Communication from President Harris
April 1, 2020
Dear Members of the Kuyper Community,
As I reflect on these past weeks, I give thanks to God for providing us with wisdom, strength, protection, and goodwill shared with each other. Also, I am grateful to our students, faculty and staff for the ways in which they have faced these challenges and changes with creativity and collaboration in their work, care for each other, and certainty that we can do this together.
Like most of the world, Kuyper College has been affected by the health concerns around the spreading of Coronavirus/COVID-19. The response from the College has been prudent, swift and comprehensive. There are confirmed cases of the virus in Michigan, and Kuyper is monitoring the outbreak with the assistance and guidance of local, state and federal health officials. As of today, we are grateful to report there are no known cases at Kuyper College or among Kuyper College students, faculty and staff.
We want to thank our community for your prayers and encouraging emails, phone calls, and texts these past few weeks as we've been navigating our responses to the COVID-19 situation.
We have always valued how the Kuyper community cares for each other, exhibits flexibility, and depends on God's grace, wisdom, and strength to work through challenging situations. I'm so thankful to say that these values are being demonstrated beyond measure! All-in-all, the Kuyper College community is doing well considering the current environment.
Previous updates have shared many of the actions the College has taken in response to the new environment created by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. With this communication I want to provide a brief summary of our current situation and plans for moving forward in the evolving environment being created by social and governmental responses to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to support the recommendation by health experts to practice "social distancing," and respond to Executive Orders of the Governor, on March 19, Kuyper suspended face-to-face classes and is now offering courses in a fully online format for the remainder of the semester.
Faculty and staff, except for essential employees (as defined by Executive Order) are working remotely and are providing proactive and responsive support for student success and ongoing College operations.
Also on March 19, all, but a small number of residential students, were required to leave campus. Those students remaining on campus were repositioned in the residence halls to minimize physical proximity and promote social distancing. Food service operations continue to provide meals for those students.
Student Development has created several ways to nurture community virtually via digital tools. With daily “Morning Shows,” virtual “Hang-outs” in the evenings and virtual faith formation opportunities three times a week, students have opportunities to stay connected to their classmates and the campus community.
In compliance with the Governor's Executive Order, we are continuing to operate with minimum on-campus staff to oversee facility, maintenance, and campus safety needs, food service needs for the students remaining on campus, and business office and admissions office needs. As a result, all faculty and the majority of staff are now working remotely. All offices have set up scheduled systems of video-conferencing with their teams and I have done this with the leadership team as well.
As reported earlier, effective March 13, Kuyper cancelled all College on-campus or sponsored activities until further notice. It's so disappointing to cancel these special end-of-the-year events! Honors Convocation and all Commencement activities have been canceled. We are working to determine how we can creatively acknowledge our graduates via the use of digital tools. We've also canceled the Spring Gala (April 20). In addition, we have suspended on-campus events organized by outside groups. This suspension of activities will also remain in effect until further notice.
We have responded well over the past few weeks. As the pandemic continues to evolve, we are well positioned to support our students as they complete this academic year, while we ensure ongoing College operations this semester, and prepare for future semesters.
We are reviewing the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for additional support for our students and for the College.
Looking forward, and Lord willing, we continue to expect new and returning students this fall. Our admissions team continues to work with students who are interested in a Kuyper College education.
Last week in my Psalms class, we focused on Psalms of Thanksgiving. These psalms take place within a situation of crisis, but the focus is on giving thanks for how God has delivered the psalmist, or people of God, out of this crisis. I know we're not there yet. for we are still facing the COVID-19 situation head-on, but, even in the midst, we can give thanks to God.
Here's what one of my students posted in response to Psalm 18. Words of encouragement to all of us:
"The imagery in this passage is so powerful! By the end, I can only imagine how on fire and passionate the psalmist is when writing this. I thought verse 28 was moving to me. 'You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.' It's so powerful, when we are calling out to God and may feel like He is 'leaving us in the darkness' sometimes. When we feel we cannot go on anymore and that our lamp will burn out, the Lord keeps our lamp burning. He truly lights up our lives. Those who have the joy of the Lord are filled with a light like none other. I hope that we all let that light shine out of us like rays of sunshine. We can give thanks to God even now!"
Stay encouraged. Stay working and praying. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay connected. Stay hopeful.
This is the day the Lord has made; may we rejoice and give thanks, even in the midst.
Grateful to serve,
Dr. Patricia R Harris
NOTE: As the situation related to Coronavirus/COVID-19 develops, the College will add updates to this page by date, with the most recent appearing at the top. Please also note the additional information and links to resources below. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 17, 2020
Dear Members of the Kuyper community,
Each day brings new information and deeper understanding of the impact of COVID-19. To date, there are 65 confirmed cases of Coronavirus/Covid-19 in Michigan. There are no known cases at Kuyper College. We continue to monitor this rapidly changing public health situation and are taking steps to prevent and mitigate community spread of the virus. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our campus community and the broader community.
Ora et labora - pray and work - speaks loudly, as we figure out how to adjust our lives and do our work in these new circumstances. To our faculty, staff, and students --- thank you for the incredible effort, cooperation, and resilience you are showing as we work together through this challenging time.
We remain committed to supporting our students as they complete this academic year, while we ensure ongoing College operations this semester, and prepare for future semesters. With that commitment in mind, please note the following decisions made by the Leadership Team earlier today that will be extended through May 1, 2020.
- All courses will continue online, via Sakai, through the end of the semester. Final exams will also be online.
- Students are encouraged to regularly check their Sakai course sites in order to keep up with the course work. Professors will provide regular updates and information.
