Winter Term Update

Dear Students and Families:
We are now halfway through the fall term and working on plans for winter. Our intention for winter term is to resume some in-person coursework and open residence halls to those students who were originally placed for fall. In preparation, we want to share some important information to aid in your decision-making process as you contemplate winter term registration and plans to move onto campus in January. Please note that we are continuing to carefully monitor public health data and will remain flexible to adjust plans if conditions significantly change. 

Thank you, 

Sarah B. Westfall
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

Winter Term Classes

In winter term, the College will be offering courses in three different modalities: 1) online only 2) hybrid and 3) required onsite components. Additional information about what each of these modalities entails, as well as information about how to search for classes by modality can be found on the Searching for Courses by Modality link on the registrar’s website. Winter 2021 courses are coded in the course schedule with their modality so that students know the modalities of their desired courses when they meet with their academic advisors. 

COVID Testing Protocols

The College will institute a robust COVID testing protocol as part of the return to in-person learning and working in the winter term. 

All students, faculty and staff will be tested upon arrival to campus in early January 2021. All classes will be offered virtually the first week of the term to provide time for students to be tested and to quarantine until test results are available. We anticipate a turn-around time of 24–48 hours for test results. Students who test positive at that time will be moved into isolation spaces on campus if they live in the residence halls. Off-campus students will be instructed about how to isolate in their residences. Thereafter, a program of daily surveillance testing will be in place. The surveillance program will test 1–2 percent of students, faculty and staff each weekday, with follow-up for additional testing as required. Testing for symptomatic students, or for students exposed to the virus, will be ongoing.  

Other health protocols established prior to fall will remain in effect, including enhanced cleaning protocols.The essential element in preventing the spread of the virus is physical distancing, wearing face coverings over the mouth and nose, frequent handwashing and staying away from others (and campus) when ill. Every member of the K community is expected to take these measures, without fail, when on campus. 

On-Campus Housing Update

If a student had an active housing assignment at the point K announced it was going virtual for fall, and that student intends to live on campus for winter term, no action is needed. The housing assignment and meal plan are scheduled to automatically reactivate. Given the evolving nature of the pandemic, we know that some students may have changes in their plans. In an effort to streamline communication, the Office of Residential Life is providing a Housing Change of Intent Form for students to signal a change in their plans to live on campus. This form is only intended for those who received a housing assignment and whose plans for winter may be different from what was originally communicated to Residential Life. We will be making every effort to return students to their original housing assignments and configurations. However, since numbers are crucial to our planning, we ask that students submit the necessary information by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 8. While plans may continue to change, students should respond with their strongest inclination. We will not know until after the completion of this process whether any additional open spots will be available for students who did not receive a housing assignment originally, so please hold those questions until a later date.

Athletics

We anticipate participating in MIAA competition after the first of the year. Athletes will receive more information about participation in athletics as plans are finalized.

Virtual Town Hall on October 29

We will be holding a virtual town hall meeting for students and families hosted by President Jorge G. Gonzalez on Thursday, October 29, from 7 to 8 p.m. ET. We will be sending more details soon regarding how to log in. Questions may be submitted in advance by emailing HornetQuestions2020@kzoo.edu. A recording of the event will be made available for those unable to attend.

FAQs for Students and Families Regarding Fall 2020

TIMING OF DECISION

Why did the college wait until the end of August to shift to remote learning?

We recognize that this decision comes late in the summer and the timing is extremely frustrating for many. The timing was a balancing act and we did not want to make a call too early if there was still a good probability of successfully holding in-person classes. Our teams have worked hard to put an effective opening plan in place and we were deeply disappointed to change course. However, given the trends we have been seeing across the U.S. and the experiences of many other colleges and universities, we felt this was the right decision for the safety of students, faculty and staff, as well as for our local area. We can assure you that this decision was based on data and guidance from public health officials, which we have been following closely through every stage of the pandemic. Our values as an institution call us to put the safety of our community first, even knowing such a decision may be unpopular or the timing not ideal.

When will we find out about the status of winter term?

Our intention is to have a decision made by the beginning of December. We have to caution that things can change very quickly with regards to this pandemic; however, our intention is to have a decision 30 days in advance. 

TUITION, BILLING AND FINANCIAL AID

Will there be a reduction in tuition?

The College sets tuition and room-and-board fees at a level that will allow us to provide the type of personal and engaging academic experience you and your student have come to expect. We also rely on the College’s endowment and fundraising to balance our budget—tuition cannot cover all of our costs. For these reasons, the College is not reducing tuition as a result of the decision to move to a fully remote, virtual format for the fall term.

While the experience our students will have this year will be different, our faculty, and the staff who support them, are still committed to giving our students the best academic experience we can under these unprecedented conditions. Our class sizes are capped; we still have a low student-to-faculty ratio, which means we have more professors teaching smaller classes than other types of institutions. Even remotely, our faculty are accessible in ways that faculty at other, larger institutions are not. Our faculty have been preparing for online learning since June. Many faculty members have engaged in external professional development related to distance learning in their respective disciplines and have shared what they have learned with their colleagues. An immense set of resources dedicated to online teaching and learning has been created for support. Faculty have spent the summer developing and planning at the departmental level, creating robust online courses that are engaging and give students more opportunity to interact with their professors virtually. They’ve also taken into account student feedback on spring term—what worked and what could be improved.

Here is some financial information that might provide context for the reasons we are not reducing tuition.

