The college reported zero current cases of COVID-19 on September 13 and a total of eight cases among students, faculty and staff since the school year began.
“Diligence by all is key,” explained Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip. “We had every student, faculty, and staff member sign our Grace Campus Commitment which outlines attitudes and actions we are committed to as a campus. I’m so thankful for the campus’ humility, unity, and compliance so far,” he said.
The school constantly tracks and reviews COVID-related metrics including confirmed cases, isolations, and quarantines among students, employees, and Kosciusko County residents.
Grace is contact tracing to mitigate the spread of the virus and specific rooms have been designated for students in isolation. When a student is quarantined, he or she participates in classes by virtual means, and classes are recorded for those unable to come in person.
Grace has also utilized plexiglass, tents, and off-campus facilities to ensure social distancing is maintained in the classroom and at mealtimes.
While reopening required thorough planning, the school administration acknowledges it must remain adaptable and vigilant as the semester progresses.
“Our campus preparedness implementation team worked tirelessly this summer to ensure that we had every facet of campus accounted for in reopening,” said Katip. “But even with months of preparation and scenario planning, we have had to be extremely adaptive, asking ourselves, ‘What new policies do we need to implement, and what existing practices do we need to cut in order to improve the safety on campus?’”
Katip explained that some of the social distancing and mask policies were tightened over the past several weeks. Hard decisions were made such as canceling the postponed 2020 graduation ceremony that was scheduled to take place on campus in October, and other campus events.
The school also implemented a resurgence task force. The group created a framework for decisions regarding the state of campus operations should cases rise or fall at Grace and/or in Kosciusko County.
“This semester is by no means our ideal situation, but we are doing whatever it takes to be together as a learning community,” said Katip. “If anything, the last month has proven that the temporary inconveniences are worth it if we get to be together at the place we love most,” he said.
For more information regarding COVID-19 protocol at Grace, visit grace.edu/reopening-grace-college/.