Need to Know: September Issue
Sept. 11, 2020 | Andrews University Fall Semester Updates
Greetings, Andrews University friends,
With this September edition of our Need to Know newsletter we want to share some good news as well as some important commitments and progress reports as our new semester of in-person instruction is underway on our Berrien Springs campus.
In some ways, this year has begun like other school years.
We’ve begun gathering for classes and vespers and fellowship services, and student clubs are announcing their new officers. And we’ve had our first Week of Prayer, this year with student chaplains from our Center for Faith Engagement (formerly Campus Ministries; see below) sharing Bible stories that showed us that “Love is Life—John 3:16.”
If you missed these relevant and inspiring messages you can find them on the Andrews University YouTube channel. However, even those meetings were different with how they were presented, with most students, faculty and staff attending these Week of Prayer meetings virtually. More than 200 students expressed interest in volunteering during the week, and 10 of our students communicated a desire to be baptized.
This last weekend, we expanded our annual Change Day to a Change Weekend, helping inspire and inform both our students and our community that World Changers for a changing world is more than simply a tagline but a perspective and mission for each one of us. More than 250 participated in several projects including a food drive in the community giving away over 400 dozen ears of fresh corn and 400 watermelon to hungry neighbors, and more than 70 on-campus participants gave blood.
However, as you can imagine, our return to in-person instruction has also been changed at almost every level so we’re grateful for the passion and involvement of our students, faculty and staff, as well as the family and friends that make up our community.
To meet the realities and challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic directly, we have begun a process of careful testing and symptom monitoring (the process of symptom monitoring relies on campus use of the Campus Clear app; see more details below) while also relying on proactive quarantining or isolation whenever it’s needed.
Through these actions, we are hopeful and believe in the potential for continued safety for the journey of this new school year.
As we’ve shared in previous newsletters and other campus communication, at the foundation of our Andrews University journey is a joint commitment to a shared Covenant of Care that influences how we study and live together for this new school year.
Reopening Plans and A Shared Commitment to Community
As we’ve gathered back together on campus, we have reviewed our reopening plans and identified key questions about those plans. A new FAQs section on our “World Changers for a changing world” website seeks to directly address the issues and questions that have emerged.
This is an especially valuable resource with significant information about the work of our COVID-19 Response Team, where you can fill your water bottle or disinfectant bottle on campus, how to report COVID-19 concerns, and the consequences for not following our Community Covenant of Care.
We encourage you to bookmark this page, and our overall “World Changers for a changing world” website for key and updated information and relevant resources as fall semester continues.
Our shared Community Covenant of Care outlines expectations and guidelines for this new school year amidst a COVID-19 pandemic. We want to affirm that ensuring compliance with that Covenant is absolutely central to a continued safe and productive path forward. In an earlier letter to students and others on campus, Frances Faehner, vice president for Campus & Student Life, expressed her desire to “emphasize that any violations of COVID-19 policies—including intentional, pervasive or repeated violations related to face masks/coverings, physical distancing and the maximum gathering size—will be addressed as a violation of our Community Covenant of Care and our Code of Student Conduct.
So, as a reminder, all social gatherings on- and off-campus with more than 10 people indoors or 100 people outdoors or where attendees are less than six feet from others for 15 minutes or more (with or without face masks) are in violation of our Covenant of Care.
We need all students, faculty and staff to continue to take extraordinary steps to help stop the spread of infection in our community. When friends or peers on campus do not honor that shared Covenant, consider the impact of their decisions and the risks they represent to our community. You can also help identify these potential transmission risks or behaviors and report problematic conduct by writing to email@example.com or online via a Public Incident Report.
Testing/Campus Clear Monitoring Updates
This new school year began by taking careful steps to ensure that each one of our faculty, staff and students completed a COVID-19 test here on our Berrien Springs campus before our community returned to classes and work. Altogether, we have tested nearly 2,700 employees and students (including testing the employees at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School and Andrews Academy and the students at Andrews Academy).
In addition to those tests, we are relying on Campus Clear, a monitoring app that helps each one of us to daily monitor and track COVID-19 symptoms in our community through a consistent process of self-reporting. Based on the symptoms reported, the app will prompt individuals and the University to take action when needed. Twelve positive COVID-19 cases in our Andrews University community were identified; eight of those positive results were Andrews students and four were positive tests for our Academy students.
So far, all of the COVID-19 positive individuals were either asymptomatic or had briefly experienced mild symptoms, and those individuals have now completed and been released from isolation. With contact tracing, there have been an additional 20 individuals who were quarantined on campus as a result of these positive test results. Most of those individuals are now out of quarantine as well.
Overall, those results represent a 0.3 percent positivity rate for those tested in the Andrews University community (compared to the state of Michigan positivity rate at 3.2 percent on Sept. 7, and Berrien County positivity rate at 2.0 percent).
The use of the Campus Clear app to daily monitor and report health indicators is crucial, and each member of our campus community must complete the reporting daily to assure consistent and proactive responses to potential cases of COVID-19 in our community.
If you have not downloaded the Campus Clear app, please do so straight away and begin using it to daily report symptoms/health indicators. You can search for “Campus Clear” in the Apple App Store or Google Play to find the right version for your mobile device.
