Dear faculty and staff,

As we embark on a new spring semester, and many of you will be returning to work on campus,  there are a few items we would like to present to you in this email. We will continue to bring information to you as we focus on providing  a safe and healthy work environment.

Travel Quarantine – if you have travelled out of state, you will have to quarantine for 10 days upon returning home or get a negative COVID test within three days of your return before receiving clearance to return to campus.  If you decide to get tested, please submit your tests results by clicking the link below.

Covenant of Care – Please remember to read and acknowledge the 2021 Covenant of Care in UltiPro (UKG). You can find it under tabs Myself>Documents>Document Acknowledgment>Click on the link.

Many of you are wondering about the COVID vaccine and it’s availability. As soon as we are clear on when vaccines are available for staff and faculty, we will let you know.  Listed below is a link from Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for those of you who would like more information regarding the vaccine.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Julia Foust

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Welcome to the start of another semester.  Though our traditional undergraduate program begins next Tuesday, our adult undergraduate and graduate programs began in earnest today.

This, too, marks the resumption of broad-based, on-campus, in-person educational options at Trinity.  Much work has gone into the planning for this resumption and we all will need to be vigilant to see it succeed throughout the semester.  You have received, and will continue to receive, information about these matters.  But, it is good to resume on-campus in-person coursework and campus life after a very challenging year for us all.

Those challenges, of course, have not been limited to COVID.  We again were reminded of this reality, shockingly and outrageously, last week in Washington, D.C.  You have heard me say before, I trust, that protest is one thing, violence and riots are quite another.  The images from within the Capitol building are unlike anything I have ever seen or ever expected to see.  They were equal parts embarrassing and enraging – and unworthy of this land, its traditions, its ideals, and its people.

Our nation needs a different path forward.  In this moment, our challenge at Trinity is to both resist the nihilistic tsunami that threatens our broader society and commit to a more excellent way – a way founded upon, centered in, and reflective of the way of Jesus.

I’ll have more to say about this at our first chapel gathering (done virtually) next week Wednesday, January 20.  Until then, I re-share below what I offered on the eve of our national election back in November.  I invite us all to reflect upon how we might, individually and together, fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (as the writer of Hebrews reminds us) so that we might better reveal our loving God to a world that needs to see a markedly different way.

Welcome to this new semester at Trinity.

Romans 12:12,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

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Dear Faculty,

Over the course of the next several days, you can expect to receive a handful of email messages pertinent to matters specific to this semester. These will be geared toward the challenges and opportunities created by our current teaching contexts. This morning, please see the attached (in email) Faculty Guide to Socially Distanced Classrooms at Trinity. This is intended to offer a brief overview of practices that will ensure we follow consistent protocols in our classrooms. As you read this guide, keep in mind that our course schedule this semester continues to feature 20 minutes between classes. This is designed to allow additional time for cleaning and technology set up.

Finally, if you have not yet alerted remote students in your in-person classes about the way they will attend class on their first day, please do so within the next day or two. All students will need to know the technology platform you will use for video participation. Clarity on these expectations – especially for remote students – will go a long way toward alleviating student anxiety at the start of the semester.

We can certainly expect to learn as we go this semester. I invite you to share your insights and challenges with me and with one another. Proactive communication, flexibility, and compassion for one another and for our students will continue to be essential for our shared work.

Aaron Kuecker

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Greetings, Trinity community,

This is an important time for thinking forward about the spring academic semester, as we are already welcoming students into our residence halls and classrooms. This first installment of what will become a weekly email is intended simply to give a snapshot of Student Life and Academic activity for the upcoming week. It is slightly longer than future weekly update emails, which will mostly include a basic dashboard layout.

This is also an important time for thinking forward about the work of the coming semester because we are experiencing a time of great darkness and challenge in our society. We are seeing again – and with undeniable clarity – the way that the quest for power as an end in itself inevitably degrades into violence and hatred. That is an age old, death-dealing story that has played out in many times and many places – and it is playing out here, now. This is not the way of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we see most clearly that God’s way of power is a way of self-emptying, of seeking the good of the other, of neighborliness, of gentleness, of forgiveness. The way of Jesus Christ is the way of love. It stands in stark an unmistakable contrast to this week’s events in Washington, D.C., and to the lust for power that made those events more possible. Our community at Trinity has the opportunity to educate students in a different way – in the way of Jesus Christ. In every discipline, our work can shape people whose imagination and desire is for the good of their neighbor and who understand that power, resources, and influence are always only for the good of the whole. We follow Jesus when we live in self-giving love toward every single human being in practical and actionable ways. The work this semester is important. The context will make it challenging. But we are in this together and we are in the care of the God who goes before us and who is with us.

