Dear Trinity Students:

I trust that you are hanging in there as the semester continues and as the weather turns a bit cooler, forcing more activity indoors.  Among the many things happening in your lives right now, I know that there are questions about Trinity’s educational delivery model in the Spring Semester of 2021.

Let me share some news about this topic, which applies to traditional undergraduate, adult undergraduate, and graduate students:

For the Spring 2021 semester, Trinity will have on-campus options for classroom instruction and campus life as well as a remote option for students who are not yet ready to return to in-person learning. 

As you prepare for Advising Day and Registration for Spring 2021 you will have two additional decisions to make:

  • For All Students:  Do you prefer to take your semester courses largely in-person, socially-distanced, and on campus or will you take your semester courses remotely?
  • For Traditional Undergraduate Students:  Do you prefer to live on campus or will you choose to live off campus?

Additional Important Information

  • The academic calendar has been modified around best practices to limit the spread of COVID-19, including the removal of spring break.  Please note that start dates and breaks vary among traditional, adult, and graduate programs.  I encourage you to review the modified academic calendar linked above.  The class schedule, too, is available online.
  • The Covenant of Care will remain in place:  life on campus will still include protocols and restrictions such as social distancing; mask wearing; limiting the number of persons in the dining hall, BBC, chapel, and other spaces on campus, etc.  These will continue to be communicated, and enforced, throughout campus.
  • Academics will be largely in person with a remote option.  Some classes will be delivered exclusively in a remote or hybrid manner even if you choose “in-person, socially-distanced, on-campus.”  This could occur, for example, where the professor has particular health concerns making in-person teaching problematic, where the strong majority of the students are choosing to take the course remotely, or where the size of the course will not permit it to be held entirely in-person and still maintain proper social distancing and spacing.  In the coming weeks, these sorts of situations will become clear by checking your courses in the student portal.  Also, as many have already experienced in the Fall, “in-person versus remote” likely will be a fluid situation as we endure seasons of quarantine and COVID-19 on campus.  Students who are COVID-positive or in quarantine will be able to access their classes remotely.
  • Athletic conference competition will return in COVID-modified ways, both for winter and spring sports, as well as for the fall sports that were postponed in 2020.  Other campus activities, too, likely will occur, though in ways that are adapted to these COVID times.

Action Steps for Students 

What should you do next?

  • For All Students:  At Registration, all students (i.e., traditional undergraduate, adult undergraduate, and graduate) will be required to indicate whether they intend to be either (1) an in-person student or (2) a remote student for the Spring 2021 Semester.  This selection will be clearly marked in the Student Portal after you complete your course registration.  You will have a limited opportunity to change your intention – though we are asking for your best intention at registration so that we may plan appropriately.
  • For Traditional Undergraduate Students Only: Student Life will send you a separate email asking you to indicate where you intend to live during the Spring 2021 Semester.  Please note:  Trinity is not requiring traditional undergraduate students to reside on campus during the Spring 2021 Semester.  Students eligible for residential housing on campus will be asked to complete a Housing Intent Form, indicating their  preference regarding housing.

How to Learn More

As you work through these decisions, we know that you will have questions about the Spring 2021 Semester.  Where can you turn for additional information?

  • Faculty Advisors.  We encourage you to talk through your decision with your faculty advisor during your advising session.
  • Student Life Staff.  This week, Student Life staff will be hosting various virtual opportunities for Q&A, including:
  • Student Government Association Open Meeting, tonight – Tuesday, 10/27/20 –  on Zoom.  Please mail for the Zoom link, time, and additional information.
  • Advising Day session with Student Life, Thursday, 10/29/20, from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.  (Zoom links to this session will be sent tomorrow).  Please see the attached Advising Day schedule for more information.
  • Parent session for Trinity parents, Thursday 10/29/20.  (Please have your parents email the Office of Alumni and Family Engagement for more information and registration information.)
  • Additional future information sessions and events.  Keep checking your email.

As you think about these options for the Spring 2021 Semester, I want you to know how grateful and proud we are of you for the ways in which you have persisted – and even flourished – during these strange and difficult days.

