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Coronavirus Information

There are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Bethel College.

Governor Laura Kelly issues a statewide stay-at-home order

Governor Laura Kelly issued a statewide stay-at-home order (#20-16) at a Topeka press conference Saturday morning, March 28,2020. Executive Order No. 20-16 (attached) will take effect at 12:01 a.m. March 30, 2020 and remain until April 19, 2020.  The Emergency Response Team and Administrative Cabinet are working to determine how the executive order will further affect campus operations. Please continue to check email, use Bethel's website, and check social media as decisions will be forthcoming in the next few days.  There are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Bethel College.   

Bethel announces actions to refund unused room and board fees due to COVID-19

Bethel will take the following actions to refund unused room and board fees:

  • We will issue credits on student accounts for unused room and board fees. A student charged for a double room will receive a credit of $2,100 for unused room and board fees. A student charged for a single room will receive a credit of $2,650 for unused room and board fees.
  • The credits on the student’s account will first apply to any outstanding balance. If the account balance is paid in full at graduation, graduating seniors will receive a refund check by May 15, 2020. For returning students, any credit balance will apply toward charges for the next academic year.
  • If a student withdraws from the college, they must complete the withdrawal paperwork in the registrar’s office by June 10, 2020, in order to receive a refund.
  • If a student was on a 50- or a 90-block meal plan, Aladdin will roll your balance over to the next academic year.
  • For the handful of students allowed to remain on campus, a refund will only be given for board fees.
  • Because faculty instruction is continuing on a remote basis and students will be making progress toward completion of their academic program, no financial credit will be provided for tuition.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters

As the coronavirus spreads, so too do false claims, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a page of myth busters to help educate the public:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

Due to COVID-19 concerns, classes to be online for the Spring 2020 semester, campus presence to be reduced 

On March 18, Bethel College issued the following updates for the campus:

  • 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.
  • Residence hall housing will be limited only to students who need to maintain a physical presence on campus. 

These updates were announced in a campus message from President Jon C. Gering, posted below:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear Bethel College Community,

On Fri., March 13, we announced institutional measures to flatten the curve  slow the spread of COVID-19 over time and prevent our health-care systems from being overwhelmed. We have continued 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 our students, faculty, staff and the broader community and society. The purpose of this message is to provide an update to our institutional measures. To be clear, Bethel College does not have any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on campus.

Campus events and meetings

Effective immediately, gatherings of 10 or more people are to be avoided.

Academic life update

Classes will resume Mon., March 30, only in online format, and will continue to be offered in that modality until the conclusion of the spring 2020 semester. 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 course work, including internships, clinicals and various types of field placements.

Student Life update

We need to limit the on-campus size of the student population to protect the health of the entire community. 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 students will soon receive instructions from Chywonna Gonzalez, coordinator of residence life.

Students who have general questions about housing and campus life should contact VP for Student Life Sam Haynes at shaynes@bethelks.edu or 316-284-5337.

Staff life update

Bethel College 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.

Athletics update

The NAIA has cancelled the spring 2020 sports season. This cancellation also includes the 24-week practice calendar for both in-season and out-of-season sports, ending all practices for the remainder of the year. This stipulation is effective through May 15, the last date of the spring NAIA calendar.

Baccalaureate and commencement

The baccalaureate service is currently scheduled for 10 a.m. Sun., May 17, at Bethel College Mennonite Church.  Commencement is currently scheduled for 4 p.m. Sun., May 17, in Thresher Stadium. We are actively evaluating alternative plans for these two significant events. Please look for future updates if you are a student who will be graduating in May 2020.   

Emergency Response Team

The ERT is taking action to ensure campus safety and well-being. One action includes restricting access to buildings. All visitors are now required to check in at the Business Office service window in the Administration Building from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.  

If you have questions, please contact the following individuals:

Students: Sam Haynes (shaynes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5337)

Staff: Allen Wedel (awedel@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5242)

Faculty: Robert Milliman (rmilliman@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5239)

Press inquiries should be directed to Tricia Clark, director of marketing and communication, at tclark@bethelks.edu

Medical inquiries: Contact your physician, Jill Hoopes (jhoopes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5326), or the Student Life office at 316-284-5324.

