Update to K’s Mask Protocols

Dear Students and Families,

We wanted to share with you that effective today, Kalamazoo College is requiring all employees, students and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors in shared spaces, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated, those who are feeling ill and those who may feel more comfortable doing so are strongly encouraged to mask outdoors, as well.

This change to our previous face covering policy is based on CDC guidance recommending indoor masking for all persons when COVID-19 case rates are substantial or high in a specific locale. Kalamazoo County’s level of community transmission has moved to “substantial.”  

The College will provide more guidance on health protocols specific to student life (housing, athletics, etc.) over the coming days and weeks as we approach fall term. At this point in time, we do not foresee any significant changes to plans for housing, dining or class modalities, and health protocols will primarily focus on vaccination, masking and hygiene efforts.  The College will continue to monitor public health data and guidance from local, state and national health officials and we will relax or strengthen COVID-19 protocols as circumstances warrant. 

As it has been throughout the pandemic, the College’s top priority is the health and safety of students and employees. We have been able to limit COVID-19 cases on campus over the past 18 months because students, staff and faculty have overwhelmingly followed health protocols. Vaccination for those who are able and wearing face coverings when needed will be key to our continued success in limiting the spread of the virus and allowing us to move forward with our plans for in-person living and learning. By engaging in these behaviors, every one of us associated with the College can contribute to “Protecting the Hive.”

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you soon. 

J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson

COVID-19 Vaccine Reminder for Fall 2021

Dear K Students and Families:

We hope you are having a terrific summer. We’re writing today to remind you of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement that was communicated to students and families in the spring. All Kalamazoo College students will be required to be fully vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccines* approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). Fully vaccinated means you have completed the vaccination series at least two weeks prior to coming to campus. To meet this requirement, you would need to start a two-part series no later than August 1, 2021**. (For students who are scheduled to return to campus early due to athletics, LandSea or other commitments, please check with your organizations for vaccination deadlines.)

If you have been vaccinated in the state of Michigan, the College should be able to access your vaccination records and you do not need to submit any further documentation unless directly notified by the Student Health Center.

Anyone vaccinated outside of Michigan will need to submit a picture of their authorized vaccination card, with the dates and lot numbers easily visible, to healthsv@kzoo.edu no later than September 1, 2021.

If you have a CDC-approved medical reason for not being able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact the College at healthsv@kzoo.edu to request the waiver forms. Please understand that the College takes the health and safety of its community very seriously and very few waivers are granted. The waiver deadline is August 1, 2021.

Proof of vaccination or an approved waiver are required before a student may attend classes, move into residence halls or attend campus activities. Please be aware that if you are not vaccinated, you may not be able to participate in LandSea, study abroad/study away, or athletics, due to health protocols unique to those activities.

We’re confident the protocols we’ve put in place will allow us to return to the on-campus living and learning experience that K is well-known for, and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

Stay healthy, stay safe,

Dana Jansma
Interim Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson

*Please note: If you are under 18, the CDC has approved the Pfizer vaccine only.

**The timing between your first and second shots depends on which vaccine you receive. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose.

  • If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot three weeks (or 21 days) after your first.
  • If you received the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, you should get your second shot four weeks (or 28 days) after your first.

Important Message on COVID-19 Vaccines

To Students and Families:

As we continue to plan for in-person living and learning next academic year, we are writing to share that Kalamazoo College will require students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus next fall. This will include any student who intends to live on campus, attend classes or engage in any in-person activities. We will grant limited exceptions for medical reasons, as we do with other vaccinations. 

The scientific evidence is overwhelming that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 and related serious outcomes. They are an important component in helping us return to a more “pre-pandemic” way of life on campus. We appreciate the many students, faculty and staff who have already received their vaccinations and voluntarily shared their status with the College; this information helps with planning and decision-making as we continue our gradual reopening. 

The health of our community is our number one priority, as it has been since the start of the pandemic. Our decision-making will continue to be driven by credible scientific data and public health guidance. We recognize some people may still have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. If you have general questions about the vaccines, please visit the CDC website or the FDA website for more information. 