Please continue to check your email for additional, and more detailed, information.  We also will be updating Trinity’s website soon – but we wanted to get this information in your hands in a timely way first.

Thank you very much.  Remember:  We have been, are, and will continue to be a Romans 12:12 kind of people.

Yours most sincerely,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

Back to COVID-19 page

I write today with another COVID Update.

We are implementing the following changes this week in response to the COVID numbers on campus. We are updating our COVID dashboard regularly. Please keep in mind there are significantly more students in quarantine. 

Our hope is that these measures allow us to continue with residence life as planned and faculty/staff utilization of offices. To be clear, we have NO intention to “shut down” like we did in March.

  • All in person, on campus group gatherings will shift to virtual this week through Sunday, November 1.
    • 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 for the remainder of this week and weekend.
  • Athletics will suspend activity for the remainder of this week and weekend.

We intend to keep these guidelines in place through November 1. We will provide updates if anything changes.

Please do not hesitate to ask questions that come up!

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

Back to For Students section

Students, as well as faculty and staff,

I write with an update regarding COVID on campus today. We have seen an increase in campus cases and related quarantine today. We currently have ~40 students in on campus quarantine, ~7 COVID+ cases.

In order to minimize the possibility of further spread on campus, we are implementing the following two changes, effective immediately:

  • The dining hall and BBC will only be serving “grab and go” options throughout the weekend. Dine in options will not be available until at least Monday – we will email the community an update when it opens back up. Until then you can go, pick up your meals and eat it in your room. Quarantined students will receive meal delivery if they have signed up for it.  Why? Distancing and Mask wearing works, and we want to minimize spread in a location where individuals take off masks to eat.
  • We are pausing athletic activity for at least the weekend, including closing the DeVos.  Why? We want to clean in those spaces and wait for some test results to determine how to open the DeVos back up –yes, you can interpret from this that some of our individuals with COVID have been in that space.

And, Since so many students are in quarantine anyway – why don’t you all join the online Trivia Night tonight, sponsored by Student Activities – Info below (too soon?)

On a more serious note, continue to join me in praying for the sick, at Trinity and around the world – we are seeing an uptick of COVID in the region.

Keep your distance, wear your mask, wash your hands

Honestly screen with your #CampusClear app, stay home if you get a red screen

Thank you all!

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

Back to For Students section

Hello Trinity community,

As of this writing, we have 4 positive COVID cases on campus (1 residential student; 3 local commuters). We also ~20 residential students in quarantine or isolation on campus, with ~40 additional individuals quarantining or isolating off campus. So far, the individuals who have COVID are feeling reasonably well. Continue to join me in praying for these individuals and all others affected by COVID-19.

If you are on campus, please honestly assess your symptoms every day and use the #CampusClear app.

Stay home or in your room if you get a red screen.

Remember: Keep Social Distance, Wear your mask, Wash your hands

Individuals who are impacted by these cases have been notified, however, this is a good opportunity to remind you that if you receive contact from a member of the COVID Care Team, please do respond and follow directions so that we can keep you and our community as healthy as possible.

Questions about your specific COVID related health situation or quarantine: email

General questions about campus response: email me directly at

If you aren’t sure where to direct your question: email and we’ll direct your concern for you

Please know we are monitoring spaces and facilities and will continue to clean and sanitize in all campus spaces.

On another important note: Information regarding Spring Semester 2021 will be coming out within the next couple of days– we will definitely provide information in time for students to have clarity before you participate in advising day on Thursday, October 29.

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

Back to For Students section


As we announce the pivot to remote learning, please know that we grieve with you the loss of the opportunity to be on campus. The face-to-face interactions we have in community together at Trinity are what give our campus life and energy, and I will dearly miss the opportunities to walk alongside each one of you in person this fall. Being with you as you laugh, cry, develop, learn, is what I love to do (certainly more than COVID-19 planning meetings and decisions to go virtual)! That said, I advocated strongly for this decision as I believe it is what is best for Trinity students, faculty and staff at this time.

