COVID-19 Updates

Communication from President Harris

Kuyper Announces Plans for In-Person Instruction this Fall

June 2, 2020

Dear Members of the Kuyper Community,

I hope and pray that you are safe and well as we move into these summer months. Our lives are still disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, but by God’s grace, the faculty and staff continue to embody our motto - ora et labora - pray and work - as we trust in God’s provision, show courage and resilience, and find tangible ways to love and care for our neighbor. 

Since completing our academic year in April, we have been single-focused on setting suitable plans for this fall that promote student success and our value for a God-honoring community as we carry out our mission. I want to take this opportunity to share our intended plans for the fall. Please understand that the details are still in process, as our faculty and staff work diligently to implement these plans. We will continue to provide updated information in the coming weeks. 

This fall, Kuyper College is planning to welcome our students, in person, to campus, and we will do so according to public health measures endorsed by governmental authorities and medical experts. While we are committed to being back on campus, and are working to make this happen, please know that our #1 priority is the safety of our students and employees. 

In May, Governor Whitmer released the MI SAFE START plan for re-opening the state. It provides useful guidance that will help inform our campus planning and preparation. We are also partnering with the Kent County Health Department, which has been instrumental in providing local guidance to us. As well, over the past weeks, our Leadership Team has engaged in numerous conversations with leaders of other institutions, ranging from higher education groups in Washington D.C. to meetings among our sister institutions here in West Michigan. All of these meetings are focused on safely opening our college campuses and delivering in-person, on-campus education.

We know that COVID-19 will be a part of our new normal for the foreseeable future, so, together, staff and faculty are reviewing our campus preparedness from every angle. Our small size and purposeful community allow us to implement a highly flexible learning model engaging smaller classes of students meeting face-to-face and using enhanced technology with the personalized attention we expect from our faculty. As well, the layout of our classrooms, dining facilities, and residence halls enable us to utilize these spaces in ways more amenable to social distancing. Additionally, we will ensure that our student services and activities continue to provide a meaningful and safe campus experience for all students. 

We are aware that some of our students have medical or health considerations that may hinder in-person, on-campus attendance. We are committed to providing high-quality alternate arrangements so these students can learn from Kuyper’s exceptional faculty and enjoy Kuyper’s authentic community. We acknowledge that our size and nimble approach to educational innovation are strengths which we can use to provide our students with customizable experiences that make achievement possible.

As we plan for the new academic year, we are grateful to God for the positive signs of support we are seeing as we eagerly anticipate the return of our students to campus in late August:

  • Our new student registrations are trending over 45% above last year. 
  • Our retention of returning students is very strong, as is the demand for student housing.
  • Our annual fundraising is running at a near-record pace.
  • Our faculty and staff are working diligently to provide an excellent and engaging learning environment.

We are confident that as we continue to navigate through the challenges of this pandemic the Kuyper College community will demonstrate broadly how an intentional Christian, in-person, residential campus community can live and learn together – and do so safely.

In the coming weeks, please look for further communication from me and others within the College community that will detail our fall plans more fully. In the meantime, stay safe and well, and remember, that our world belongs to God and we are called to love Him and our neighbor.

Grateful to serve, 

Dr. Patricia R Harris

President

 

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 advancement@kuyper.edu

 

May 7, 2020

Dear Members of the Kuyper Community, 

This afternoon, Governor Whitmer extended the Stay Home Stay Safe Executive Order through May 28 by issuing Executive Order 2020-77. Apart from the extended date to May 28, there are no new guidances that apply to us as a College. Therefore, we will continue with the current restrictions we have put in place and the critical infrastructure workers we have deemed to be essential for on-campus work. 

We will continue to communicate any further updates about the COVID-19 situation in the coming weeks and as we plan well for the fall. 

Live in hope, for our world belongs to God, 

Dr. Patricia R Harris
President

April 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Kuyper Community, 

Last week we finished our winter semester courses and celebrated, albeit virtually, with our graduates of the Class of 2020. I am so impressed by the graciousness, courage, and resiliency demonstrated by our students, faculty, and staff, to finish this semester well in the midst of such an unprecedented time. We have so much for which to give thanks!

As we move into “summer mode” at Kuyper College, we are well aware that we are still facing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic situation here in Michigan and around the world. Last Friday, Governor Whitmer extended the “Stay Home Stay Safe” Executive Order through May 15, 2020. This order relaxes some restrictions and strengthens other restrictions, so our Campus Operations and Human Resources Offices are working together to facilitate necessary precautionary measures for our critical infrastructure workers, as we continue to provide services and support to our students and employees. 

We will continue to communicate any further updates about the COVID-19 situation in the coming weeks and as we plan well for the fall. 

Live in hope, for our world belongs to God, 

Dr. Patricia R Harris
President

April 9, 2020

Dear Members of the Kuyper Community, 

As I write this update, I am aware that we continue to face challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, we have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases within our State, and many of us know friends and family members who are ill. We continue to pray for their healing as well as for the stamina and protection of the health care providers who are bravely caring for the needs of those affected by this virus.

Today, Governor Whitmer signed executive order 2020-42, extending her prior “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through April 30, 2020. As with the prior order, Executive Order 2020-42 limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. Executive Order 2020-42 also imposes more stringent limitations on stores to reduce foot traffic, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and save lives.

When the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order was enacted on March 24, Kuyper College was permitted to continue operations with a very limited number of critical infrastructure employees working on campus. We are permitted to provide services and care for the residential students on campus and to maintain very minimal campus operations. The measures we put in place then, as summarized in prior updates, will continue through April 30. 

In her news conference today, Governor Whitmer reported, “Michigan has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families. Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.” 

We, at Kuyper, are committed to doing all we can to help flatten the curve of the pandemic and follow the guidelines of this executive order. Over the past four weeks, we have joined together to support our students and each other in extraordinary ways, and we will continue to do the same in the coming weeks. We hold the value of community very high at Kuyper, and during this challenging time, that value is being realized in creative and tangible ways, as we care for one another.

Even as we live in the midst of a strained and broken world, may we approach this Easter weekend with bold confidence and great joy, declaring that Christ Jesus, our Lord, has defeated sin and death. He lives! Hallelujah!

Easter joy, in the midst, 

Dr. Patricia R. Harris
President

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
President

 

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. 

Class Instruction

  • 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.  

Student Employment

  • 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 advancement@kuyper.edu 

Commencement

  • 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.

Campus Events

  • 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.

Self Care

  • 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

President

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. 

Class Instruction

  • 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.

Campus Offices

  • 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. 

Student Employment

  • 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. 

Campus Events

  • 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.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Patricia R Harris

President

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.

College Reports and Additional Resources