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COVID-19: Update from the President's Office

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

I promised during this morning’s town hall meeting that I’d provide an informational update via email this afternoon. I might be stretching the definition of “after noon,” but here is that update nevertheless.

 

Recap of ground covered this morning:

  • Virtual commencement on Sat, May 9 at 3:00pm. In-person commencement ceremony during Homecoming Weekend 2020.

  • Remote work: For the time being, people should continue working as they have been since we closed the campus. If you are working remotely and have reason to return to campus, please speak to your supervisor.

  • Planning for the reopening of campus:

    • We have every intention of resuming on-campus instruction in the fall. While there remain other possibilities (e.g., that the State of Georgia will prohibit on-campus instruction), we believe that the most likely scenario is that we are allowed to return to campus but will need to operate within new, more restrictive public health parameters.

    • Brad Voyles is coordinating our work on reopening. We have adopted three areas of focus, with working groups addressing questions in each of these areas:

      • How will we teach in this new environment? (how will we accommodate students and faculty who test positive or are at-risk?; Jeff Hall is leading this group’s work as they tackle questions around technology needs, pedagogical training, and accreditation.)

      • How will we host students in this new environment? (what are our residential capacities and what density of students can we accommodate? how will we handle food service? what kinds of isolation spaces can we create? what sorts of cleaning protocols do we need to establish? etc.)

      • How will we protect the health of our community? (what kinds of testing can we do on campus? what kind of testing regiment do we need to establish? what is our health center capacity and capability? what additional health resources--thermometers, masks, etc.--do we need to acquire?)

    • We are forming a group of medical professionals (Coronavirus Advisory Group) to provide feedback and give us guidance on our plans.

  • Ways to help:

    • Continue to do your job well: everyone doing great work is critical in challenging times.

    • Connect with folks outside of our immediate community, encourage prospective students to attend, serve as an ambassador within your sphere of influence.

    • Pray:

      • That the college would be deemed eligible for a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan, which would likely mean $2.7 million.

      • Admissions: We are presently 15% behind last year on deposits.

      • Working groups that are working on reopening in the fall.

 

Additional informational updates:

  • Summer camps: Large camps have been cancelled. We are still planning to host some small camps that are scheduled to come to campus later in the summer (e.g., Summit, our athletic camps).

  • Summer Institute: We have cancelled the 2020 Summer Institute.

  • Admissions

    • Deposits are 15% behind last year.

    • 224 prospective students attended CovenantLive on April 17.

  • Retention

    • 91% of eligible students have pre-registered, which compares well with our historical range of 88-93%.

  • Giving

    • COVID funds have received over $96K in gifts (including those from 21 families who have gifted their room and board refund).

    • The annual fund is tracking ahead of last year.

    • Development staff are shifting to virtual donor engagement for the endowment campaign. Do date, we have $17.6mm committed toward our $33mm goal.

  • Budget

    • We are estimating a $900K loss for the spring semester due to COVID-19 (we gave $1.7mm in room and board refunds, and then have recovered some of that in cost savings and CARES Act relief funds. We estimate an additional $500K in losses on summer net revenue. Overall, we anticipate losing close to $1.5 million in this fiscal year due to COVID-19.

    • The $411K we have received in CARES Act student relief funds must go directly to students and cannot be used to offset the room and board refund we gave students.

    • Our PPP loan eligibility is still not certain. If work-study students are counted as employees--which some suggest they must be--then we have over 500 employees and are not eligible. If students are excluded from the employee count, or even counted by a full-time equivalent (FTE) measure, we are eligible. If we are eligible, we should receive a forgivable loan of roughly $2.7 million.

    • For next year, we are considering multiple multiple budget scenarios, e.g., -5% revenue, -10% revenue, -15% revenue. All of these scenarios assume on-campus operations. 

 

As I mentioned this morning, I am deeply appreciative of--and inspired by--the manner in which you all have responded to the challenges posed by COVID-19. You have demonstrated laudable flexibility, tenacity, and creativity in a difficult set of circumstances. For that, I am grateful, as I know are the students whom you serve.

 

Be assured that I am praying that God would grant each of you the strength, focus, and encouragement you need to persevere. 

 

In Christ,

 

JDH