Current Bethel Status Report
- Classes began on campus, Aug. 18. We continue to remind all of our community members to be diligent in our mitigation measures, including daily self-checks, wearing face coverings, and physical distancing.
- View Bethel's COVID-19 Response Plan for Fall 2020 here, along with a summary page that outlines campus protocols and procedures. See below for more information and resources. Details will continue to be updated as we receive new information from national, state and local authorities.
COVID-19 Response Plan Documents
Here are the complete plan documents (PDFs) outlining our return to campus for you to download for quick reference:
You may be wondering what the difference is between quarantine and isolation - and what happens with students when this takes place. Here's what you need to know about some CDC defined terms and guidance.
Quarantine - used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. Students will be placed in quarantine if they've been exposed (in close contact) to a person who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.
Close Contact – an individual who has been within < 6 feet for ≥15 minutes of a person with COVID-19 (symptoms or tested positive). Note: This is irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask or whether the contact was wearing respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE).
Isolation - used to separate people infected (or who may be infected) with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Students will be placed in isolation if they indicate some symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or they've recently tested positive for COVID-19.
If it is a viable option for them, students who need to quarantine or isolate may also go home.
All students this semester have signed our "Community Wellness Agreement," committing to: protecting themselves and others, following campus guidelines and sacrificing their own preferences and conveniences for the sake of their neighbor.
- Staff or friends will deliver meals to on-campus students using the student's ID number/meal plan.
- Professors will be notified of students who are unable to attend in person.
- Students who are physically able will view courses synchronously, via live-stream.
- Students will remain in quarantine until results from the person they were exposed to are known.
- If results are positive - students will remain in quarantine for 14 days from exposure, and go for their own testing 4-5 days after.
- If results are negative, students will be cleared to end quarantine with the nurse's approval.
- Students will remain in isolation for 10 days from onset of symptoms, regardless of if they've had a positive or negative COVID-19 test result. After 10 days, if fever-free for 24 hours without medication, isolation may end with nurse approval.
- Partnership with Saint Joseph Health System
- Daily Self-Assessments and Testing
- Physical Distancing and Face Coverings
- Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
- Residence Halls
- Food Service
- Social Activities
- Student Accounts, Student Development, Financial Aid Contact Info
- Campus Offices and Services
- Class Procedures
- Academic Field Experiences
- Performances and Academic Events
- Admission Visits
- Conference Services and Special Events
- Communication Plan
- Revised Academic Calendar, New Start Date
The BU app has been updated to include a daily self-assessment reminder and instructions for all BU faculty, staff and students. The self-assessment includes instructions on what to do and whom to contact if a scoring threshold is reached.
BU staff, including the nurse, athletic trainers, residence directors and human resources personnel, have information on available testing sites should an employee or student need to be tested.
All Bethel students will receive a face covering at the beginning of the semester. All residential students should bring their own thermometer.
See MyBethel for information on downloading the app.
- Per state and county requirements, everyone on campus must wear a face covering when appropriate physical distancing isn’t possible, including entering and exiting buildings.
- See additional sections on student life, academics and events for more specifics about face covering requirements.
- Across campus, clear barriers have been installed in high-traffic offices and spaces.
- Furniture in communal spaces such as the library, Dining Commons, classrooms and residence hall lounges will be rearranged prior to the start of the semester to promote physical distancing.
- Signage across campus will be installed prior to the start of the semester to remind employees and students to physical distance and adhere to safety guidelines.
- The BU housekeeping staff has increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures, following recommendations from national and local experts.
- Hand sanitation stations have been installed across campus, especially in high-traffic areas.
- Cleaning products will be provided by housekeeping in high-traffic areas for individuals to use as needed.
- Each floor of a residence hall will be considered a pod/family unit. Activities with your pod will not require face coverings or physical distancing, though these practices will be encouraged.