For this academic year, net tuition (tuition after financial aid) is about $32.6 million. Salaries and benefits for all staff—faculty and those that support them—is over $27.3 million. The expenses in the academic departments and other departments that support the academic program (the library, student health and counseling, career development, etc.) account for approximately $12 million. These resources will still be available to our students, albeit in virtual and phone formats. The $12 million also includes support areas like admissions, financial aid, campus safety, the business office, information technology services, human resources and advancement. All of these areas need to operate regardless of whether students are on campus, and some, like advancement, bring in much needed gifts to support student financial aid and other programs. So our total tuition revenue does not fully cover our salary, benefit and program costs of approximately $39.3 million. In addition to these costs, the College must also continue to maintain its facilities and technology resources. 

The revenue that usually helps to fill the revenue gap is room and board, primarily room revenue. This year that revenue will be significantly reduced since we will not have students in residence for the fall term. To compensate for this shortfall, we have instituted a 10% reduction in all program costs, a salary freeze at all levels, and a reduction in employee benefits. Despite these changes, there is still a gap between the costs to provide a K education and the revenue we receive to provide it. For these reasons, we cannot reduce tuition.

We acknowledge that the experience our students have this term will be different from what they, and we, had hoped for. Yet it will be a unique K experience provided by dedicated and creative faculty in small virtual settings supported by counseling, health, career, and student development resources, regardless of where our students are located.

When will we see bill adjustments or refunds for fees? 

  • Room and board charges and health insurance charges have now been removed from Fall 2020 bills*.
  • The student activity fee, which is billed through a separate system, will be removed no later than Friday, September 4. 
  • Lab fees and course fees will also be refunded. 

For those that have already paid their bill, refunds will be processed by the first day of class.  

*Students who specifically enrolled in health insurance are still enrolled and have not been refunded. If you wish to change your insurance coverage, contact Healthsv@kzoo.edu

What is the policy on late fees, given the difficult times?

There is no change to the policy on late fees; however, we do understand that there may be extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19 that are affecting family finances. Please reach out to the Student Accounts office (billing@kzoo.edu) if you have questions about your specific situation. 

Will I still have work-study opportunities in the fall?
Jobs that can be done remotely will be posted on Handshake. Supervisors are also being asked to determine if there is other work that can be accomplished remotely for work-study students. Priority for employment will be given to students on federal work-study and those who were already offered employment before the term went to virtual learning. In the event a student already hired cannot perform the job they were hired for remotely (example: Resident Assistants), another position will be found for them on campus. 

How will this change affect financial aid?

In most cases, this change will not affect a student’s financial aid. Examples of situations where a student’s aid may change include a student dropping their course registration below 2.4 units, a student originally planning to live on campus now living at home, etc. For those students on Posse scholarships, those scholarships will provide the same benefits. 

When will we have a finalized financial aid/scholarship statement?  

Billing statements and financial aid are now current. If your student has an award with a “pending” status, we are either waiting for the State of Michigan to finalize their budget (this impacts the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and Michigan Tuition Grant) or we haven’t received your student’s donor thank you (applies to endowed awards).

What’s the current situation for the Michigan Tuition Grant and Competitive Scholarship?

Currently we have this grant and scholarship held as “pending” until we receive notice that the State of Michigan has approved funding. We hope that this will be decided and funds released by the end of September. We advise students to pay their balance and we will reimburse you when funds come in, however, at this point, there is no guarantee these funds will be available. If you are unable to pay this cost up front, the billing office can work with you to remove late fees if funds are released. If it is determined the funds will not be available and you need to discuss your family’s financial needs, please contact the financial aid office at finaid@kzoo.edu

CAMPUS LIFE

Will there be ways for students to gather and meet people virtually? What about in person in small groups where students might be centrally located?

There will absolutely be programs and activities organized virtually for students to get to know one another and have fun. More information on activities will be sent out as the term gets underway. In regards to gatherings, there may be opportunities for students to get together in small groups who live in shared geographic areas and we are exploring some ideas. However, please keep in mind that even off-campus, it’s important to “protect the hive” and practice all the safe physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing that we’ve been discussing all summer long. We want our Hornets to stay safe and healthy!

Will we have access to student support resources this fall?

Yes, students will have access to key support resources this fall. The Counseling Center, the Student Health Center, the Intercultural Center, the Center for International Programs, the Office of Student Involvement, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and the Center for Career and Professional Development are among the offices that will be providing virtual services and programs to students. Students will also have access to advising and to library services.

Library book pickup hours have expanded to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. All current students, faculty and staff may request circulating items through Library OneSearch. Learn more about this service.

More information will be available on individual office and department websites in the coming days. 

Will the library be able to provide the services I need?

Library services will be available remotely and physical materials can be accessed via curbside pickup for those students located in Kalamazoo. Depending on your needs, the library may be able to connect you to the resources you need in another library, scan and send resources you need, or find you find digital resources. Please reach out to library staff and they will be very happy to assist you. 

Will other buildings on campus be available to students living locally?

Since the purpose of going virtual is to de-densify campus, most buildings will remain closed to students and will have only limited staff working on site. However, there may be circumstances where students need access to resources for things such as SIPs or music practice. Students should work with their academic advisors to address such needs, as faculty will be able to request access to specific academic facilities (e.g., lab spaces, performance spaces). 

ACADEMICS

What is the college doing about students without reliable devices?

Information Services has sent out a survey to high need students to assess their access to technology. Based on those survey results, the College is working to determine what steps can be taken to support access for these students. 

How will K work to ensure that each course is being taught to the highest standards in a remote environment? 

