Health & Safety Updates: COVID-19
Below is the most recently updated information regarding Calvin Seminary's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Update on the Temporary Closing of Calvin Seminary's Building
March 26, 2020
UPDATE: As of Tuesday March 24, 2020, the Calvin Seminary building is closed for operations in response to Governor Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order. Consistent with this order, and to ensure the health and safety of our community members, only critical infrastructure staff members are allowed in the building.
For further information, see the most current communication to the community this week:
The way we work, live, and learn keeps changing day-by-day as we continue to learn more about the spread of COVID-19 in our communities in Michigan, the USA, and around the world. Our desire is to join together and with others in seeking to make us as safe as possible as CTS operates with a new Michigan order. We know that this is another adjustment that we need to make as a community even as we seek to stay connected. As you may have heard or read by now, the Governor of the State of Michigan has issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" executive order (see excerpt below):
Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. See the link below for the full communication: https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499-522625--,00.html
Consistent with this Executive Order, CTS Executive Team is requiring staff and faculty to stay and work at home, with the exception of those conducting "minimum basic operations," who can come in briefly and as needed. To our faculty and students who live outside the State of Michigan or USA, we acknowledge that your state or country has provided guidelines and directives to keep you and your loved ones safe. We are praying for you and your immediate communities. We ask that you continue to adhere to the directives/guidelines in your context as you and your loved ones strive to stay safe. Please feel free to share prayer requests and needs with us as well. We will see how God is at work during this time through our stories and our being connected.
Send your requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your stories of encouragement to: email@example.com
Praying with and for you,
President Jul Medenblik
Chief Operating Officer Margaret Mwenda
Dean of Faculty Gary Burge
Associate Dean of Academic Joan Beelen
Update on Residential Education Moving Online
March 12, 2020
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. …
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46: 1 and 11
Dear Calvin Theological Seminary Community:
Your health and safety is of paramount concern, even as we remain committed to fulfilling our educational mission in the midst of what has been declared a pandemic. God has entrusted Calvin Theological Seminary with a wonderful community and we desire to work together to be wise and faithful in nurturing and protecting our community.
Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency. Additionally Governor Whitmer encouraged higher education institutions in Michigan to transition to online learning and to avoid large gatherings.
In response to the Governor’s announcement and in keeping with our institutional partnership with Calvin University, the seminary is taking the following actions to prioritize student, staff and faculty health and safety while continuing to meet our educational commitments.
Classes and campus events will be held as scheduled through Friday, March 13, 2020.
Starting on Monday, March 16, we will transition to having all classes in an online delivery format until Monday, April 13. We hope that residential courses will return to face to face format on Monday, April 13 following our Spring Break. We are granting an exception to the Latino/a Ministry classes which will be in session during Spring Break.
Oral Comprehensives will be held as scheduled from Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20. Professor Scott Hoezee will be emailing students and panels about the format options.
The Medenblik Stick on Saturday, March 14, the Passover Seder on Monday, March 23 and the Dies Natalis Seminary Birthday Breakfast on Monday, March 30 are all cancelled.
As a way to maintain community and pray together, we are investigating the possibility of having a Virtual Chapel in the weeks ahead – but donut fellowship will be on your own!
Between March 16 and April 13, the seminary will be open for educational purposes, such as individual study or meeting with a faculty or staff member. Recreational and social uses (like playing ping pong) are suspended. We encourage using appropriate social distancing as an additional way to be considerate of our community.
During this time the seminary will be open, although some faculty and staff may be working from home.
Faculty, please communicate travel for speaking engagements and conferences with Dr. Gary Burge. Staff, please communicate professional travel plans with your supervisor and Dr. Margaret Mwenda. Professional travel will be reviewed on a case by case basis with cancellations made as needed.
Personal travel will not be restricted, but we encourage the community to exercise caution and stay up to date on all travel guidelines. Out of care and respect for the community, we ask that all faculty, staff and students communicate personal travel plans with Dr. Margaret Mwenda via this form. Travelers should be prepared to self-quarantine if necessary after return from a high risk area.
Please continue to be aware and supportive of one another during this time. Additional guidelines and information will be directed to students who are involved in Oral Comprehensives, who live in Student Housing or who are involved in Vocational Formation Internships.
It has been said that fear is as contagious as any virus that we could contract. Please let us be clear. We are not engaging in these efforts out of a sense of fear or trepidation. Rather, we are responding out of deep care for the health of our community and out of a deep sense of institutional responsibility and civic obligation as our world attempts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In all these things, we live as a people who declare together with the Psalmist, "our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2).
Please join us in praying for all who have been diagnosed, are caring for loved ones, or mourning the loss of loved ones, as well as those who are concerned about their families around the world. Please review the resources available on this page.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ sustain us.
President Jul Medenblik
Chief Operations Officer Margaret Mwenda
Dean of Faculty Gary Burge
Associate Dean of Academic Services and Registrar Joan Beelen
Dean of Students Jeff Sajdak
Student, Faculty, and Staff FAQs
Answers to Some Commonly Asked Questions
Facilities and General Services
Will the Calvin Seminary building be open during this time when courses are online?
