Dear Campus Community,
I am pleased to announce that Wheaton College will open its campus to students for the Fall 2020 semester with classes beginning as scheduled on August 26, assuming that the Restore Illinois guidelines will allow us to do so. We will follow a modified academic calendar this fall to maximize in-person academic and co-curricular experiences. Fall Break has been reduced to a single day to allow students to leave campus early for a weeklong Thanksgiving Break followed by two weeks of remote learning. Students will take online finals December 15-17.
Until there is a readily available vaccine, few if any places in the world will be coronavirus-free. However, Wheaton has already invested in resources to provide a coronavirus-safe campus. We will share specific plans for testing, tracing, and containing COVID-19 in weekly communications throughout the summer. While these plans will require us to be creative with classroom spaces and dining schedules, we are working to preserve the majority of our regular schedule for daily classes. Additionally, we will offer classes remotely for students who are unable to return to campus or to attend class in person.
Four working groups are meeting continually to carefully plan every aspect of enrollment, academics, student life, and campus operations. Through this process, our guiding principles are healthy Christian community; the safety of students and employees; dedication to shared inquiry through liberal arts learning; loving and protecting our neighbors, including those who are most vulnerable; and identifying the simplest solutions to the massive challenges posed by the coronavirus.
While our campus community must make significant adaptations to safely fulfill our mission of learning and living together, I assure you that Wheaton will remain Wheaton—a caring Christian community with a passion for faith and learning. In order to protect students, faculty, staff, and the wider community, we expect campus life next fall to be challenging in new and unprecedented ways. Until the State of Illinois guidelines for colleges and universities change, every member of our community will need to practice social distancing, wear face masks where appropriate, participate in symptom monitoring and contact tracing, and submit to appropriate coronavirus testing when requested. Living and dining adaptations will also make student life less convenient. Communications throughout the summer will help you prepare for this “new normal.”
In the event of further threats to public health, we will need to be ready for students to return home during the semester if necessary. In this event, we will pivot to remote learning, as we did in the spring.
Beyond fostering a healthy environment conducive to the Christian liberal arts experience, our goal is to be as transparent and timely as possible with our communications. Students and their parents should read all College e-mails carefully in the coming months for relevant updates, including a new-student checklist and further information about housing, worship, athletics, music, financial aid, orientation, and other aspects of campus life that are critical to student experience.
Being together again will require uncommon charity, maximum flexibility, and a good measure of stubborn resolve. We believe that by God’s grace Wheaton students can rise to this challenge! We also believe that it will be worth it. Despite the difficulties, this is a good time to be a student—to learn and grow in preparation for kingdom witness to a world in need. With this goal clearly in mind, we look forward to welcoming you back to campus in August.
In Christ’s service,
Last week I shared that—due to uncertainty around travel restrictions and the inability to gather publicly because of COVID-19—we will not hold in-person Undergraduate Commencement and related events as initially planned for May 10. We will also not hold our live Graduate Commencement as planned on May 9.
We recognized what a sad disappointment this would be for students and their families. Indeed, when my cabinet met to lament the many things we have lost in recent weeks, our sadness over missing Commencement in May was near the top of our list.
I am grateful for the help of Student Government and the Graduate Student Council for gathering input from students regarding possible ways to recognize their hard work and praise God for their accomplishments. Based on that feedback and what we currently anticipate will be safest for our students, faculty, and staff, we are going to proceed with a two-part solution for Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies:
First, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 10, we will host a short live online Undergraduate gathering to offer spiritual encouragement and honor our graduates for earning their degrees. For Graduate Commencement, we will host a similar online gathering at 3 p.m., Saturday, May 9. We will send further details later this spring, including a URL for students and their families.
Second, we will start to make plans for live on-campus commencements at some point in the next academic year—with a livestream for those who are unable to attend in person. While it is premature to choose dates now, we will provide more definitive plans following the lifting of “shelter in place” and widespread travel restrictions. We will identify dates as soon as we can and also give sufficient lead-time to make plans to attend.
We recognize that it may be inconvenient or even impossible for some students to come back for a ceremony once they have left the Wheaton area, but we are trying to provide the best outcome, given the circumstances.
In Christ’s service,
Wheaton College Provides Housing to Local First Responders
Wheaton College is providing free housing to local first responders during the growing surge of COVID-19 infections and medical emergencies.
On Tuesday, the College signed an agreement with the City of Wheaton to provide 58 vacated units in its Terrace Apartments to police officers, firefighters and paramedics. First responders will be able to safely isolate from their families during the pandemic.
The Terrace Apartments are located on East College Ave., three blocks from Wheaton’s main campus, and are not contiguous to other residences. The distance between the apartments and the main campus will protect Wheaton students and personnel.
