Campus Communication


April 9, 2020 - Extension of Stay at Home Order

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

Today Governor Whitmer extended and expanded the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order through April, 30, 2020. We will continue to conduct distance learning and telecommuting arrangements in compliance with the order.

By staying the course we are doing all that we can to flatten the curve and protect our communities. Our institution is dedicated to the common good, and it will take all of us to make a difference.

We will get through this together and we will see each other soon. What we are going through is not easy, and the days ahead will seem long and strange. But I know that no matter what, it is still a great day to be a Saint.

Kevin G. Quinn
President


March 23, 2020 - Impact of Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

I write to you today in extraordinary circumstances that have had an unprecedented impact on our daily lives. I am saddened -- as I know you are -- to be away from our Aquinas community, but we are always thinking of you.

First, I want to provide you with an update on our community. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Aquinas; however, the situation is rapidly evolving and the disease continues to spread in the state of Michigan.

Information from public health officials indicates that this pandemic will remain extremely serious for an extended period of time. I continue to pray for those who are sick and for those who are working on the front lines to keep our communities safe.

Second, today Governor Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order directing all Michigan businesses and operations to “suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.” It also orders that individuals may only leave their homes under very limited circumstances and must adhere to social distancing measures (persons must be 6 feet apart).

Aquinas College is subject to this order, but is permitted to facilitate distance learning and other essential functions  (“as defined by the employer to conduct minimum basic operations”) if we practice social distancing. The order will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, and will continue for the next three weeks.

Aquinas has already implemented proactive measures, but in compliance with the Governor’s order we will further reduce operational core services that must be performed in person on campus. All other operations will be conducted remotely.

We want to help you understand what that means for our campus and what we are doing to further alter our operations to comply with Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order.

  • All residence halls will be closing at 9 p.m. on March 24, 2020, except for students with extreme hardship.
  • All classes will continue through distance learning. Distance learning is being extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams.
  • Commencement activities are postponed.
  • Only essential employees should report to campus. All other operations will be performed remotely. Non-essential campus buildings will be closed (no swipe access).

FOR STUDENTS

Residential Students

We will be closing our residence halls 9 p.m. on March 24, 2020, so students who are still on campus should return to their permanent addresses as soon as possible. We recognize the  potential challenges related to this time constraint, but it is important that as many of our students as possible comply with this order. If you have questions, please contact Residence Life at reslife@aquinas.edu. Under the Governor’s order, students may travel to “a home or place of residence from outside this state or to leave this state for a home or residence elsewhere.”

Students who have extreme hardship will not be displaced, and should fill out the Extreme Hardship Form immediately. Students who remain on campus must abide by the provisions of the Governor’s order.

Residence Life will be communicating with students who are currently on campus about checkout procedures. Residence Life will also be communicating with students who have already returned to their permanent addresses about retrieving the remainder of their personal belongings and checking out at a future date, when it is safe to return to campus.

Additionally, Aquinas will communicate information in the coming days about financial considerations for students affected by the changes to room and board.  

Distance Learning and Final Exams

All classes will continue to be conducted through distance learning. We are extending distance learning through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. Faculty will be providing more information to their students in the coming weeks.

Commencement Activities

I am disappointed to announce that we are postponing commencement-related events for the remainder of the spring semester, including Grad Fest, Toast to the Tassel, Senior Awards, Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Ceremony. This is one of my favorite times of the year, and I am heartbroken that we will not be able to gather in May for these celebrations.

Although we may not be able to reschedule all of these events, we are committed to finding an alternative date for the 2020 Commencement ceremony. Taking time to publicly recognize and celebrate your accomplishments and this significant life event is as meaningful to the Aquinas community as it is to you and your families. We will communicate that information as soon as it is available.

FOR FACULTY AND STAFF

All employees, including student employees, should shift to telecommuting arrangements as soon as possible (before 12:01 a.m. on March 24), except for essential employees listed below (who will be practicing social distancing and other mitigation activities on campus). If you are unable to work from home or are not an essential employee under this directive, contact your supervisor or HR. Essential employees include:

  • Campus Safety
  • Campus Dining
  • Housekeeping
  • Some Library staff
  • Residence Life
  • ITS, as needed
  • Emergency Management Team, as needed
  • Senior Leadership Team, as needed
  • Certain employees, to be determined separately

We will continue to assess what essential functions require an on-campus presence, and supervisors will be in touch with employees as additional information becomes available.

Faculty are expected to work remotely. Further information for faculty about the impact of the Governor’s order will be coming from the Provost’s Office.

As a College directive

  • Do continue to perform your job duties remotely (as you have agreed with your supervisor via a Telecommuting Agreement)
  • Do contact your supervisor if you are unable to work (either as a remote employee or on campus as an essential employee)
  • Do not come to campus for any reason unless listed as an essential employee above (who will be practicing social distancing and other mitigation activities on campus). 

More information about the impact of the Governor’s order on employees will be coming from HR.