In the weeks to come, we will communicate more details about K’s requirement, including how to register your vaccination and guidance for international students. Please watch your email or look for updates on the COVID-19 website as information becomes available.  

We look forward to welcoming our community safely back to campus in the fall. Thank you for “Protecting the Hive.”

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

Danette Ifert Johnson

Vigilance Still Required! Protect the Hive.

Recent data from state and county public health officials are showing a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases in our area. The daily case count in Michigan is approaching levels last seen during the late November–January surge. On March 31, Michigan’s seven-day positivity rate for coronavirus diagnostic tests was 12.3% and on March 29, the rate in Kalamazoo County was 14.2%. (The goal is to keep positivity rates below 3% to reduce spread.) Additionally, variants of the coronavirus are becoming more prevalent, with Michigan (along with Florida) topping the list of states seeing the spread of those variants. Younger people are now being infected at a higher rate compared to previous surges, and hospitalizations have increased among younger populations that haven’t yet been vaccinated. Fortunately, K’s seven-day positivity rate remains low at 0.2%, thanks to everyone’s commitment to following our safety protocols. 

While vaccines will help a great deal in the long term, the data shows that in the short term, we need to double down on public health guidance about masking, distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene. With some states loosening restrictions and spring weather providing more outdoor activities, it’s going to be tempting to let our guard down; however, public health officials from the CDC to the local health department are imploring us to stay the course:

  • Mask up, back up and wash up. Please continue to follow K’s protocols inside and outside while on campus, even after you’ve been vaccinated. 
  • Get vaccinated when available. The COVID-19 vaccine is now open to all adults age 16+ in Kalamazoo County. While not mandatory, it is very strongly encouraged. The College will be hosting on-site vaccination clinics for students age 18 and older to be held on April 15 and April 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please watch your email for more information, including how to register for an appointment. If students are unable to attend the clinic, we encourage you to sign up for other vaccination opportunities in the area, including the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department, Bronson Hospital, Rite Aid pharmacy, Meijer and Walgreens. You can also visit the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website to search for vaccine opportunities by county. Other vaccination opportunities may be available on campus at a later date; however, timing is dependent on vaccine availability.
  • The Campus Activity Level will remain at Orange. Until we see state and local data improve, we will stay at our current level.

Together we can continue to stop the spread. Thank you for Protecting the Hive. 

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

Danette Ifert Johnson

Last Call: Sign Up or Opt Out

Thank you to everyone who has already scheduled COVID-19 arrival testing or opted out! For students who have yet to take action, we ask that you sign up or opt out by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 26, using the following links:

  1. Sign up for arrival testing (this applies to anyone who will be on campus at any time for any reason during the term, and includes students who are staying on campus over spring break).
  2. Opt out of testing (this only applies to students who do not plan to be on campus at all in the spring).

Remember, if you have received a COVID-19 vaccine, you still need to participate in arrival and surveillance testing if you are planning to be on campus at any time during spring term.

Students who miss scheduling their COVID-19 test and hope to walk in to an appointment may experience wait times, as scheduled appointments will be seen first.

One last reminder: As it is spring in Michigan and the weather could be unpredictable, please dress appropriately in the event that you may need to wait outside. 

Thank you for Protecting the Hive. 

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

Danette Ifert Johnson

Spring Term COVID-19 Testing Expectations

Testing has been an important part of campus health and safety practices, and will be so again in the spring.

As a reminder, the first week of class in the spring—March 29-April 2—will be fully online. All courses, regardless of the planned format for teaching, will be offered virtually during that week to accommodate our arrival testing protocol.

Do I need to participate in arrival testing? 

Arrival testing is required of every student who will spend any amount of time on campus for any reason—to attend class, for work, to access campus resources, for dining, to pick up mail, to attend outdoor events, and the like.  This also includes students who remained on campus for spring break and students who are participating in athletics.

What if I’m not planning to be on campus at all this spring?

Students who will not spend any time on campus during the spring should complete the Opt Out form.  Doing so will indicate that such students will never be on campus and will not need to participate in the testing protocol.

