Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Fall 2020 Return to Campus Information

July 7, 2020

Dear Bethany Community, 

A little over a month ago, I shared with you the news that, to the best of our ability, Bethany Lutheran College plans to be open for in-person classes beginning on time in August. I stated that intention because we believe strongly in the fellowship and camaraderie enjoyed among our Christian campus community, in the close mentorship between our faculty and students, and in the rich relationships that are formed with classmates. It’s this personal experience that stands as one of Bethany’s core values, and for which we long to once again embrace.

In this letter, I’m eager to confirm with you our commitment to open Bethany on-time and in-person this August. To open the campus, we’re following guidelines established by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, as well as best practices shared among our peer institutions. While we want to make the campus as safe as possible for our students, faculty, staff, and guests, please understand that until there is a vaccine few places in society will be completely free of the virus. Therefore, we can’t guarantee COVID-19 will remain off our campus this fall, but we are taking reasonable measures to create an environment that mitigates its spread.

Please be aware that the Bethany administration also clearly understands that not every student will be able to or will be comfortable returning to in-person classes. To meet the needs of all students, we have created a flexible learning system called the HyFlex Model that will allow each student to select the learning format that suits the preferences of each.

To prepare for the fall semester and this HyFlex model, I appointed a broad group of individuals to the Vikings Covid Campus Response Committee. The group has been meeting regularly to develop our mitigation plan, and represents all divisions of our community including administration, faculty, and staff and is assisted and advised by medical personnel from the Mayo Clinic Health System—our on-campus Express Care and athletic training partner. In addition to the planning being done through the committee, we also conducted a site visit with a representative from the Minnesota Department of Health who toured our facilities and made recommendations. The committee, along with my Administrative Cabinet, met recently to review our plans. Many of the items discussed by the committee can be reviewed on our COVID FAQ webpage. It provides answers to many common questions as to how we intend to operate each division from academics to the residence halls, and from athletics and fine arts activities to student services. These items will be updated as additional information becomes available.

As you review our FAQ page, you’ll quickly understand that life at Bethany this fall will be different. I trust that you, like me, will realize that in order to conduct campus operations as safely as possible, these precautions, and even “what if” planning scenarios should cases emerge, are necessary. 

In the midst of the pandemic that has touched all aspects of life in our society, some may wonder why we’re choosing to open the campus to our students this fall. To gain an understanding, I again ask that you review the opening paragraph of this letter. For Bethany to best carry out our core values – to engage students with the gospel message of their Savior, Jesus; to help students discern truth through the lens of a Christian worldview; and to do so through personal mentoring relationships among students, faculty, and staff; an on-campus Bethany experience is essential.

With fearless confidence in our faithful God, we look forward to seeing you this fall.  

In Christ’s service,

President Gene R. Pfeifer, PhD

Frequently Asked Questions and Information

Bethany Lutheran College President Gene Pfeifer formed and appointed broad campus representation to the Bethany Vikings Covid Response Committee (BVCRC). The BVCRC is planning and coordinating the reopening of the College in the fall. The group is taking into consideration cross-lateral thinking across the entire campus with recognition that flexibility is necessary with committee recommendations and approaches to the final proposal. The BVCRC has developed a Project Plan to guide its work, which included identification of both internal and external subject matter experts with whom the BVCRC could consult as needed during the development of its recommendations.

Updated – July 7, 2020

New student orientation and welcome week activities are currently scheduled to start in conjunction with move-in day on August 22, 2020. New students should watch their email accounts for pre-arrival on-line training sessions required by the state and federal government that will open around August 1, 2020.

Updated – July 7, 2020

A: Face masks should be worn when entering any campus building, including while transiting hallways, classrooms, public spaces, and common areas. The wearing of masks is required in situations where social distancing of six feet or more cannot be guaranteed (labs, offices, etc.). Face masks are also encouraged in outdoor settings if safe social distancing is not possible.

Masks should be worn when entering Dining Services, but may be removed to eat. Students do not need to wear masks in their personal spaces such as dorm rooms or apartments.

This information may change if College, local, and state officials determine that more stringent measures are needed for safety.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Bethany’s Mayo Express Care Clinic will operate with normal hours in fall 2020. Anyone with questions about potential COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to call their primary physician, or call Mayo’s Mankato Eastridge Clinic at 507-594-6500. You may tell them you are a Bethany student and have access to our on-campus Express Care Clinic.

Updated – July 7, 2020

The Christian Family Services (CFS) counseling center on the second floor of Luther Hall will be open periodically. They are also available to tele-counsel. Appointments can be made online or by calling 1-800-438-1772. If you currently work with one of the CFS counselors, contact them to make the appropriate arrangements for their continued services.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Bethany is modifying campus cleaning routines to include disinfecting with emphasis on high touch surfaces. The College has also invested in new electrostatic cleaning equipment to sanitize building interior spaces. There will also be sanitizing supplies available throughout campus for students, faculty, staff and guests to use. 