CAMPUS OPERATIONS STATUS

Due to the Governor’s order, non-essential facilities will be closed (no swipe access).

The Campus Safety Office, the Residence Halls and Wege will be restricted to swipe access for remaining residential students and essential employees only.

Please see the Campus Operations Status page for more information.

NEXT STEPS

Our campus will look and feel different for a while. I am deeply saddened to be apart from our campus community and will miss seeing firsthand the experiences that make it great to be an Aquinas Saint.

Despite this time of great uncertainty -- for us and for our global community -- I take great solace in knowing that we are taking actions to protect our community and the community around us.

And no matter what, we are still a family of AQ Saints. I have never been more thankful for that.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during these strange and extraordinary times. I am saying a prayer for all of you, and I encourage you to do the same for others.

If you have a question or concern related to COVID-19, please send a message to safety@aquinas.edu.

Please remain connected to Aquinas emails; AQ C.A.R.E.S.; Aquinas College’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts; aquinas.edu/coronavirus; and public health and news information for updates.

God bless,

Kevin G. Quinn

President


March 20, 2020 - Message from President Quinn: Our Aquinas Saints Community

Hello from Brookby,

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk to everyone in the community about Aquinas College’s response to the COVID-19 situation, and to reassure you that we are going to be OK.

First, I want to say that this is an unprecedented situation. It is a time for action, but it is not a time for panic. We are in front of this, and the college’s leadership team is providing me with the necessary advice about how we can do our part to slow the spread of this terrible virus.

To our students, this is disruptive and creates anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please contact Counseling, Health and Wellness Services. In the meantime, recognize that your faculty is working hard to convert your classes online. Please thank them and also recognize that it might be a little bumpy, but they will fix it.

Thank you to our faculty for the work you’re doing. It is hard enough to teach a full load of classes, but to add this on top of it is really something. Thank you for what you are doing to minimize the disruption to our students’ education.

Thank you to our staff for all that you are doing right now, particularly those at the front lines -- the Emergency Management Team, Housekeeping, Campus Safety, Residence Life and many more. What you are doing is making a huge difference. We’ve asked people to work from home if they can, so please consult with your supervisor to understand what that means for you directly.

Aquinas College really is a special place. We have a beautiful campus that we all get to enjoy. More importantly, we are a community. The Dominican Sisters taught us what it meant to be in community, and those of us that have experienced it know that there is just something different about being part of Aquinas College.

It might be a little bit difficult for us to maintain the same kind of community when we are apart, but we are all still a part of this College. We are going to make sure that we maintain that sense of community. That’s the reason why we are so dedicated to making sure that we disrupt our students’ education as little as possible.

Thank you to all of you for what you’re doing to help Aquinas College do its part to minimize the impact that this has on our society, culture and people that we love.

Be safe, be happy, be healthy.

Saint Thomas and Saint Dominic, pray for us, and for all who are affected by this situation.

God Bless,

Kevin G. Quinn
President


March 18 COVID-19 Update: Campus operations status

March 18, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

We are writing today to provide updates to campus facilities and services on campus as we transition to distance learning and telecommuting arrangements through at least April 24, in order to encourage social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The campus remains operational, but some hours of operation and services have been modified to aid social distancing while still supporting our campus community both near and far.

Please check the Campus Operations Status page on aquinas.edu/coronavirus regularly for the most up-to-date information as this situation evolves.

Residence Halls will be accessible to residential students who remain on campus. The following buildings will have “swipe access” only during normal business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) while all long-term access will be suspended for students for the spring 2020 semester beginning Monday, March 16: 

  • Academic Building
  • Albertus Magnus Hall of Science
  • Donnelly (lower level)
  • Holmdene
  • Hruby 
  • Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel
  • Wege Student Center 

All unused rooms in all buildings will be locked and sealed to maintain a clean and sanitized space.

Please see the list below for other facilities and services on campus. We will continue to update.

Art and Music Center: Closed 

Carriage House: Closed 

Bookstore: Open March 16-20 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Please check back regularly for updated hours of operation.

Bukowski: Closed

Campus Safety Office: Operating under normal business hours.


Counseling, Health and Wellness Services: Counseling and Wellness will remain open and continue with regularly scheduled hours. (Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

  • If you have questions or need a counseling referral, please call (616) 632-2905 or email CHWS@aquinas.edu or stop by the CHWS office.
  • If you are sick or experiencing symptoms of illness, please stay home and call or email to reschedule your appointment.
  • In case of a mental health emergency, call the Campus Safety Office at (616) 632-2462 from a cell/off-campus phone or dial extension 3333 on any on-campus landline phone.

Gatehouse: Closed

Library: Closed per Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-9.

 

Mail Room: Open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Please check back regularly for updated hours of operation.

  • There will still be one mail run per day and all outgoing mail will be processed and sent out by 2 p.m.
  • Phone: (616) 632-2142
  • Email: copyrequests@aquinas.edu 

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel: The Diocese of Grand Rapids has temporarily suspended ALL public Masses and all other liturgical and devotional services through Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020.

