January 2021 Reopening Plan

Dear Parents,

Greetings from Hesston College! I’m Deb Roth, vice president of Student Life here at Hesston. My role includes oversight of residence life, dining services, counseling, campus ministries and athletics. I want to update you on several items of interest related to the health and safety of the entire campus, including some important guidelines pertaining to our return to campus in 2021.

COVID Update

So far, we have never had more than three active COVID cases at once. We are currently operating in CARES Level A – Alert. You may access descriptions of all levels of our CARES Plan at this link on our website. Key parts of our COVID-19 plan allowed us to find our rhythm this semester:

  • A COVID response team meets three times a week to check the status of students and employees impacted by COVID and plan how to respond to and care for them.
  • A Quarantine Coordinator was added to our staff to arrange meal orders and delivery, handle off- campus isolation, monitor the health of students in isolation, conduct on-campus contact tracing and communicate with the county health department about each positive case. If your son or daughter tests positive with COVID, the Hesston quarantine coordinator will give you a call to see if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Partnership with Harvey County Health Department has proven invaluable as we developed and are now implementing our plan. HCHD staff is available to us seven days a week to answer our questions.
  • Support from Newton Medical Center and the sports physician there who write lab test orders for students showing COVID symptoms, including non-athletes.
  • Faculty made classes accessible online with the addition of webcams and enhanced use of our Moodle learning management system. This allows students to continue their classes uninterrupted when they are quarantined or become symptomatic.
  • Housing each student in a single room has been a key to the success of this plan. All students who quarantine can do so in their rooms, allowing them to continue their courses online in a familiar, comfortable environment.

Quarantine and Isolation: Policies and Procedures

  • Quarantine is required when students have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and need to stay in their dorm rooms. While in quarantine, students participate in coursework virtually and have their meals delivered. Quarantine ends on the fourteenth day after potential exposure. Students in quarantine may leave their rooms only to use the restroom or go outside alone for fresh air and exercise.
    • Potential exposure means a student was within 6 feet of someone without a mask and for a total of ten minutes in a 24-hour period, 48 hours prior to the person becoming symptomatic.
  • Isolation is required when students become symptomatic with COVID-19 symptoms and are awaiting test results. They stay at an off-campus location where meal orders are delivered. In the event the student is determined to be positive for COVID-19, they remain in isolation until the county health officials release them with an email notification. This release typically comes after 10 days of symptom onset.
    • In all cases, we do our best to communicate with students in quarantine and isolation about their symptoms, deliver their mail, provide snacks and notify professors and coaches of their status.
  • If you ever have concerns or questions about your student who is in quarantine or isolation, please contact me at deb.roth@hesston.edu or quarantine coordinator Alik Gillman at alik.gillman@hesston.edu. The Student Life Office number is 620-327-8235 if you’d like to reach us by phone.

Life on Campus

For the student life team, building a safe and dynamic space for students to participate in campus life looks like this:

  • Faith and learning communities continue to thrive at Hesston in small-group “Chapel Houses.”
  • Weekly intramurals and campus activities take place with distancing guidelines in place. Most events are held outdoors.
  • Club sign-up night attracted many students, resulting in roughly 60 students signing up for a variety of activities.
  • Outdoor scrimmages have been a popular gathering place to cheer on friends and modmates (with masks and distancing measures enforced, of course).
  • HC Lark indoor scrimmages are live-streamed and accessible through the Lark Athletic website. Student spectators and immediate family members of participating HC athletes are allowed at outdoor scrimmages and may sit in the stands or bring lawn chairs to view the game while safely distanced from others.

January Reopening Plan

Despite local, state and national uncertainty, Hesston College will move forward with our plans for next semester.

  • For the Fall 2020 semester, the last day of in-person class is November 24. The dorms close on November 25 at noon. All fall classes will resume online on December 1. The semester ends December 9.
  • Prior to their departure from Hesston College campus, students will be asked to recommit to a safe and healthy January return by planning to be mindful of group gatherings, diligent mask wearing when with others beyond immediate family, self-screening for symptoms, especially in the 14 days prior to their return to campus.
  • In addition, all on-campus students will be expected to provide results of a COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) with CLIA-certified lab documentation within the 7 days prior to their scheduled return to campus, emailed to studentlife@hesston.edu. We recommend that you begin planning now for how you will meet this important requirement.
    • The January Reopening Plan differs from the August plan due to time spent indoors due to winter temperatures, holiday family gatherings, and the timing of the influenza season.
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to remain at home until they are able to provide written documentation from a medical provider or local health department that they have been cleared to return to college. Please report positive test results and medical clearances to studentlife@hesston.edu.
    • Students who test positive for COVID-19 at any time over break should send email documentation of the positive test result to studentlife@hesston.edu and will not be required to retest the week prior to returning to campus.
  • Upon return to campus, all students are required to participate in modified quarantine for a period through January 24. On-campus students who do not report to campus for the modified quarantine period will be counted absent from classes. Exceptions will be made for students required to stay isolated at home due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
    • Modified quarantine selectively restricts an individual from participation in certain activities. Those restricted activities include attending in-person classes; dining in common spaces, including the Larks Nest, Dining Hall and mod lounges; and large group gatherings. Chapel and campus activities will be offered virtually during this time.
  • Permitted activities during the period of modified quarantine include: approved college activities, including practices, games, rehearsals, and workouts as scheduled by director/coach; nursing lab/clinicals and flight training; picking up food from the Dining Hall; in-person transactions necessary for students (e.g. signing financial aid documents, accessing library reserve materials, mail pick-up, textbook purchase, etc.); student support services (e.g., medical attention, mental health counseling, etc.); and student employment as required.
  • Dorms will reopen January 10 at 8 a.m.
  • Online classes will be held Monday, January 11 through Friday, January 22. Spring semester will progress without breaks and conclude Friday, April 30. Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 1. Housing and dining will be provided for athletes whose seasons continue into May.

In the coming weeks we will mail each of you a letter including this message and a January reopening checklist, among other items. Until that time, I wanted to extend my deepest gratitude for the many ways you have demonstrated your support and prayed for our campus community during this time. If you have any questions regarding your students’ return to campus in January, please contact me at deb.roth@hesston.edu, or call the Student Life office at 620-327-8235.

May God’s provision continue to sustain us all as we plan for the coming months.

Deb Roth