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COVID-19 concerns lead Bethel to online classes, reduced campus presence

March 13th, 2020

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Bethel has transitioned to online classes, closed residence halls and reduced staff presence on campus for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

The college issued major campus updates March 18 in response to the nationwide public health emergency caused by COVID-19. There have been four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Harvey County, where Bethel is located.

For more details, updated as frequently as needed, see 

All instruction will be online for the remainder of the spring semester. There will be a significantly reduced on-campus presence for students, staff and faculty, and residence hall housing will be limited to students who need to maintain a physical presence on campus.

Effective immediately, gatherings of 10 or more people are to be avoided, resulting in the cancellation of most campus events on the calendar for the spring semester, as well as internal meetings.

Classes will resume on Mon., March 30, in online format, and will continue to be offered in that modality until the conclusion of the spring 2020 semester.

Bethel's Information Management Services (IMS) will be providing 24/7 technology services during this temporary period of remote delivery. 

Students will receive instructions on how to proceed with online courses by Fri., March 20.

Students enrolled in professional programs (business, nursing, social work and teacher education) will receive specific instructions from program directors on the completion of coursework, including internships, clinicals and various types of field placements.

“We need to limit the on-campus size of the student population to protect the health of the entire community,” said Bethel President Jon Gering in a statement. “This means students must leave campus by Fri., March 20, at 5 p.m.

“Only students who can demonstrate a need to stay on campus will be allowed to stay. Students who are currently off campus should remain off campus.”

The Office of Student Life is preparing procedures for an organized move-out process at a later date. All residential students will soon receive instructions from the coordinator of residence life, Chywonna Gonzalez.

Bethel is reducing the presence of employees on campus by empowering supervisors to make work arrangements that maximize physical separation of employees, use phone or technology for meetings and enable work to be completed from home.

“The essential functions of the college will continue during this temporary period,” Gering said.

The NAIA has canceled the spring 2020 sports season, including the 24-week practice calendar for both in-season and out-of-season sports, which ends all practices for the remainder of the year.

This stipulation is effective through May 15, the last date of the spring NAIA calendar.

Bethel’s baccalaureate and commencement activities are currently scheduled for May 17.

“We are actively evaluating alternative plans for these two significant events,” Gering said.

Bethel’s Emergency Response Team is working to ensure campus safety and well-being, which will include restricting access to buildings.

All visitors will now be required to check in at the Business Office service window, on the first floor of the Administration Building, between 9 a.m. and noon and 1-4 p.m. 

Bethel College continues to monitor COVID-19 developments from government officials, local and state agencies, and higher education consortia in order to make the best possible decisions for the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see 


- Mojo's Coffee Bar is now closed to dine-in customers. While the doors and counter remain open for take-out orders, Mojo's staff recommends curbside pick-up. Follow Mojo's on Facebook and/or Instagram for up-to-date information and access to a link for ordering online. You can also phone in orders at 316-284-5204. Mojo's is open Tues.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat., 7-11 a.m., and closed Sunday-Monday.

- Mantz Library is closed until further notice. Librarians are working weekdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to fill e-mail requests. See the Bethel College Library Facebook page for details and librarian e-mail addresses.

- The Mennonite Library and Archives (MLA) is closed until further notice. Archivist John Thiesen will try to answer queries via a-mail:

- Kauffman Museum is now closed to visitors until further notice. Staff will be in the museum Tues.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Phone 316-283-1612, e-mail or check the museum website ( or Facebook page.

- Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center is closed to in-store customers and has gone to reduced hours of 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Mail will still be delivered, and anyone expecting a package should watch their e-mail for notification. You can still order Thresher gear 24/7 through the online store at

- There are two senior recitals scheduled for the remainder of spring 2020: Kendrick Weaver (voice, April 18), and Kaho Yanagidaira (clarinet, May 9). These may go on with limited audience and live streaming; more details to be announced.

Cancellations and postponements of scheduled activities for spring 2020 include:

- Life Enrichment for the remainder of the semester

- The Bethel College Concert Choir spring break tour and home concert on Sun., March 29

- "Forthcoming," an exhibit of photography by David Long, professor of visual art and design (postponed until a fall date to be determined), and the annual Student Art Exhibit and Senior Art Exhibit, in the Regier Art Gallery

- The KIPCOR Peace Lecture with Sarah Smarsh on April 2 (postponed until a later date to be determined)

- Organ recital with Shirley Sprunger King on April 17 (may be rescheduled)

- KIPCOR Film Series, Cooked: Survival by ZIP Code, on April 19

- The annual URICA Symposium and the student-directed one-act plays on April 24

- Masterworks concert on May 3

- Jazz on the Green on May 6

- The NAIA, of which Bethel is a member, has canceled the spring 2020 sports season. See more at and consult and/or Bethel College Athletics on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

- The governor of Kansas has ordered all public schools closed, effective immediately, for the remainder of the school year. This includes all spring sports activities and means the track meets scheduled for Thresher Stadium are canceled.




About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.