  • Fr. Stan will be available to talk with any student or faculty/staff member who would like to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation or for spiritual counsel. Please contact Fr. Stan at sad004@aquinas.edu for appointments.
  • Campus Ministry staff are available for different modalities of virtual pastoral care and spiritual companionship. Please contact Campus Ministry staff for appointments.

Performing Arts Center (PAC): Please see circletheatre.org.

Residence Life: Please email reslife@aquinas.edu.

Student Accounts: Will be operating remotely. Payments can be made by mail and online. If you have questions or need to schedule an in person payment/visit please call (616) 632-2915 or (616) 632-2864 or email at studentaccounts@aquinas.edu

Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center and Alksnis Athletics and Recreation Building: Closed per Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-9.

Wege Dining: Grab-and-go service only (no dine-in or campus delivery). Please check back regularly for updated hours of operation.

  • Saturday - Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for brunch and 5-6 p.m. for dinner
  • Monday - Friday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for lunch and 5-6 p.m. for dinner


 

Thank you,

Aquinas College Emergency Management Team


March 16 COVID-19 Update: Telecommuting, campus events and campus operations

March 16, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

We are writing today to provide updates to Aquinas College’s actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. There are no known cases of COVID-19 at Aquinas; however, as of today, there are now 53 confirmed cases in Michigan.

Public health officials have identified social distancing as critical to slowing the spread of this disease, so we are seeking your support and participation to increase social distancing on our campus. In addition, we strongly recommend that you increase social distancing outside of work and school.

Telecommuting Arrangements

We ask that supervisors proactively and immediately work with their employees, including student employees, to develop plans to telecommute (where possible) and enter into those arrangements as soon as possible until at least April 24.

The campus is operational, but we will be scaling back some services and shifting to telecommuting arrangements as much as possible.

Please think creatively about how to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 while still enabling employees to perform their work. Subject to the needs of the College, supervisors may also consider flexible work arrangements that combine on-site shifts with telecommuting. When developing a flexible schedule/telecommuting arrangement, supervisors should be mindful of employees’ access to the internet.

Some individuals, due to the nature of their work, will be asked to continue to report to work to maintain campus operations. At this time, the following areas will report to work as usual: Campus Safety; Counseling, Health and Wellness; Creative Dining; ITS; Library; Physical Plant; and Residence Life.

HR has developed Telecommuting Guidelines, Temporary Telecommuting Arrangements and a Telecommuting Plan and Agreement Form to document modifications to an employee’s regular work location, assignments and schedule. These documents are located under the HR Policies & Procedures section of the HR page on Acorn. 

  1. Employees who are able to perform their jobs remotely should do so effective as soon as possible.
  2. Supervisors and employees should document their work plans and agreements using the HR forms and maintain regular communication throughout the telecommuting timeframe.
  3. Non-exempt employees who work remotely must use the Time Card for Remote Workers, available on the HR page on Acorn, to track all their time worked. 

As part of the work-from-home arrangement, please remember to include checking voicemails or forwarding phones if possible. 

Please also post a notice of hours of operations or contact information outside your offices in the event you need to be reached. 

If you need to work on campus, we urge you to practice social distancing during work hours. Please do not come to work if you are sick. As much as possible, hold meetings (including meetings with students) by phone, email, video conference or other methods. 

If you must meet in person, please meet in open, well-ventilated spaces and remain 6 feet (2 meters) away from others. Clean and disinfect spaces before and after in-person meetings, and follow CDC guidelines for protecting yourself.

More information about telecommuting arrangements will be coming from HR. If you have questions or need assistance with telecommuting arrangements, please contact HR.

Our intention is to ensure that faculty and staff are compensated during this time. Further details will come from HR.

Campus Events

In line with new CDC guidelines, events that consist of 50 people or more will be evaluated and/or canceled through May 10 as can practically be arranged. The College is evaluating Commencement activities and will communicate updates on those events soon.

Campus Operations Status

Aquinas College is operational. With information rapidly evolving and with a shift to telecommuting arrangements, we have created a Campus Operations Status page on our website. This will be a central resource for up-to-date information on the facilities and services that we are providing on our campus.

Self-Care

As mentioned in previous communication, we recognize that the uncertainty and the quickly changing nature of this situation may cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. We encourage you to practice self-care as well as care for your loved ones and your neighbors.

  • If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please contact Counseling, Health and Wellness at (616) 632-2905 or CHWS@aquinas.edu or the Campus Safety Office at (616) 632-2462 or cso@aquinas.edu.
  • In case of a mental health emergency, contact the Campus Safety Office at extension 3333 from any on-campus landline phone or at (616) 632-2462.
  • Employee Assistance Center (EAC) is available for employees and their immediate family members. Call 1-800-227-0905. 
  • Please follow CDC recommendations for managing anxiety and stress.

Next Steps

We appreciate the understanding and cooperation from our campus community as we continue to work through this unpredictable situation. As we receive more information, we will provide further guidance.

