colleges and universities like Andrews University.
Our plans are also committed to focusing on safety for all of our community, including our students and employees. However, we will be flexible, creative and responsive to any changing situation and, if needed, will make additional changes to help assure the safety of our students, employees and community.
Decision on August virtual commencement
Over recent weeks we have been watching the development of COVID-19 in Michigan in the hope that we would be able to move back to a face-to-face graduation for our summer 2020 graduates in August. Unfortunately, we have to now conclude that an in-person Celebration of Graduates will not be possible, and we will instead celebrate summer graduation remotely the weekend of July 31–August 2, 2020.
We promise our Andrews University family, and our summer graduates, that we will do all we can (as we did in spring) to make this a remote celebration to remember and to provide events representative of the high value we place on each of our graduates.
More information will follow in the next few weeks, and specific graduation details will be posted on our andrews.edu/graduation site by June 15, 2020.
Andrews University lights 500 luminaries to honor frontline healthcare workers in southwest Michigan and around the world.
Last Tuesday evening, a team of 20 of our dedicated Andrews University friends (as president and provost, we were honored to work alongside these Andrews volunteers and their family members), helped light 500 luminaries to help honor frontline workers and caregivers at Spectrum Health Lakeland, and throughout our world, who sacrifice to serve and care for those threatened and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of prayers and inadequate thanks accompany these 500 candles that illuminated our entrance last week (thanks to Richard Parke & Gaddiel Zelaya Martinez of Pioneer Memorial Church, you can see a video of those efforts here; a selection of photos from our very own David Sherwin is available here; and you can also find a gallery of photos by area photographer Joshua Nowicki here).
Once again, significant thanks to these frontline workers in our local health care system, and to their colleagues around the world, who offer passionate and urgently needed care in response to this pandemic. All of you have our gratitude...you have our prayers...and our world is protected and changed for the better because of you.
State of Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Executive Order in place through May 28; new free emotional support services offered
The State of Michigan’s most recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” Executive Order remains in effect through May 28.
The State of Michigan has also introduced a COVID-19 hotline for its Stay Well counseling services, which offer free and confidential emotional support counseling. Michigan Stay Well counselors are available any time, day or night, by dialing the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 and pressing 8 when prompted. Language translation is available for non-English speakers.
Here on campus, our Counseling & Testing Center also offers an array of online resources for employees and students to help all of us take care of our emotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we shared earlier, current State of Michigan guidelines continue to require that only essential employees report to work, social distancing guidelines be used if more than one person is in an office, and cloth face masks are required when you are in contact with other essential employees on the Andrews University campus.
If you’ve not reviewed them before, Human Resources has posted new guidelines on the proper use of these face masks on the “Work Remotely” page within the andrews.edu/go/covid19 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.
CARES Act funding reported
Last week, Andrews University shared a formal report on its distribution of CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) emergency funds to qualified student applicants. To qualify, a student needs to have studied on the Andrews University main campus in spring and must be a citizen or resident who is eligible for and completed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
The University intends to use at least 50 percent of those funds received from the U.S. government to provide emergency financial aid grants to students, as mandated by the Act. Andrews University has approximately 1,273 Title IV eligible students for the 2019–2020 school year.
The 50 percent portion designated for these grants totals $618,278.
As of May 12, 2020, $304,187.50 has been distributed to 317 students (enrolled in seated classes on the main campus when the University moved to remote learning on March 23, 2020), who had filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2019–2020 academic year and were Title IV eligible students.
Financial and food support still needed for our international students
As reported in this newsletter earlier, the CARES Act unfortunately does not allow international students to receive funding from this stimulus package. However, through generous gifts from friends of Andrews University, the Student Life COVID-19 Emergency Plan was established. So far, more than 250 qualified international students have received a grant of $600 from the amount of funds that have already been received by the University.
We are no longer accepting applications for this Emergency Fund.
Also, Chef Linda Brinegar and her Bon Appétit/Dining Services team have continued to help provide fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to more than a dozen international student families in our University Apartments who have ongoing needs for adequate food for their families.
She shared this report with us late last week:
“I have an additional 13 families that need help. I have managed to bring in food boxes for each of those families for this week...and I have already ordered and have enough money for food boxes for the original 13 families for one more week. Also, I have three families that will have broad support all summer through Level 1 sponsors and another two specific families that have Level 2 sponsors that will offer them a basic level of fresh food boxes throughout the summer, and am waiting for a $300 check from an out-of-town donor, which will help cover the costs of four sets of fruit and veggie boxes.”
If you’re interested in supporting these international student families as the summer continues, please send an email to Chef Linda Brinegar for full details and levels of financial support.
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 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’ve heard reports over the weekend from our friend, Dr. Loren Hamel, CEO of Spectrum Health Lakeland, which indicated that our corner of the state appears to have still not yet hit its peak in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
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 Online Comments About the Proposed Re-opening
“Andrews administration leaders care for their students’ and employees’ health. They have followed and are following the science. Hopefully, students will be able to return to fulfill their educational goals this fall. Thank you for all you are doing!!!”
Comment posted on a Facebook photo album of “Come Back Soon,”
“We Miss You” and “You Are Prayed For” signs held by Andrews employees
We are now turning to a challenging and hope-filled summer, with some hard work and careful planning ahead of us.
In the next few months, we’ll continue to use Zoom and related online collaborative tools to meet together. Those tools will be put to work for a significant purpose—the important and critical task of preparing carefully to re-open our campus, and welcome back our campus community this August.
All of those decisions—including how we study, worship, eat, work and more—will require reflection, prayer and strategic work in the days and weeks ahead. And our new Tuesday afternoon “Re-Open Planning Group” (its members include both of us, as well as Ben Panigot, Steve Nash, Chip Meekma, Darcy de Leon, Frances Faehner and Stephen Payne) will now meet regularly over the next several weeks.
Through the work of that campus group, and the support and inspiration of our employees and students and their families, we are ready and committed to respond to—and impact—a fast-changing world and a “new normal” reality for university communities.
As we shared earlier this summer, Andrews University is and must be prepared to lean in to and fully explore how our commitment to be World Changers reflects that reality—and inspires each one of us to move about, inspire and change our worlds in our own communities and around the globe.