Currently 1 percent of the daily reports made by students and employees in the Campus Clear app include possible symptoms or exposure, with 0.5 percent (or about half of those reporting) indicating symptoms/exposure that require further action.
The Campus Clear app has also already helped us identify individuals who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 off-campus, as well as identifying individuals who may require further support and/or testing due to self-reported symptoms.
Within the next few weeks, an online dashboard of on-campus COVID-19 data will also be made available on the “World Changers for a changing world” website.
Ongoing COVID-19 Testing Plans
As we move into the school year, we’ll transition from baseline testing of all individuals on campus to ongoing and targeted testing throughout the campus once a week for the remainder of the fall semester. This targeted testing will be on a routine basis and will primarily focus on groups of employees and students who may be at a higher transmission risk due to their area of work or study. Small portions of each group will be tested each week so that by the end of the semester, the majority of the higher-risk target groups will have been tested.
The specific individuals within each target group will be tested based on a rotation and known risks to help make sure the majority of each target group is tested by the end of the semester. Known risks could be based on an individual’s work or academic requirements, or may be based on an individual’s unique knowledge. That could include specific work/academic assignments for a specific week, the risk of potential sickness, and/or recent travels to an area of increased transmission/spread, etc.
Operating Hours and Access for Campus Buildings
This fall semester, daily operations for all academic buildings on our Berrien Springs campus are scheduled from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Campus buildings will close earlier on Friday afternoons to prepare for Sabbath.
In some cases, certain academic buildings, such as Architecture, will be accessible after hours with student ID cards where students in those academic areas may need more access to studios and other specialized spaces in order to complete projects.
Additionally, each academic building will clearly indicate which building points should be used as entrances or exits.
Other campus buildings, such as our Campus Center, will be open until 11 p.m. (midnight on Saturday evening).
These changes in operations and clearly labeling points of access and exit have been made to better ensure safety and health on our campus by helping to limit cross-traffic between individuals.
Andreasen Center for Wellness to Begin Reopening This Month
A new executive order by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will allow Michigan gyms, like our Andreasen Center for Wellness, to begin a reopening process this month. The partial reopening date for our Andreasen Center is currently scheduled for Monday, Sept. 14.
This partial reopening will help us ensure that all safety protocols are fully implemented in each area prior to full use. Both the upper and lower fitness floors will be available, along with use of the courtyard. While the Healing Oasis is required to remain closed for the time being, our pool will open very soon, following final preparations.
You can track those updates and additional changes, as well as other guidelines and risk mitigation information, on the Andreasen Center website and Facebook page. In the meantime, those who use the Andreasen Center for Wellness are invited to take a few moments to complete the Center’s updated waiver online here.
The Andreasen Center for Wellness is also continuing to offer outdoor exercise class options (find a schedule here) and will continue while the weather is nice to allow more people to attend the classes while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. The Center will also continue to allow individuals the option to work out in the courtyard when exercise classes are not taking place.
Our New Center for Faith Engagement
As we shared earlier, our Center for Faith Engagement (CFE) is a new way to describe our Office of Campus Ministries as it takes strategic steps to embrace the concept of World Changers for a changing world.
This new approach and the Center’s name draw from, and are inspired by, a biblical framework as well as the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s commitment to proclaim the love of God. As a result, our CFE is committed to inspiring students to be resilient disciples of Christ. We will seek to accomplish this with faculty, staff and students as they guide and develop graduates who are fully devoted to God and who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact—we believe that every workplace in every nation where our graduates serve is our specific mission field.
We have called on University Chaplain José Bourget and his colleagues in our new Center for Faith Engagement to help ensure we cultivate this missional community and commitment in our Andrews family and for each one of its graduates.
We invite each member of our community to share how you hope God engages your faith this year with our Center for Faith Engagement. You can reach our CFE team at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow their Instagram and Facebook pages.
Counseling & Testing Support Offered to Meet the Challenges
Our on-campus Counseling & Testing Center realizes that, in spite of our best intentions, our individual life challenges can be difficult to manage, especially in this time of COVID-19. As we return to this new campus experience, our current environment may present specific challenges to our students and others in our Andrews University community that may have the potential of interfering with plans of success for this school year.
Licensed mental health professionals at the Counseling & Testing Center are here to provide our campus community with confidential care for any issues or challenges that come your way as Andrews returns to in-person studies. Our Center is committed to your care and to your success at Andrews University. For more information about their confidential services, please visit the Counseling & Testing website.
As we returned to in-person studies this fall semester, we were reminded that one of the things that makes an Andrews University education on our Berrien Springs campus so powerful and transformative is the reality of gathering together in community. We now do that in the context of a complicated term that marks our current journeys in a world threatened by COVID-19: a “new normal.”
Obviously, that phrase represents changes in the life and times for our world that sometimes seem far from normal and in ways that are sometimes frustrating.
However, this “new normal” also represents an important personal and corporate commitment for each of us to be effective members of a local, national and global community that seeks to effectively fight and control the risks connected with the pandemic.
This “new normal” is marked not only by careful monitoring and consistent safety and health measures, it is also marked by an ultimately spiritual commitment—that regardless of our times, our commitment to care for and protect the safety of one another is one of the most essential things we can do as God’s children who are committed to be World Changers for a changing world.
We’re both honored and blessed to be surrounded by an Andrews University community of World Changers who share that commitment and purpose in this complicated and important journey.