Dear Grand Valley community,
We are fast-approaching the start of the new academic year, with all
the positive energy that ignites. We have safely brought back many of
our faculty, staff and student employees over the last month, and we
are excited to bring many more of you safely back to campus this
month. The global pandemic has required all of us to exercise more
care and compassion for one another. This national crisis has required
enormous effort, vigilance and more detailed campus planning than ever
before. I am grateful for the hundreds in our university community who
have joined me in this journey. I can assure you that health and
safety are paramount in our minds, and that through all the
challenges, we remain true to our mission to educate students and
provide them with rich experiences.
The world has moved from reacting to a sudden incident to living with
the presence of the virus, and so we are making changes in our
response. These changes will enable us to continue to effectively
manage campus life, while doing our best to mitigate the effects of
COVID-19 and care for our community members.
Virus Action Team
A newly named Virus Action Team (VAT) will be replacing the daily
work done to date by the Incident
Management Team (IMT). The IMT began its work with COVID-19
management in late January and since the first of March has met almost
daily planning the ramp-down and ramp-up of campus operations. I want
to extend my sincere thanks to this team and announce members of the
VAT who will lead us through the health and safety monitoring phase we
Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Sanial will direct
the team that includes project manager Lisa Haynes; faculty liaisons:
professor of biomedical sciences Doug Graham, associate professor of
physics Ben Holder, and program director and associate professor of
occupational safety and health Dave Huizen; tracking and tracing
leads: Jean Nagelkerk and Tina Barnikow; academic affairs lead, Ed
Aboufadel; student affairs and experience leads: Lynn (Chick) Blue,
Nykia Gaines and Kate Harmon. Three members will devote all their
energies to this team, while the remaining members will dedicate
significant time working daily with the team. The VAT will be
monitoring the health and safety in the Grand Valley community as well
as the surrounding region, and will report to the Senior Leadership Team.
Any health monitoring questions or concerns should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership with Spectrum Health
I am pleased to announce our partnership with Spectrum Health to
assist us in monitoring and managing the virus. This development is
significant as we repopulate our campuses.
Infectious disease specialist Habiba Hassouna, M.D. will serve as
BeginningAugust 17, Spectrum Health will operate a 24/7 COVID
call center for GVSU. The phone number will be available on that date.
SpectrumHealth staff will follow-up on self-assessment flags,
including testing for individuals with symptoms or exposure.
The partnership will increase our testing capacity with results
SpectrumHealth will provide daily check-ins following positive tests.
Campus Repopulation Plan – pre-arrival requirements
Critical to the success of our 2020 plans is our behavior. As we
return to campus, it is the responsibility of every member of our
community to always follow the best practices outlined by public
health professionals and part of our “Lakers
Together Protecting Each Other” campaign.
We need to do our part in safeguarding others and ourselves.
Beginning August 17, 2020, all students, faculty and staff are
required to complete the daily
COVID-19 risk self-assessment. This is required seven days a
week whether you are coming to campus or not to more completely track
the virus, and your compliance will be monitored. The self-assessment
should be completed each day before noon. Just as with face coverings,
we will start with care and reminders, move to educate, then look for
a remedy, which could include a failure to comply report to Office of
Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution or Human Resources. Not
completing the self-assessment would be considered a violation of
university policy and would be actionable.
Test prior to coming to campus
The university is encouraging everyone to be tested for COVID-19
before returning to campus. While these test results will be a
snapshot in time, any positive results will be caught before arriving
on campus. Testing can be arranged through your health care provider
or you can consult the State of Michigan testing
site finder with a “no cost” filter.
Details on a new protocol for expanded on-campus testing will be
announced prior to move-in August 23. Currently, students who have
symptoms or who have been exposed to someone who tests positive can be
tested at two university sites:
Allendale: GVSU Campus
Health Center, 42nd & Pierce
Grand Rapids: GVSU Family Health Center
Lakers Together on campus
We have the agreement with
Spectrum Health in place, and we are finalizing an agreement with
another lab for additional testing capabilities. We will be able to
facilitate thousands of tests with quick turnarounds to help track the
virus. Expect that announcement soon.
We will be conducting regular testing on high-risk groups such as
athletes, resident assistants and critical personnel.
Randomized testing of 1,500 people on campus will begin two weeks
after the start of classes and continue throughout the semester.
Students, faculty and staff will be selected at random to be tested.
This will give us a sense of the presence of the virus within our
community and the data will be used to identify any “hot spots” and to
make decisions regarding campus operations.
Cost for testing facilitated through Spectrum Health as part of the
university’s self-assessment process will be billed first to insurance
with any balance billed to the university. Cost for the randomized
testing will be covered by the university.
Tracking and Tracing
All positive tests are reported to county health departments.
Grand Valley has a close working relationship with Ottawa and Kent
county health departments and will work with them to support their
tracking and tracing efforts within our community. Spectrum Health
will assist in providing follow-up with all students who are in
quarantine (been exposed to someone positive) or in isolation
following a positive test. Nearly 20 of our students will be hired to
work as contact tracers with the county health departments through
Student Employment + program.
We are also investigating the possibility of using technology to
assist with tracking and tracing, and hope to enter a pilot with two
companies offering this service in the coming weeks.
We do have plans to care for students who are quarantined or in
isolation, and they will receive more detailed information from
Housing and Residence Life and the Dean of Students Office by August 17.
Faculty and staff who need to be quarantined or isolated should work
with their appointing officer to determine the best course of action,
as each case will need individual attention.
The best source for up-to-date information on the Fall Semester is Lakers Together Fall 2020.
Ability to switch to all remote education
This virus has underscored the need for flexibility. Just as we are
planning to welcome everyone back safely to campus, the truth is, the
virus is unpredictable, and we must be able to react to any
significant spread within our community. We are planning under the
4 designation by the State of Michigan, meaning we can be
on-campus with heavy restrictions. We will continue to follow state
and federal regulations.
Our faculty have been making plans for resilient teaching to be able
to shift courses quickly to remote if the need arises. Our health
experts are devising a dashboard to monitor data and to identify
triggers that would indicate we should move to remote education. The
dashboard will be vital in our decision making and will be made public
when it is operational. It will track testing of faculty, staff and
students at Grand Valley and the rate of positive results. It will
also monitor Kent and Ottawa counties as well as students’ home counties.
We all understand this year will be different, but what makes the
Laker community special will never change. We are committed to caring
for each other, and we are committed to intellectual growth and
Philomena V. Mantella, President