Need to Know: Additional Key Reopening Updates
Community Covenant of Care, guidelines for international students, reopening webinars and more
June 10, 2020 | SPECIAL ISSUE: Community Covenant of Care, Guidelines for International Students, Reopening Webinars and Other Important News
Greetings, Andrews University friends,
In about six weeks, in-person instruction will begin again on the campus of Andrews University, with the first day of classes for the new school year scheduled for August 24.
Each one of us has been eagerly looking forward to this return to a community reunited, and we’ve also been working hard to understand and address the steps we will take that will help keep each one of us, and our entire community, safe.
In this Need to Know newsletter, we’d like to share a few highlights about some of these careful steps that are designed to best prepare for a safe return to in-person instruction and a campus family that is once again gathered together here on our Berrien Springs campus.
Our Community Covenant of Care.
As we’ve discovered in these first challenging months of 2020, with the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are living in unique and uncertain times.
None of us know for sure what the future holds, but at Andrews University we know this—we are going to have a full University experience this fall. We are working hard to ensure that whatever shape the curriculum and co-curriculum take this fall semester, it will be the same excellent, collegial and productive experience that drew you to Andrews University, experiences that we all cherish.
Once again, we have made the decision to provide an on-campus experience in as full a way as possible. This will be a combination of face-to-face, hybrid and some remote experiences. In all we do in the months ahead, we will be in line with federal, state and local health expectations.
Of course, as we have discovered in this current and fluid environment, we cannot promise that the situation will not change. If it does, and we are forced to move to a more remote delivery of education and services, we will do so with your education and safety in mind.
As we prepare for this on-campus experience, each one of us, as students, faculty, staff and administrators, must take extraordinary steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We can do that by persistently protecting and caring for our own and others’ health and safety.
Therefore, you, as a valued member of our campus community, are asked to help create a culture of care by practicing our Andrews Community Covenant of Care.
We will continue to monitor these protocols in light of guidance from the CDC and public health officials. We also seek your understanding as this may lead to the addition of new measures or the relaxing of some requirements over time.
This Community Covenant of Care includes, but may not be limited to:
1. CARE FOR MYSELF
- Conduct a daily health self-screening, taking body temperature and reporting any symptoms of COVID-19 to the technology platform database (such as a fever of 100.4 F/38 C or higher, dry cough, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or loss of taste or smell). We’ll also screen for potential exposure to or close contact with someone who is a confirmed/probable COVID-19 case, or for travel to or from areas that have a significant community spread of COVID-19.
- Practice good hygiene by washing my hands often with soap and water, using hand sanitizer and coughing or sneezing into the bend of my arm or a tissue.
- Practice healthy habits to build my immune system (through proper diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, water intake, fresh air) and seek support and care for my mental health.
2. CARE FOR OTHERS
- Respect personal space and maintain appropriate physical distancing (ideally, six feet), especially in public indoor spaces as well as occupied outdoor spaces.
- Wear an appropriate face covering as the University recommends.
- Stay home if I feel ill or after exposure to someone who is ill or has tested positive for COVID-19.
3. CARE FOR THE ANDREWS COMMUNITY
- Actively participate in cleaning and sanitizing shared common equipment and spaces.
- Actively participate in testing and contact tracing to preserve the wellness of the community.
- Carefully observe instructional signage and University directives.
What we do for the health and safety of our community is vitally important.
At the same time, how we do it will define who we are as a community
that seeks to exemplify the love of God.
TOGETHER, AS WORLD CHANGERS FOR A CHANGING WORLD, WE WILL EXTEND GRACE, COMPASSION AND CARE TO OURSELVES, OTHERS AND THE ANDREWS COMMUNITY.
New SEVP Regulations Impact Our International Students
On July 6, 2020, the U.S. government announced new guidelines for all international students studying in the United States for fall semester 2020. Specifically, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, released a “COVID-19 and Fall 2020” statement which introduced new guidelines for international students studying in U.S. colleges and universities during the fall 2020 semester.
There are understandably a number of questions and concerns about what will happen in the fall 2020 semester in this current environment and what the impact will be on our Andrews University international students.
