Daily COVID-19 Update: June 20, 2020


Dear Bereans,

This is the update for Saturday, June 20, 2020.

This is too early in the day for new statistics to be available.  My next update will be on Monday, and the weekend data will be provided then.

Some students reported that they were unable to view the video I posted making our announcement for the Fall Semester.  I am therefore inserting the script of that announcement following.  (I did adjust the paragraph regarding Athletics slightly, feeling that the version I used in the video could have been more clear.)

GOOD AFTERNOON, BEREANS. THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE BEEN FRAUGHT WITH UNCERTAINTY AND ANXIETY AS WE ARE ALL CONFRONTING DIFFICULT NATIONAL EVENTS AND ALSO LEARNING TO NAVIGATE ASPECTS OF OUR LIVES DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC THAT HAS KILLED MORE THAN 118,000 PEOPLE IN THE U.S. ALONE. OUR DECISION THREE MONTHS AGO TO CEASE ON-CAMPUS INSTRUCTION WAS NECESSARY AND THE RIGHT DECISION, IN SPITE OF THE DISRUPTION IT CAUSED.

I WANT TO COMMEND OUR FACULTY FOR BEING NIMBLE AND AGILE WHEN CALLED ON TO MOVE FROM IN-PERSON CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION TO A STRICTLY ELECTRONIC FORM OF DISTANCE LEARNING. AND I WANT TO EXTEND SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR STUDENTS FOR UNDERSTANDING WHAT SEEMED LIKE A DRASTIC MOVE, AND FOR GIVING US GRACE IN SUCH A TIME OF UPHEAVAL FOR THEM. I ALSO WANT TO THANK OUR DONORS FOR THEIR CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO BEREA. SOME STEPPED UP TO FILL IN THE GAP FOR OUR INTERNATIONAL AND DACA STUDENTS, WHO ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE ANY OF THE FEDERAL CARES ACT FUNDING THAT THE COLLEGE RECEIVED TO DISTRIBUTE TO OUR OTHER STUDENTS. OTHERS GAVE ADDITIONAL GIFTS TO COVER THE FUNDS LOST WHEN OUR ADMISSIONS TEAM WAIVED THE $50 DEPOSIT FOR ADMITTED STUDENTS DURING A TIME WHEN MANY FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING WITH LAYOFFS AND JOB LOSS. WE ALSO HAD DONORS MAKE GIFTS TO HELP US COMPLETE SCHOLARSHIPS. OUR COMMUNITY OF SUPPORTERS IS ALWAYS THERE TO HELP US IN A PINCH, HOWEVER THEY CAN, AND WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THEIR GENEROSITY.

THANKS TO THESE COLLECTIVE EFFORTS, WE MADE IT THROUGH THE SPRING SEMESTER.

NOW THAT WE ARE IN THE SUMMER, WE MUST TURN OUR ATTENTION TO THE FALL SEMESTER. WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE? WILL WE BE ABLE TO WELCOME ALL OR SOME STUDENTS BACK TO CAMPUS? HOW CAN WE CONDUCT CLASSES WHILE MAINTAINING PROPER SOCIAL DISTANCING TO ENSURE EVERYONE’S HEALTH AND PROTECTION FROM COVID-19? SEVERAL TEAMS FROM ACROSS THE CAMPUS, INCLUDING FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES, HAVE GRAPPLED WITH THOSE QUESTIONS FOR THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS. WITH INPUT FROM A REPRESENTATIVE CROSS-SECTION OF CAMPUS, WE HAVE MADE A DECISION ON THE FALL SEMESTER THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU NOW.

THE FALL 2020 SEMESTER WILL BEGIN ON AUGUST 12 AND CONCLUDE PRIOR TO THANKSGIVING. THE CONDENSED SEMESTER WILL CONSIST OF TWO RIGOROUS SEVEN-WEEK INSTRUCTION SESSIONS WITH STUDENTS TAKING TWO COURSES IN EACH SEGMENT.  THIS ADJUSTMENT WILL MAXIMIZE THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE WHILE SIGNIFICANTLY DECREASING THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS EACH STUDENT SPENDS TIME WITH ON A WEEKLY BASIS AND THE NUMBER OF TIMES STUDENTS TRAVEL HOME DURING THE SEMESTER. THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC WILL STILL BE AROUND IN THE FALL AND WE WANT TO AVOID STUDENTS TRAVELING HOME AND POTENTIALLY BRINGING THE VIRUS BACK TO CAMPUS.

WE UNDERSTAND THE UNIQUE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT BEREA OFFERS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS COMMUNITY IN THE SUCCESS OF OUR STUDENTS. THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND SUCCESS OF OUR STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF REMAIN OUR TOP PRIORITY. TAKING THOSE OBJECTIVES INTO CONSIDERATION, EARLIER TODAY, MEMBERS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE VOTED TO INVITE ALL STUDENTS TO RETURN TO CAMPUS FOR THE FALL SEMESTER. ONE OF OUR GREAT COMMITMENTS CALLS US TO CREATE A “DEMOCRATIC COMMUNITY.” THIS DECISION REFLECTS THAT COMMITMENT AND ALLOWS STUDENTS TO MAKE THEIR OWN BEST DECISION DURING THIS CHALLENGING TIME.

THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO RETURN TO CAMPUS MUST CLEARLY UNDERSTAND THAT WE WILL NOT OPERATE IN A “BUSINESS-AS-USUAL” MANNER. COVID-19 IS STILL NOW AND WILL STILL BE THEN A THREAT. WE WILL OPERATE WITH HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY TO HEALTHY BEHAVIORS THAT EVERYONE ON CAMPUS MUST FOLLOW STRICTLY TO HELP US ALL STAY HEALTHY. THAT MEANS WEARING FACE MASKS, WASHING AND SANITIZING HANDS FREQUENTLY, PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING, AND LIMITING CONTACT WITH THOSE OUTSIDE OF THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY.

IN THE COMING DAYS, THE AC AND OTHER TEAMS WILL CONTINUE DISCUSSIONS ON HOW WE IMPLEMENT THE PROCESS BY WHICH STUDENTS WILL NOTIFY THE COLLEGE OF THEIR DECISION ON HOW THEY WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE FALL SEMESTER, AND WORK THROUGH THE MYRIAD COMPONENTS RELATED TO THAT DECISION. WE WILL SHARE MORE DETAILS AS THEY ARE FINALIZED.

FOR THOSE STUDENTS WHO DECIDE AGAINST RETURNING TO CAMPUS BUT CHOOSE TO CONTINUE DISTANCE LEARNING, THE IS&S TEAM WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT AND INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME TO POSITION YOU FOR ACADEMIC SUCCESS.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT SOME STUDENTS MAY CHOOSE TO DEFER ENROLLMENT IN THE FALL SEMESTER ALTOGETHER. THAT IS AN OPTION. WE ARE GATHERING INFORMATION ABOUT ANY POSSIBLE FINANCIAL IMPACTS FOR STUDENTS WHO CHOOSE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE AND WILL SHARE THOSE NEXT WEEK SO STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES UNDERSTAND ANY CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR DECISION. THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN QUESTIONS ABOUT BILLING AND FINANCIAL AID FOR STUDENTS FOR THE FALL SEMESTER—PARTICULARLY THOSE STUDENTS WHO DO NOT RETURN TO CAMPUS. WE ARE WORKING WITH THE FINANCIAL AID OFFFICE TO MAKE THOSE DETERMINATIONS AND WILL CONVEY THAT AS WELL IN THE COMING DAYS.

ADDITIONALLY, I CAN ALSO SHARE THAT THE U-S-A SOUTH CONFERENCE, THE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE IN WHICH BEREA COMPETES, HAS ANNOUNCED THAT FALL INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS WILL PROCEED.  ALL THE OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE CONFERENCE ARE PLANNING TO OPEN FOR THE FALL AND MANY LIKE BEREA WILL CONCLUDE THEIR SEMESTER BEFORE THE THANKSGIVING BREAK.  THE CONFERENCE IS ENGAGED IN RESCHEDULING SEASONS NOW TO REFLECT THAT CHANGE AND AS WELL TO REDUCE TRAVEL AND OVERNIGHT STAYS.  THE NCAA HAS ALLOWED A 30 PERCENT REDUCTION IN THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF COMPETITIONS, SO THE SHORTER SEASONS WILL NOT AFFECT ELIGIBILITY FOR POST SEASON CHAMPIONSHIPS. THE CONFERENCE HAS ALSO MANDATED FREQUENT TESTING OF ATHLETES. WHETHER TO WILL ALLOW SPECTATORS AT SPORTING EVENTS WILL BE UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS; WE WILL MAKE THAT DECISION IN THE COMING WEEKS.

AS THE FALL SEMESTER PROGRESSES, WE WILL CONTINUE TO ASSESS HOW THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS PROGRESSING TO DETERMINE HOW WE APPROACH THE SPRING 2021 SEMESTER.  WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE AS WE WORK THROUGH THIS CHALLENGING TIME. AS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE, OUR TOP PRIORITY WILL BE ENSURING THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND SUCCESS OF OUR STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF. BEYOND IMPLEMENTING TEMPERATURE CHECKS IN THE RESIDENCE HALLS AND INSTALLING HAND SANITIZER STATIONS THROUGHOUT CAMPUS BUILDINGS AND OFFICES, WE WILL WORK TO PROVIDE THE SAFEST AND HEALTHIEST WORK ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR CAMPUS COMMUNITY.

AS GOVERNOR ANDY BESHEAR HAS PROMISED THROUGHOUT THIS PANDEMIC: WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS; WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER.

THANK YOU.

I hope everyone is having a safe, careful and enjoyable weekend,

Lyle Roelofs, President