Faculty have spent the summer engaged in planning and professional development for the fall term. Revisions to courses have been developed in response to student feedback on what worked and what did not in the spring term, there has been extensive sharing among faculty of best practices, and faculty have participated in both internal and external workshops on effective virtual pedagogy. Specific topics of emphasis have included creating community and connection in virtual environments, effective use of video and other technologies, and specific strategies for transitioning face to face techniques to virtual environments.

How will faculty be expected to engage with students virtually? Are there avenues students can take if faculty are unavailable or unresponsive? 

Faculty are expected to have regular and substantive interaction with students and will be engaging in more synchronous activities than during the spring. If students encounter faculty who are unavailable, please reach out to the Associate Provost, Katie MacLean. 

Will classes be synchronous or asynchronous?

Classes will have a mix of both components. 

What if I/my student is struggling with online learning? 

Please reach out to your professor(s) or your academic advisor for support. 

What platform are professors using for classes?

Every course has a Moodle site (our Learning Management System). We also have Microsoft Teams available. 

Will courses be Credit/No Credit?

Courses will be graded, and students will also have the option to take courses CR/NC under a modified version of the published CR/NC policy. The specific modifications are described on K’s COVID-19 webpage under the Academic Program tab.

If I want to attend another institution for fall term, how does credit transfer work?

Students who wish to receive credit for academic work completed elsewhere during a term when the student is not enrolled at Kalamazoo College should contact the Registrar’s Office in advance to see whether the course(s) they are interested in will transfer to Kalamazoo. Courses must be taken at a regionally accredited college or university (or appropriately accredited international institution) and must have a focus and be at a level appropriate for an undergraduate liberal arts program. Students should supply the Registrar with the name of the institution and the name and course description for any course they wish to transfer.  In some cases, a course syllabus may also be required. The Registrar’s Office will work with appropriate departments to determine the appropriateness of the course. To receive transfer credit for the course, the student must receive a grade of C or better (C- is not acceptable). Please visit https://reason.kzoo.edu/registrar/ for more information or email regist@kzoo.edu .

When will I be able to meet with an Academic Advisor? Can they help me with my schedule?

Academic advisors will be reaching out to first year students just before the term begins to schedule individual meetings. Please talk with your advisor about your schedule if you need assistance. 

K’s study abroad program is a major reason that many students choose to attend K. What options will exist for a semester abroad in the future, if study abroad has been disrupted? 

Our Center for International Programs is working on program options for winter and spring if international travel is viable then. Participation during senior year may also be an option for some students. Individual students should work with their advisors right away to plan out possible paths for meeting remaining requirements while accommodating study abroad. 

HOUSING AND DINING

What will the housing situation be for Winter? If we had planned to live on campus, can we opt out? Will we have the same room assignment?

Residence Life will be working on these plans in the coming weeks. Your room assignment may be different depending on the number of students coming back to campus, however, if you originally had a room assignment for fall, there will be room available for you this academic year. If you were originally planning to live on campus, you’ll have the opportunity to opt out for winter term. 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Will students still have access to student health insurance and the Student Health Center?

Yes, if students had their health insurance fees refunded and they still wish to keep coverage, they can contact Healthsv@kzoo.edu.

The Student Health Center will be available to all enrolled Kalamazoo College students for phone and video visits, and some limited in-person pre-scheduled appointments. More information will be coming soon at https://healthcenter.kzoo.edu on services and hours.

Will students still have access to the Counseling Center?

Yes, students will have access to virtual appointments and services. More information will be available at https://counseling.kzoo.edu

Why did the College decide not to do entry testing or quarantining before returning to campus? 

Kalamazoo College’s plan for COVID PCR testing was informed by federal, state and local public health guidance, including from the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department. The approach focuses on students who are symptomatic or who have had known exposure to COVID. 

Testing for symptomatic and exposed students is aligned with public health guidance and was determined to be reasonable given the current demands on testing resources. The supply chain for tests and related supplies had been unreliable, as was the time for test results to become available. Receiving results more than 24-48 hours after the test makes them of little value for immediate response and disease mitigation. Labs could not guarantee timely results, so we could not rely on the data from them for quick response by the College.

It’s helpful to understand the differences between diagnostic tests for the virus. Antigen Point of Care Testing is a form of rapid testing that tests for proteins from the virus in nose and throat secretions. Antigen Point of Care testing as an asymptomatic screening measure is not widely endorsed by the medical community, and will play a limited role in the testing protocol at K. Rapid tests, which take the least amount of time for processing, can result in a misleading number of “false negatives,” which may lead a person to believe that they do not have the virus when they do. Such a conclusion may encourage risky behavior which may lead to additional spread of the illness, as we’ve seen on other campuses.

PCR tests, on the other hand, look for the genetic material of the coronavirus. The test uses a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which greatly amplifies the viral genetic material if it is present. It is considered to be a highly reliable test when active infection is present. Test samples are typically sent away to a lab, which can take multiple days to process.

In either case, testing provides an indicator of a single point in time. A person may be negative at the time of a test and become infected shortly thereafter. These facts together suggest that we exercise great caution in using tests as a primary tool to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Both PCR and rapid Antigen testing will be available to students, and campus medical clinicians will determine when and which test is warranted. We will prioritize our student health center personnel and community testing supplies for testing symptomatic individuals and close contacts of positive COVID cases, and will supply additional local resources for further testing of students as needed.

The College, along with the county health department, will continue to monitor information related to testing. If data about testing and/or the context (supply chain, laboratory demands, testing recommendations) change, we’ll reconsider our strategy for the coming term. 