Remember: Students who are not part of the testing protocol will not be permitted on campus for any reason, including outdoor events, and will have keycard access deactivated. If you think you may come to campus, please sign up for arrival testing.

 If I’m moving in for the first time this spring, when and how do I test?

For students living in the residence halls, the Office of Residential Life has provided information about move-in dates and times.  Arrival testing for students moving into the residence halls for the first time will occur at the following dates and times, and can be scheduled here:

  • Saturday, March 27: 1–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 28: 1–5 p.m.

New students to the halls are required to complete arrival testing before receiving their room key.

What if I’m returning to the residence halls after spring break or staying on campus through break?

Students returning to the halls or staying for spring break can schedule a time to complete arrival testing on any of the available days.

What if I live off-campus?

For off-campus students, arrival testing will occur at the following dates and times:

  • Saturday, March 27: 1–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 28: 1–5 p.m.
  • Monday, March 29: 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 30: 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 31: 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 3: 3–5 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 4: 3–5 p.m.

Do I need to schedule my appointment?

Yes! Students are required to schedule their arrival testing time , or to complete the Opt Out form by 5 p.m., Friday, March 26, 2021.  There are a limited number of appt slots available so if your arrival window is short, please schedule now.

Students planning to celebrate Easter on April 4 who will not be able to complete arrival testing on alternate days should contact the Student Health Center at healthsv@kzoo.edu.

Where do I go for my covid-19 test?

All testing will occur in the Banquet Room on the lower level of the Hicks Student Center.

When does surveillance testing begin?

Ongoing, weekly surveillance testing will begin on the week of April 5.  Students will be randomly selected for surveillance testing and will be notified of their selection by College email during the week prior to the random test.  That notification will enable students to schedule their testing time.  Students who do not fulfill testing expectations risk losing access to the campus, including in-person or hybrid courses.

We appreciate your ongoing cooperation with our testing and other public health protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The College will continue to follow the public health guidance set forth by the state of Michigan. Please continue to mask up, social distance, wash your hands and track your symptoms—and please stay home if you are feeling ill. Thank you for Protecting the Hive!

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

Travel During COVID-19

With spring break approaching, the College has received many questions about travel guidance or restrictions due to COVID-19. While travel is not prohibited by K, we do ask that students consider CDC guidance on travelling, particularly where post-travel quarantine is concerned.

The CDC recommends getting tested 3-5 days after domestic or international travel and self-quarantining for a full 7 days after travel. Students are responsible for returning from travel with appropriate time to test and quarantine before attending any in-person classes or activities. If you are traveling and returning to Kalamazoo prior to the first week of classes, this should be sufficient time for arrival testing and quarantine before the start of in-person activities. The first week of classes is entirely virtual to accommodate arrival testing and quarantine (please do not think of this week as an extended spring break).

Below are highlights of the CDC guidance on travel, as well as new guidance regarding vaccinated individuals. Please visit the CDC website for full travel and vaccine guidance.

Thank you for Protecting the Hive.

Lisa Ailstock
Director Student Health Center


Before You Consider Traveling

Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time.  If you must travel, here are some important questions to ask yourself and your loved ones beforehand.

  • Are you, someone in your household, or someone you will be visiting at increased risk for getting very sick from COVID-19?
  • Are hospitals in your community or your destination overwhelmed with patients who have COVID-19? To find out, check state, territorial, and local department
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers?
  • During the 14 days before your travel, have you or those you are visiting had close contact with people they don’t live with?
  • Do your plans include traveling by bus, train, or air, which might make staying 6 feet apart difficult?
  • Are you traveling with people who don’t live with you?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should delay your travel.

If You Must Travel

  • If you must travel, take these steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
  • If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Wait 2 weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel—it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
  • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. Keep a copy of your test results with you during travel in case you are asked for them. Do NOT travel if you test positive.
  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick or you test positive for COVID-19. Learn when it is safe for you to travel. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.

Get Tested and Stay Home After Travel

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

Also, take these actions after you return from travel to protect others from getting COVID-19:

  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings.
  • If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask and ask everyone in the household to wear masks in shared spaces inside your home for 14 days after travel.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19.

