On June 4, 2020, President Rebecca Stoltzfus, Ann Vendrely, academic dean, and Gilberto Perez Jr., dean of students, held a Presidential Town Hall meeting for current and incoming students and parents/guardians. Thank you all for your thoughtful and good questions! This question and answer page has all of your questions (grouped by topic and sometimes combined with similar ones) and current answers to them. You can watch the video recording here or below:
- Housing options for student athletes during winter break? Would it be possible for winter athletes remaining on campus during this extended winter break to stay put in their assigned apartments/dorms rather than relocating to Coffman/Miller?
We will determine winter housing options later in the fall and it will depend on the key principles of health in Elkhart County and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic at that time.
- If a student gets covid, where will they be quarantined and what about their roommate(s)?
Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated in Kenwood House under the care and supervision of residence life staff with consultation from Goshen Family Physicians or their family doctor. A student exposed or contact traced to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will be moved to Miller Hall for a 14-day quarantine period.
- In order to help with deciding rooming situation (single or double), are you able to describe expected practices of students sharing a double room as far as disinfecting surfaces, distancing and wearing masks while in their room studying, sleeping, etc.?
Residence Life staff will work with students and custodial staff to create safety protocols and procedures based on CDC guidance for a safe living environment in the residence halls. We are developing signage to post and literature to share with students about mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our housing spaces. We are still considering new policies for visitation on floors and capping room capacities.
- Is it possible to change the residency requirements to allow those students who may have family in Goshen (an aunt or uncle) to live with them instead of on campus?
We will not formally change our residency policy at this time, but will allow students concerned about their health and safety during the pandemic to apply for an off campus housing exemption on our website.
- How and when will students be able to choose if they are living with a roommate or not? When will they be notified about where they will be living? I have already registered for living on campus with a roommate and I was wondering how I can change this to having my own room (a single room)?
We sent an email with a link to current students about fall residential options and making a selection if they would like a single room or maintaining a double occupancy. You can also email Chad Coleman (director of student life operations) or our Admissions Office if you have any questions or didn’t receive the link or information you need. We hope to have these plans finalized by the end of June or early July.
- Food service-Less choices? 4/table? Not self serving? Grab and go?
We are very grateful for a great partnership with our food service provider, AVI Fresh. They have been making adjustments and plans for continuing to provide a positive dining experience for our students, but in new ways that are as safe as possible. This may include staggered meal times, protective barriers, reduced and spread out seating, food served instead of buffet style, separate entrance and exit, and further grab and go options. We are also working with Java Junction to make changes to their service as well.
- Classes capped at number of students?
For planning purposes, there is a cap size on most courses and most of our class sizes are already small. As we get more information about course enrollments and what our rooms can accommodate, we will work with faculty on how to perhaps stagger in-person sessions or have smaller groups meet at different times. We’re also exploring using some large spaces on our campus as classrooms that we don’t typically use that would allow the physical distancing we need. Right now, we are cataloging all the options so that we can continue to have classes together as much as possible, but in safe spaces. We will keep students informed as decisions are made.
- How will GC be dealing with the Nursing Program? Ex. clinicals. Will nursing students be allowed to return to their hospital rotations in the fall? If so will Goshen provide personal protective equipment (PPE)?
The nursing students have some unique situations since they are often in clinical settings. Our faculty has been in frequent conversation with our partners, like Goshen Health right across the street and Beacon Health System in Elkhart, and they will determine the best way for students to engage with the patients and get the clinical hours in cooperation with those partners. For internship placements in other fields, our faculty will be in close communication with the placements to see how they’re dealing with things and how students can safely be engaged in those activities. It may look a little different in the fall, but we are trying to keep up with what’s relevant in each discipline and what the professional organizations are recommending so students get what they need.
- Will Merry Lea fall semester run as planned?
Merry Lea has plans to offer the Sustainability Leadership Semester in the fall as an in-person experience if public health allows. If not, they are creating online resources to offer the same courses in a remote manner. The instructors are motivated and will provide students with a rich and meaningful experience.
- I’m curious about changes to convocation and chapel.
What we are looking at in terms of campus gatherings this fall will be very different. There are plans to continue with convocation and chapel, but it will probably be in a virtual format. We may also be changing convocation and chapel to be optional instead of having a required number to attend.