For now, preventative measures are the most reliable in containing and preventing the spread of the virus: physical distancing, ubiquitous wearing of masks, hand hygiene, and daily monitoring of symptoms. 

President Gonzalez Answers Questions About Fall in Virtual Meeting

Kalamazoo College invited students and their families to a virtual meeting with President Jorge G. Gonzalez on Tuesday, September 1. The meeting, moderated by Chief Information Officer Greg Diment, encouraged attendees to ask questions about the virtual fall term. View a recording of the meeting below. An FAQ is being created from questions submitted; if you have questions that you did not submit, please email info@kzoo.edu.

  • 1:38, President Gonzalez’s opening remarks
  • 14:39, financial questions
  • 21:32, access to services
  • 32:21, academics
  • 46:10, the future
  • 51:45, general questions

Orientation Update

Below is a message that recently went out to the incoming first-year class along with the updated orientation schedule. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Hello Class of 2024!

Please find the updated orientation schedule now that the College has made the decision to move online for the fall term. A majority of this schedule will now take place in your orientation groups team that you have been using to communicate with your peer leader and seminar group. Your peer leader should have also reached out to you about setting up a third call to further talk through this schedule and how we will be utilizing Teams on those days.

In addition to the orientation experience taking place on Teams, all documents and videos that you will need to watch that day will also be found in the 2020 Orientation Groups Team under the “Files” tab. Over the course of this week and leading up to orientation, you will see more documents there. Please check back often.

Finally, while we understand that this virtual experience might not have been what we all had been hoping for, we can promise that there is much to look forward to, both in orientation and beyond. By the beginning of next week, we will also be providing you with the link to develop your own unique orientation experience on Saturday, September 12. This will be a great opportunity for you to begin to make the connections and find the groups and people that make Kalamazoo College such a special place. Please take advantage of this day and continue to reach out to your peer leaders with any questions you might have.

We can’t wait to see you soon!

Jon Collier
Director of Student Activities

Dana Jansma
Senior Associate Dean of Students

Important Update: K Shifts to Fully Virtual Fall Term

Dear Kalamazoo College Community,

Throughout our fall planning process, we have stated repeatedly that the health and safety of students, faculty and staff would be the driving factor in any decisions we made regarding the return to campus. We have been closely following local and national health trends, consulting with public health experts on an ongoing basis and watching the experiences of other higher ed institutions as they reopen.

Based on the worrisome trends we’re seeing nationally, we have come to the very difficult decision that bringing students back to campus in the fall would not be in the best interest of the community as a whole. Therefore, we will transition to a fully virtual curriculum for fall 2020 and residence halls will be closed.

I know that this is a deeply disappointing decision for everyone, especially for those of you looking forward to your first on-campus experience. While faculty and staff across the College are prepared for a return to campus next month, external factors have led us to this difficult decision. I want to share some of the data we’ve been following that led to our decision.

Case numbers remain persistently high across much of the U.S.; within Michigan, the eastern half of the state remains at high risk of spread, while the Kalamazoo region and other western regions remain in the medium-high risk category, according to the health department’s MI Safe Start Map. As campuses across the country have reopened, we’ve seen many reports of COVID clusters and spikes as students return, and small colleges in similar settings to ours are experiencing troublesome rates of infection. We have also learned that employees working directly with students are experiencing exposure and infection. The loss of employees in direct support positions to quarantine or isolation puts students at potential risk. 

For these reasons, we must continue to act with an abundance of caution. Our students come from all over the U.S. and the world, and we are not an insulated campus. Instead, we are an integral part of a dynamic city where institutions and the community interact. The best protocols and strongest commitments to following them are not a guarantee against this virus. With ongoing concerns about the risks of COVID transmission in a residential setting, as well as local, state, and national efforts to control the spread of the virus, we feel we must do our part to “protect the hive.”

As we move forward, I want to assure you that faculty have been working tirelessly this summer to create a strong virtual foundation for coursework. Faculty have invested significant time and resources in reimagining their courses for remote learning. I am confident they will deliver the high-quality and personalized instruction for which Kalamazoo College is known.

I’m certain you’ll have many questions, and over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing more information with you about these changes, including information regarding virtual orientation, access to necessary resources for SIPs, the reimbursement of fall term student activity fees, return to campus for staff, and more. We will be updating the COVID-19 webpage and you may continue to send your questions to info@kzoo.edu.

As painful as this decision was to make, I know that it will provide a safer and more certain start to the academic year. I am profoundly grateful to everyone in our community for their patience as we’ve worked through each unknown and planned for multiple contingencies. I can’t express how much we all miss having our students on campus, and we look forward to having everyone together later this academic year.

Saludos and be well,

Jorge G. Gonzalez

President

August 20 Fall Update for Students and Families

Campus Dining

Campus dining in the fall has been carefully planned to provide a variety of high-quality food options and locations while also enabling appropriate physical distancing. Dining will include options at Welles, the Richardson Room and the Book Club (in the library). We will also add a venue to pick up freshly prepared items in Dewing Hall. This will provide four locations for dining, and will enable as much distancing as possible.

  • Welles Dining Hall will be able to accommodate sit-down dining at a reduced capacity that is physically distant. A variety of options will be available there, including traditional “home line” food, a daily vegan entree, salads, and desserts, to name a few. The food will be freshly prepared and packaged to go.As in the past, the Richardson Room will include freshly prepared and packaged salads and other items, as well as a limited offering of sandwiches to go.
  • We are happy to share that we will be able to offer a limited commuter plan to off-campus students, and will provide more details in the coming weeks.
  • Dining will be quite different in the fall given our collective responsibility to maintain physical distance and avoid waiting in lines and queuing. We will all be responsible for abiding by campus expectations related to physical distance, wearing masks, and hand hygiene at every dining venue. Dining, with appropriate distance, will work best when we use all four venues and when we move quickly through them.