Getting tested after travel is especially important if you did any of these activities that put you at higher risk for COVID-19:

  • Going to a large social gathering like a wedding, funeral, or party.
  • Attending a mass gathering like a sporting event, concert, or parade.
  • Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters.
  • Taking public transportation like planes, trains or buses or being in transportation hubs like airports.
  • Traveling on a cruise ship or riverboat.

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

Updated Mar. 8, 2021

This is the first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. This guidance will be updated and expanded based on the level of community spread of SARS-CoV-2, the proportion of the population that is fully vaccinated, and the rapidly evolving science on COVID-19 vaccines.

For the purposes of this guidance, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson).

The following recommendations apply to non-healthcare settings.

Fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing.
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings.
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations.

Spring Break and Spring Term Update

To Students and Families:

As we pass the mid-point of the winter term, we are looking ahead to the spring term and want to provide some helpful information. 

Spring Break

Residential students have received Information via email regarding the option to stay on campus for spring break. They may stay on campus at no charge for room and board to avoid unnecessary travel. This is intended to enable students to stay on campus for the entire break, avoiding multiple exits and entrances into the campus community, to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The student form for staying on campus will be available on February 22, 2021.

Some focused programming will be available to students staying for the break, and more specific information will be available to them soon.

All students, regardless of where you will be spending spring break, are strongly encouraged to continue with mitigation measures—masking, physically distancing from others and washing hands frequently. Cases on campus have so far been low, and county and state-level cases are declining as well. These are all good signs, yet we must continue to engage in mitigation to limit future surges in infection.


As with the winter term, we are providing as much flexibility as possible for students to take courses in the modalities that are most comfortable to them. The first week of classes will be virtual, regardless of the modality, to enable entry testing for all students.

The majority of courses will again be offered virtually, with all courses identifying instructional mode (online, hybrid or required in-person components) in the spring course schedule. Students will be meeting with their advisors over the next couple of weeks and, as part of that conversation, can talk through which instructional mode or modes will best fit their situation.


All first-year students have received information from the Office of Residential Life about living on campus, whether they are currently on campus or are considering moving onto campus in the spring. We also expect to have a limited number of rooms available for current sophomores, juniors and seniors who would like to live on campus during the spring term. Students will continue to live in rooms by themselves during the spring, and will be expected to abide by ongoing COVID-prevention and mitigation standards, including socially-distanced gatherings and dining, ubiquitous mask-wearing, and robust hand hygiene. Questions related to residential life can be directed to reslife@kzoo.edu.  


Entry and surveillance testing will be required for all students who plan to spend any amount of time for any reason on campus for the spring term. Entry testing is required before any in-person campus programs and services can be accessed, and will occur according to the following schedule:

  • March 27         1–5 p.m. 
  • March 28         1– 5 p.m. 
  • March 29         11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • March 30         11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • March 31         11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • April 3              3–5 p.m. 
  • April 4              3–5 p.m.

You are highly encouraged to schedule your entry testing.    

March 10 will be the last day of surveillance testing for the winter term. Surveillance testing will resume April 5 after entry testing has ended. 

Surveillance testing will involve up to 10% of the student body each week. You will be notified by K email when you are selected for surveillance testing and given a link to schedule your appointment. Remember: If you do not show up for your surveillance testing date and time, you may not be able to reschedule. If that happens, your key card will be deactivated and you will lose access to campus. If you live on campus, you may be required to vacate the residence halls immediately. 

Looking Ahead to the Fall

We very much hope that the fall will enable us to return to what we love: safe, in-person learning and living. This is what we are planning for, knowing that external circumstances and guidance may influence our best intentions.

A key issue is the campus housing requirement. Historically, first- and second-year students have been required to live on campus. The unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has presented caused us to suspend this requirement for the 2020-2021 academic year. Looking forward, public health conditions are expected to stabilize, and with that, normal housing operations will resume. 