- Academic Support will be offered through the use of digital tools.
Residing on Campus
- As we have weighed the risk of students remaining on campus, we have decided that all residential students are required to leave campus no later than Thursday, March 19 at 7:30pm. A room and board credit will be applied to these students’ bills.
- Students with a continued need for housing can apply for an exemption no later than Wednesday, March 18 at 1:00pm. Meals will be provided to any students permitted to remain on campus.
- The Student Development Office will provide more information to all residential students.
- All student staff should contact their supervisors regarding the status of their campus employment.
Campus Offices and Library
- Offices will remain operational; however, beginning Monday, March 23, employees are encouraged to work remotely. Employees should work with their direct supervisors to discuss their specific situation.
- Effective immediately, on-campus, face-to-face meetings are suspended. Employees are encouraged to use phone, email, Google chat, or video conferencing.
- We are committed to providing continued service to our College community. For faculty, staff, and students, if you have questions or concerns about any matters, please use the directory of office contact information that will be uploaded to the Sakai portals. All other questions or concerns can be directed to email@example.com
- Out of an abundance of caution, Kuyper College commencement activities - graduation luncheon and commencement ceremony - have been canceled. We recognize the significant disappointment this is, particularly to our seniors and their families who have worked so hard to get to this point. We are looking at ways to acknowledge this milestone and celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments.
- Every year at this time we anticipate the variety of events that we host and celebrate. Unfortunately, this year we will be canceling all on-campus events through May 1, 2020. This includes the Triple Bottom Line Contest, the Variety Show, Honors Convocation, Student Scholar Day, and other scheduled events.
- This week, and in the coming weeks, our community rhythms will look different than ever before. We won’t be meeting face-to-face in classes, or sharing meals in the dining hall, or worshipping together in chapel. Our staff and faculty will be working remotely. In all of these changes, we have the opportunity to build up life-giving rhythms that will help us stay healthy and whole. Creative suggestions are provided in the student and staff & faculty portals.
The information, and guidance from our state and federal agencies, regarding COVID-19 continues to change rapidly. We will provide periodic updates via our website, the student portal, and the faculty and staff portal.
As we were reminded late last week, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” So, take the urging from the Psalmist: "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations" (46:10). Press pause. Take a breath. Gain perspective. Extend grace and kindness. Pray and work. We're all in this together. Our world belongs to God.
Grateful to serve,
Dr. Patricia R Harris
Communication from President Harris
March 12, 2020
Dear Members of the Kuyper community,
Our top priority is the health and safety of the Kuyper College community. Ensuring health and safety means taking actions that aim to limit exposure of Kuyper community members to the Coronavirus/COVID-19, imposing social distancing where appropriate, and generally elevating preventive hygiene practices across the campus. After consulting with local college and university leaders and the Kent County Health Department, and out of an abundance of caution to prevent and contain the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, Kuyper College is implementing the following plan.
- Beginning Friday, March 13 through Wednesday, March 18, all classes will be canceled to provide faculty the opportunity to begin moving course content online so that students are able to successfully finish their courses.
- Beginning Thursday, March 19 through Friday, April 3, students will complete their course work via Sakai, our online platform. No face-to-face classes will meet during this time.
- This current plan assumes that face-to-face classes will resume on Monday, April 6. We will closely monitor and assess this situation, and by Monday, March 30, we will determine if the online format will need to be extended.
Residence and Dining Halls
- Our residence halls will remain open for students who decide to stay on campus during this time.
- Food service will continue for students who remain in the residence halls.
- The Student Development staff will be in contact with all residential students over the next 24 hours to provide further information about housing and meal provisions.
- All campus offices will remain open and services will continue to be provided.
- Staff members are expected to report to work unless they are ill or have made arrangements with their supervisors. Faculty members may facilitate their online course work from off campus.
- Students who remain on campus during this time are encouraged to continue their on-campus work schedules, if possible. Please contact your staff supervisors for details.
- Over the next three weeks, Curt Essenburg, Dean of Students and Work, will be communicating with KuyperWorks students who do not remain on campus.
- From Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 3, all Kuyper on campus activities and events will be postponed or cancelled. Further information is forthcoming.
- Beginning Monday, March 16, on campus events organized by outside groups will also be cancelled through Friday, April 3.
We are proactively taking these measures to ensure the continued well-being of the Kuyper campus community and to help slow the spread of the illness, so demands on our health care systems now, and in the coming days and weeks, can be managed well. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we work through this together. I am grateful to our faculty and staff who are committed to carrying out our mission as they prepare to deliver online services to our students.
There are currently no known cases of Coronavirus/COVID-19 on the Kuyper College campus. This health situation demands we remain alert and make constant adjustments to our plans, so we will update our community as needed via our student and faculty portals on Sakai as well as our website. Additionally, students may email Curt Essenburg, Dean of Students and Work, and employees may email Annie Fields, Director of Human Resources, with specific concerns or questions.
Please continue to pray for those most affected by the coronavirus outbreak as well as for the health officials and care providers who are dealing with this serious health issue.
Dr. Patricia R Harris
Symptoms and Prevention
Signs and symptoms of Coronavirus/COVID-19 are fever (100.4 or higher), cough, shortness of breath AND have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 OR live in or recently traveled from an area with the ongoing spread of coronavirus. Call before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room. Spectrum Health's COVID-19 Free Screening Hot Line is 616.391.2380, or the Kent County Health Department Communicable Disease Line at 616.632.7228.
Kuyper College is proactively disinfecting all common spaces and restrooms on a daily basis with hospital-grade disinfectant. The best prevention for viruses is to:
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- If you have symptoms, avoid contact with others.