Modification of Credit/No Credit Policy

The Kalamazoo College faculty have voted to make modifications to the Credit/No Credit policy for fall term 2020. The changes to the currently published catalog policy are highlighted in bold below. The unbolded information remains unchanged from the published policy.

Credit/No Credit Policy

All students may elect to take at most TWO letter-graded courses on campus as CR/NC (Credit/No Credit) in FALL 2020, with only one of the two counting against the maximum of four courses over their college career (not including Spring 2020).

  • Students may elect this option for at most one course in any one department. The CR/NC grade option is not available for Shared Passage Seminars or for the final course taken to satisfy the language requirement (i.e. 103 or 201).
  • Letter-graded courses taken as CR/NC may not count towards any major, minor, or concentration (including required cognates), nor may they satisfy prerequisites for those course sequences that require a “C- or better,” without special permission from the department.
  • Students who take a course for a CR/NC grade may retake the course for a letter grade
  • Students may choose to apply the CR/NC option at any time during the course, up to 5 p.m. Friday of 10th week. The professor will assign a letter grade as per normal procedure, but the Registrar’s Office will convert passing grades to CR and will convert an F to NC. (Professors will not be formally notified if students have taken this option.)

These changes reflect the desire to provide additional flexibility for students and reflect consideration of student feedback about the CR/NC policy last spring.

Prevent the Spread!

As a reminder, these are three of the most important preventative steps each of us must take to curb the spread of illness in our K community:

  1. Mask Up. When in shared interior spaces, or when physical distancing isn’t possible outdoors, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth (without ventilation valves).
  2. Wash Up. Wash your hands frequently and for a duration of 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol content.
  3. Back Up. Everyone is expected to maintain a physical distance of six (6) feet from others, in interior and exterior spaces.
    While it’s critical we follow these steps on campus, it’s just as important to keep them in mind when off campus! Avoid parties and social gatherings where public health guidelines are not being followed and help protect the hive.

Fall Campus Update

Public Health Practices and Expectations

Everyone associated with the College shares in the responsibility for “protecting the hive.” Public health guidance is unanimous in advocating specific practices designed to prevent and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In keeping with this guidance, Kalamazoo College expects that all students, employees, and visitors to campus abide by the following measures without external enforcement. They are a condition of being on campus property.

Should any student, employee, or visitor fail to fulfill the following expectations, they may be removed and banned from campus, either temporarily or permanently.

  • Cloth face masks without a ventilation valve are required for everyone in shared interior campus spaces. Such masks must be worn properly so that the nose and mouth are both covered. Shared interior spaces include but are not limited to classrooms, laboratories, hallways, points of service, offices and all campus buildings. Occupants of spaces that are not shared (residence hall rooms, discrete offices) do not have to wear face coverings if they are in those spaces alone. Face coverings are required if another person enters those spaces.
  • Everyone is expected to maintain physical distance of six (6) feet from others while on campus, in interior and exterior spaces. Physical distancing markers will help remind people of this, and each person is expected to monitor this individually, as well. Note that this applies to areas where lines or queues have traditionally formed—the Book Club, the Richardson Room, Welles Dining Hall, the Mail Center, and the Bookstore, to name a few.
  • Frequent, thorough (20 seconds in duration) hand washing is expected. When soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol content can be used.
  • People who have symptoms of illness are expected to stay away from campus, regardless of academic or work commitments. Communication about such absences must be initiated by the person who is staying home to the appropriate instructor or supervisor.
  • Daily self-screening before going to campus must be completed. Information about the student self-screening process will be shared prior to the start of the fall quarter.
  • Residential students who are recommended for quarantine or isolation by campus medical providers must relocate to those spaces immediately, per the College’s process. A specific process has been established that will allow for immediate occupancy and meal delivery.
  • No large gatherings are permitted on campus.

While these expectations focus on campus behavior, the same principles apply to responsible behavior while away from campus. Avoiding large gatherings and frequent travel off campus will help ensure safety for the whole campus community. Please help us protect the hive!

Expectations about public health practices may change as more information about the novel coronavirus becomes available.

K’s Plan for Testing and Tracing

Following is the College’s plan and rationale for COVID testing. Should public health recommendations or other relevant factors change, the plan may also change.

Kalamazoo College’s plan for COVID PCR testing, informed by federal, state and local public health guidance, including from the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department, is to focus on students who are symptomatic or who have had known exposure to COVID. This approach is part of the College’s overall strategy of emphasizing physical distancing, ubiquitous wearing of masks, and hand hygiene, all of which are proven to minimize the spread of the virus.

These preventative measures—distancing, masks, and hygiene—are the primary strategy for the College’s response to the virus.

Testing for symptomatic and exposed students is aligned with public health guidance and is reasonable given the current demands on testing resources. The supply chain for tests and related supplies is currently unreliable, as is the time for test results to become available. Receiving results more than 24-48 hours after the test makes them of little value for immediate response and disease mitigation.

Currently, labs cannot guarantee timely results, so we cannot rely on the data from them for quick response by the College.

Differences in Diagnostic Tests

It’s helpful to understand the differences between diagnostic tests for the virus.