- Will students still have access to classes electronically if they are sick or quarantined? Regarding the current social distancing-based class plans, are there options for students to attend class remotely while in their apartments or dorms?
Yes, faculty are planning to use a flexible format that permits students to attend remotely if needed.
- What are plans for music groups this fall? What about the music program where singing is considered a high risk activity?? How do music and theatre ensembles rehearse with social distancing, masks and holding performances?
Our music faculty have been really engaged and looking at the best practices coming from their professional organizations and what kinds of strategies we can use to spread people out. There’s no question that large groups singing together is just not going to be a thing we can do regularly in the fall. There will be possibilities for smaller music ensembles, certain instruments playing together and individual instruction, but it will be different and we’ll learn how to adapt. In theater, we also have issues that we’re trying to work through. Acting is not the same with a mask on. So we are asking what those courses are going to be like, how we are going to keep a safe distance from each other so that we can continue to provide those important educational opportunities.
- If a shift to online is required, will all coursework be synchronous? Would some or all be asynchronous such that families overseas could take their children home?
If a shift to online is required, it will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods. We will continue to use the course meeting times for any synchronous components while providing some flexibility for students who are in other time zones.
- What is your current thinking regarding the start date of Spring Semester? Do you know if spring break is scheduled for the same time in the spring semester?
We have not yet finalized plans for spring semester.
- Spring sst?
We are carefully monitoring the situation in Ecuador and will make a decision later this summer about the safety of having faculty and students there. If it is canceled, students may select to join a later offering or take domestic courses to meet the requirement.
- Is there a way GC could allow students currently registered for Spring 2021 SST to concurrently register for on-campus GC classes during the registration period so they have the option of taking classes on campus and deferring their SST to Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 should Spring 2021 SST be cancelled?
Yes, students will need to work closely with their advisors and the registrar to select alternative courses for spring. We will put a process in place that allows them to hold their SST placement and have courses scheduled for Spring 2021 until a decision is made about SST in Ecuador.
Health and safety preventative measures
- Profs teach behind plexiglass?
Not normally. We anticipate that small class sizes, physical distancing and masks will be sufficient protection in most circumstances.
- Will we be required to wear masks whenever indoors/near people?
Yes. You can read our current mask policy here. The evidence about masks is growing rapidly, and we will continue to update this policy to reflect the best guidance available.
- I’ve heard from conflicting sources on whether masks are actually helpful with combating COVID-19 (Ex: Sources saying it is, others that COVID is so small it can go through masks @ microscopic level). Will GC still require students to wear masks when we return, and can you go into more detail on the logic behind the decision? (if it’s changed since the email sent a month back).
The guidance and evidence around masks has changed over the past several months, with evidence mounting in support of masks. At this time, both the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend use of masks in conjunction with physical distancing and handwashing. From studies of mask-wearing and community-based transmission around the world, some scientists estimate that widespread use of face masks decreases the risk of viral transmission by as much as half. That is very important, given that people can be infectious without being symptomatic. This helpful illustration (at right) was recently published in the journal Science.
- How can students safely have access to water? How can we ensure that drinking fountains are safe to use? Are there other means of providing water to students or safer drinking fountains that can be installed (automatic water-bottle fillers) in the dorms?
Goshen City water is high quality and safe for drinking. However, conventional drinking fountains are problematic because people breathe and put their mouths very close to them. We may turn them all off as we re-open buildings. Water sources (water-bottle fillers or taps) will be available and personal water bottles are encouraged.
- How will social distancing guidelines be enforced?
Through all of our collective actions, conversations and reminders.
- What strategies will be in place to implement social distancing in laundry rooms on campus?
In various settings, physical distancing will depend on everyone’s cooperation and collective action. Laundry rooms are a public shared space where masks will be required.
- How will the college deal with the bathroom situation in the dorms? Will there be a specific stall, shower, and sink each person or a set of people can use in the bathrooms? What are the individual and institutional responsibilities which will make them safe?
We are working closely with physical plant staff to plan for sufficient cleaning and disinfecting of those spaces since they are used by many people throughout a day. RA staff will work with residents to strategize the use of bathroom facilities to prevent crowding during peak hours.
- Does Goshen currently have access to or plans for COVID-19 testing for students?