As we commit to another semester of this good work together, we ask that you also be aware of current on-campus student activity.

Though the majority of on-campus activity begins the week of January 18, we have already begun the student return to campus that you will see below. All individuals returning to campus – whether student, staff, or faculty – are required to screen on days they are on campus using #campusclear. Students returning to residence halls, athletics or nursing are also required to submit a negative COVID test. Plans for surveillance testing are underway and will roll out later this month.

Campus Activity Status
In-person classes Three in-person evening courses will meet this week:

Monday, January 11

·        AEDU 341 // EDUC 541: 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. in CL 213

Wednesday, January 13

·        AEDU 203: 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. in CL 202

·        COUN 509: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. in DVC 136


Two transfer student orientations will occur on Friday, January 15.

Residence halls Several students have moved back for various types of early arrivals.

Move in days continue throughout the next week.

By January 16, our 300 residential students will be fully moved in. Staff/faculty interested in assisting with the staffing of move in will have opportunity to sign up in forthcoming email from Residence Life.

Dining hall The dining hall opens for limited grab and go service to student-athlete early arrivals on January 11.

Faculty and staff will not be permitted to use the dining hall at this time.

Athletics Several of our athletic teams have returned to campus.

Men’s and women’s basketball have begun conference competition.

All games are live streamed at

Other notes This is a crucial week for welcoming students to campus and to practicing and reinforcing our safe gathering practices: self-screenmasksocial distance. In the midst of those practices, please make every effort to welcome our students!

An incredible amount of work has gone into creating conditions for safe gathering and for the flourishing of our community. We are so grateful for the energy, creativity, and community-concern that has gone into the preparation for the semester. We ask each member of our community to operate with compassion, flexibility, and proactive communication as we enter the spring semester.

With gratitude for the shared work,

Becky Starkeburg
Aaron Kuecker

Dear faculty and staff,

As students return to campus and classes begin for the spring semester, we want to remind Trinity faculty and staff of our ongoing commitment to keep our offices and departments staffed in order to serve our students, employees, and visitors. And at the same time, we want to ensure we limit staff on campus and continue to prevent the spread of COVID in our community.

We encourage our faculty and staff to return to the strategy developed last semester in staffing campus offices and departments in coordinated, alternating ways, serving our constituents (whether they be students, colleagues, or visitors) carefully and safely.  We would ask supervisors to work with their teams to coordinate this effort of ensuring that offices are open and help is available, while limiting staff in each work area whenever possible.

It is important to note that we have seen evidence that the Covenant of Care is working. In the few cases in which we have had COVID+ staff, we have not seen spread in departments because of how vigilant folks have been in practicing the Covenant of Care.   Thank you.

All Trinity employees who come to campus are required to self-screen and utilize #CampusClear daily. Please take care to complete your self-screen honestly and cautiously, and do not come to work if you receive a red screen. Faculty and staff who are not coming to campus do not need to fill out the #CampusClear app on those days when they are not physically on campus.

We continue to update the employee return to work pages on the Trinity web site and respond to state and county updates, as well as any updates from the Trinity Covid Response Team. Please work with your supervisor if you have any questions about your work location and schedule, and you can also reach out to the HR team if you have questions.​

Thank you,

Paul Boice, Vice President of Admissions, Communication and Strategic Initiatives
Julia Foust, Director of Human Resources

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Students, has been updated with two important features:

  1. The Spring In It Together Plan – guidelines for SP2021
  2. A comprehensive list of FAQs regarding spring – covering a wide range of campus life, both in person and remote.