While the new guidelines offer restrictions to universities who will be doing *only* online education this fall, Andrews University’s hybrid approach of in-person and online course offerings will meet the expectations set out in these new guidelines, and we will be able to issue new I-20s for all students who will study in-person on campus this fall.
Christian Stuart, executive director of the Center for On-Campus International Student Services, shared more about these new regulations, and options for our international students, in a letter (and a variety of social media posts) earlier this week. You can read that letter here.
If you have questions about these new guidelines, or if you know of an international student with specific concerns about these guidelines, please email International Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the next several days, our Center for On-Campus International Student Services will directly contact and reissue I-20s to the international students who will be studying on our campus this fall semester.A new website has also been launched, with FAQs and relevant news updates for international students who are planning to attend the Berrien Springs campus of Andrews University this fall semester.
Over the last two weeks, a series of webinars for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as our international students (both graduate and undergraduate) and AUSA and AUGSA student leaders, has been launched.
Each is designed for students to hear directly from Andrews University administrators about how we’ll learn and live together with the reopening of Andrews University for fall semester studies on August 24.
These webinars have garnered over 10,000 views overall, with literally hundreds of questions asked. If you missed earlier webinars, there are still upcoming sessions for undergraduates (July 28, noon–1:30 p.m., on Zoom) and graduates (July 29, noon–1:30 p.m., on Zoom). Additional sessions for international students, especially in response to new SEVP guidelines, will be announced shortly.
Return to Work Plan: A Safe Resumption of In-Person Work
Beginning next week, on July 13, Andrews University employees will begin formally returning to on-campus work assignments when and as appropriate. This is one part of Andrews University’s overall framework for reopening this fall semester, which can be reviewed here.
This particular process, which is informed by our Return to Work plan, will be guided by an approved protocol for each campus department. Those protocols will be formally reviewed and approved by Steve Nash, our director of facilities management for Plant Administration, Ben Panigot, director/chief of Campus Safety, and Darcy de Leon, director, and Beverly Brown, associate director, of the Office of Human Resources.
Our employees will not return to work until those plans are approved for each department. If you have any questions about your department and its plans for resumed operations, we invite employees to confirm those plans with their supervisor, chair or dean.
In some cases, remote work assignments may continue, but those decisions will be based on the particular operation needs of each department.
Establishing a safe environment for our community.
Our return-to-work assignments in the next several weeks, and to in-person instruction in August, will be driven by a commitment to testing and monitoring of each student and employee.
Daily monitoring of health conditions for each Andrews University employee will initially rely on MI Symptoms, a web-based screening system hosted by the State of Michigan.
This web-based monitoring solution will be in place until a smart device mobile app, Kallaco, is deployed in early August, for use by all University employees and students. Invited guests or essential contractors will also be asked to self-screen before accessing the campus.
That new Kallaco app will be used to facilitate daily screenings which will be required for everyone to best assess both symptoms and potential exposure risk factors for COVID-19. It will also assist with the University’s contact tracing program to help identify potential exposures without using GPS to track the actual location of the users.
The Kallaco app will also provide portals for COVID-19 health education and facilitate timely access to telehealth hotlines and resources.
In August, Andrews University will use the Orig3n 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test, which is a nasal swab-based test, to test all students and employees at Andrews University. Test dates will be based on campus groups, and updates on online reservations for specific time slots will be communicated soon.
New ionization devices have been purchased to use as an additional part of our heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in residence hall rooms where there are shared HVAC systems.
This will also include community restrooms and showers, in Lamson Hall East and Burman Hall, and all of Lamson Hall West and Meier Hall.
Damazo Hall does not have shared ventilation systems in residence hall rooms, so will not use this new device.
This ionized system is designed to improve air quality and reduce the spread of infection.
Helping to Feed Our Hungry Families Next Door
Earlier this year, we shared reports on the efforts of Chef Linda and the Bon Appétit/Dining Services team to provide food support for our Andrews University international student families. Those have been remarkable efforts, and our own employees in Dining Services have adopted specific families and provided everything from food to diapers for them.