Testing will be available close to campus or possibly on campus. We do not plan to do mass testing of students, which would only provide information on infection status for the moment of testing. There is ample COVID-19 testing available in Goshen and students will have access to testing if they experience COVID-like symptoms or were in close contact with someone known to be infected.
- How is contact tracing going to be handled? If a student is certified as a contact tracer, will Goshen offer opportunities to them (much like working at the school cafeteria?)
Goshen College has implemented its own contract tracing, alongside what state and local authorities are mandated to do. Kevin Miller, who is a nurse and holds a masters degree in public health (and is the husband of the president) will lead this team. As of now, our contract tracing team of Kevin, Beka Prince and Mara Beck have all completed the certification course provided by The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. If a member of our campus community becomes ill or infected with COVID-19, one of these people will talk with the infected individual to identify their contacts, and then will talk with those contacts to inform them of the exposure risk and need to quarantine. We anticipate that this team, in addition to the efforts of our local health department, will be sufficient for our contact tracing effort.
- Will GC provide masks for students or is it on the students to purchase their own masks?
We will provide two reusable masks for each student. But we also encourage you to bring several of your own, especially if you have ones you already like. You’ll want to wear a clean one every day. There are a variety of mask types, and people have different preferences.
- Will international students have to be quarantined for 14 days when they arrive to campus?
We will follow US State Department and CDC guidance as it stands in August. However, we anticipate that quarantine for students arriving from other countries, or if they have traveled by public transportation (plane, train, bus), will likely be shorter than 14 days.
- Will there be online study options available for international students who are currently unable to return to the US because of their own international border closures?
Faculty are designing flexible courses that would accommodate students who can not join us on campus in the fall. There will be some synchronous activities and some asynchronous in each class. A few courses are designated as online learning for the full semester.
- Do student health insurance policies cover pandemics? Will medical expenses be covered if an international student becomes unwell with COVID 19?
All international students are required to purchase the same insurance policy through a provider recommended by the college (learn more here), unless they are covered by their home health care system. Yes, the plan covers COVID-19.
- Some international students still don’t have their visas, but want to enroll for fall term. What’s the best solution for this problem?
There is a lot of uncertainty about visas and ability to travel to the U.S. from abroad. Both of these are out of the control of the college, but we will work to support students as we are able and pass on information as we receive it. We encourage international students to connect with the US Consulate or Embassy in their home country to find out the latest information on travel advisories and visa processes.
- Does Goshen College have a contingent plan for the international students when they might turn out positive with COVID19?
International students will be supported and cared for like all GC students. If any student is presumed to have COVID-19 or tests positive, they will be provided a single room in isolation, and will receive the care needed.
- Update on fall sports seasons?
We have begun to receive some information from the NAIA and the Crossroads League about fall plans, and are working to determine further implications for our own campus. We will be communicating with student-athletes about the fall over the next few weeks about all of this.
- Will we be able to play non-contact sports such as ultimate Frisbee?
We anticipate a full slate of outdoor intramural sports beginning in mid-September provided the key principles of health are positive on our campus.
- Is there a mask requirement for all such sports?
We are still learning about the best uses of masks during sport and exercise, and our policy is still under development in that area. We recognize that people engaging in strenuous physical activity need freedom to breathe, and that risks of transmission of the virus are less outside.
- Will students on the CAC be arriving earlier than the 8/16 move-in for returning students? If so, when?
Some student leaders will return to campus towards the beginning of August for training. Program leaders will be in touch directly with students involved to communicate those plans.
- How are you going to go about aiding the freshman in transition through this difficult time?
The new student orientation committee is crafting August orientation to provide this help, along with many other forms of support and communication from faculty, staff and student leaders.
- Will payment plans be altered because class time changed?
No. Payment plans and deadlines have not been changed.
- Will there be any recognition or ceremony for 2020 graduates in the next school year?
Our commencement committee is back at work on that, and they will be in touch with our 2020 grads as plans are formed.
- Will clubs/groups (ex: BSU, CAC, LSU, etc.) be allowed to meet in person or will they have to do zoom calls? (Or is that on a group-group decision basis?)
Groups of people can choose to meet in person within our prevention framework of handwashing, physical distancing, wearing masks and self-monitoring for symptoms.