New items that you will be required to sign again on your student portal in January (available on your Student Portal in January):

  1. New Covenant of Care for SP2021 (also located on In It Together Spring webpages)
  2. New Residence Life Guidelines for SP2021 (for housing students only – available in portal and emailed to students with housing assignment)
  3. Same Assumption of Risk for SP2021 (on portal)

Take some time to read it all, and then let us know if you have additional questions. Housing questions may be emailed to; other questions may be emailed to me or to

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

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As we enter the last week of classes for Fall 2020, I wanted to share a few updates regarding how we will communicate plans that are in place for Spring Semester 2021. We know you are focused on your last week of classes and exams, and we encourage you to remain focused and finish strong! At the same time, we want to offer some key points of contact before the holidays to speak to your questions regarding Spring 2021. Below you will find a list of those key points of contact. I encourage you to keep an eye on your email as these communications unfold.

Residential Living for Spring 2021 – Traditional Students

  1. Housing assignments will be shared with you by Monday – December 14. We are still waiting on several students to complete the housing intent form, and we are taking extra care to place students thoughtfully.
  2. If you have not yet completed your Housing/Commuting Intent Form – Please do so TODAY.
  3. Information regarding dates & times of move in, move in expectations will be provided once these housing decisions are communicated.

Student-Athlete Return to Campus Spring 2021 – Traditional Students

  1. Student athletes – look for specific information from your coaching staff regarding your return to campus dates, times, and expectations.


Spring 2021 In It Together Plan – All Students

  1. SPRING 2021 In It Together Plan and Trinity FAQs will be released by December 14 – with the hope that we can get this to you even sooner. The plan will include information about spring semester re-entry, campus life, academics.
  2. Student Life is hosting a Zoom Call for students on December 10 at 4:00 pm to talk through the plan, and answer your questions about SP2021. Linked Below.
  3. The Office of Alumni and Family Engagement is hosting a Parent and Family Town Hall on December 15 to talk about the Spring 2021 In It Together Plan. Students are welcome to attend as well! Links provided in emails to come.
  4. Once these sessions & updates are complete, we’ll take a break for Christmas and then resume regular communication shortly after the New Year. Watch your Trinity email for ongoing communications regarding Return to Campus for Spring 2021.

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

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Trinity community,

I write with an update to our campus status. The COVID situation on campus has been stable for the last several days. We continue to monitor it closely, and we are aware of the uptick in cases regionally. As we think about the campus community and those who are frequenting campus daily and living here, the physical health and safety and the mental health and safety of our community are both priorities. Effective immediately,

  • Campus gatherings that are 25 persons or smaller are now permitted – all Covenant of Care and Campus Gatherings policies still apply. Outdoor gatherings are encouraged this week. We’ll update you if/when we are able to extend the size of gatherings back to 50.
  • Dining will remain grab and go for now – we’ll evaluate again on the weekend.
  • Athletics will  return to activity with winter teams on a team-by-team basis as approved by the athletics department.
  • The fitness center will open, likely tomorrow, please expect a communication from athletics department about times.

Continue to pray for the sick, both in our community and around the world. As a reminder –continue to monitor your own symptoms and honestly complete the #CampusClear app each day.

Keep distance, wear your mask, wash your hands.

P.S. For those of you on campus – Student Activities is planning some grab and go activity for this weekend – and will include quarantined students in that activity! Check out STAC on Instagram and in Trollview for more information.

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

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Dear Trinity Community:

Tomorrow is election day in the United States.  It, like every election day, is an important day in the life of this country and in the lives of free peoples everywhere.  Acrimony accompanies every election; serious people approach significant issues without whim or fancy.  This year and this election are no different, and probably more so.  For some reason, we have been chosen to live during a particularly discordant time – but we also are not the first such people in world history or even in the history of this nation to bear that particular burden.

Eventually, as with every election, the results will determine the winners.  And eventually, as with every election, some will be elated with those results while others will despair.  If this is true nationally, it surely is no less so within the Trinity community.  It is this later group – our Trinity community – that I wish to offer a few more thoughts for consideration as we face an important election tomorrow.

First, we affirm that it is a great privilege to have a voice in how we are governed and by whom.  Our own democratic tradition in republican form goes back nearly 250 years.  Because of this, we easily forget that, throughout the entire history of world civilization, democracies have constituted a majority of world governments only for the last twenty years.  It is a great privilege for us to live in this political situation and within this long-standing tradition.