“Since our founding, Wheaton College has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the City of Wheaton,” said Wheaton College President Philip Ryken. “We are eager to support our first responders as they work selflessly to save lives in this community.”
Wheaton Mayor Phil Suess said the agreement will give first responders peace of mind by offering a way to protect their families.
“Wheaton’s firefighters, paramedics and police officers are on the front lines of this pandemic when they respond to calls for assistance in the community,” said Suess. “Even though our first responders are taking many precautions to ensure their safety, to have a place where they can safely self-isolate from their loved ones is a relief for many. On behalf of our residents, I want to thank the College for its generous contribution to our community during this challenging time.” --LaTonya Taylor
Dear Wheaton College Community,
We write to notify you that we have our first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a student isolated in a house owned by the College located at the edge campus.
In line with the College’s policy and guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the student is self-isolating and will not enter into any public spaces. The student has not been frequenting campus spaces, and we do not perceive a threat to other students or personnel. (There is a small number of students who have received exceptions to remain on campus during this period.) We have alerted Facilities and Public Safety to ensure they do not enter the residence. We wish the student a rapid recovery and continue to pray for all who need healing.
The COVID-19 Response Team is in communication with the student, and, based on the established protocol, we are reaching out to students, faculty, and staff who may have had direct contact with the student. We are asking those individuals to self-isolate and quarantine according to DuPage County Health Department and CDC protocols for COVID-19.
We understand that this announcement may cause heightened concerns, and we will continue to send email notices and update online resources. Wheaton’s COVID-19 Website is the best source of information about the impact of the virus on our College community and provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
On-campus students who develop a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing should call Student Health Service 630.752.5072 during the day, or Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Emergency Department 630.933.2600 after hours, for consultation and/or evaluation for COVID-19. If you are living off-campus or are an employee or other community member, call your primary care provider for further instructions.
The health and well-being of our community is Wheaton’s top priority. If you are sick, we ask you to please stay home. Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever (above 100.4 degrees), coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Please take care of yourselves as we continue to navigate this dynamic situation.
Sincerely in Christ,
Beth Walsh ‘96, RN MSN CPNP
Director of Student Health Services | Student Development
Commencement Message from President Philip Ryken
I write to inform you that—due to uncertainty around travel restrictions and the inability to gather publicly because of COVID-19—we will not hold Graduate and Undergraduate Commencement ceremony and related events as originally planned for May 9 and 10. This saddens us deeply, knowing that it represents a significant disappointment of our students and their loved ones.
By April 3 we anticipate being able to share alternate plans for celebrating with our graduates. We have sent short surveys coordinated by Student Government and the Graduate Student Council requesting student input about how best to proceed, with the request that students reply by Monday morning, March 30th.
Though this is not what any of us had hoped, we trust in God’s good plan and are doing our best to adjust our expectations accordingly. May God bless you with good health, provide for your needs, and give you hope for the future during this challenging time in world history.
In Christ’s Service,
Our students are dispersed throughout the country and the world during a time of uncertainty about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it will affect our healthcare system. We are writing to tell you about a new option we are making available to you to care for your medical and mental health needs.
We are now providing a free service called Campus.Health. All domestic and international students will be able to talk to a mental health provider 24/7 for any mental health need. There is also a telehealth medical option for domestic students that allows you to receive health care for a variety of conditions at a time when some medical offices and hospitals may be overrun caring for those with COVID-19. Unfortunately, an international telehealth medical option is not available due to licensing requirements.
We also want to remind you that Student Health Services is still open for medical advice and in-person appointments with a provider 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CST for any enrolled Wheaton student by calling 630.752.5072. International Students who have returned to their home countries can still call for medical advice. The Counseling Center at Wheaton College is still available for consultation and referral phone calls for students now located outside the state of Illinois, and staff members are still available for phone or video conference therapy calls for students who are currently within the state of Illinois. Students may contact the Counseling Center at email@example.com.
Whether you're feeling sick or overwhelmed, you will be able to talk to a Campus.Health licensed provider for free from your smartphone or any web-enabled device. Campus.Health medical providers can diagnose and treat common conditions (cold, flu, sinus infection), and their TalkNow service gives students a safe space to talk about anything at any time (anxiety surrounding COVID-19, relationships, depression). To get started or to view FAQs visit the campus.health Resource Page.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced a state-wide "stay-at-home" order requiring all non-essential businesses to cease operations through April 7. Wheaton College's plan to shift to Remote Campus Operations anticipated this development and needed only minor operational changes to comply. The Executive Order defines institutions of higher education as "Essential Businesses and Operations," which allows us to continue to maintain certain on-campus activities throughout the stay-at-home time period. Within this context, we remain focused on launching and delivering the more than 900 classes that are scheduled for the rest of this semester.
