Bethel University’s most recent COVID-19 update brings back face-to-face classes and sets more community expectations.
By Rachel Blood | News Reporter
An email sent to the Bethel community tonight provided students with several guidelines regarding campus living during and after Thanksgiving break, as well as the rationale behind the university’s most recent decisions.
Face-to-face classes will resume Monday, as planned. In collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health, Bethel staff recognized the lack of widespread transmission between faculty members and students as well as the lack of evidence supporting transmission in the classroom.
Campus resources such as testing, contact tracing and quarantine, in addition to guidance from the MDH, will allow in-person learning to continue. Minnesota has also increased its mass testing capacity and decreased response time.
A virtual learning option will remain available while faculty “continues to maximize virtual student learning.”
Bethel community members are expected to avoid high-risk settings, follow MDH guidelines, hold meetings virtually, abstain from inviting visitors into residence halls, decline large event invitations and follow COVID-19 guidelines in classes.
“It is critically important for all of us, including our students, to adhere to the guidelines we’ve established,” President Ross Allen said. “The guidelines, including distancing and masking, have proven to minimize the spread of the virus. The additional guidelines will be especially important during this time when the state and local community spread has increased.”
Students are encouraged to limit close contact to roommates only, limit travel between residences and remain primarily on campus or primarily at home. Carpooling, including for church services or food pickup, is not advised.
Students may participate in on-campus activities, and the Dining Center, 3900 Grill and Royal Grounds will remain open with dine-in and to-go options. The Wellness Center will also remain open.
Free saliva-based COVID-19 testing will be required for all residential students. Other Bethel community members will be able to test if they so choose. Testing dates will be Nov. 20 through Nov. 22, Dec. 1, and possibly the week of Dec. 14.
Bethel encourages students to remain on campus over Thanksgiving break, but will not require it. Bethel will provide meals and activities on-campus during this time. Students must register Thanksgiving break plans by Nov. 16 on MyHousing.
Following Thanksgiving break, residential students are expected to remain on campus for the rest of the semester. Students choosing to engage in virtual, off-campus learning should do so at home for the remainder of the semester.
Students who remain off campus after Thanksgiving break will not be refunded meal plans or housing.
“Our ability to maintain as much of the community experience as possible is dependent on our ability to remain diligent,” Allen said. “I recognize this is inconvenient and for some especially frustrating. However, we are called to a life of service and sacrifice and I am confident we can do this well. I’m excited to imagine our students enjoying and growing from experiences that make this all worthwhile – from playing broom-ball to having deep conversations with faculty and staff, all in a safe environment.”
Questions and concerns should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or the COVID-19 hotline at 651-635-8500.