You are not alone this semester. Your faculty, staff, and administrators are still here working to support you. Student Life staff will reach out to you, and we ask that you reach out to us for support as soon as you need it. And, despite the fact that courses will be online, we hope to see some of you on campus this fall.  We have the resources to help you flourish and are committed to supporting your journey every step of the way whether in person or online. If you do not know who to contact, please call or email me directly and I will make sure you find the right person to talk to.

There are a few important pieces of information you need to read today; emails will continue from our office throughout the coming days and weeks.

  1. Campus facilities will be open during Fall 2020 and offices will be staffed for virtual or in-person support for graduate, traditional and adult undergraduate students. Faculty will be offering robust, improved online courses utilizing our brand new learning management system: Brightspace. Further information is available in the TrINITy Together Fall 2020 Plan Read it.
  2. New updates specifically for student-athletes are available at
  3. Trinity’s Residence Life and Dining experience will no longer be required for the Fall 2020 semester for any traditional undergraduate student. Students will not be penalized or fined for living off campus during the Fall 2020 semester. Every Traditional Undergraduate student will be required to complete a Revised Housing & Commuter Intent Form, emailed to you on Friday, August 7. Graduate and adult students do not need to take action with regard to housing.

[Okay, so if you are a residential student, keep reading – this part is important. If not, skip to the last paragraph.]

 For Residential Students: You may decide that living on campus is desirable or necessary to continue your academic career at Trinity – even while classes are online. For example, some of you are facing housing or technology challenges, some of you are international students, some need to be on campus for certain academic programs, there may be other reasons as well. We invite you to consider your housing needs once again, and we have outlined a clear process for applying for housing. We welcome the opportunity to consider your specific reason for requesting housing on campus. We understand that we are asking you to make decisions quickly, and we seek to support your decision-making process in whatever way is needed for you.

In light of these changes, current residential students are asked to follow these steps:

  1. All residential students currently assigned to on campus housing for fall 2020 will have their current housing assignment removed. Room and board charges will be removed from your bill, but we ask that you bear with us as we process these changes in the Student Portal over the next several days.
  2. Students are encouraged to thoughtfully re-consider their decision to reside in housing for Fall 2020.
    1. Please read the attached TrINITy Together Fall 2020 Plan to understand the guidelines and expectations for residential life.
    2. Decide together with your family whether you are able to and willing to commit to the terms of Residence Life at Trinity Fall 2020 outlined in the document.
    3. All students will receive a Revised Housing & Commuter Intent Form – available at noon on August 7, due by noon on Tuesday, August 11. EVERY traditional undergraduate student will be asked to complete this form, which will include an option to opt OUT of housing, opt IN to housing, and for anyone – to select a meal plan. Students will receive an email with a link to the Revised Housing & Commuter Intent Form on Friday, August 7.
  3. We will review all requests for Housing and notify you with a decision and housing assignment by Friday, August 14. Please know that our space is limited and we likely will not be able to honor all the requests that we receive. However, we will support students with greatest needs for housing.
  4. If you desire to move on to campus during the semester, you are invited to email for further information. We are seeking to be as flexible as possible, and we will continue to monitor state, local and federal guidelines as we review requests made throughout the semester.

At this point, we are anticipating full return to campus in January 2021. We will inform students during the semester about the housing assignment process for Spring 2021 semester. Under this plan, students who choose to live off campus in the fall semester will be able to move on campus in the Spring 2021 semester. Those who live on campus during the fall semester may receive a different housing assignment for the spring.

Lastly, we know you may have many questions, and both Provost Kuecker and I will be available to respond to your questions, as will your faculty and staff members. We will continue to update the FAQs throughout the evening tonight on the TrINITy Together Fall 2020 Plan. We are also working to offer virtual Returning Student Orientation opportunities for students later this month. Most importantly, we are praying for you each and every day and we trust God is with us, even as we embrace a new kind of community together this fall.