To that end, incoming first-year students and rising sophomores will be expected to live on campus once again beginning in Fall 2021 and for the entirety of the next academic year. If this applies to you, then you should plan accordingly. For anyone who is currently in a long-term, off-campus lease or has signed one for next year before the date of this announcement, you must provide proof of a lease agreement with dates. You may do so by contacting reslife@kzoo.edu and indicating that you are seeking exemption for this reason. Additionally, the standard petition process is available to those students who fall under the housing requirement but are seeking to waive the housing and/or board requirement based on health or financial hardship. We expect to have a limited number of spaces available for rising juniors and seniors who would like to live on campus next academic year. The Office of Residential Life will provide information about this during the spring term. 

Virtual Information Session

We will hold a virtual information session for students and families hosted by President Jorge G. Gonzalez on Wednesday, February 24, from 7 to 8 p.m. ET. We will send more details soon regarding how to log in. Questions may be submitted in advance by emailing Hornet2021Questions@kzoo.edu. A recording of the event will be made available for those unable to attend. 


More information about commencement will be shared with seniors in the weeks ahead.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and thank you for doing your part to Protect the Hive.

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

Danette Ifert Johnson

Information for Students Arriving on Campus this Weekend

If you still have questions about the move-in process, COVID-19 testing or the winter term academic calendar, this announcement that was sent to students and their families might help.

To Students and Families: 

This communication is geared toward students who will be arriving on campus this weekend to start in-person learning and living. Residential students have also received additional information from the Office of Residential Life. Here we provide important reminders: 

  • If your entrance medical records and requirements are not complete by Thursday, January 14, at noon, do not plan to move on campus. Please contact the Student Health Center with questions at 269-337-7200 or healthsv@kzoo.edu. Until your requirements are complete and you have been cleared by the Student Health Center, you will not be permitted to move on campus or start in-person learning.   
  • If you are COVID positive or ill, do not come to campus. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID infection, do not come to campus. Prevention of spread is the most effective tool we have. We’ve recently been contacted by students asking if it is OK to move in while COVID positive. It is not. We need your help in minimizing the risks posed by COVID and other illnesses. 
  • If you are unable to or decide not to come to campus, please contact the Office of Residential Life to finalize the details. To opt out for the term, please complete the opt out form by Thursday, January 14. To delay move in due to illness, contact reslife@kzoo.edu.   
  • Remember that after a speedy, efficient move-in process, only students who are residents of their buildings will be permitted inside. Families and friends from outside the residence hall will not be permitted in the buildings. 
  • Develop a plan related to quarantine and isolation (including a go bag) if you live on campus. If you plan to quarantine or isolate at home, ensure that your plan will enable you to leave campus safely and quickly. This includes making no stops on the way from campus to home, staying distant from others in the household at home, and strict adherence to public health guidance. 
  • Residential students have already received detailed check-in information from the Office of Residential Life. Please refer to that communication, or reference the move-in information on Residential Life’s COVID-19 page.   
  • Arrival testing is the first part of the residential check-in process, and will start at the Hicks Student Center. This is COVID-19 screening for well students only. If you are not feeling well, or have recently been exposed to COVID-19, please avoid coming to campus at this time. Staff members will direct students to and through the testing process to retain the necessary distance from others. All students are required to wear masks that cover their mouth and nose. A robust staff of medical personnel will be on hand to administer the tests as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even so, you may have a short wait. All students must bring a photo ID to complete the testing process. 
  • All students who are tested are expected to quarantine in their residence hall until their test results are complete. This means students should stay in their residence hall and leave only to go to the dining hall, and should not interact with others unless at least six feet distant and masked. Students awaiting test results should not interact with others beyond their place of residence until test results are known. Test results will be shared with students via their Kalamazoo College email from the Student Health Center.  
  • More information about arrival testing can be found on the COVID-19 website.  
  • Get in the habit of completing your MyChart app daily symptom checker each morning. Attach it to breakfast, your first cup of coffee or brushing your teeth so that it becomes part of your routine. You will be asked to show the completed daily check in a variety of campus locations. 

Finally, we have received some questions regarding the academic calendar and break days. At this point, we do not anticipate changes to the academic calendar for the remainder of the year, unless a change in circumstances requires it. For winter term, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is on Monday, January 18, and the winter break day is Friday, February 5. 

Thank you for doing your part to Protect the Hive and we’ll see you on campus!