If you have a question or concern related to COVID-19, please send a message to safety@aquinas.edu.

Please remain connected to Aquinas emails; AQ C.A.R.E.S.; Aquinas College’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts; aquinas.edu/coronavirus; and public health and news information for updates.

Thank you,

Aquinas College Emergency Management Team


March 13 COVID-19 Update - Updates on returning from travel, facilities and services, and athletics

March 13, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

Following are new updates and information. Many of these issues are fluid with more yet to be determined. We appreciate your understanding.

Returning from Travel

As you return from planned Spring break travel, please note that if you are returning from a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice (currently China, Iran, South Korea and a list of countries in Europe), you will need to self-quarantine.

Stay home for 14 days from the time you left the Level 3 country and practice social distancing.

  • Take your temperature two times a day and monitor for fever (100.4F or higher). Watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Do not take public transportation.
  • Avoid crowded places and limit activities in public.
  • Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters.)

If you have symptoms of fever, cough or have trouble breathing

  • Call ahead to your health care provider to seek medical care.
  • Communicate your recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.

Please refer to CDC’s recommendations on exposure, risk and management for both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons for detailed guidance.

Facilities and Services

As listed in this afternoon’s message, campus remains open and operational. All campus facilities will be limited to “swipe access” during normal business hours and all long-term access to facilities will be suspended for students for the spring 2020 semester beginning Monday, March 16.

During the extended spring break, the following services will be available:

  • Campus Dining will be available during the following hours for grab-and-go service only:
    • Saturday - Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for brunch and 5 - 6 p.m. for dinner
    • Monday - Friday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 - 6 p.m. for dinner
  • Counseling, Health and Wellness will continue to operate normal business hours.
  • Library will operate under spring break hours.
  • Per guidance from the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the following Mass schedule will be observed at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel:
    • Weekend Masses through Sunday, March 29, are canceled.
    • We will communicate the schedule of daily Masses on campus soon.
  • Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center will operate under spring break hours.

Athletics

The Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) is canceling the remainder of the 2020 spring athletic seasons in terms of competitions and practice, workouts and team activities, effective March 14 at midnight ET. 

If you have a question or concern related to COVID-19, please send a message to safety@aquinas.edu.

Please remain connected to Aquinas emails; AQ C.A.R.E.S.; Aquinas College’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts; aquinas.edu/coronavirus; and public health and news information for updates.

Thank you,

Aquinas College Emergency Management Team


March 13 COVID-19 Update - Updates to athletics, campus operations, travel, and other information

March 13, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

There are no known cases of COVID-19 at Aquinas College. However, as of March 12, 2020, there are 12 confirmed cases in Michigan. We continue to monitor this rapidly evolving public health situation.

We thank the Aquinas community for your efforts and understanding as we take actions to protect our faculty, staff, students and the broader community. We appreciate your patience as we prioritize and assess answers to your questions in this evolving situation.

Following are important updates and additional information. 

Athletics

All spring athletic activities (e.g., competitions, practices, workouts, etc.) are suspended until March 31. We will share additional information or modifications as information becomes available.

Campus Operations

Campus remains open and operational. All campus facilities will be limited to “swipe access” beginning Monday, March 16. (“Swipe access” means that you will be able to access buildings that you currently have the authorization to access.)

Impact to International Students

Specific information on how the extended spring break period and shift to distance learning affects international students will be provided directly to our international students.

Impact to UDM Nursing Students

UDM Nursing students should visit UDM’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for guidance about classes or contact Dr. Suzanne Keep at keepsuz@aquinas.edu.

Travel

All domestic and international travel for College business, including within the state of Michigan, is suspended until further notice. Personal travel (domestic and international) is also strongly discouraged. If you are planning to travel, please self-report your travel plans in the Travel Notification Form.

Working Remotely

With Governor Whitmer’s announcement to close all K-12 schools in the state of Michigan, HR will be communicating information about working remotely to employees. If you have a specific or urgent question related to work, please contact your supervisor or HR.

If you have a question or concern related to COVID-19, please send a message to safety@aquinas.edu.

Please remain connected to Aquinas emails; AQ C.A.R.E.S.; Aquinas College’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts; aquinas.edu/coronavirus; and public health and news information for updates.

Thank you,

Aquinas College Emergency Management Team


March 12 COVID-19 Update: Aquinas College extends spring break for one week, shifts to distance learning

March 12, 2020

Dear Aquinas College Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

The situation around COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve in the U.S. and around the globe. As of today, there are two confirmed cases in Michigan and no known cases at Aquinas College.

However, in order to do our part to prevent or mitigate the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, the College has made some difficult decisions about the remainder of our spring semester.

Our highest priority will always be to protect the health and safety of our campus community and the broader community. Our goal is to protect our faculty, staff and students while continuing to support Aquinas students’ academic pursuits and path to graduation.