Peace be with you,
VP Starkenburg

Back to For Students section

Hello, Trinity Community,

I write to you today about our plans for the Fall.  I know that we have communicated with you repeatedly over the summer about those plans.  But I also know that as the fall semester gets closer and as the world around us continues to experience the effects of COVID-19, you have been asking questions about those plans and wondering if we would be modifying them in any way to account for changing factual circumstances and recently released governmental guidance.  So, I write to you to share and describe Trinity’s modified plans to be In It Together during this unique Fall semester.

In short, for the Fall semester, while the campus will remain open, Trinity is moving most of its academic program on-line and offering limited campus housing for students.

Let me tell you why we have made this decision, how we came to it, and what this all means for our students and for their education.

All of us hoped – and expected – that, after the flow in spring, by late summer we would be seeing a substantial ebb in the spread of this virus.  That is what the models predicted and that is what the data was showing.  That expectation informed our announcement back in May that Trinity intended to return to a predominantly in-person, on-campus experience for this Fall.  And, behind the scenes since that announcement in May, scores of people at Trinity – included among them members of our science and nursing faculty, student life team, physical plant members, food service providers, and College leadership – have been working tirelessly to best prepare this physical campus for the return of the human community in the Fall.  This COVID Response Team’s work is as comprehensive and as good as you will find anywhere – and largely done with non-existent, delayed, or contradictory guidance and regulation from the State of Illinois and Cook County.

So, I want you to know that for months, Trinity has been working the problem with the stated goal of a return to campus in the fall for students, faculty, and staff.

Unfortunately, over the last month, the promising COVID infection trends took a decidedly unexpected and unfortunate turn.  Instead of receding, the virus is resurging.  You have seen the reports and heard the news.  This is not solely an issue in education.  For example, professional sports teams have barely been able to operate without infections, even with all of the sizable resources at their disposal; the Miami Marlins, for example, did not last much more than a weekend before COVID infections paused their play and put the rest of the Major League Baseball season in jeopardy.  In the last ten days, most small college athletics programs, including ours, have postponed Fall competition to Spring.  More states, counties, and cities have implemented quarantine travel restrictions for persons coming from other states both near and far.  And, very importantly, in our recent survey of our Trinity students, a sizable – and growing – percentage of you told us that you wanted or needed to have the semester altered due to the COVID-19 situation.

We are committed to providing an outstanding Trinity education that best protects the vulnerable members of our students, faculty, and staff while creating the kind of memory-making college experience that every member of the Trinity community, and especially our students, wants to enjoy together.  Every institution, whether implicitly or explicitly, vows that the safety of their community is a paramount concern; Trinity refuses to simply pay lip service to a platitude.  We really mean it.

So, on the cusp of the start of a new school year, let me tell you how, in the face of new facts and current reality, we are modifying our plans for Fall.  More detail about these plans can be found at the College’s website.  Students, in particular, will receive additional detailed information about fall plans and their next steps by way of email and other communication shortly after receiving this message.

We are calling this Fall plan Trinity:  In It Together  because we believe that this provides the best realistic opportunity for the Trinity community to learn together and to support one another during this remarkable time.  There is much around us that can easily tear us apart and cause division.  Surely the COVID virus and the policy choices that flow from it could cause such a result.  Thankfully, and to your credit, that has not been Trinity’s experience thus far and I trust that we will keep the faith with one another.  For we need to continue to come together.

Our Trinity:  In It Together plan seeks to do just that.  Our Fall will not be like the Fall of 2019 – but it will not be like the end of the Spring Semester 2020 either.  The campus will remain open in modified ways:  faculty will have access to their offices, classrooms, studios and labs; the Huizenga Library will be available; limited residence halls will welcome students with modified safety expectations; new co-curricular opportunities will be available; and campus ministries will offer worship and discipleship experiences.

Permit me to describe all of this in some further detail.  First, I will start with Trinity’s academic program.  Most of our courses will be offered entirely remotely.  In fact, for most of our students in most of our programs, the entirety of the semester can occur without needing to be on campus at all.  I know that this is a relief for some, a frustration for others, and a disappointment for all.  We heard what you told us about your concerns of returning to a traditionally residential campus in the present environment.  We share those concerns.