- Students will be encouraged to stay with their pod or to practice physical distancing when attending chapel and eating in the Dining Commons. Commuter students will have assigned locations in chapel.
- Common areas in the residence halls will be open to a limited number of occupants and will have furniture spaced to promote physical distancing. These spaces will be regularly sanitized by residence life and housekeeping staff.
- In order to limit campus exposure, outside visitors will not be permitted in the residence halls, and residential students will be expected to limit travel off campus.
- Additional dining locations will be available to reduce traffic in the Dining Commons.
- New sanitation protocols and physical distancing measures have been put in place for all food service locations.
- All food will be served by staff members.
- Food will be provided to any students who need to be in quarantine or isolation on campus.
- Students will attend one of three identical chapel services per week, in order to reduce the number of people in the room at one time.
- Commuter students will be assigned a seating area based on their last names; residential students will be assigned a seating area based on their residence hall/floor.
- Per state and county requirements, students must wear face coverings during chapel while singing.
Bethel University is following regulations and advice from local, state and federal leaders as we have brought faculty and staff back to campus for work. We are in the final phase of returning to full campus operations, with measures in place to accommodate social distancing.
Faculty and staff remain committed to walking alongside students during this time and we appreciate your patience as we navigate the return to on-campus operations, and make quick adjustments to our activities for the fall.
- Student Accounts: StudentAccounts@BethelUniversity.edu
- Student Development: StudentLife@BethelUniversity.edu
- Financial Aid: FinAid@BethelUniversity.edu
Individual faculty and staff may be reached by email (you can look up staff members on My.Bethel under “Quick Links,” “Campus Directory”).
All visits to the nurse will be by appointment only and will begin with a phone call. If you need to see the nurse, call the Wellness Center (574.807.7370) during office hours to discuss your needs and set up an appointment.
- Counseling will be available in person and via tele-counseling/virtual services.
- Support groups will be held with physical distancing protocols.
- For all COVID-19 needs, the Wellness Center staff will serve as a link for between students and our robust community health resources.
Academic services such as the library, Learning Commons, Center for Academic Success and career services are available remotely and in person.
- All in-person services will be provided with appropriate physical distancing, face coverings and sanitation protocols, per state and county requirements/guidelines.
All campus offices, including the registrar, business office and student development, are available for in-person services.
- Clear barriers have been installed in high-traffic service area to allows for masks to be removed for improved communication.
- Visit the Campus Directory on MyBethel and search by department to find each office’s phone number/email addresses to see if services can be provided remotely.
- Classrooms will be arranged to promote physical distancing. This includes 10 feet of distance between the front of the classroom and the first row.
- Students will be asked to choose a seat location and use it for the duration of the semester.
- Faculty will wear face coverings when entering and existing the classroom, but may take them off or wear a face shield while teaching class.
- In accordance with state and county requirements, students must wear face coverings in classrooms. A student without a face covering will be asked to leave the room in order to retrieve one or to participate via live stream.
- Housekeeping staff has increased cleaning and sanitizing procedures for classrooms, and will also provide sanitizer in every classroom for faculty and students to use as desired between classes.
- Live streaming equipment has been installed in every classroom.
- If a student is unable to attend class due to lack of a face covering, the need to quarantine or isolate, or because of a special circumstance, they will be able to live-stream the class.
- For all field experiences, students should follow the protocol for their field experience site. For example, nursing students will follow hospital protocols, student-teachers will follow the protocols of their school system, interns will follow the protocols of the business or organization.
- Students should consult with their academic advisor and/or their academic department for more instructions about preparing for their field experience.
- Music and theatre performances will occur only when the St. Joseph County Health Department orders can be followed. Alternative performance options, like live streaming, are being considered.
- All academic events, such as department meetings, club gatherings and art gallery openings, must follow the St. Joseph County Health Department orders for gathering in groups.
All coaches must follow NAIA guidelines for team activities, including practices and competitions.
