Responding to COVID-19
March 20, 2020 Update
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT, Dr. Paul Alexander
Throughout these unique and challenging times, Trinity has been closely monitoring COVID-19 developments in our region and throughout the nation (as our students come from many states). The health and safety of our Trinity community is our priority.
While we were hoping for a great reunion with our students in coming weeks and a restoration of on-campus classes, due to the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus and the susceptibility of communal campus life, we believe moving to remote classes for the remainder of the semester is the best decision. This falls in line with many other colleges across our region and nation, as well as recommendations from public health regarding numbers of persons in a given area.
Important updates are below. Please review those details, particularly regarding student housing. Professors will remain in contact with students regarding remote classes.
We are so thankful for our faculty and staff who have shown extraordinary commitment to and care for our students during this time.
For those anticipating graduation, and our on-campus seniors who are missing so many community “lasts” and traditions we cherish as a family, we know this is heartbreaking. Please be assured we are brainstorming ideas to both honor your accomplishments and connect as a community. We anticipate a great graduation ceremony for Saturday, August 29 of this year and cannot wait to celebrate together!
At every point of decision-making, nothing has been more important than you - our students. You are the reason Trinity exists. Yes, this is disruptive, yes it is an uncertain time - but we are determined to ensure your safety. God knew about this day before it came. His plans for your future are unchanged. So, with courage and commitment we will come through this time. We are certain that it will make our College better, more resilient and spiritually even more vibrant.
The remote learning that began this week will continue for the remainder of the semester. Students will continue their coursework via InsideTrinity (Moodle), Google Classroom/Meet, or Zoom according to directions provided by their professors. If you have specific questions relating to a course, please contact the instructor directly using Trinity email.
Please note that you are still enrolled for courses for the remainder of this semester! Attendance requirements continue according to the course syllabus. Students are responsible to contact the instructor should you be unable to meet at the appointed times set by the instructor. All assignments continue to be required and must be turned in electronically on or before the due date.
Commencement has been rescheduled for Saturday, August 29. While the delay of such is not ideal, our hope is that this delay provides plenty of time for students/families to plan for their attendance, our nation to resume permitted gatherings, and the majority of our Trinity community to be in attendance. Further details will be available in coming weeks.
ACTIVITIES & STUDENT MINISTRIES
All campus activities, sports teams, and ministry teams are canceled through the end of the semester. We are brainstorming creative options for virtual meet-ups and will keep you posted. Our goal is to continue our “family” connection - even from a distance!
Student Ministry requirements will still need to be met; however, they may be adjusted in the coming days as church ministry and face to face ministry is nearly impossible. Garrett will update you.
STUDENT HOUSING: DORMS
In addition to health guidelines and best practices, a residential college is simply not set up to properly quarantine nor care for students who may exhibit symptoms. Therefore, honoring our community well at this time means students in dorms returning home.
Student Presently on Campus:
Students presently on campus in the dorms are required to check out of their dorm rooms by Wednesday, March 25 at 5pm. If students do not have the transportation necessary to take all their belongings by that date, they can retrieve them at a later date.
Students who need to fly home and are having difficulty scheduling a flight by the intended date can speak to their RD for a possible extension of days.
Students Not Presently on Campus:
Students at home should remain home. If you are not presently at home and were a guest during spring break, we understand it may not be feasible for you to remain a guest for the remainder of the semester. In such cases, we encourage you to make arrangements to travel home directly or see the hardship application below.
Retrieval of Belongings/Dorm Check-Out
For students who may wish to return to campus to collect their belongings, a check-out day must be scheduled in advance with the Resident Director. Please do not just show up on campus! For safety purposes, the number of persons allowed to move-out/check-out per day will be limited.
Students will have until May 10, 2020 to collect their belongings.
Please keep in mind that food service will not be available to those returning to collect their belongings (see below for cafeteria info). We ask that students make every effort to expedite the moving out process as quickly as possible upon their return.
We understand there may be a small number with extreme hardship situations who cannot return home or do not have a home to return to. Trinity is limiting the number of students in the dorms to those with extreme hardship situations who have received written permission from Student Life.