That is why we are taking the following steps:

  • Spring break for students is extended for one week (March 16-20).
  • Students who are currently away on spring break are strongly encouraged to remain away from campus. Students are permitted to return to campus from March 15-18 to prepare to leave campus for an extended period of time.
  • Beginning March 23 through at least April 24, all classes will shift to distance learning. No in-person classes will be held. We will share additional information or modifications as more information becomes available.
  • On-campus and College-sponsored events with more than 100 people in a confined space will be canceled through at least April 24, as can practically be arranged.
  • The College will remain open and operational.

Over recent weeks, the College leadership and Emergency Management Team have been actively monitoring numerous aspects of the current public health situation with local, state, national, international and other experts, including the March 11 interim recommendations for COVID-19 community mitigation from Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

We are operating with an abundance of caution, not panic, as we gather as much information as we can about a rapidly evolving situation. These decisions are complex and not made lightly. We recognize that these decisions are disruptive and, more than likely, disappointing. 

We also know that you may have questions, financial, academic or otherwise. We will work diligently to prioritize and answer those questions, provide information and make this transition as smooth as possible. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we do so. If you have a question or concern, please send a message to safety@aquinas.edu. We will strive to respond to your message within a 24-hour period.

What does this mean for students?

  • If you are currently away on spring break, we strongly encourage you to remain away from campus.
  • You are permitted to return to campus from March 15-18 to prepare to leave campus for an extended period of time. We encourage you to take as many of your belongings as possible, particularly items and materials necessary to continue your studies remotely.
  • We recognize that it may not be possible for all students to return to their permanent address for various reasons. Students with exceptional reasons to remain on campus may register their stay. The Office of Residence Life will be providing additional details to students and on its web page.
  • Spring break will be extended for students from March 16-20 to allow students to prepare to leave campus and to allow faculty to shift to distance learning methods.
  • Classes will resume through distance learning methods on March 23, and will continue in this manner through at least April 24. Your faculty instructors will provide information to you about classes.
  • The manner in which labs and similar coursework will be conducted is being discussed and information will be provided soon.
  • Additional services that support student learning are being discussed and information will be provided soon.
  • We will share additional information or modifications as more information becomes available. 

What does this mean for faculty?

  • Beginning March 23, we will shift to distance learning, delivering class instruction via online or other alternative learning methods. No in-person classes will be held.
  • Distance Learning will continue through at least April 24. We will share additional information or modifications as more information becomes available.
  • The Office of the Provost and ITS will provide training and information for alternative methods of delivery.
  • We ask that faculty who are feeling sick to please remain at home. 

What does this mean for staff?

  • As of now, staff should continue their regular work schedules on campus. We ask that staff who are feeling sick to please remain at home.
  • Individual questions or concerns can be discussed with supervisors and/or HR.
  • Additional information will be posted on the HR Acorn page.

Travel Guidance

  • All international travel is suspended.
  • Non-essential travel to states that have declared a state of emergency is suspended. This includes:
    • Non-credit bearing academic and student group activities; activities that do not have an impact on academic status or graduation requirements.
    • Non-conference athletic competitions (excluding national championships).
    • Professional or education conferences.
    • Travel within the state of Michigan.
  • Personal travel internationally or to states that have declared a state of emergency is strongly discouraged.

Campus Events

  • On-campus and College-sponsored events with more than 100 people in a confined space will be canceled through April 24, as can practically be arranged.
    • We will share additional information or modifications as this situation evolves. 
  • Non-essential athletic competitions on campus will be canceled, postponed or rescheduled. We will continue to monitor in coordination with the NAIA.
  • All events are encouraged to follow CDC cleaning and sanitation best practices.

Self-Care

  • This is a challenging and stressful time. Please practice self-care as well as care for your loved ones and your neighbors. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please contact the Campus Safety Office at cso@aquinas.edu or (616) 632-2462.
  • Employee Assistance Center (EAC) is available for employees. Contact HR for further information.

Prevention and Treatment

In addition to these steps, the College recommends that faculty, staff and students follow CDC’s steps for prevention and treatment and practice social distancing.

If you have questions related to COVID-19, contact safety@aquinas.edu.

Lastly, we have received many messages of care and concern from faculty, staff, students and families for others in our community. Amidst a very challenging situation, these messages are a reminder of what makes our community so special.

Additionally, please share this message with your families and remain connected to our emails, AQ C.A.R.E.S., Aquinas College’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, aquinas.edu/coronavirus, and public health and news information for updates.

Thank you,

Kevin G. Quinn

President

and

Aquinas College Emergency Management Team


March 10, 2020 - COVID-19 Update: Updated Travel Guidance and Cancellation of Scheduled Travel

March 10, 2020

Dear Aquinas College Faculty, Staff, Students and Families,

As information about the global outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its presence in the U.S. and other parts of the world continue to rapidly evolve, we wanted to provide you with updates to Aquinas College’s travel guidance and its impact on current programs and competitions.

We understand that this disruption to valuable and unique educational opportunities is deeply disappointing for all. We know that these decisions have a significant impact to teaching, scholarship and operations of the College. But we did not make these decisions lightly. 