Antigen Point of Care Testing is a form of rapid testing that tests for proteins from the virus in nose and throat secretions. Antigen Point of Care testing as an asymptomatic screening measure is not widely endorsed by the medical community, and will play a limited role in the testing protocol at K. Rapid tests, which take the least amount of time for processing, can result in a misleading number of “false negatives,” which may lead a person to believe that they do not have the virus when they do. Such a conclusion may encourage risky behavior which may lead to additional spread of the illness.

PCR tests, on the other hand, look for the genetic material of the coronavirus. The test uses a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which greatly amplifies the viral genetic material if it is present. It is considered to be a highly reliable test when active infection is present. Test samples are typically sent away to a lab, which can take multiple days to process.

In either case, testing provides an indicator of a single point in time. A person may be negative at the time of a test and become infected shortly thereafter.

These facts together suggest that we exercise great caution in using tests as a primary tool to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Both PCR and rapid Antigen testing will be available to students, and campus medical clinicians will determine when and which test is warranted. We will prioritize our student health center personnel and community testing supplies for testing symptomatic individuals and close contacts of positive COVID cases, and will supply additional local resources for further testing of students as needed.

The College, along with the county health department, will continue to monitor information related to testing. If data about testing and/or the context (supply chain, laboratory demands, testing recommendations) change, we’ll reconsider our strategy. For now, preventative measures are the most reliable in containing and preventing the spread of the virus. As previously noted, daily self-screening for symptoms will also be required.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing for students who test positive for COVID-19 will be conducted by the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services (KCHCS) Department.

The Kalamazoo College Student Health Center staff are also trained in contact tracing, and will provide assistance to the county, if needed. Contact tracing entails interviews with the infected person and a review of their recent activities.

People at risk for infection based on their exposure to the infected person will then be contacted. Not everyone who has been exposed to an infected person is at risk for the disease. The nature and duration of the exposure are important in determining who will be contacted. For example, passing a positive person in a hallway while masked is of less concern than being in the same room without appropriate distance and a mask for 30 minutes. The College will rely on the expertise and resources of the KCHCS for contact tracing.

Changes to the Fall Calendar

The one-day Fall Break, currently scheduled for October 16, will be removed from the academic calendar. Classes will be held as scheduled on that date. Removing the fall break will discourage students from leaving Kalamazoo for a long weekend in the middle of term and traveling to areas that may be hot spots for the coronavirus.

Additionally, the College will not hold a Family Weekend in the fall and Homecoming will be postponed until April 23-25, 2021, so that we may limit visitors to the campus.

Campus Parking Update

For the coming academic year, students may request parking permits without charge. All parking permits must be registered online using the WebAdvisor. First-year students that have opted out of on-campus housing are eligible to apply for a commuter parking permit.

Please note that the issuance of a parking permit does not guarantee you a place to park on the campus lots. The permit only grants you permission to park in an authorized lot. However, we do anticipate more parking availability in lots and streets due to reduced staff on campus and fewer in-person classes. Please watch your student email for more information about parking, or visit the Motor Vehicle and Parking Policy.

Fall Term Update

The following message was sent earlier today to students and families.

Dear Students and Families:

Planning for the fall quarter at K continues and we are eager to welcome students back for the new academic year. This message provides a comprehensive update on where we are with fall planning, including some information that we have already shared with you and additional details about other areas of campus planning.

As we have shared previously, the College’s priorities remain: a) the health and well-being of our students and employees and b) assisting students in progressing toward graduation with coursework that reflects the K experience of small classes and deep engagement with faculty and staff. We continue to monitor the public health situation in southwest Michigan and will let you know as soon as possible if we need to modify plans for housing or classes in response to the developing public health situation.

Fall Term 2020 Classes

The College will offer classes in person, in a hybrid (partly in person and partly virtual) format, and in a virtual format. Students who wish to take a full load of courses remotely will be able to do so, as nearly half of fall courses will now be offered in a virtual format.

Information about the final mix of classes in each format (and directions on how to search the course schedule by format) is now available on the College website. As a reminder, the add/drop period reopens for returning students on August 3 so that students have several weeks to adjust their schedules as needed before the start of fall term.

Faculty have been working throughout the summer to prepare fall courses that are engaging and intellectually rigorous, regardless of the mode in which they are offered. During the month of August, faculty will be discussing the issue of fall term grading and determining whether modifications should be made to published grading policies in the Academic Catalog. Any faculty-approved changes will be shared before the fall term begins.

Academic Calendar

The academic calendar for the fall term remains as published previously. Fall term courses will begin on September 14 and classes end on November 20, with final exams scheduled for November 22-24. At this point, all academic deadlines (e.g., add/drop, course withdrawal) remain as published.

First-Year Students Housing and Orientation

We look forward to welcoming new students to campus this fall! First-year students will start engaging virtually with their Peer Leaders and seminar group by mid-August. In addition, new students will be invited to watch a faculty/staff panel discussion about the broader themes of the Summer Common Reading. More information about both will be forthcoming.

First-year students will receive their housing assignments via their K email during the first week of August. Students will move into the residence halls on Tuesday, September 8, and Wednesday, September 9 (9 a.m.–4 p.m. on both days). Early move-ins cannot be accommodated. Students will be permitted to bring up to two people to assist them with move-in. Everyone must wear masks and we will be engaging in physical distancing practices. After moving their students in, we invite families to stop by the Information Table outside the Hicks Student Center (or inside in the event of rain) to pick up their welcome bag that will contain an abundance of helpful information. Families will then be required to depart campus. Family orientation sessions will be entirely online this year.