Second, most Christian traditions encourage Christians to participate in the political process where such participation is possible.  Surely, this is so in the Christian traditions that constitute a majority of this community.  For example, in his 16th century theological masterpiece, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin devotes the final chapter of his two-volume work to “Civil Government.”  Christian people, individually and as the church, ought to be active in a country’s political life especially when the governmental form affords such opportunities.  Politics is not a trivial matter.

Third, because politics is not trivial, let alone because we are human, we prefer victory to defeat.  This is almost trite to write but we cannot ignore the fact that it is human to prefer winning to losing.  As someone whose name appeared on four ballots for elective office, let me dispel any lingering doubt that winning is more fun than losing!

Fourth, we do not always win.  I’ve won elections personally and been part of campaigns that lost.  I’ve had candidates and issues that I’ve supported both win elections and lose them.  This is the very nature of an election; to engage in politics is to face the potential of loss even as one hopes for victory.  (Though, I refer you back to point three, too, of course.)

Fifth, and most importantly for us as a community, our life together transcends politics.  This is the culminating fact for our life together both on the eve of an election and for all the days after the results are known:  we cannot let our politics define us or our life together.  First and foremost we must live together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  We love one another as siblings in Christ long before we look at one another as either political allies or foes.

We know that, after tomorrow, some in this community will be elated while others will be distressed.  Our response to one another – whether we personally experience joy or heartbreak – ought to be one of care, compassion, and concern.

Ever since we have been in “COVID time” we have looked to Romans 12:12 as our motto:  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  It is a great verse, a meaningful verse.  It, however, has a context that is worth our consideration, too, and especially in these days:

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Live peaceably with all.  Outdo one another in showing honor.  Love one another.  St. Augustine, the African church father and theologian elaborated on this “simple” idea in a profound way more than 1500 years ago :

Therefore once for all this short command is given to you.  “Love and do what you will.”  If you keep silent, keep silent by love; if you speak, speak by love; if you correct, correct by love; if you pardon, pardon by love.  Let love be rooted in you, and from the root nothing but good can grow.

Yes, this election is an important event in the history of this country.  But life is more than politics, especially so within our Trinity community where we claim, as our ultimate Ruler, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Romans 12:12,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

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Students, as well as faculty and staff,

I write with an update regarding COVID on campus today. Throughout the last week we have learned of more positive cases. As the COVID positive cases emerged, the COVID care team noticed individuals had a number of possible close contacts, so rather than simply asking close contacts to quarantine, we have asked close contacts to quarantine and get tested. Several positive cases hare still emerging out of that effort. Testing in this region has slowed down due to the general rise in cases, so some of the test results are slow in coming as well. In addition, more students are in quarantine on and off campus, as every person who is COVID positive has a set of close contacts that need to quarantine.

Currently, in addition to the numbers on the COVID dashboard regarding positives, we have approximately 75 students in quarantine on campus.

We are extending the following guidelines at least through Wednesday, November 4. We’d like to a see a trend moving in a different direction before we relax these guidelines. At the same time, the weather forecast for the latter part of next week is gorgeous, so that’s good news – we hope that if our trendline moves downward in COVID positives we may be able to host some low-risk events outdoors.

Regardless, we will offer another update Wednesday on plans going forward.

  • All in person, on campus group gatherings will remain virtual.
    • If your office, group or department is intending to host a meeting, event or activity this week, we ask that you communicate to your potential attendees regarding changes.
    • Even if your event was previously approved by the gathering committee, you should now plan to host the event online.
    • If you have a question about whether a gathering that you planned should be happening or can be rescheduled, please email
  • Dining will remain grab and go.
  • Athletics will continue with suspension of activity.
  • DeVos athletics complex, including the fitness center, will remain closed.

We will continue these guidelines through November 4. We will provide updates if anything changes.

Continue to pray for the sick, both in our community and around the world. As a reminder – with the number of students being tested for COVID and in quarantine, now, more than ever, is an important time to continue to monitor your own symptoms and honestly complete the #CampusClear app each day.

 Keep distance, wear your mask, wash your hands.

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

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