All faculty and staff will work remotely unless they are required to support an essential on-campus service. Those who do come to campus to perform essential services are required to continue to adhere to our safety protocols, including social distancing, working in isolation, frequent handwashing, and frequent disinfecting of work surfaces. Essential service providers are further encouraged to limit their time on campus.
For more information please visit our COVID-19 FAQ.
We are providing new information to parents and students which may give additional flexibility to those who have not yet traveled to retrieve possessions from campus housing.
For those who believe their trip could be complicated by President Trump’s recent discussion of potential domestic travel restrictions, please know students will now receive a full housing/dining credit for B Quad if you check out on or before May 8, 2020. The College hopes disconnecting the housing/dining credit from the check out date will relieve some unintended emotional and financial stress. Students will have up to 48 hours from arrival on campus to collect possessions. The final deadline to pick up personal belongings and receive a full B Quad housing/dining credit is May 8, 2020.
For students who no longer have access to their textbooks, we are working to provide digital scans of required readings for the first week of B-Quad classes. Students should monitor their e-mail for future instructions.
With our decision to pursue virtual teaching to protect the welfare of our students, employees, and community we recognize that we now face logistical, communications, and financial challenges at a level we rarely have, if ever, experienced. We must now address a large number of questions and details, which are emerging rapidly in this fluid situation. At the same time, our students and their families are rightly seeking answers that we do not yet have regarding their circumstances.
Employees who regularly work with students and the public should expect many questions for which we do not yet have answers given the complexity of these circumstances. Questions could include whether students will receive refunds for room and board or how they might retrieve textbooks and other possessions without traveling back to campus. In those situations, please explain that we are working as quickly as possible to meet their needs and explain that we are still working out details. Always encourage them to continue to revisit the frequently-updated FAQ on Wheaton College’s COVID-19 website.
A few immediate things for you to note:
- All non-athletic public College events have been cancelled through the end of April. We are currently exploring which events may carry on via livestream. At a later time, we will reassess whether campus public events will resume on or after May 1. We understand and regret that this will affect several scheduled events. Spring Varsity athletic schedules are currently under discussion.
- For larger meetings, please live stream where you can. AIT is providing training to conduct virtual and remote work activities. These sessions are focused on support for virtual and remote work, not remote teaching. Additional information and resources for faculty related to remote teaching were provided by the Provost. We encourage employees to join us for one of these sessions, where we will show you how to safely access College data, manage your campus phone, and hold virtual meetings. Current training dates and times Monday, March 16th, from 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. in Coray Alumni Gymnasium; and Tuesday, March 17th, from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. in Coray Alumni Gymnasium.
- Beyond the public-facing FAQ on our COVID-19 website, we now have a growing employee FAQ. Please visit this site regularly for further information. As you learn answers to queries that you believe might be good for the employee or external FAQ to queries through the course of your work, please send new or suggested Q&As to COVID19@wheaton.edu.
- We are currently expanding our service center to handle the large number of queries we anticipate receiving in the coming days. We plan to operate the service center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and additional hours over the weekend. People will be able to e-mail or call the center with their questions, which will either be answered or rerouted to the correct office. We plan to send a separate message to you about this service by tomorrow morning.
This will no doubt be a period of heightened activity, but please know the COVID-19 Response Team continues to meet daily to work with you to meet these challenges.
Grace and Peace,
COVID-19 Response Team
Dear Campus Community,
Please know that we take your welfare and safety very seriously. We have reluctantly come to a decision that we understand could be difficult for each of you in a variety of ways. After assessing the regional health situation and campus resources related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided that it would be in the best interest of our community to extend spring break for students by one week and resume classes through virtual teaching on Monday, March 23, 2020.
In light of this decision, we are taking the following actions:
- Classes will be held at their regularly scheduled times via Schoology and other online resources. Faculty will communicate with their students before the first scheduled class session with further details. The Provost will follow up with further instructions and resources for faculty.
- Despite the difficulties this might cause, we ask undergraduate students to remain or return home for the remainder of the semester. Students may begin moving out of their on-campus housing beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Ideally, students will use this extra week of Spring Break to collect their belongings. Residence Life will communicate further details moving forward.
- On-campus room and board will be provided to those who have no other option, including those from countries with travel restrictions and those with other extenuating circumstances. Please fill out this form by March 15 if you will need on-campus housing. Graduate students may continue to live in on-campus housing.
- Our campus will continue to be fully operational during this period. The work of educating our students and caring for those who remain on campus will continue. Faculty and staff are expected to report to work as usual while following the health protocols we have already put in place, per the Center for Disease Control.
Additional information about Commencement, athletics, and other campus events will be forthcoming.
You may be wondering why we are making this decision now, given that there are no known cases on our campus and relatively few cases in Illinois. Global experience is showing that social distancing is one of the best protections against the virus, which has the potential to spread rapidly in communities. We also believe that spring break travel presents a potential threat to Wheaton and the surrounding community.