Formal Orientation activities for first-year students will begin Wednesday night, September 9, and run through Sunday, September 13. Orientation is required for all incoming first-year students. Virtual options will be made available for students who are studying remotely. Students will be engaging in a variety of sessions to help them know what it means to be a Kalamazoo College student and be successful academically, gain useful information, and engage socially. They will spend time with their Peer Leaders in their small seminar groups, and there will be many opportunities for fun experiences both in-person and virtual. The full schedule will be emailed to new students in early August.

Transfer Student Orientation is scheduled for Friday, September 11, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. This one-day orientation is required for all transfer students. There will be optional activities scheduled for Saturday, September 12. More information will be emailed to transfer students in early August.

In the event we are entirely online for fall, all Orientation activities will be offered virtually. Questions about orientation can be directed to Jon Collier, Director of Student Activities (Jon.Collier@kzoo.edu).

Sophomore Students

We understand that this is an especially challenging time for you, both because of the disruptions to the final term of your first year and the inability to live on campus this year. We are currently exploring possibilities for additional sophomore-focused programming and will share additional information as it becomes available. Our website for off-campus living may also be a useful source of information.

Dining

Campus dining will be limited to students living in the residence halls. This is the best way to ensure physical distancing and compliance with public health mandates about the density of interior dining spaces. We anticipate that a significant proportion of dining will be of the “grab and go” variety whereby students will select items “to go.” Dining Services is exploring and refining a system to order ahead online, and we’ll share more when we know more details. We anticipate that students will be able to “grab and go” from a variety of locations across campus to minimize queuing and crowding. Should public health guidance change and enable a larger number of students to safely participate in campus dining (via commuter meal plans, for example), we will share that information. More specific information will be provided as the academic term approaches.

Enhanced Sanitizing Protocols

Enhanced sanitizing protocols will be in place across campus for fall. Common spaces such as classrooms, restrooms in non-residential buildings, and group restrooms in residential buildings will be disinfected daily. Common touch points (e.g., doorknobs, faucets) will be disinfected on a more frequent basis. In classrooms, materials will be provided for individuals to disinfect their own area (e.g., chair, desk, table) upon entering the space. Classrooms will also be cleaned and disinfected daily by custodial staff.

Community Expectations for Promoting Health and Hygiene

Before returning to campus, all students and employees must complete the online COVID-19 educational modules that were shared via email in mid-July. This program consists of two 10-minute modules and associated assessments.

As part of our commitment to shared community responsibility, every person on campus who is medically able will be required to wear a face covering when in indoor common spaces such as hallways, restrooms, classrooms, lounges, and study/meeting areas. Face coverings are also required in outdoor spaces when social distancing is not possible and in personal spaces (residence hall rooms and individual offices) when more than one person is present. Students should return to campus prepared to self-monitor their health daily and to remain six feet away from others whenever possible. Students should bring a personal thermometer back to campus or to Kalamazoo when they return for the fall.

Everyone should follow CDC and College guidance on regular handwashing with soap and water and, when soap and water are not available, use of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer will be provided in stations across campus.

Student Health Center Services

The Student Health Center is available for all enrolled students’ healthcare needs this fall through phone triage, video visits and in-person visits. All students must be enrolled in MyChart and call 269-337-7200 to be pre-screened prior to an appointment. We will not be seeing walk-in students this fall. We plan to test scheduled, pre-screened students for COVID as needed. We are working closely with our local county health department on this dynamic situation and are doing our very best to mitigate risk to all of our campus community. We have on campus designated isolation and quarantine spaces available to campus residents.

The College requires all students living in the Kalamazoo area to have health insurance that is valid in the local area. Please enroll in or waive the College Student Health Insurance Plan.

If you are living away from the Kalamazoo area/only taking virtual classes and do not plan to enroll in the insurance plan, please waive health insurance.

Student Employment

Students will follow the College’s usual processes to attain employment on campus. Students may begin the process by visiting the campus employment website. All employees, including student employees, are expected to complete a pre-work health screening with a temperature reading, wear facial coverings and sanitize their workspace(s).

International Students

The Center for International Programs (CIP) staff are communicating with new and continuing F-1 visa and J-1 students throughout the summer regarding options for fall. For any F-1 student with additional questions, please email ISA@kzoo.edu. We will welcome visiting international students (J-1 visa holders) in the fall and winter, pending availability of travel options from outside the U.S.

Campus Offices and Services

As part of our efforts to maintain physical distance and reduce the density of individuals in campus spaces, many campus employees will continue to work remotely throughout the fall term. Offices and services will remain available to students, but hours for in-person interaction and drop-in access to services will be more limited than in terms past. As we get closer to the beginning of the fall term, specific hours and contact information for each office will be available to the campus community.

Study Abroad

Expanded options for 2021 long-term study abroad during the winter and spring terms and for short-term winter programs are being developed by the Center for International Programs (CIP) in collaboration with our partners around the world. Students who were approved for fall 2020 study abroad have already received information about winter and spring options and should contact cip@kzoo.edu if they have further questions. The CIP will continue to monitor the global travel and health situation and will make a final determination on winter study abroad by October 1.

Intercollegiate Athletics

As announced yesterday, K is postponing the fall intercollegiate athletic season. A decision on winter sports will be made later this fall. The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) also announced that the President’s Council has voted to postpone fall conference competition and conference tournaments for football, cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. The Conference will develop schedules for these sports to take place later in the academic year.

We look forward to welcoming students back to campus and remain committed to providing the small classes, engagement with faculty and staff, and opportunities to participate in activities with the larger campus community that are hallmarks of the K experience. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to test our resiliency and nimbleness. I am so proud of the work that has been done by our students, faculty, and staff over the past few months. Their resolve to move forward despite many challenges has been inspiring. I have no doubt that we will overcome our current public health crisis and that our community will be stronger as a result of this experience.