Though students will not be present in a classroom, this is not a repeat of the Spring’s emergency transition.  Rather, our faculty will have the full resources of their offices and campus spaces available to them to provide a more comprehensive remote learning experience.  They also will have more time to craft courses designed with that model in mind.

For a small number of programs, especially upper level courses in those programs, remote learning simply is not a plausible way to do the necessary work.  For those limited students and programs, your courses will be in-person and on-campus.  Over the course of this week, those limited number of students in these particular programs will be contacted directly by the departments’ faculty to discuss how these programs will proceed on-campus in the Fall.

Second, students, you may decide that living on campus is desirable or necessary to continue your academic career at Trinity – even while your classes are online.  Some of you face housing or technology challenges, are international students, or need to be on campus for certain academic programs.

Students, look for an email from Vice President Becky Starkenburg shortly after receiving this message that will clearly outline how you can re-assess your housing options.  The kind of residential experience that Trinity – or, frankly, any college or university – can offer during this COVID moment will not be typical.  We recognize that many students will choose not to live in the residence halls under these circumstances, opting instead to wait until life returns to a more “normal” time to resume living on campus.  At the same time, we expect that some students will find even this very restrictive housing option appealing in the context of their other options.   Vice President Starkenburg’s email will provide you with detailed information on this important decision and will provide you with more substantial information on what the residential experience will look and feel like in this COVID-era.  We want you to be able to make wise decisions that, as much as possible, best suit your particular situation.

Third, what will campus life look like this Fall?  Surely, with limited persons on campus and state restrictions on gatherings to 50 people or less, some of the most important Trinity traditions will be modified.  As a Christian College, Trinity will provide regular campus worship and discipleship experiences in ways that are different from both our “usual” forms and from what we experienced in the sudden shift in the Spring.

We will continue to tackle the important, difficult, and seemingly intractable issues in modern American life and continue to do so from a biblical worldview.  College is a season and place to think hard about important issues, issues that matter.  It is a dedicated time to get in on the big conversations that have captivated the human intellect for centuries.  This especially is so at Christian colleges.  As a result, we will continue to expand our knowledge so that we can deepen our wisdom.  We want to be a people and place that knows and loves God – and knows and loves the justice, grace, and truth that God cares so much about, too.

Importantly, Trinity will again offer students a Student Success Coach, and we will open a new Remote Learning Support Center to support students in the specific challenges faced in online learning. Counseling services and academic support will be available as they have been before.  Campus offices will be staffed in person during normal business hours.  Student programming, the arts, athletics, and others across campus are working to craft experiences that harness the best of our Trinity traditions, perhaps create new ones, and adapt them for this short and unique season.

We are offering a full-service college experience and adding new programs and structures to support our students during this temporary season of disruption.  To that end, our pricing will remain the same and existing financial aid packages will be honored.  A Trinity education already is typically priced at or below that charged by our peer institutions.  At the same time, we recognize that every student’s situation is different and, due to the generosity of friends, alumni and supporters of Trinity, have created the In It Together Fund that, by application, also can offer direct financial assistance to students in need of particular help.

Let me emphasize in closing that this is a short and unique season even as it is a frustrating one.  Measured over the span of a college experience, let alone an entire life, a semester is a limited time.  I do not mean to minimize the disappointment that this news brings – trust me, all of us feel it, especially after working so hard for so many months to return to an on-campus and in-person experience.  At the same time, those who have gone before us experienced depressions and world wars lasting multiple years and, in their own ways, persevered through those more disruptive eras.  I am confident that we, too, will persevere through this trial and do so together.

Over the last number of weeks, I have gone back to re-read C.S. Lewis’ wonderful message to students in the fall of 1939.  He gave this message, “Learning in War-Time,” to students about to embark on their studies as the world stood at the edge of World War II.  His words, edited slightly to fit our moment, perhaps will speak to you as they have to me:

The [COVID pandemic] creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.  Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.  Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.  If [humanity] had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure the search would never have begun.  We are mistaken when we compare [pandemic] with “normal life.”  Life has never been normal.  Even those periods which we think most tranquil … turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of cries, alarms, difficulties, emergencies.  Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right.  But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons.  They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes.

