Need to Know Newsletter: Special Reopening Issue

   Campus Announcements | Posted on June 10, 2020

June 10, 2020 | Special Issue: Reopening Plans

Greetings, Andrews University friends,

On Monday, June 8, our Andrews University Board of Trustees met for its June meeting, and we spent that meeting reviewing and discussing Andrews University’s plans to return to in-person education on our Berrien Springs campus. At the end of that meeting, our Framework for Reopening was recorded by our Board of Trustees as the plan for moving forward.

Now, we want to make sure you have a chance to hear those details and approaches from us directly.

So, this special issue of Need to Know is dedicated to an overview of our philosophy and some significant details from the six key areas of focus that will guide Andrews University and our community as we prepare to begin in-person instruction on August 24, 2020.

As president and provost, we shared three guiding principles to our philosophy and approach. Those three principles, Safety, Community and Inclusivity, are at the heart of our reopening framework and plans. We believe you’ll find them reflected throughout the six key areas of focus below.

We make those same three commitments to each one of you, our students, parents, staff and faculty, and to those who are part of our global Andrews University community, wherever you are.

Here are the six key components of our Framework for Reopening, with some key details on each.

  1. How we will test, monitor and mitigate
    As students, faculty and staff return to our campus in August, we will rely on a variety of approaches to assure that we keep each member of our campus community safe:

  • We will have initial testing of all individuals and will rely on a daily health monitoring system.
  • We will periodically and systematically test a rotating set of groups throughout our community.
  • We will have prepared a robust contact tracing system.
  • We will expect physical distancing to remain the norm.
  • We will ensure all students and employees have face coverings and will have guidelines for use.
  • We will ensure individuals who test positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive are quarantined for the recommended period.
  1. How we will study
    As we begin to study together as a University community, we will be taking a variety of steps to help ensure that the learning process, and available options, will reflect the needs of our students, faculty and staff while keeping them safe:
  • We will arrange classrooms and laboratories to ensure appropriate physical distancing is possible and use face coverings as much as is feasible.
  • We will encourage faculty and staff to exchange office visits with colleagues or students with virtual visits or visits in larger spaces.
  • We will make it possible to continue studies or teaching in a remote format when needed for faculty or students.
  • We will make all reasonable attempts to accommodate other unique teaching and learning needs of individuals that may result from COVID-19. Michael Nixon, our vice president for Diversity & Inclusion, will oversee this process to confirm and respond to documented teaching, working and learning needs as Andrews University reopens. He’ll be sending details on this program, and the formal process to request support, directly to our students, faculty and staff within the next few days.
  • We will develop classroom and shared study space etiquette to maintain clean and safe spaces.
  1. How we will connect
    We’ll also gather together as a community outside of class, through spiritual, social and physical activities, and will rely on these guidelines to assure a safe community:
  • We will ensure that the sizes of various groups meeting together reflect and support the current expectations outlined by the State of Michigan and Berrien County and that physical distancing can be maintained wherever groups gather.
  • We will seek to find activities with friends and colleagues that, through physical distancing and/or use of face coverings, will make these new activities and options enjoyable and safe.
  • In our worship gatherings, our social activities and our recreational activities we will seek to build community and engagement in new and creative ways.
  • In our counseling and student support services we will look for larger spaces and/or virtual means to connect meaningfully.
  1. How we will live
    A return to in-person instruction means that we will be intentional about how we each live and share spaces safely this fall semester:
  • We will have an education process for all students and employees to encourage and reinforce safe personal habits and share expectations of how we want to live safely in shared spaces.
  • In residence halls, plans will be in place to create smaller family units and limit the numbers of students in shared spaces.
  • We will provide maximum group sizes for shared social and recreational spaces and we’ll arrange furniture in those spaces to manage physical distancing.
  • We will create a community approach to ensuring surfaces and spaces remain clean.
  • Dining Services will follow best practice procedures on safely preparing the food we eat and ensure a safe distance environment for the dining rooms where we’ll share our meals.
  1. How we will work
    We’ll change how we work together as a campus employee community, to assure safety and protection for that community:
  • We will work with employees, allowing for remote work as needed and shift work where practical.
  • We will evaluate all of our office spaces to ensure that physical distancing is possible when people come to work, and we will discourage visitors in personal office spaces.
  • We will add additional precautions in the public spaces on our campus, such as increased cleaning and plexiglass.
  • We will expect employees to wear face coverings in all public internal spaces as is practical and to also use face masks elsewhere where physical distancing is not possible.
  • As we do all of this, we will continue to make ourselves available to students, colleagues and the public in creative and flexible ways.
  1. How we will move around
    With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world, our approach to travel and movement has changed. As a community, we will also take steps to ensure that our approach to travel and movement helps assure safety:
  • We are asking our employees and students not to travel internationally during the fall semester of 2020.
  • We are asking our employees and students not to travel within the United States to large events during fall semester and to minimize travel in the U.S. to smaller venues/events.
  • We are asking that the campus community as a whole be cautious as they travel locally and ask that they follow the expected guidelines in the State of Michigan or in nearby states.
  • To help minimize travel, the schedule for the semester will be adjusted to remove the Labor Day holiday and fall semester break and instead end face-to-face classes on November 24.

PLEASE NOTE: Here are a few key dates (some of which we’ve included above):

New Student Orientation Begins: Aug. 18, 2020
Fall Semester Classes Begin
: Aug. 24, 2020
Final Day of Fall Semester Exams: Nov. 24, 2020
End of Fall Semester (for any final remote assignments/projects): Dec. 10, 2020
Year-End Break: Dec. 11, 2020–Jan. 10, 2021
Spring Semester Classes Begin: Jan. 11, 2021

This newsletter describes our commitments and our purpose here at Andrews University in these times:

World Changers for a changing world.

In a few days, we’ll launch a dedicated website that will share these updates in more significant detail. I encourage you to visit our website later this week and just click on our “World Changers for a changing world” friends at the top of that page, which will take you to that new site.

We’d like to close by letting you know that all of you reading this newsletter are the World Changers we describe in this phrase. And we’re especially grateful to each one of you who has traveled along with us since March as we began to fully understand exactly how much and how rapidly our world can change.

But these global challenges don’t stop us here at Andrews University.

We’re ready. And we’re committed.

Most of all, we and our campus pray and look forward to welcoming you back home (or welcoming you here for the very first time) this August.

Andrea Luxton

Christon Arthur