Furthermore, the number of new cases is now increasing exponentially. Due to its population density and global connections, the number of cases in Chicagoland is very likely to increase in the next few weeks. Our limited ability to quarantine students or others infected with the virus leads us to believe that it will be safer and perhaps less disruptive for us to move to online coursework now rather than facing this prospect later in the semester.
We made our decision to pursue virtual instruction carefully and with the goal—consistent with CDC recommendations—of preventing large groups of people in enclosed spaces, such as classrooms, dining halls, and residence halls. Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 worldwide and also with similar decisions made by peer institutions.
By being proactive—taking a thoughtful, faithful approach—we have an opportunity to care well for people. We will send further information as planning develops. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 website for further information and updated FAQs.
We recognize that, given our deep commitment to residential Christian liberal arts learning that thrives in close community, this decision will have a significant impact on your Wheaton experience. For our graduating students, we lament that you may not be able to conclude your studies at Wheaton in the way you had anticipated. We look forward to welcoming our returning students back after this semester.
This is far from the first worldwide challenge that Wheaton College has faced. Through warfare, disease, financial downturns, and other worldwide crises, our spiritual mothers and fathers remained steadfast in prayer and resolute in their mission to serve Christ and His Kingdom. Together we can trust God’s grace to help us weather this storm as well.
There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) involving Wheaton students or employees, but we are taking a proactive approach as the situation continues to develop. In order to maintain the health and safety of all members of our community, we are asking all students and employees to register any international travel, whether personal or through College programs, with the College.
Student and Employee College-related International Travel:
All employees must register their College-related or sponsored international travel in GoGlobal using the employee travel registration form.
All students must register their College-related or sponsored international travel in GoGlobal. Registrations are by program or group. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call x7309 if you have any questions.
Student and Employee Personal International Travel:
All employees and students must register their personal international travel using personal travel registration form.
This request to register all international travel will continue until further notice. Employees should discuss all international travel during the Spring semester and going forward with their supervisor.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health, any employee, student, or other community member who has traveled to a Level 3 country where there is large-scale, ongoing community transmission of COVID-19 (currently China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran) should self-isolate and not return to campus for 14 days upon return to the United States. Affected students should contact the Director of Student Care Services and their professors to discuss options to make arrangements during their time away from the classroom.
During this 14-day self-isolation period, the CDC recommends:
- Staying home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
- Keeping distance from others (about 6 feet).
- Watching for cough, troubled breathing, or other signs of respiratory infection.
- Monitoring temperature twice daily for a fever above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C).
Campus students who develop a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, should call Student Health Service 630.752.5072 or Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Emergency Department 630.933.2600 after hours to report their arrival for an evaluation for COVID-19. Employees or other community members should call their primary care provider for further instructions.
Visit this page for a list of FAQs and updates on College preparations and news. If you have other Wheaton-specific questions, please send them to email@example.com. The CDC website contains all current recommendations for this evolving situation.
COVID-19 Response Team
The immediate health risk to people in Illinois from the coronavirus (COVID-19) remains low, and we do not have any known cases of the virus on campus. However, given the upcoming travel of students over spring break, we wish to communicate how we are preparing in the event the coronavirus touches Wheaton College.
Wheaton’s Student Health Services (SHS) will follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to colleges and universities. The SHS also maintains close contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the DuPage County Health Department regarding preventive care as well as treatment recommendations.
Wheaton College has formed a COVID-19 Response Team with representation from across campus to ensure we make timely decisions, communicate updates, and are prepared with ready-to-activate continuity plans. The Vice President for Finance and Operations, Chad Rynbrandt, will be leading this team on behalf of the Senior Administrative Cabinet.
Of immediate concern, COVID-19 is having a major effect on international travel. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), China, Iran, Italy and South Korea are all under Level 3 travel health notice, which warns against non-essential travel due to widespread community transmission. We ask that any student or employee that is travelling to these countries contact SHS before travelling so that the potential implications upon return to campus can be understood. Our decisions regarding College-sponsored programs and travel are based on the CDC’s expert analysis. We will be closely monitoring developments related to our summer programs. We intend to notify you of any decisions affecting them by April 1. In the meantime, we ask that you not make any further travel arrangements or incur expenses related to College-sponsored programs.
On the eve of Spring Break, we encourage the entire Wheaton College community to adhere to these CDC-recommended practices for preventing the spread of sickness:
- Wash hands frequently and often; use hand sanitizer until able to wash hands with soap and water
- Try to stay at least 6 feet away from sick people
- Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth
- Stay home if you are feeling sick
- Note that masks are ineffective for preventing contraction of the virus
The health and safety of our students and employees remain our highest priority. We are committed to providing you with the most up-to-date and relevant information possible regarding the coronavirus.