- Per the NAIA, all athletes must be screened daily and report to the athletic trainer and their coach if they are symptomatic. This may be done through the BU app self-assessment.
- All athletes must be tested for COVID-19 before their first competition of the season. Athletes should contact their coach for more information and for when and how they will be tested.
New procedures have been put in place for weight room, cardio room, locker rooms and other athletic facilities, including increased sanitization, occupancy limits and equipment rearranged for physical distancing.
- Some rooms and buildings will be accessible only to specific personnel or teams.
All teams traveling to Bethel for competition will follow NAIA guidelines for screening, pre- and post-game activities, locker room use, and physical distancing.
- All BU athletes will be screened by BU trainers before boarding the bus for an off-campus competition, and will follow NAIA guidelines while off site.
Per state and county requirements, fans must wear face coverings while attending athletic events, unless they (and their family unit) are maintaining physical distancing requirements.
- Where possible, all bleachers will be pulled out to increase the ability to follow physical distancing guidelines.
- All visiting students and their families will be asked to follow the current state and county requirements for wearing face coverings.
- Group visits, such as Pilot Preview Days, will continue with modifications to follow the St. Joseph County Health Department guidelines.
- Go2BU – Bethel’s immersive admission experience for high school students – has been modified with a reduced schedule and no on-campus housing.
- Individual visits are being scheduled and arranged to accommodate physical distancing guidelines. Most meetings are taking place in large lobby areas instead of in individual offices.
- All campus events – those hosted by Bethel University as well as those hosted by outside groups – must follow the current physical distancing, face covering and occupancy guidelines from national, state and local authorities.
- At this time, we are only offering plated and served meals, served buffets or prepackaged meals.
- This web page will have the most up-to-date information about Bethel’s response to COVID-19.
- Important institutional announcements will be sent to students, faculty and staff via email and will be posted on the Stronger Together web page.
- Information and announcements specific to various groups will be sent via email from specific offices:
- Traditional students – Student Life Office
- AGS students – Adult and Graduate Studies Office
- Faculty and Staff – Human Resources or your supervisor
- In addition to information sent via email, announcements may also be reinforced through social media, campus monitors, the Bethel app, residence directors or assistance, faculty, supervisors, etc.
On June 17, Bethel University announced changes to the academic calendar for fall 2020 for traditional students. Classes began two days early (on Aug. 18) and will run, with no breaks, until Thanksgiving, which will be the end of the semester. Classes will be held on Labor Day, there will be no fall break, the final exam schedule will be modified and the university will have modified class breaks for Spiritual Emphasis Week services.
In order to minimize exposure to Bethel's campus, we have modified the academic calendar so we will finish the semester by Thanksgiving break. More details will be available in the coming weeks, as faculty and staff work to make adjustments and think through necessary changes.
Here is an overview of the new academic calendar for fall 2020:
- Aug. 18: Classes begin
- Sept. 7: Labor Day, classes will be held
- Oct. 8-9: Class will be held (no Fall Break)
- Nov. 20: Last day of classes
- Nov. 21: Final exams begin, with condensed schedule
- Nov. 25: All final exams done by 1 p.m.; semester ends
These changes keep us from losing any in-class seat time and allow final exams to take place in person, on campus.
We know these changes will cause students and families to have to rethink their normal semester patterns, but we are grateful for everyone's partnership in reorganizing to make it work. We are all looking forward to the return of face-to-face classes and want that to happen in a way that is safe for everyone.