College leadership and the Emergency Management Team are actively monitoring developments in coordination with state, local and national public health officials so that we can take actions to keep our campus community and the broader community safe and healthy.

We appreciate your continued understanding and cooperation.

Updated Travel Guidance

Aquinas College’s primary concern is always the health and safety of our campus community and the broader community. Out of an abundance of caution during this rapidly evolving situation and in consideration of guidelines from public health officials and other experts, we have made difficult decisions regarding travel. The guidance provided below is effective until further notice.

International Travel

Aquinas College is suspending all international travel for College business. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged.

Domestic Travel

The CDC has not issued a travel warning for locations in the U.S., but recommends that all travelers practice usual precautions. However, as of the date above, California, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington have declared a state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus. Aquinas College is suspending all non-essential domestic travel for College business to these states. Personal travel to these states is also strongly discouraged.

Travel within the state of Michigan is currently not restricted.

Non-Essential Travel

Aquinas College defines non-essential travel as

  • Non-credit bearing academic and student group activities; academic activities that do not have an impact on academic status or graduation requirements
  • Non-conference athletic competitions (excluding national championships)
  • Professional or educational conferences

If you have questions about your travel and the novel coronavirus, please contact safety@aquinas.edu

Cancellation of Travel Programs

Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the global impact and in line with the College’s travel restrictions, the College has made the decision to cancel several current travel programs and competitions.

The Study Away programs in France and Ireland have been canceled, and the students, faculty and staff are required to return to the U.S. as soon as can be practically arranged by the College. Participants in these programs have been notified, and they will be returning to the spring semester on campus beginning Monday, March 23, 2020.

In addition, the College made the decision to cancel the spring break service learning trip to the Dominican Republic and non-essential domestic, College-organized spring break trips to states that have declared a state of emergency, including student group trips and non-conference athletic competitions. Participants in these programs and competitions have been notified, and they are required to return to campus as soon as can be practically arranged. 

We are committed to making these transitions as smooth as possible, to maintain continuity and to answer questions that may arise.

This continues to be a fluid situation, so we will monitor developments and their impact on future travel programs and competitions. If there are any changes to future plans, we will notify participants in those programs as soon as possible.

I encourage you to share this message with your families. We will also continue to communicate important updates to you; please visit aquinas.edu/coronavirus for more information.

Thank you,

Lisa VanDeWeert

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


March 5, 2020 - COVID-19 and Spring Break Travel

March 5, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff and Students,

We are sending you this message via AQ C.A.R.E.S., because we know that during spring break, many members of our campus community do not have access to email.

We want to provide some information and resources to help you prepare for a safe experience during spring break, whether you are traveling independently or with an Aquinas-sponsored program. We also want to help you understand the potential impact of the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on your travels.

Situation Report

Please use an abundance of caution when traveling and remain connected to aquinas.edu/coronavirus as well as other news and public health information sources as this situation is rapidly evolving both in the U.S. and internationally.

Consistent with travel warning guidance from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State, Aquinas College requires that faculty, staff and students do not travel to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy for any College business. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged.

The CDC has not issued a travel warning for locations in the United States. CDC recommends that all travelers practice usual precautions when traveling. However, Washington and California have both declared a state of emergency. Aquinas College requires that faculty, staff and students do not travel to these two states for any College business. Personal travel to these states is also strongly discouraged.

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the State of Michigan or within the AQ community. CDC provides a list of countries and states who have reported cases of the novel coronavirus. We will communicate with the campus immediately and update aquinas.edu/coronavirus if this situation changes.

Preparing for Travel

If you are traveling independently, we encourage you to build flexibility into your travel plans in case of travel disruptions, changes, cancellations or challenges in returning home due to this evolving situation.

Please take into consideration travel guidance from the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Department of State. Additionally, please consider unpredictable circumstances that include the following:

  • Potential Travel Restrictions and mandatory quarantines inside and outside the U.S.
  • Challenges returning home (including U.S. Government quarantines) and return procedures
  • Challenges accessing health care domestically and abroad
  • Unanticipated costs due to potential unpredictable prolonged stays domestically and abroad
  • Potential effects on the goals of the program
  • Potential effects on progress toward degree requirements and completion due to potential unpredictable prolonged stays domestically and abroad

Aquinas College understands that personal tolerance for risk may vary (or change over time) and that individuals may choose not to participate in College-sponsored programs or team competitions that have not been canceled. We respect these personal decisions.

If you choose not to participate in a program or team competition, we ask that you contact your faculty or staff leader, coach or program coordinator so that you can gather information and resources that will help you make an informed decision and understand your next steps.

Travel Notification Form

Please use the Travel Notification Form to register or update any travel that you have planned between now and April 15, 2020. This information will assist the Emergency Management Team if anything arises and will provide open lines of communication for sharing urgent health, safety and security information.

Best Practices for Prevention While Traveling

Finally, please observe CDC prevention and treatment guidance and WHO advice for the public to help protect yourself and others and prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses while traveling.