No. The seminary building is closed in accordance with Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order.
Will the Hekman Library be open? Can I still access library materials?
No. Hekman Library is closed in accordance with Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order. More information can be found at the Library’s link below.Hekman Library Response Webpage
Is Mail Services at Calvin University still open and operational? Will mail still be delivered to the Calvin Seminary building?
Effective Monday, March 23 Mail Services is making the following changes in service:
Delivery - Mail Services will suspend daily delivery to all campus locations. A representative from your department may pickup mail and packages from Mail Services. We will maintain our regular business hours of 8:00-4:30, Monday-Friday.
Outgoing mail – Outgoing mail, both off-campus and ICM, will need to be dropped off at Mail Services for processing. Outgoing business-related mail that is dropped off by 3:00 will be processed the same day.
Personal mail - Mail Services has suspended personal mailing services until further notice. In order to reduce walk-in traffic at our service window we ask that faculty and staff use other shipping options such as the Postal Service, the UPS Store, or Amazon Lockers for sending personal letters and packages. Mail Services will continue to handle all outgoing business-related letters and packages.
Student mail – Mail Services will forward first class mail to the student's home address as filed with the Housing Office. For student packages, we will contact the student by email or phone and make arrangements for forwarding delivery.
Mail Services will be open special hours this Saturday and Sunday (March 21-22) from 10:00-4:00 for final package pickup before students leave campus. For any remaining student packages, we will contact the student and make arrangement for forwarding delivery.
For questions, please contact Mail Services at 526-6154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I still access the rhetoric center during this time?
A Note from the Rhetoric Center:
The Rhetoric Center has instituted the following temporary restrictions:
The Rhetoric Center (RC) office is closed for face-to-face consultation until further notice. However, proofreading is still available to you.
Papers should be submitted to the RC via email (Rhetoric@calvinseminary.edu).
When submitting your paper, please include your name, CTS box number, email address, course name, course number, and the date you wish to have the paper returned to you. Include any other instructions as needed.
Please allow sufficient time for papers to be read and returned. Guidelines are posted on the RC page on SemLink.
Friends, despite the academic and social disruptions that we all are facing, the Rhetoric Center wishes to remain responsive to you as you navigate this current semester. Please continue to use the RC. May God bless your labors in these next few weeks.
Is the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet still open?
The Food Pantry will be open limited hours each week. Please arrange for a time to access the Food Pantry through the Food Pantry Coordinator, Joshua Jiang. The Clothes Closet is closed during this time..
If I live in seminary housing, can I still make maintenance requests?
Effective immediately, Calvin Seminary Maintenance Staff will only be addressing maintenance issues that are urgent in nature. Routine maintenance requests will be delayed and we will get to them when we can.
Examples of urgent maintenance issues:
No hot water
Kitchen appliances stop working
Examples of routine maintenance issues:
Light bulb(s) is out (we can drop the bulbs at your front door)
Closet door/cabinet door not closing properly
Dripping faucets, running toilet
If you are unsure if your request is urgent or not, we encourage you to still fill out a maintenance request via semlink and we can help determine when the issue will be addressed.
Are there counseling services available?
Yes! If you are feeling overwhelmed, counseling is available for Calvin Seminary students. Please contact Sarah Chun, Dean of International Students and Scholar Services.
Employees: Counseling services are available through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with Pine Rest at 616-455-6210 or 1-800-442-0809.
Will Calvin Seminary still hold chapel?
In order to maintain community and to express our trust in the Lord, we will gather for online worship at 12:30pm Eastern Time (9:30am Pacific Time) on Wednesdays via Zoom. This will allow distance and residential students to worship together.
Check E-News for the weekly zoom link in order to attend.
Have all on-campus events been cancelled? For how long?
Many upcoming community and public on-campus events have either been postponed or canceled. They include:
Kuyper Conference and Prize
Ping-Pong Tournament (date TBD)
Calvin Seminary/Western Seminary Faculty Dinner (date TBD, sometime in the Fall)
Presidents' Legacy Lunch (postponed and combined with the Annual Scholarship and Donor Appreciation Dinner, scheduled for Thursday, October 29, 2020)
CPI Handlon Prison Graduation (postponed, most likely to a summer date)
Will the 2020 Commencement service still be held on campus on May 23?
At this point, we hope to be able to host the full slate of Commencement Week events, but a final decision regarding these events will be made at a later date.
Is the Dig program still taking place this summer?
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, we have decided not to offer Dig for the summer of 2020. Given the public health concerns regarding travel and group gatherings for the foreseeable future, we are not in a position to be able to plan a long term residential program.The Dig Program
Have there been any updates on other summer events, such as the Loving Your Neighbor Conference?
Calvin Seminary is still planning to holding the Loving Your Neighbor Conference, scheduled for July 6-8, on the campus of Calvin Seminary. Any decision to cancel or change this event will be made by early May or earlier.The Loving Your Neighbor Conference
Questions Regarding Your Personal Health
What should I do if I think I may be sick?