Thank you for your grace, kindness and generosity of spirit as we work together during this time of incredible societal adaptation. The updated measures will inconvenience many of you; I understand you have been thrust into uncertainty. Your lives have been altered and you have lost opportunities to participate in sports, performing arts events, recitals and experiments. Perhaps you didn't get to say goodbye or hug a friend. You are being asked to teach in an unpracticed format and do so at a pace that is almost unmanageable. You are being asked to shift work schedules and environments.

These are the challenges that help us grow and get stronger. I know each of you will discover reserves of strength and unknown skills. You will carry out amazing acts of courage and generosity. Keep track of your accomplishments so that we can share, smile and celebrate when we next find ourselves together in a large gathering. That day will come. Although we are not physically together at this moment, we are still a community of people caring for one another.   

With blessings for the work ahead,

Jon

Food Service update

The cafeteria is open. To practice recommended social distancing, we ask everyone to limit four people to a table and spread out around the cafeteria. Grab-and-go sack lunches are available. Please ask at the cash register if you prefer that option.

Spring Concert Choir tour canceled

The Bethel College Spring Concert Choir tour scheduled for March 21-29 has been canceled, as is the home concert on Sun., March 29. At this time, we do not anticipate rescheduling. 

NAIA cancels spring 2020 sports season

The NAIA announced cancellation of the spring 2020 season, effective March 16.

“All possible scenarios that would have supported a spring sports season were seriously considered by multiple NAIA governance groups,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “However, the growing state of emergency due to COVID-19, as well as the Center for Disease Control's recommendation ... to limit gatherings to fewer than 50 people for eight weeks, meant we could not in good conscience move forward with the spring sports season and championships.”

In an effort to provide relief, no spring sport student-athlete will be charged a season of competition. Any spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled full-time in 2020 will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance or the equivalent.

The NAIA is continuing to address outstanding questions related to these unprecedented changes and will share new information as it becomes available.

Update from Bethel's Emergency Response Team

The ERT is actively working to update our campus Infection and Communicable Disease Response Protocols specifically for COVID-19. 

Additionally, the ERT is operating with the Harvey County Health Department and following the CDC guidelines regarding appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of our community.

We will continually monitor the COVID-19 outbreak in the nation, state and our local community. Communication is essential for ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and we are committed to providing additional information as it becomes available.

Note from President Jon Gering 

updated 3.13.2020

Dear Bethel College Community,

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared a global pandemic for a disease named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) that is caused by a strain of coronavirus named “SARS-CoV-2.” The disease has infected at least 138,000 individuals in 132 countries. The majority of the cases (over 80,000) are in mainland China, but there are 1,832 known cases in the United States and four positively identified cases in Kansas. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has issued an emergency declaration authorizing use of state personnel and resources to assist with response operations in affected counties. To be clear, Bethel College does not have any known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on campus and the risk for being infected remains low.

Information about symptoms, transmission, prevention and detection of COVID-19 was shared in my campus e-mail on Fri., March 6. The purpose of this message is to announce the next steps for the Bethel College community.

My priorities are the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff. We are also part of a broader community and society and must help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Any institutional measures that we adopt will help “flatten the curve”  slow the spread of the virus over time  and prevent our health-care systems from being overwhelmed. Moreover, the prevention measures below protect the most vulnerable among us; such actions resonate with our Anabaptist background.

This is admittedly a confusing and stressful moment for our college and broader society, but I hope you will join me in calmly curtailing the spread of COVID-19 while carrying on with our mission of providing a high quality education.

General institutional plan

Effective 10 p.m. Fri., March 13, Bethel College will enter a temporary phase that is intended to increase social distancing among students and employees. The main features of this phase include preparing for remote and online delivery of courses, a suspension of group activities and college travel, and workplace adjustments for faculty and staff.  This plan will remain in effect until we are confident that the spread of COVID-19 no longer poses a safety risk to our normal campus operations. Our Emergency Management Response Team (Geri Tyrell, Sarah Masem, Sam Haynes, Tricia Clark, Allen Wedel and Rosa Barrera) will be partnering with local agencies to monitor the spread of the virus. The campus will remain open during this period.

There are several key deadlines:

Fri. March 13, 10 p.m.: Face-to-face classes conclude. Bethel College enters the temporary phase of campus operations.