Bethel University is very grateful for the $634,924 for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, and the $634,923 for Institutional Costs allocated from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as part of the CARES act passed by Congress. Bethel University signed the Certification and Agreement for the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students on April 13, 2020 and the Department of Education approved the agreement on April 21, 2020, and also signed the Institutional Portion on April 22, 2020 which was approved May 4, 2020. To date Bethel has been able to provide $1,047,210 of assistance to our students from these funds. On May 6th, Bethel issued 499 (of an eligible 1,267 students) checks ranging in amounts from $50 to $800, amounting to $357,930 for students who faced housing disruptions due to COVID-19. We were also able to refund 530 students the unused portion of Meal Plans and other costs totaling $396,006. These refunds were issued in the form of check or credit to the student account. Bethel also established a benevolence fund to assist students who were directly impacted by COVID-19 through job loss, housing, medical, and other related situations. To date the benevolence fund has been able to issue grant checks of $293,274 to assist 170 students. Bethel was able to spend $14,800 to provide intensive training for our instructors to provide improved online learning opportunities for our students.
The individual amount of each housing disruption grant was based on an approximation of housing costs that each student had to incur while being deprived of on-campus housing because of the pandemic. That deprivation was 38 of the semester’s 113 days, or 33.63 percent of the semester. Bethel factored in pre-pandemic scholarships and grants (not loans), and considered whether and to what extent those funds offset each student’s out-of-pocket housing burden, thus leaving him or her with less need. To maximize the housing grant, Bethel applied those grant offsets to each student’s full tuition burden before considering potential impact to housing burden. Roughly speaking, each student received a grant in the amount of 33.63 percent of their out-of-pocket campus housing expense for the spring semester. Students living in the residence halls who had filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2019/2020 academic year received the grants. These will afford students the ability to supplement their living expenses while not living on campus.
From student to student, these figures may have varied slightly, for ease of accounting and speed of processing, simultaneous with partial meal-plan refunds that Bethel issued out of its own funds which were reimbursed from the Institutional Portion of the HEERF funds. Bethel did this consistent with the Department’s instruction that funds be distributed as quickly as possible. All calculations were rounded to the nearest $10. Students who had some minimal out-of-pocket campus housing expense, but less the $50 of it, received a grant of $50. Students who had no out-of-pocket campus housing expense did not receive a housing disruption grant, but of course are eligible to apply for need-based grants under the program discussed below.
Students were required to submit an application in order to be eligible for the benevolence grants. The maximum amount of grant a student was eligible for was determined by their estimated family contribution. Those with a zero or very low estimated contribution were eligible for higher levels of grants. Grants were segmented into five levels with the maximum grant decreasing with the increasing family contribution.
Bethel intends to spend an additional $7,000 in benevolence needs for our students. Another $200,000 of the remaining Institutional portion of the HEERF funds will go towards the classroom upgrades that began this summer to allow both in-person and remote learning, as well as enhancements to instructor technology, and ongoing training for our classroom instructors to maximize online learning opportunities. We have also invested another $15,000 in improved cleaning and sterilization equipment for classrooms and other campus facilities. The remaining HEERF funds will be held in reserve for additional Covid-19 needs as they arise.
To advise students on Bethel’s plans to distribute HEERF dollars, Bethel issued the following communication to all students on April 29, 2020, via the Bethel University Website and via an April 30, 2020 email to all residential students:
Housing Disruption Grant
Bethel University is providing a housing disruption grant to on-campus students and their families to help with unforeseen expenses and transitional needs related to the disruptions of the COVID-19 crisis. In recent weeks, we have received several rounds of guidance from the Department of Education, and we have carefully developed this grant program to follow that guidance. These grant funds are on their way to students via a check sent to their home address.
$300,000 COVID-19 Benevolence Fund
Bethel University understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our students and families in ways no one could have predicted. We have established a $300,000 Benevolence Fund for students enrolled in on-ground (not fully online) undergraduate or graduate programs, who have experienced significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. Students may be eligible to receive additional financial grants, supplemental to their Bethel Aid, to stabilize their situation.
To apply, students should fill out this request form. Upon submitting the form, students will receive an email confirmation with more information about the review process and next steps.
Previously Released Information
If you're looking for older information on Bethel's response to COVID-19, visit our Archive page.
- August 2020 Commencement details
- President Chenoweth's face-to-face return to campus video