COVID-19 Update - March 16, 2020

Erin Kinzel

From Bethel’s Emergency Management Team to the Pilot Community:

As we continue to monitor this unprecedented situation with COVID-19, we know that our students, faculty and staff are being pushed out of their normal routines, which is causing a variety of ripple effects for families and our community. We are reminded of Paul’s encouragement from Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV):

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We want you to know that Bethel’s leadership teams – including the president’s cabinet and the Emergency Management Team – continue to meet together in order to review information, consider our options for moving forward and make plans for our next steps. 

Due to new guidelines that have come from the CDC and Governor Holcomb in the past 24 hours, here are some important updates about the continued modified operations at Bethel University:

  • The CDC recommends limiting events to groups of 50 or less, but at this writing, President Trump has given non-binding guidance of groups of 10 or less in one space. As a result, we will reschedule, cancel or reorganize spring semester events. See the list below for more details. For events that are reorganized, this means the event will take place on the scheduled date but the format will be reworked to meet the guidelines. For example, some events might become virtual, some events might have participants limited to groups of 10 or less in a room, etc. 
  • For commencement and other events scheduled to take place that weekend, we are still considering our options and a final decision. We know this weekend is something our graduating seniors and their families have looked forward to for years, and we don’t take lightly a decision to alter plans. We will continue to monitor the situation and consider our options, and keep in mind that a decision will affect travel plans for graduates and families. We will publish a decision as soon as one is made. 
  • The NAIA has canceled all spring semester athletic competitions. Student-athletes should check with their coaches for specific instructions about practice and other team events through the end of the semester. 
  • Governor Holcomb has ordered all restaurants to close dining room service from now through the end of March. Bethel’s foodservice provider, Sodexo, has consulted with the health department and it has been recommended that we proceed with serving students, provided we continue with the many precautions already in place. (For example, eliminating self-service of food and beverages.)
  • As of today, all May-term and summer events (e.g., sports camps, academic camps, conference service events) are planned to continue on schedule. We will continue to review information and recommendations as the situation unfolds, and will post announcements if any of these events need to be altered. 
  • As of today, we are continuing modified operations, with residence halls and dining services remaining open for students and all classes moving online, beginning Wednesday, March 18. We are still planning to resume in-person classes on April 14. If this is altered, we will post an announcement no later than April 3 with more information on next steps.

Events that are postponed, canceled or reorganized:

  • Pilot Preview Days – will be reorganized to comply with CDC guidelines. If you are registered for a Pilot Preview Day, the Bethel Admission Office will be in touch with more details.
  • April’s New Student Registration – will be reorganized to comply with CDC guidelines, or students may choose to attend one of the summer registration dates. If you are signed up for the April Registration, the Bethel Admission Office will be in touch with more details.
  • Wizard of Oz – is postponed. We are working to reschedule this and will post an announcement when a new date is confirmed.
  • Music Concerts and Recitals – are all postponed. We will post new dates as soon as details are confirmed. 
  • An Evening with Homer Drew – will be rescheduled for some time in the fall. We will post an announcement and communicate with all registrants when new information is finalized.
  • Give Back Gala – will be postponed. We will post an announcement when a new date is confirmed.  
  • Task Force and Study Trips – upcoming trips are being reviewed. Those who are signed up for these trips will be contacted by their group leader if plans are altered.

For commencement and related events, including Party at the Ponds, the Nurse Pinning Ceremony, and the 50-Year Class Reunion – we are still considering our options for these events. We don’t take lightly a decision to alter these events. We will publish a firm decision as soon as possible, knowing that travel plans for students, alumni and families will be affected. 

Members of the BU Emergency Management Team will continue to regularly review information and implement recommendations from the Indiana and St. Joseph County departments of health and the CDC. We are also in contact with other leaders in higher education – including colleagues from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Council for Independent Colleges, and Independent Colleges of Indiana – to review current information and share best practices.

Please check our web page,, for updates as this situation continues to unfold.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

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