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.

Classes

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.

Housing

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.  

Testing

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. 

Commencement

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
Provost

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! 

Quarantine and Isolation Plans for Winter Term

As we look toward the limited resumption of in-person learning in January, we write to provide some detailed information about the College’s quarantine and isolation (QI) plans. As with all of our COVID-19-related practices, QI housing plans are aligned with public health guidance and may change if/as recommendations change.The College has set aside space in campus housing to quarantine and isolate students living in the residence halls who require it, based on COVID-19 testing results or exposure/contact with others who have contracted the virus. Students who live off campus and need to quarantine or isolate will be provided guidance from the Student Health Center (SHC) about how to do so in their living spaces. The SHC has provided such guidance to off-campus students this fall. They will not be housed in campus QI spaces. Designated COVID-19 Care Coordinators (CCC) have been appointed and will manage the logistics of ensuring that students who transition to QI housing have the support they need. This includes coordinating communication with dining, residential life, campus safety, and faculty, among others. QI housing space comprises small, home-like environments and include kitchens for food and snack preparation. (Meals and snacks will be delivered to QI students daily.) These spaces will also be provided with cleaning supplies compliant with guidance from the CDC. Students in QI spaces will be in daily communication with CCC and/or SHC staff. The College will work in concert with the Kalamazoo County Health Department on contact tracing. 

Expectations for students: 

  • Comply with directives for quarantine and isolation from campus health officials. This includes relocating to QI housing promptly and following all directions for the duration of time in QI housing.
  • Respond quickly and honestly to contact tracing efforts.
  • Prepare a “go bag,” including your own bedding and towels, study materials/resources, and items to help pass leisure time. Having this ready ensures the quickest possible response to health guidance.
  • Take seriously your responsibility in QI to protect others by keeping your distance, wearing a mask, and cleaning up after your use of shared facilities (kitchens, bathrooms) with the supplies provided.
  • Stay in communication with CCC and Student Health Center (SHC) staff, as appropriate. 
  • Stay in QI housing until approved for return to regular housing assignments, do not invite visitors (including family members) to QI space and do not visit others while in QI housing.
  • Stay in regular communication with your family and loved ones. 
  • Do not “cheat” time requirements for QI because you are tired of the restrictions, as this puts others at risk. 

Expectations for families: 

  • Support good planning by your student (preparing a go bag, for example). 
  • Support guidance and direction from the College, including participation in contact tracing efforts.
  • Stay in regular communication with your student as they will have the best information about their health status.
  • Do not plan to visit your student on campus, in their regular housing location or in QI housing.
  • Make and finalize explicit plans regarding a student who has contracted or been exposed to the virus. Please see below.

If you plan to quarantine or isolate at home with family, plan now for safety measures:

  • How quickly can you leave campus? Prompt action (within a few hours) is a key to mitigating the spread of the virus.
  • How will you travel? Public transportation places others at risk if you are infected or have been exposed. If travelling by car, create as much space and ventilation as possible, ensure that all occupants wear masks, and do not stop once the infected/exposed person is in the car.  
  • How will you minimize risk to loved ones at home? How will you minimize physical proximity to vulnerable people (due to age or underlying health conditions) at home?

The College has planned for QI housing carefully, and we ask that you do the same. Please prepare for the winter term as if you will contract the virus. If you will consider returning home for QI care, please make concrete, explicit plans now so that you don’t have to do so in the midst of making other medical decisions.Other campuses have experienced students and families attempting to “game” QI housing—by arguing about test results, by being dishonest about contact/exposure, and by demanding multiple tests to “test out” of QI status. Our limited human and testing resources require that all of us come to campus prepared to comply with the plans that are in place. They are designed to ensure as much safety as possible, and they will not work without cooperation across the board.We will expect prompt, cooperative response to health directives; specific protocols will be shared with students who require QI housing once on campus.Finally, the month of December includes traditional times for family and other gatherings. Such gatherings enable the virus to spread quickly. If you plan to be on campus, living in a residence hall, attending classes, or using campus resources, we implore you to adhere closely to public health guidance in the weeks prior to the start of classes. Wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, keeping physically distant from others, and practicing good hand hygiene are all proven methods of minimizing the spread of the virus. They also give us the best chance of a successful winter term back on campus. We also strongly encourage you to get a flu shot prior to coming to campus, if you haven’t already. This will minimize the risk of having multiple respiratory outbreaks on campus or putting additional strain on testing and health center resources, as the symptoms are very similar to COVID-19.We know that this pandemic is an ongoing source of uncertainty for many people. By providing options to return to campus for winter term or to continue learning remotely, we seek to provide agency for each student and family to determine the best option for their individual situation. For those who are returning to campus, it is imperative that all of us, individually and collectively, follow campus protocols and public health guidance so that we can protect the hive. 

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

Danette Ifert Johnson
Provost

On-Campus Housing Winter 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.

Health Center Fall Hours Begin September 8

Please call 269.337.7200 to schedule a visit with the Student Health Center as walk-in appointments will not be available this fall. Fall hours begin Tuesday, September 8, and will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Students will be seen primarily through virtual (phone or MyChart video) appointments. Visits will be available for students to receive prescription medications such birth control, mental-health appointments, sexually-transmitted infection testing, ill appointments and more. Very limited in-person services will be provided and referrals to other providers may be given.

Visit the Student Health Center website for up-to-date information and resources. Hours and services might change to adjust to students’ needs.

Health Insurance Questions
We understand Fall 2020 is complex and it is important that all students have access to healthcare where they will be living.

Health Insurance Questions

Health insurance charges have been removed from fall 2020 bills. 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.

Campus Dining Update

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.

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.

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.

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.

Visiting the Student Health Center

The Student Health Center made plans this summer that will protect students and the campus community in fall. This term: 

  • The Student Health Center​ will provide enrolled students services by video visit, telephone visit, or in the clinic. No walk-in appointments will be available at this time. To schedule a visit, call 269.337.7200 for screening. Students must have an active MyChart account.
  • All appointments will be screened by phone to allow for physical distancing. Only students who require services not available through phone or video will be offered in-clinic visits. 
  • Only scheduled appointments will be allowed in the office. Students shouldn’t bring others with them.
  • Fewer appointments and longer appointment times might be necessary to disinfect spaces. Please be on time.
  • Anyone entering the office must wear a face cover entering the office, in the exam room and in all clinic locations.
  • Students will notice barriers installed in the office and staff will wear additional PPE.
  • Students will be asked to use hand sanitizer when they enter the office and will be given a disinfecting wipe to clean any touched surfaces upon leaving.
  • The Student Health Center will no longer offer magazines, self-care selections or any other item in the waiting room that is difficult to clean. 
  • There will be limited self-care supplies in the residence halls. Students who need self-care supplies should contact the Student Health Center at healthsv@kzoo.edu, 269.337-7200 or MyChart. Students will receive the items in their campus mail box.
  • The Student Health Center will provide COVID-19 testing and daily-symptom monitoring for students. We will send an announcement with further details soon.

The health of students and the campus is our top priority. The College is working closely with our local health department, and taking guidance from the American College Health Association and the Centers for Disease Control to keep up to date. Policies and procedures will be adjusted as needed to mitigate risk. 

Thank you for your cooperation.  

Fall Term Intercollegiate Athletics

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.