  • 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.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
  • 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.
  • Discuss travel with your healthcare provider and refer to CDC’s specific guidance for travelers.
  • If you have concerns about your health when you return, seek medical advice immediately (call ahead and describe your symptoms), avoid contact with others and wash your hands with soap and water frequently.

We will continue to provide relevant information to our campus as soon as it becomes available. If you have additional questions related to the novel coronavirus, please contact safety@aquinas.edu.

Thank you,

Lisa VanDeWeert

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


March 3, 2020 - Aquinas Coronavirus Update

March 3, 2020

Dear Aquinas Faculty, Staff and Students,

Information about the global outbreak of the novel (new) coronavirus and its presence in the U.S. and other parts of the world is evolving rapidly. Aquinas College’s leadership and Emergency Management Team are meeting and actively monitoring developments in coordination with state, local, national and international public health officials and others, so that we can take actions to help keep our community safe and healthy.

I know many of you, particularly those who are currently traveling or have plans to do so, are concerned about this situation. This letter is intended to provide some important updates and information for the Aquinas College community. We will share additional information and guidance as soon as it becomes available.

Situation Report

As of today, the novel coronavirus has been detected in numerous countries, including the United States. As of today, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the State of Michigan or within the AQ community. We will communicate with the campus immediately and update aquinas.edu/coronavirus if this situation changes.

Travel

As of February 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory to Italy recommending that travelers reconsider travel to Italy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Warning for Italy recommending that travelers avoid any non-essential travel to Italy.

Until further notice, Aquinas College requires that faculty, staff and students do not travel to China, South Korea and Italy for any College business. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged.

We have been in direct communication with current Study Away participants and those who are planning upcoming Study Away and Service Learning trips. We continue to closely monitor news from public health officials, our travel insurance company (CISI) and other sources.

As of today, our current study away programs are being carried out as planned. Future programs will continue to be monitored. If there are any changes to those plans, we will notify participants as soon as possible.

Aquinas College Travel Notification Form

As spring break approaches, we are asking the members of our campus community to please register your travel plans -- both personal or College-related -- using the Travel Notification Form for travel between now and April 15, 2020. This information will assist the Emergency Management Team if anything arises and will provide open lines of communication for sharing urgent health, safety and security information.

Additionally, if you are traveling, we encourage you to build flexibility into your travel plans in case of travel disruptions, changes or cancellations due to this evolving situation.

Coronavirus Web Page

Aquinas College has created a Novel (New) Coronavirus web page to share information about the overall situation with our campus community, to provide a central source for College-specific information and to assist our campus community with preventive and safety measures.

We will continue to update aquinas.edu/coronavirus and communicate with the campus community as the situation evolves. If you have questions, please contact safety@aquinas.edu.

For the most current information about this emerging, rapidly evolving public health situation, I encourage you to visit CDC’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus web page or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak web page.

Best Practices for Prevention

Finally, it is important that we all do our part to keep our campus community safe and healthy by observing best practices for preventing the spread of flu and other illnesses.

Please observe CDC prevention and treatment guidance and WHO advice for the public to help protect yourself and others.

  • 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.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
  • 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.
  • Discuss travel with your healthcare provider and refer to CDC’s specific guidance for travelers.

We express empathy to anyone who has been affected by COVID-19 both in the U.S. and abroad. We will continue to provide relevant information to our campus as soon as it becomes available. I encourage you to share this with your families or anyone that has questions or concerns. If you have additional questions, please contact safety@aquinas.edu.
 

Lisa VanDeWeert
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


February 29, 2020 - Update to Study Away Participants

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Travel Update

February 29, 2020

Dear Study Away Participants,

We are sharing updates regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and how it might have an impact on your potential travel plans. Additionally, we are providing some resources and information to help protect you.

As of February 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory to Italy recommending that travelers reconsider travel to Italy due to an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Warning for Italy recommending that travelers avoid any non-essential travel to Italy due to a widespread, ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19).

Currently, Aquinas College requires that faculty, staff and students do not travel to China, South Korea and Italy for any College business. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged.

If you have not done so already, please register or update your travel plans -- both personal or College-related -- using the Travel Notification Form for Study Away. Additionally, please update your travel plans in your individual MyCISI app. (Please follow the steps provided in your send-off packet information.) This will help our insurance provider assist if anything arises and will provide open lines of communication for sharing urgent health, safety and security information. 

As we have mentioned in previous communication, this public health situation is rapidly evolving. If you are traveling anywhere, build flexibility into your travel plans in case of travel disruptions, changes or cancellations.

We also encourage travelers to protect themselves and others by following CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance for travel and healthy habits.

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues and other hygiene products may be limited, so consider bringing them with you.
  • Pay attention to your health during travel and at least 14 days after you return.
  • Discuss travel with your healthcare provider.