Permission is NOT guaranteed and will be reviewed on a case by case basis. We have limited space available for true hardship situations. If you have applied but are waiting for a response, please continue to proceed with other arrangements until you hear back from us.
Students may request a hardship exemption by completing this application by Saturday, March 21 at 5pm. No applications will be received after that point. Complete the application here: DORM HARDSHIP APPLICATION.
Students who are approved to remain in dorms will be asked to follow stringent guidelines for health and disease prevention in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dorm Guests & Lounges
Beginning Monday morning (March 23) and until further notice, no guests will be allowed to visit the dorms, including guests from other dorms. Dorm lounges are considered closed except to residents of that dorm. Access is strictly reserved for residents of the dorm who have received permission to be there. (Facility services and housekeeping will still access dorms as needed.)
Shipping Personal Items
Trinity does not have the capacity to ship personal items to students. However, with written (email) permission from the student, RDs may give another student access to retrieve belongings for the requested student.
STUDENT HOUSING: APARTMENTS
Students in Trinity Apartments are not required to leave and may stay for their normal semester rental period.
You will be asked to complete a form in the next couple weeks indicating your selection for summer rental.
If you intend to completely move out/check out of your apartment to travel home instead of staying for the remainder of the semester, please contact RD Tim Jacobson. He will provide you with a cleaning list and will schedule a check-out time.
Students who are given hardship permission to remain in the dorms and those in Trinity Apartments who may have meal plans can still access to-go meals in the cafeteria for the time being. Depending on how things develop, we cannot guarantee food service will continue throughout the entirety of the semester.
Trinity Apartment students, you must indicate your request to use your meal plan so the cafeteria can properly prepare. Please do so by emailing Student Life by Sunday, March 22.
ROOM & BOARD CREDIT
The Trinity Board continues to evaluate a prorated credit to students’ accounts for room and board charges for those who have returned home. We will communicate details as soon as we finalize a plan.
FEDERAL WORK STUDY & STUDENT EMPLOYEES
Student payroll jobs are considered suspended for the remainder of the semester. Limited exemptions may apply. Contact your supervisor if you believe that you qualify for an exemption based on the nature of your work being essential.
Students who worked under the Federal Work Study program will receive communication from the Financial Aid Coordinator via email.
Trinity has made the decision to limit on-campus operations to essential personnel and services only. As such, the Fitness Center, gym, 701 cafe, SLC, mezzanine and other campus spaces remained closed to all until further notice - this includes students, employees, etc. Please do not ask to be the exception. If you have keys, please do not use them to unlock these spaces for yourself or others.
Further, students should not wander the hallways or visit offices unless a faculty or staff member has requested otherwise.
Student access to campus buildings is limited to the cafeteria (for meal pick-up) and retrieving mail.
Please practice social distancing and, if you are choosing to be with others, do so in your private residence.
As a larger employer cooperating with the nationwide effort to prevent the rapid spread of the virus, Trinity is requesting staff who are able to work effectively from home to do so. These staff members should make contact with their supervisor and make the appropriate arrangements to work from home until this guidance changes. Email your supervisor to contact Matt Johnson if you need VPN access to the p:drive, Empower etc. (Only 12 people can use the VPN at once, so don't remain logged in. Access what you need and then log out.)
FLATTEN THE CURVE: HEALTH PRECAUTIONS
In order to slow the spread of the virus, we encourage loving our communities well (whether at Trinity or at home) by practicing health habits that have been advised by our government. The hope is that these efforts will “flatten the curve” and allow medical care for those in need.
As a community committed to loving our world well, we consider the following the least our students and employees can do to honor “our neighbor” in this critical moment.
Additionally, these boundaries have been advised by both state and federal officials.
- Avoid gatherings in groups of 10 or more.
- Avoid eating at restaurants, etc. Use drive-through, pick up, or delivery services.
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
- When you are with others, practice social distancing: Keeping 6 feet between yourself and other individuals, particularly when eating.
- Practice good hygiene:
- Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Disinfect frequently used items or surfaces as much as possible.
Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care immediately and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms.
Students with symptoms or questions should contact their Resident Director. Faculty and staff should contact their primary healthcare provider.
Paul R. Alexander, Ph.D.