Mon., March 16-Fri., March 20: No classes for students. Faculty and staff work on preparing courses for remote delivery.

Mon., March 23-Friday, March 27: Spring break

Mon., March 30: Courses resume, perhaps with remote delivery. Our Emergency Response Team continues to monitor the spread of the virus.

Student Life

By Mon., March 16, all students need to decide whether to stay on campus or temporarily return home. This decision must be conveyed to Chywonna Gonzalez, coordinator of residence life. Chywonna will send you instructions on how to indicate your decision. This decision is at the discretion of the student. Bethel College is primarily a residential campus. We recognize that some students cannot or will not want to return home. Therefore, the college will remain open during these next two weeks, including student support services, academic resources, residence halls, dining facilities, and athletic and recreation facilities.

There are future scenarios under which students may be required to leave campus or be asked to return to campus for the resumption of face-to-face courses. Students must check e-mail frequently during these time periods because official communications from the college and professors will be sent through email. This is a fluid and dynamic situation, and we appreciate flexibility and patience as the campus operates under unusual circumstances.

Students are not required to attend classes during the week of March 16-20 or during our regularly scheduled spring break March 23-27. Courses will resume on Mon., March 30, in some capacity, yet to be determined.

If students are staying on campus and become ill with flu-like symptoms, they should contact their physician, Jill Hoopes (jhoopes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5326), or the Student Life office (316-284-5324). 

Students who have questions about housing and campus life should contact VP for Student Life Sam Haynes at shaynes@bethelks.edu or 316-284-5337.

Academic life

Classes will conclude for two weeks on Fri., March 13.

All classes are cancelled from Mon., March 16-Fri., March 20 so that faculty and staff can prepare for a possible transition to remote teaching and learning. Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Milliman will be responsible for leading the efforts to transition the campus to remote teaching capacities.

Faculty may continue to use their offices and campus facilities while preparing and delivering courses remotely. They may continue to meet with students individually during this period.

Classes will resume on Mon., March 30, at their regularly scheduled times, in a format to be determined. Clinical activities and off-campus learning placements may be exempted from remote delivery. Students may be asked to follow the protocols of the facility where they are working. Classroom experiences such as labs, studio art, and performance classes are still being evaluated. Professors will provide information about these courses as soon as possible, but students may have to make housing decisions without complete information about their courses. Students should expect additional information from professors on course plans by Fri., March 20.

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

We will continue to evaluate the spread of COVID-19 and how best to deliver courses given our various constraints.

We have contacted the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), our accrediting organization, and are awaiting feedback about the possible transition to remote delivery for a temporary period of time. Their response will in part determine the duration of this temporary period.  

Staff life

The college is open during this time period. Staff are expected to fulfill their employment obligations.

In a previous email, we adopted flexible absenteeism policies. To further increase social distancing, vice presidents and directors should develop a workflow plan (to be completed by Fri., March 20) that minimizes staff aggregations while allowing people to carry on with their work. We are mindful that employees work in a variety of circumstances; we will be as flexible as possible with work arrangements.

Campus events and meetings

Effective Fri., March 13, at 10 p.m., the college is canceling or postponing all non-essential large indoor gatherings and public events consisting of 50 or more people. These include regularly scheduled events such as Life Enrichment, convocation, guest lectures, performing arts events and other gatherings meeting the aforementioned criteria.  

Athletics

Effective immediately, Bethel College will suspend indefinitely all athletic activities, including all practices, travel and competition for spring sports. We will remain in contact with the KCAC with respect to ongoing policies and best practices.

Bethel College will continue to work with the KCAC and NAIA to closely monitor decisions about the spring 2020 National Championships. Our governing body, the NAIA, has yet to determine whether spring post-season championships will occur.

Travel

Effective immediately and until further notice, all college-sponsored travel (domestic and international) is suspended.

Travelers returning from Level 3 warning countries (see definitions at www.cdc.gov) are required to report their travel to Bethel College and the Harvey County Health Department and to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine and monitoring.

