In Thursday’s online chapel at Grace College and Seminary, Winona Lake, Ind., Dr. Bill Katip, president, announced changes in campus life for the rest of the semester, including continuing remote learning, closing residence halls, and suspending the 2020 commencement because of the coronavirus pandemic. His complete announcement, sent to the campus community, is included below, as is the video from the chapel service.
As I announced during chapel this morning, we will be continuing with remote learning for the rest of the spring semester and not reopening residence halls. This is one of the hardest decisions of my 40+ years in higher education. I know these announcements come as a disappointment, especially to our soon-to-be graduates.
My desire is for us all to be back on campus together; our Christ-centered community functions best in-person. We now have the opportunity to live out our name, Grace, while dispersed across the country and world. Grace calls us to something higher and more hopeful. There’s no place it can’t go. No space it won’t transform. No heart it cannot transform. We may not be together at a place called Grace, but wherever we go, God’s grace goes with us.
Our name, and what it means, is more important and valuable to us and to this world than ever before. May grace be with you.
Read below for details about various decisions pertaining to this semester:
- Spring Classes – All classes will proceed with remote learning through the end of the spring 2020 semester. We will not return to campus for face-to-face classes this semester.
- Residence Halls – Residence halls are not reopening this semester. Because the state of Indiana is beginning a “stay at home” order tomorrow, we will not begin the move out process after April 6, assuming this order is not extended. All residential students should make preliminary plans to return to campus to retrieve their belongings and check out of their rooms between April 7 and 18. Detailed instructions about the move-out process will be emailed to all students after April 1. This communication will include a link to sign up for a specific date and time to come on campus to collect your belongings and check out of your room.
- Students remaining on-campus – Those who were approved (two weeks ago) to remain on campus will receive a separate communication about this process and are not required to move out of the residence halls.
- Room and Board Refunds – We continue to look at the options for room and board refunds. We have been and are currently focused on the health and safety of students and our campus community. We are also awaiting guidance from the Department of Education and recognize federal financial aid rules will impact our course of action. We will communicate updates as soon as possible.
- Events – All on-campus events through the spring 2020 semester are canceled or moved to an online format. Many events are being held virtually, including prospective student virtual visits and online chapels.
- Commencement – Our 2020 commencement ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, May 9, has been suspended. We are considering many options, including alternative ways to honor our graduates or alternative times to hold commencement, but no decisions have been made or are being announced at this time.
- Employees – According to Governor Holcomb’s stay-at-home declaration that is in place between March 25- April 6, the phrase “Essential Businesses and Operations” includes educational institutions (including public and private pre-K-12 schools, colleges, and universities) for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.
- Grace employees, therefore, will continue to operate as we have been, working remotely when at all possible and coming to campus only in exceptional circumstances or to complete essential functions to maintain our critical business operations.
- Other items – There are a variety of other issues we are working on, including summer travel, summer athletic and camp programs, summer student workers, etc. We will continue to provide updates via email, our website, and various social media accounts.
The coronavirus can impact our health, economy, how we go to school, and more. But, as we are reminded in Romans 8, it cannot separate us from the love of God and from one another. I’m praying for you and love you all!
In His Service,
Bill Katip, President