There is another effort, though, to deliver boxes of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables to a larger group of families each week. As you might imagine, there is no specific budget to cover this. Chef Linda and her colleagues have prayerfully sought out funds to cover the nearly $1,500 costs each week to help provide fresh produce for those families. Many times, those funds have come literally at the last moment, with prayers for support being answered in the aisles of Aldi’s as Chef Linda and colleagues shop for food basics.
Earlier this summer, the national online magazine for Bon Appétit shared the story about this miraculous and desperately needed outreach—you can read it here.
As the summer draws to an end, Chef Linda and her team are working to do the hard work of raising financial support for the final weeks of deliveries before the new school year begins.
If you’d like to help, we invite you to drop Chef Linda a note and offer any support you can.
An Update on Athletics Plans for Fall Semester
As we’ve noted earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the landscape of our campus community and various activities that are a valued part of the student experience.
Over the past few months and weeks, we have continuously and carefully monitored the guidance from the CDC as well as the State of Michigan and Berrien County health officials in our preparations for students and employees to return to campus this fall. Thus, as we have carefully considered relevant factors and decisions that must be made months in advance, Andrews University, like many other schools, has made the decision to cancel its fall 2020 intercollegiate athletics program.
Our Andrews University athletics director Rob Gettys says, "While the decision to cancel our Cardinal athletics program for this fall (men’s and women’s soccer) is difficult for our student athletes, coaches and fans, it is definitely understandable that our University must always strive to protect the health and wellbeing of our students and staff as well as students and staff from other schools."
Gettys also noted that the USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) is considering moving the fall athletics season of 2020 to the spring of 2021. If this happens, our athletics department will begin making plans to participate, by moving our soccer program to the spring semester, if that decision is in harmony with local, state and federal guidelines.
For our intramural and open recreation program, as well as ongoing plans for winter intercollegiate athletics, we will continue to monitor relevant guidelines and plan to provide an update when we are better able to anticipate updated guidelines and issues during the fall semester.
Anyone with questions regarding this decision may contact Rob Gettys, athletics director, at email@example.com.
Gathering Together to Be World Changers
Even as we face the challenges and limitations of in-person education this fall semester, our colleague Teela Ruehle, director of service & missions in Campus Ministries, has announced plans for a Change Weekend, September 4–6.
This weekend will offer four to five different service projects each day or afternoon, running from online service opportunities to campus and local community projects. Current partners for these projects include Warren Dunes State Park, Neighbor2Neighbor, Harbor County Missions and Habitat for Humanity. On campus, we’ll fill backpacks for refugees and foster children, help create architectural designs for a local non-profit agency, create advertising and education on nutrition for local agencies, and more.
We’re committed to ensuring the safety of our community with this new approach, so sign-ups will be required before Change Weekend, and each project will have limits on participants to ensure that social distancing and other safety measures are followed.
As we shared at the start of this newsletter, we are excited and hopeful about beginning again. Our Berrien Springs campus will again feel like home as activity and on-campus work returns in the next few weeks and as our students come back in August.
We are looking forward to being together in community—one of the great strengths that helps our University make World Changers.
That’s a holy assignment as we seek to establish and strengthen God’s Kingdom here in our Andrews University community.
As we prepare to be together again, we especially encourage you to follow our plans on the “World Changers for a changing world” website. You’ll find our framework for reopening described there, a list of important dates and key campus communication, and a new video message near the top of that page that describes and celebrates our renewed commitment to a safe, enriching and gathered together again Andrews University Community.
Also, if you scroll down the webpage a bit further, you’ll find a collection of videos that our Marketing & Enrollment Management team have created under the headline, “We’re not backing down, we’re standing up.” You’ll find messages from many campus leaders inviting all of us back together this August. Take the time to watch each one, if you can. They are an amazing and moving testimony to what’s ahead for Andrews University.
As always, we invite your passion, your prayers, your feedback and your involvement as Andrews University carefully and intentionally moves forward, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its global, national, state, institutional and personal impact.
We are indeed committed to stand up to and fully embrace the idea that Andrews University is all about God’s call to us, His call to us as His University community and His children, to be a place where we make “World Changers for a changing world.”