If you feel sick and/or experience viral symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and are concerned about whether you have the coronavirus, you should contact your primary care physician (PCP) by phone. If you do not have a local PCP, the best thing to do is use the resource from Spectrum below. The pre-screener will arrange a virtual appointment with a clinician. Usually within a couple hours. This provider will assist with next steps.
To learn more about getting tested virtually by the infectious control unit at Spectrum:
“With a growing number of confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in West Michigan and United States, feeling sick can be scary. But if you have symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath, you can use this automated screener or call 833.559.0659 for advice on what to do next” https://www.spectrumhealth.org/covid19
The clinician will give each patient advice about testing (if indicated) and specific advice about isolating in place while sick and how it is important to remain isolated in place for at least 3 days after the last symptoms. All those living in the same house as a person presumed positive will need to be in quarantine until they are no longer at risk for contracting the illness. The incubation period is 14 days so the quarantine will last 14 days after the sick person’s last day of symptoms (plus three days). To learn more about how to manage a sick person in your home go to:
Should I let the seminary know if I am sick?
If you are sick, stay home. If you are seriously ill, or if you are concerned, contact your health provider. If you are sick, please also email Dean of Students, Jeff Sajdak.Email Jeff Sajdak
Will my health insurance cover COVID-19 testing? What if I am an international student?
Please be sure to be in contact with your health care provider and your health insurance provider regarding testing and treatment for COVID-19. International students who have insurance through International Student Insurance can access information on the webpage below.International Student Insurance webpage
Should I be travelling right now? What should I do if I have to travel?
If you have traveled recently, or if you are going to travel, please fill out the online travel form.The Online Travel Form
What if I have a specific question, who should I direct it to? What if I need assistance?
If you have other questions or requests, please direct them to the Calvin Seminary Health and Safety Response TeamEmail the Calvin Seminary Safety Response Team
Prospective and Admitted Student FAQs
Calvin Seminary Admissions is Still Available to Assist
As an applicant to Calvin Seminary during this unprecedented time, we are committed to helping you through the application and discernment process. Though the admissions staff are not physically in our offices, we are always happy to help.
Can I still contact the admissions office? What is the best way?
The admissions team is working remotely and is readily available to help. Feel free to email your questions to email@example.com and we can set up a phone or video chat if necessary.
Can I schedule a visit?
Unfortunately, all in-person visits are suspended until further notice, but we would be happy to connect you with faculty, students and staff who can assist with any information you may be looking for.
I'm having trouble requesting a transcript from a prior school. What should I do?
With so many campuses closed, we understand that some schools may be unable to send official transcripts at this time. If able, the school can send an electronic document directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unofficial copies can also be used for admission consideration until the official transcripts become available.
As of March 20, mail delivery to Calvin Seminary campus offices has been temporarily suspended. If a transcript was sent to the Admissions Office through the mail, It will eventually be delivered, but there may be a delay in getting those processed. We ask for your patience until we can access those documents.
I am an applicant who needs to take or submit scores from a TOEFL/IELTS Exam, but I am having trouble taking the test or requesting the results. What should I do?
If your TOEFL/IELTS exam has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. We will do the best we can to be flexible with admissions deadlines due to the disruption in testing.
Community Travel Form
Traveling? Let Us Know.
Calvin Seminary requests that all students, faculty, and staff use the the travel form below if traveling outside of Kent County. This will allow the seminary to respond with helpful information in the case of an outbreak connected to Calvin Seminary.
Have Questions? These Resources Can Provide Accurate Information
Use the resources below for information from experts at the forefront of this outbreak.
Resources for Students and Families
Calvin Seminary students: knowing that we can't travel or engage in the plans we may have had in place, we've curated a variety of opportunities for students, couples, and families to enjoy during the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.
Initial Communication: March 10, 2020
We are still in the flu season and we also recognize the heightened concern about and continue to monitor the developments regarding the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). To keep as many of us as healthy as possible, we ask that you stay home if you are ill, sneezing, coughing and/or have a fever.
Students: If you are unable to attend your classes because you are ill, please email your professors and let them know; accommodations will be provided. Also, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that the academic office can be aware and inform others if needed.
Faculty and staff: if you are unable to come to work because you are ill, please contact the following:
- Faculty: please email Gary Burge, Dean of the Faculty
- Staff: please email your supervisor
If you traveled during the reading week and think that you may have been exposed, please consider self-monitoring for the next few days and contacting your health care provider. If you are planning to travel, please see the CDC website for travel advisories.
As we continue to care for each other in this community, we urge you to stay informed and to take preventive measures outlined below:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (both sides and fingertips), before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, etc.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cough into your elbow and cover your sneeze with a tissue. Throw away your tissue immediately after using, then use hand sanitizer
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the COVID -19 situation, contact Margaret Mwenda or Jeff Sajdak.
There are many signs of solidarity worldwide that are helping prevent social stigma towards individuals of the various countries involved in outbreaks overseas. We encourage you to look out for one another as this is something we take on as a global community. Each of you plays a very important role in this effort!
For Calvin Seminary,
Margaret Mwenda Jeff Sajdak
Chief Operations Officer Dean of Students