We, too, as a part of the Trinity community want knowledge and beauty now.  So in this season and during this time, we will pursue knowledge and beauty, wisdom and truth, for God’s glory and for the good of the world.

I look forward to spending the Fall with you and look forward to seeing how God will use this time in our lives together.

Yours most sincerely,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

Back to COVID-19 page

Dear Trinity Fall Student-Athletes,

In light of the COVID pandemic, the NAIA has publicly announced a decision to postpone national championships for fall sports to spring 2021. The CCAC has also just publicly announced decisions with regard to fall sport competition. The conference will quickly begin working to modify conference schedules to align with new national championship dates. New championship dates have not been identified.

In light of these announcements, Trinity Christian College has decided to postpone all fall sport competition. These decisions affect Trinity Christian College student-athletes that compete in men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country. This is challenging and disappointing news, altering expectations and anticipation for fall pre-season and competition. And yet, in light of the COVID pandemic, postponement of conference play and national championships provide fall student-athletes with the best possibility for a season of competition and opportunity for national championship play in the 2020-21 academic year.

So, now what?

  • Be certain that you remain a Trinity student-athlete. Trinity Christian College will honor your athletic scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year even though season dates and schedules are changing.
  • To the extent that health and safety guidelines allow, your coaches will make plans for relevant sport activity after the fall semester begins. These will be established within the existing NAIA standards and once new national championship dates have been identified.
  • Fall athletes are no longer scheduled to return to campus on August 12 and 13. You should modify your travel plans to return to campus with all other Trinity students between August 21 and 25. Check the Covenant of Care and FAQs for more detailed information. You can also schedule your residence hall arrival and check in by using this residence life form.
  • Your coaches have already scheduled virtual team meetings with you for this evening. The purpose of those meetings is to have space and time to be together, to clarify existing information, and to provide an update as to anything new or additional. I strongly encourage you to participate in those meetings; if you’re unable, reach out to your coach individually.

There are surely many questions that still need to be answered. We will continue to work with the NAIA and the CCAC to get these answers to all of these questions. I continue to hear from your coaches of your positive attitudes and your understanding in response to these announcements. I am so grateful for each of you and for your coaches choosing a right response to disappointing news. I am eager to see you again as we now anticipate and prepare for spring competition.

Mark Hanna
Associate Vice President of Student Life and Athletics

Back to For Students section


We hope that you and your family are healthy and well. We continue to pray for our Trinity community, and we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to see one another again. God is with us.

Today we have posted responses to over 60 FAQs covering a wide range of topics related to Fall 2020 at Trinity. You will see the extensive COVID-ready planning that Trinity has been undertaking this summer. Alongside the FAQs, we are also sharing the copy of our Covenant of Care online. The Covenant of Care is an agreement that every member of the Trinity community (students, faculty, and staff) will need to sign and follow in order to participate in life on campus. Please read it closely in advance of returning to campus. Students will be required to sign the Covenant of Care on their student portal after August 1, where it will appear along with all other regular forms requiring your signature. You do not need to print it at this time.

  • Please read the FAQs and Covenant of Care. Tell your Trinity friends to read them. Tell your families to read them.
  • Once you have read the FAQs, please complete the emailed survey by Friday, July 24 at 8 am to indicate your plans for Fall 2020. (if you are receiving this email and have graduated or previously notified the College that you are not returning to Trinity, you do not need to complete the survey).

We recognize that as we get closer to fall semester, you may have different needs related to your Trinity education. Your survey responses will help us continue to plan for those needs. The survey asks for student response around in-person/online, housing, and technology needs. It should take you less than 3 minutes to complete. We ask that your responses to the survey represent your most accurate responses as of right now; we will reach out to students after the survey closes to confirm decisions. Specific questions that are not answered in the FAQs or addressed in the survey should be emailed to

With great hope, we plan to be together in August. We will continue to monitor the state, local and federal guidance. As the pandemic remains challenging and complex, we will continue to develop and update our plans as we approach the fall. We trust in the Lord to guide our steps.