I am aware that these temporary measures will prompt myriad feelings among students, faculty and staff. It is normal to feel confused, anxious or overwhelmed with what is developing. Our response will be most effective if we take care of one another. Remember: We Are Threshers! If you have questions, please contact the following individuals:

Students: Sam Haynes (shaynes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5337)

Staff: Allen Wedel (awedel@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5242)

Faculty: Robert Milliman (rmilliman@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5239)

Press inquiries should be directed to Tricia Clark, director of marketing and communication (tclark@bethelks.edu; 785-212-1485).

Medical inquiries: Contact your physician, Jill Hoopes (jhoopes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5326) or the Student Life office at 316-284-5324.

Please proceed with grace, kindness and generosity of spirit as we work together to keep our campus community safe and healthy. I will be providing campus updates on a regular basis.

Thank you.


updated 03.06.2020

Dear Bethel College Community,

On Jan. 27, VP Sam Haynes sent an email to the Bethel community about the outbreak of a disease named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”) that is caused by a strain of coronavirus named “SARS-CoV-2.” The disease originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and has infected 100,700 individuals in 96 countries as of this morning. The majority of the cases (over 80,000) are in mainland China, but there are 228 cases in 13 states in the United States.

Most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. There have been no cases of COVID-19 reported from Kansas at this moment, but the current global circumstances suggest that this virus will cause a pandemic (defined as a disease being prevalent across the whole world).

COVID-19 is a new disease and scientists and healthcare workers are still learning how it spreads. The virus is thought to spread from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms most often occur 2-14 days after exposure.

Since our original e-mail, we have been tracking updates on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and various higher education organizations. The spread of COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation that the World Health Organization describes as a “public health emergency of international concern.” We are taking the matter seriously because our primary concern is the safety and health of the campus community.

The purpose of this e-mail is to share campus guidance for prevention and detection of COVID-19.

Prevention

The most effective way to avoid exposure to the virus is to practice the following actions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. (If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.)
  • Seek medical treatment immediately if you experience any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Absenteeism and treatment

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

  • Please feel empowered to be absent from classes or work if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • I have instructed the members of Cabinet to grant absence requests even if those requests will result in an employee exceeding their allotted absentee days.
  • I am also asking faculty members to be as flexible as possible with absence policies if a student reports symptoms of COVID-19.
  • We have the capacity to quarantine individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms if it is necessary to do so.

Contingency planning for college operations

We have reviewed the Campus Crisis Manual for infectious disease and are following established procedures. These include the following actions:

  • The review and ongoing assessment of upcoming college-sponsored travel activities, including athletic events, study abroad activities, foreign exchange programs and choir tours.
  • Conversations and contingency plans with international students whose home countries may be affected by COVID-19.
  • Ongoing assessment of college activities that result in large aggregations of individuals (e.g., convocation and high-enrollment classes).

Emergency planning beyond Bethel College

We continue to be in conversation with other institutions of higher education, local health-care agencies and the Harvey County Emergency Management Team to provide the best possible prevention and response to COVID-19.

I will be sending updates to the campus community as the COVID-19 situation continues to spread and evolve in the United States and throughout the world. In the meantime, you can find current factual information at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) and World Health Organization (www.who.int).

If you have questions, please contact the following individuals:

Students: Sam Haynes (shaynes@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5337)

Staff: Allen Wedel (awedel@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5242)

Faculty: Robert Milliman (rmilliman@bethelks.edu; 316-284-5239)

Press inquiries should be directed to Tricia Clark, director of marketing and communication, at tclark@bethelks.edu

Medical inquiries: Contact your physician, or Jill Hoopes at jhoopes@bethelks.edu

Thank you for your efforts to keep our campus community safe and healthy.


Note from VP Sam Haynes

updated 01.27.2020

Over the last couple of weeks, a virus called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has been active worldwide. It originated in Wuhan, China. It has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness. Confirmed infections and reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. 

The symptoms can include: fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Transmission

It is unclear how easily or sustainably it is; however, it may spread between people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes it may possible be spread person-to-person or by animal. It is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Right now, there are a few confirmed cases in United States and no deaths, so there are no additional precautions recommended at this time. However the CDC recommend the following universal preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

·Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

·Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

·Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

·Stay home when you are sick.

·Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

·Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. If you feel you might have contracted this virus, please go to your health-care provider or contact one of the following local resources on this link: https://www.bethelks.edu/student-life/health-wellness/health-services

 

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.