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Fall Reopening Update

Dear Covenant students,

 

I trust this email finds you well after some of the most intense months many of us have ever experienced. I have heard from many of you about how excited you are to return to residential learning. I write today to give you an update on our plans to reopen in the fall.  Our plans are centered around a shared commitment by everyone on campus to personal protective and risk-reducing behaviors.

 

Attached to this email is a two-page summary of our current plan. The plan is the product of many committees on campus that have been working since March, and it has been vetted by an advisory group of medical and public health professionals. That said, the plan is built to respond and adapt to changing conditions on campus and in the surrounding areas. Even now, we are observing a spike of cases in GA and TN, and we are paying attention to hospital capacities. In just the last few days, we had our first reported case on campus and have begun testing our protocols.

 

I trust that everyone desires to be on the mountain and to be able to complete the semester on campus. Our decision to start the semester early and end by Thanksgiving was guided by that desire. However, it will truly take a community effort by each of us to limit the spread of coronavirus as much as possible. Nearly every other college and university plan that I have reviewed contains the same strategies. The differentiator on our campus for our plan will be you. Will you have the discipline and commitment to sacrificially love your neighbor by adhering to the public health practices that can reduce transmission and protect our community? 

 

To that end, I am asking you to faithfully pray for our fall semester, for one another, and for your own hearts. Our plan for reopening is based on several priorities, beginning with the protection of the most vulnerable. Because we love one another and want to protect our faculty in the classroom and our work study supervisors in the office, we ask for compliance with our plan. Because we do not want to return home before the end of the semester, we must work together to seek the welfare of others, even at the expense of our personal preferences and convictions. 

 

It is important to note that we are hoping to start the semester with a “clean slate” and will be requiring you to get a PCR nasal swab test 7-10 days (preferably less if at all possible) before your scheduled arrival on campus. You will need to submit your negative test results prior to moving into your room, if you are a resident student. Commuter students will need to bring results to the Records Office prior to your first class. Anyone who tests positive will need to communicate with Health Services to coordinate a new arrival time. Classes have been adjusted so that you can learn remotely until you are cleared to return. This will be the protocol throughout the semester should someone become ill or need to be isolated due to proximity to a person who tested positive. 

 

More communication will come in the weeks ahead, but I encourage you to review the attachment to see the structure of the plan and the adjustments that are being made in order to open. If you have specific questions, you can direct them to the appropriate offices or send general questions to covid19@covenant.edu.

 

I know that returning to campus under these guidelines is not an ideal situation and that not a single one of you—whether freshman or sophomore, junior or senior—would have chosen for your Fall 2020 semester to look like this. But I also believe this can be a transformative  season in your life. The Lord has promised that we will face trials, but He has also promised to always be with us. The Lord leads us in paths of righteousness which sometimes include taking us into the valleys. Together we will be stretched and strengthened as the Lord continues His refining work of making us people of His grace through challenge and adversity. 

 

Take heart that He goes before us and is ever with us. With so much uncertainty, that is the certain truth that ought to provide us comfort. 

 

Praying with you and for you, 

 

Brad Voyles