Dr. Aaron Kuecker

Becky Starkenburg
Vice President for Student Life

On behalf of the COVID Response Team

Back to For Students section

Dear Trinity Students and Recent Graduates:

Greetings from campus.  In Palos Heights, it is hot, muggy, and sunny – weather that promises to continue throughout the Independence Day weekend.  In short:  It is July.

I email you today, in July, to give you an update about December.

On June 20, Vice President Becky Starkenburg emailed you with updates to our Fall calendar and COVID-19 campus planning.  You also recall, I trust, my email on April 29 announcing that the Spring 2020 Commencement would be moved to a separate ceremony on December 19 (in essence creating two ceremonies on December 19, 2020).

You might be wondering how these recently-announced changes to the calendar, and the ongoing State of Illinois restrictions, impact the significant milestone-marking moment of these Commencement ceremonies in December?  That is why I email you today.

Unfortunately, we need to postpone both the scheduled December Commencement and the re-scheduled Spring 2020 Commencement (both to have happened on December 19, 2020) to May 8, 2021.  This, obviously, is not ideal nor is it what we want to do.  A Commencement is an important moment to celebrate the significant achievements of our graduates.  It is an important moment for the institution to give a visible indication and reminder of its mission.  Most importantly for the graduates, of course, it is the cumulative moment of years of hard study and work – not to mention the chance to celebrate their achievement with family and friends.  For all of these reasons, and more, postponing the December Commencement (and postponing again the May 2020 Commencement) is not anything that we as a college want to do.

However, as we have reviewed the State of Illinois Restore Illinois plan and as that plan has been interpreted and implemented, there is no realistic way that we could hope to gather together in person in December for these ceremonies.  Illinois now is in “Phase 4” of the reopening plan – which limits public gatherings to no more than 50 people.  There is little likelihood that Illinois will move to “Phase 5” by December, as that phase requires a “vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period” according to the State of Illinois directive.

Let’s not mince words:  This has been, is, and for the foreseeable future will be a period marked with particular frustration and unique disappointment.  While we admit this, we also affirm that God loves this world deeply and cares for his people immeasurably.  With the Apostle Paul we can say that we are “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There will come a day, and we pray that it is soon, where we will again gather together in person to celebrate and worship.

As we move into the fall, I will provide you with further updates on whether we will hold a “virtual conferral ceremony” for our December 2020 graduates (similar to what we did in May 2020) and what such a ceremony might look like.  At this time, however, I wanted to give you this unfortunate news about December with enough time so that you and your families can plan accordingly.

For those of you reading this email who will be back on campus in a couple of months, we eagerly anticipate your return.  For those who graduated in May 2020, we sincerely long for the day when we will welcome you back to your campus home.

Thank you, stay safe, and continue to be a Romans 12:12 people.

Yours most sincerely,

Kurt D. Dykstra, President

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Trinity Students,

Greetings from Trinity! I’ve been back on campus in my office throughout this week, and it is GOOD to be back. I’m very excited to welcome you all back to campus, and I’m looking forward to the journey that is ahead. We are navigating so many things in this world, and I can think of no better place to be than in the Trinity community to work through matters of care, wellbeing, justice, vocation and community together. We are working diligently for a successful fall opening, planning to have YOU, our students, back on campus, and asking the Lord to establish the work of our hands each and every day. While there is much yet to be planned throughout the months of July and August, we wanted to update you on a few key pieces pertaining to fall.

Academic Calendar
The Academic Calendar has been modified for fall semester 2020. The calendar impacts semester breaks and moves to online instruction after November 20. This allows residential students to leave before Thanksgiving, giving our community the opportunity to navigate what health experts suggest may be a second or third wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter months.  Further, the daily schedule will be altered to allow for 20 minute breaks in between classes in order to provide ample time for students and faculty to leave classrooms, clean their workspaces, etc. Please see the early released version of the schedule below for details. This will also be posted to very soon. We know this calendar raises many questions for certain populations of students such as international students, student-athletes, and others. Please know staff will work with these communities of students to navigate this in the best way possible.