We continue to closely monitor news from public health officials at the local, state, national and international levels, as well as with our travel insurance company (CISI) and other sources. At this time, our current study away programs are being carried out as planned. If there are any changes to those plans, we will notify you as soon as possible.

Again, this is a rapidly changing situation. Please check the visit CDC’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus web page or the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak web page page for the latest information. We invite you to share this information with your families.

If you have any questions, please contact your faculty leader or Tim Ramsay, director of Study Away, at ramsatim@aquinas.edu.

Lisa VanDeWeert

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


February 26, 2020 - Notice to Campus Community

Information Regarding Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Aquinas College is actively monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak through major news and health information sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. State Department, our international health and travel insurance company (CISI), and many other sources.

As of today, those sources have reported that there have been confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in many parts of the world, including North America, the Pacific and Europe. Officials in those regions are seeking to contain the cases by restricting travel to and from the affected areas. According to the CDC, at this time, the virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.

Please be aware that this is a rapidly changing situation, and national and global health organizations are providing updates on this topic on a daily basis. Aquinas College is keeping a close eye on specific developments locally as well as in the regions where our students are traveling. We have also been providing updates to those students.

Please see the WHO website for extensive information on the virus and tips for staying healthy. You can also view the CDC website and for information regarding planning for international travel.

We will share additional guidance and information as it becomes available from public health officials and others.


February 25, 2020 - Letter to Service Learning Participants

Dear AQ Service Learning Participant, 

As of today, international news reports have confirmed there have been confirmed cases in many parts of the world, including North America, the Pacific, and Europe. Officials are seeking to contain the cases by restricting travel to and from the affected regions. As of today, the Dominican Republic is not listed as a location with confirmed COVID-19 cases. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/locations-confirmed-cases.html

Please be aware that national and global health organizations are providing updates on this topic on a daily basis. Aquinas College is monitoring major news sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), US State Department, our international health and travel insurance company (CISI), and many other sources. We are keeping a close eye on specific developments in the regions where our students are traveling.

Please see the WHO website for extensive information on the virus and tips for staying healthy. You can also view the CDC website regarding planning for international travel https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china#travel-notices and more information https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

If you have any concerns or questions, please let us know by emailing bridgeri@aquinas.edu.


February 25, 2020 - Update to Study Away Participants

Dear AQ Study Away Participant, 

As of today, international news reports and notices from the U.S. Embassy in Rome provided more information about a few cases of Coronavirus occurring in two northern regions of Italy: Lombardy and Veneto. Officials are seeking to contain the cases by restricting travel to and from the affected regions.  All students based in Europe are encouraged to avoid traveling to the Northern regions of Italy in question. AQ Study Away continues to encourage all students to monitor the news and to take the standard precautions to avoid illness. 

Please be aware that national and global health organizations are providing updates on this topic on a daily basis. Aquinas College is monitoring major news sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WHO, US State Department, our international health and travel insurance company (CISI), and many other sources. We are keeping a close eye on specific developments in the regions where our students are traveling.

Please see the WHO website for extensive information on the virus and tips for staying healthy. You can also view the CDC website regarding planning for international travel https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china#travel-notices and more information https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

If you have any concerns or questions, please let us know by emailing studyaway@aquinas.edu.


February 7, 2020 - Letter to Study Away Participants

Dear Aquinas Study Away Participant and faculty, 

We are reaching out to you today because we know that the recent Coronavirus outbreak is on everyone’s mind, both at home and abroad. There have been confirmed cases in many parts of the world, including North America, the Pacific, and Europe. However, according to a recent communication from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC) , the likelihood of contracting the virus in Europe or in the Pacific Region is currently very low or low. 

That said, it is important to remember that we are in the midst of cold and flu season, and as such, it is always important to practice good hygiene and healthy travel habits.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind, if you are travelling:

  • Avoid contact with sick people, especially those with a bad cough.  
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available to you, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose – especially with unwashed hands! 
  • Consider bringing sanitizing wipes with you, in addition to hand sanitizer, for cleaning surfaces such as your tray table.
  • Stay hydrated, sleep, and try not to over-exert yourself in the days leading up to or during travel.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and other areas of wildlife or meat trade.

What is the AQ Study Away Department Doing?

We are monitoring major news sources, the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with our international health and travel insurance (CISI), US State Department and many other sources and platforms to make sure that we have the latest information. We are of course also keeping a close eye on developments in the Pacific realm.

At present, the CDC seems most concerned about the spread of Coronavirus in countries with limited infrastructure to mitigate the potential effects of Coronavirus. This would include such things as screening capability, quarantine processes, rapid diagnosis, and adequate medical facilities in general. All locations where AQ is operating Study Away programs this semester have excellent medical care and strong resources to handle the current Coronavirus threat.

If you are feeling under the weather, and think that you have a cold or the flu, be sure to reach out to onsite staff who can help you access the right resources. Please remember to practice good self-care; stay hydrated, and get enough sleep! As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns! 

Have a fantastic weekend, 

Timothy Ramsay, MM 

Director, Study Away and Irish Programs