Saludos,
Jorge G. Gonzalez
President

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Update on Housing, Classes

To Students and Families:

Planning for the fall quarter at K continues. Here are some important updates:

Housing

As communicated earlier, the College is prioritizing the housing of first-year students and Visiting International students. Students living on campus will reside in rooms or in individual bedrooms by themselves, with no roommates. This is the most effective way to create physical distance in a group living environment. Residential student expectations in the context of the coronavirus and logistical details will be communicated later in the summer, once the housing process is underway. Residential students will be charged the double room rate.

After reviewing the “opt out” data from first-year and sophomore students, it is clear that there will not be space to house sophomore students on campus, including those who had planned to live in Living Learning Houses. This means that sophomores should make plans to live off campus (in Kalamazoo or at home). This is not what we had hoped would happen, but it is now clear that we must greatly minimize the number of students in residence in the interest of student health and safety.  

Classes

The College will offer classes in person, in a hybrid (partly in-person and partly virtual) format, and in a virtual format. Students who wish to take a full load of courses remotely will be able to do so. The mix of courses offered in each format will be informed by the very short survey of student preferences regarding classes that students received on Friday. Please take the time to complete the survey if you have not already done so. Not every course will be available in every format, but our goal is to provide a full load of courses that will enable each student to continue making progress toward their degree, whatever format they choose.  

Information about the final mix of classes in each format (and also directions on how to search the course schedule by format) will be available by the beginning of August when the add/drop period reopens for returning students so that students will have several weeks to adjust their schedules as needed before the start of fall term.

As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, the College’s priorities remain: a) the health and well-being of our students and employees and b) assisting students in progressing toward graduation with coursework that reflects the K experience of small classes and deep engagement with faculty and staff. The housing information and mix of course formats above reflect those dual priorities. We continue to monitor the public health situation in southwest Michigan and will let you know as soon as possible if we need to modify plans for housing or classes in response to the developing public health situation.

We appreciate your patience as we continue our planning efforts. We will communicate again soon with more information.

Sarah B. Westfall
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

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General Update on Fall Planning

Dear K Students and Families:

I write to provide a comprehensive update on our planning for the fall, with a focus on three important areas—student health and safety, course offerings and campus housing. Our priorities for fall planning are to protect student health and safety, and to provide a robust student experience, even in the midst of unusual circumstances.

We at K may be approaching these issues differently from other institutions due to our size, location and academic calendar. We are working to balance the desire for concrete information (about housing, for example) with the changing face of the pandemic. Our fall term classes start on September 14, later than many other institutions, and we will conclude the first term prior to Thanksgiving as always. This gives us time for preparation that may be unavailable to other colleges. Even so, our extended timeline for planning may cause anxiety as other institutions are announcing their plans while you still have decisions to make.

Student Health

Our priority in planning for the fall is doing as much as possible to ensure student health and safety. We will continue to rely on current public health guidance as we make decisions. It is clear that physical distance will be a key element in preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus, along with related practices like hand washing, mandatory wearing of masks/face coverings, and monitoring our health. Campus custodial staff will employ enhanced cleaning practices throughout, and it is also clear that each of us who work and learn at K will have responsibilities for further sanitizing spaces that we occupy. As a community, we have a shared responsibility for engaging in these behaviors for the well-being of all.

Classes

To provide appropriate physical distance, classes will be offered in a variety of ways in the coming year. For the fall, we plan to offer courses in a hybrid of in-person and online components that will reflect a range of instructional formats, from those with significant in-person components to others that are completely virtual. The goal of this approach is to enable students to have interactive, relatively small classes in the K tradition whether they are able to physically access campus resources or must take their full course load from a distance. It also ensures that we can nimbly adapt to changes in public health that may occur during the term.

Now that the spring term has ended, faculty are working on details about which courses will be offered in which format. Faculty will also be spending time this summer refining the virtual aspects of courses, taking into account their experiences during the spring, survey and other student feedback, and information from colleagues, so that the educational experience is engaging and rigorous regardless of format. Information about the format for specific courses will be available by early August and students will have the opportunity to adjust their fall course schedules if needed. While there will be an array of online-only course options for the fall, students taking courses remotely will not be able to register for some courses with significant in-person components. In addition to the work faculty are doing to prepare courses for fall, we are also reducing classroom capacities and looking at traffic flow and time between classes to promote physical distance.

Housing

Student housing will be very different from previous years. We cannot safely have a full residential system, so we have to make difficult decisions. As mentioned in a recent communication, the College is prioritizing first-year students and visiting international students for campus housing. First-year students are a priority given the important process of acclimating to life at K. While we hope to accommodate sophomores who seek campus housing, we cannot guarantee that space will be available. I encourage sophomores to seek housing off-campus, whether in Kalamazoo or at home if you prefer to learn from there. In addition to providing needed certainty for planning, this will also enable sophomores to establish desired environments, including choice of roommates. Please also remember to opt-out of housing via the form by July 12, 2020.

While the current pandemic has created many challenges for all of us, I continue to be impressed by the commitment of every member of our community to do whatever it takes to make sure that the education of our students continues. Despite having to adjust to a different environment and to high levels of uncertainty, our single focus has not moved from our mission of preparing our graduates to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world. I will continue to communicate with you as the start of the fall term approaches and our plans evolve.

Saludos,

Jorge G. Gonzalez

President

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