We anticipate releasing more information as Restore Illinois guidelines become available – including department specific information related to field experience and clinical placements. As of today, we are still awaiting guidance from the state agencies regarding higher education.

New Calendar – As of June 2020, for Fall 2020 Semester*
Monday, August 24 Adult/Graduate classes begin in person
Wednesday, August 26 Traditional Undergraduate classes begin in person
Wednesday, October 7 Fall Reading Day
Thurs-Fri, October 8-9 Classes held
Mon-Tues, Nov. 23-24 No class: Extension of Thanksgiving Break
Wed-Fri, Nov 25-27 No class: Thanksgiving Break
Nov 30- Dec 18 Online Learning/Final Exams Online
Wednesday, January 13 In-person Traditional Undergraduate Classes Begin

*Please note this is the most up to date version as of today – finalized copy will be posted to the registrar’s webpage.

Covenant of Care and Student Life Policies
In mid-July, the College will release a new “Covenant of Care” that each faculty, staff and student member of the Trinity community will be required to sign to participate in the life of the College in the fall. We will post it to in July, and you will have opportunity to electronically sign in August along with your emergency contact information and student life policies. The Covenant will include our shared expectations around life together as we navigate the pandemic. Expect the shared expectations to involve a level of inconvenience that we are putting in place for the sake of  everyone’s health. Among the expectations: we will be asking you to self-screen for COVID symptoms daily, wear masks, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands.

We plan to house all residential students in their current housing assignment. We are blessed to have a small residential community and suite-style bathrooms that will allow us to treat each suite as a family unit. The move-in schedule will be slightly altered, with more options available for move-in and dropping off of belongings, along with the expectation that students sign up for a move in slot, in order for us to space out move in times to allow for physical distancing. We are waiting for Restore Illinois Phase 4 guidelines to be released to confirm and distribute our plans. We will also have quarantine space identified and support available should you get sick. We will be strongly encouraging you to pack light this fall, so that should a need arise for a quick move out, you will be ready to go in a short period of time.

Health Care
It is very important that you make sure you have active health insurance this year, along with the ability to use that insurance in the state of Illinois. This is a requirement. We also recommend that you find out if you have telehealth options available through your primary provider or through your insurance. We will continue to provide access and assistance to students at the UChicago/Ingalls Health Center in Crestwood – I encourage you to check if they will take your insurance as that is very close to campus and a great partnership of ours. We also will be adding a Campus Health Coordinator on campus for COVID-related health concerns.

Student Support Services
Counseling Services, Vocation and Career Development, Student Life, Office of Learning Services, Writing Center, Student and Multicultural Engagement offices will be open and supportive of student flourishing this fall. Our life together will look different than before, but our primary focus is to help you flourish, adapting our approach in new and creative ways. Many offices will have a hybrid model that will involve virtual and in-person support. Though these plans will vary, the common theme will include physical distancing, compassion, and flexibility. I want to assure you that students will have access to the resources and information they need in order to flourish during their time on campus. We are working on accommodations and support plans for students who are not able to attend class for a day or a week or more to still maintain involvement in their coursework, while attending to health. 

Chapel, Thrive, Student Activities, Outcry
We are working to adapt Chapel and other large gatherings to maintain their goodness and purpose while also adhering to guidelines to keep our community healthy. We look forward to the ways God will use this time in our community to challenge and stretch us into new ways of being in community together. Throughout the summer, staff and faculty are working on plans. In July, Student Life will invite student leaders into conversations about what is best for student community as those plans take on more shape.

We expect to have more information available in mid-July on the website. In the meantime, if you have specific questions or concerns related to your own experience, please do not hesitate to reach out to the appropriate office. For general COVID-campus ready related questions or ideas, you are welcome to email me directly. Many of us are taking much needed vacation during this last week of June up until the 4th of July, so response times may be slower. But, we will be back in full force on July 6 and we expect communications and plans to roll out throughout July and August.

Praying for you, students, throughout this summer!

VP Starkenburg

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