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College and University COVID Protocols

August 25, 2021

Christian Reformed-related colleges and universities are beginning to welcome students back on campus for the upcoming school year. As they do so, they are having to make difficult decisions about COVID-19 protocols.

For a time earlier this year, as the number of COVID-19 cases fell, it seemed there might be a clear pathway to opening schools without requiring mask wearing and other protocols. University administrators hoped that everyone on the campuses might move ahead in familiar patterns.

But now that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading and infecting thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada, colleges and universities have scaled back some of their expectations. They are moving forward with measures that they feel will best respond to current realities and will allow students to learn and study in a safe environment.

Here is a brief look at the plans of colleges and universities related to the CRC in North America.

Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., is asking “for a temporary return to a face-mask requirement in public spaces” as they “welcome students from around the world . . . and face the reality of rising case numbers” in their region.

“We’ve already received a number of responses to these measures, including expressions of support and appreciation, questions about implementation, and disagreement,” say university officials.

“While this has been expected, it also shows the challenge of finding a path forward on which everyone would agree and also the challenge of communicating upcoming actions in a timely fashion . . . while still working out some of the fine details.”

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Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., invites its community “to demonstrate personal integrity, trust, and care for one another. For example, with regard to distancing indoors — the college will create experiences where people may physically distance themselves if they need to or desire to. At the same time, Trinity is lifting pandemic-related capacity limits for campus spaces. And the college encourages vaccination and will be collecting vaccination records to help the school understand its population and plan for an engaging and healthy fall in a residential community, “but we will not be checking records as people enter buildings. How wonderful that we get another opportunity and dynamic to live into the Christian community.”

The King’s University in Edmonton, Alta., “is projecting a return to normal operations by September 2021. Some enhanced safety measures may remain in effect. Alberta Health Services guidelines and recommendations will be followed in all circumstances.”
Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, has posted a Q&A explaining its protocol on what is expected of returning students. For instance, here is one example: “What is Dordt’s current stance regarding COVID-19 vaccines? COVID-19 vaccines are not required. Students, faculty, and staff are highly encouraged to consider getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

And there is this: “I tested positive for COVID-19 in the 10 days before I am supposed to come to campus. What should I do? Please plan to stay home until your full 10 days of isolation are completed. Email [email protected], and provide your expected return-to-campus date. Your professors will be notified of your late arrival.”

Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ont., is hopeful and upbeat, despite the Delta variant, that things can return to some semblance of what has been familiar for years on the campus. Redeemer says it “is increasingly confident” that it “will be able to safely offer many on-campus activities this fall. While it’s too early to define what specific restrictions may still be required, as more Ontarians are vaccinated and COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decrease, September is beginning to look like a return to normal. Chapel, clubs, launch weekend, sports, events, internships, and many more activities are likely to resume in a way similar to their pre-COVID formats.”