The College has placed sanitizer refills and disinfecting wipes in all common areas. We have developed a communication campaign about hygiene best practices, i.e., hand washing, face touching. Bethany will provide a basic hygiene kit to all employees and students at the start of the Fall Semester. Several public desks on campus will be fitted with Plexiglas shields. The College has procured touch-free hand sanitizers to be placed strategically around campus. Fleet vehicle sanitizing supplies will be available in the maintenance shop as well as the mailroom so any person returning to campus with a college vehicle, or leaving with one, will be able to wipe down interior and exterior touch surfaces. Bethany will continue to utilize student workers during the school year to clean when full-time housekeepers are not scheduled. All events on campus since March have been canceled allowing our building spaces to be deeply cleaned and sanitized by our housekeeping staff.  

Bethany’s HVAC system is fully automated and programmed to allow fresh air to be drawn in and expelled based on space occupancy. All filters are routinely changed in the major air handlers.

Bethany’s housekeeping staff is dedicated to keeping the residence halls as clean as possible. We are scheduling more hours to be used throughout campus for cleaning as well as using our new electrostatic machines to disinfect surfaces in public spaces including restrooms.

Updated – July 7, 2020

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Visit the CDC website for more information.

Call your doctor if you…

Develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 OR have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Academic and Classroom Information

No adjustments are planned at this time; however the College will closely monitor how we are able to limit the spread of the virus at Bethany.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Bethany is ensuring all students a live learning experience in the fall of 2020. To achieve this, while observing proper social distancing per CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, BLC is employing a hybridized, flexible learning model, also known as “HyFlex.” Hyflex gives the learner the opportunity to attend classes in a face-to-face model or synchronously through online videoconferencing capabilities. In the vast majority of classes, students will always have the opportunity to attend a face-to-face class. In some situations where class enrollment exceeds COVID-19 room capacity limits, students may be asked to rotate into a synchronous learning environment one class period per week.

Finally, for international students unable to return to campus and whose time zones are more than eight hours away, special exemptions can be made to have classes provided asynchronously. In all of these cases, the cost of your education is the same. In the event the campus must close before December, students will finish the semester online and there will be no discount or refund on your education. Check your Bethany email inbox frequently for information and updates from Dr. Jason Lowrey, Vice President of Academic Affairs. Watch also for information from your instructors regarding online class delivery.

Updated – July 7, 2020

HyFlex learning involves the delivery of courses that “enable flexible participation for students whereby they may choose to attend face-to-face synchronous class sessions or complete course learning activities online without physically attending class.” During the current pandemic, this model is being adapted to enable educational institutions to serve students who may not be able to physically attend classes due to distance, illness, or lack of physical classroom space. The focus is on providing a high-quality educational experience for students whether they attend face-to-face, synchronously via video conferencing, or in some limited cases, asynchronously.

Students will be provided a live learning experience for almost all classes. While we can guarantee a live learning experience, a student’s ability to attend class face-to-face may be limited to enrollment and space available in each classroom. In Bethany’s modified HyFlex model, students will have the choice of face-to-face or synchronous instruction. Seating will be provided for students to attend class, however there may be limitations to the number of seats available. In order to provide a live learning experience for all learners, live video conferencing through Zoom will be streamed into each live classroom. This means that students can attend class face-to-face or synchronously online. We are aware that some students desire to be in class for every session. We also know that some students may feel safer joining class remotely.  It is our hope to offer learning that will accommodate your comfort level during the time of COVID-19.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Face masks should be worn when entering any campus building, including while transiting hallways, classrooms, public spaces, and common areas. The wearing of masks is required in situations where social distancing of six feet or more cannot be guaranteed (labs, offices, etc.). Face masks are also encouraged in outdoor settings if safe social distancing is not possible.

Masks should be worn when entering Dining Services, but may be removed to eat. Students do not need to wear masks in their personal spaces such as dorm rooms or apartments.

This information may change if College, local, and state officials determine that more stringent measures are needed for safety.

Updated – July 8, 2020

Classrooms have been set up to accommodate students no less than six feet apart. Desks and chairs have been removed from classrooms to allow safe distancing for each learner and instructor in the classroom. Depending on room configuration, some larger lecture rooms will have seats marked available for use. Additionally, seating configurations have been designed to point in one common direction, much like traditional rows. Room arrangements with inward configurations have been removed from consideration indefinitely. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

You are always encouraged to connect with your academic advisor to discuss your academic plan, as well as other school and career oriented questions. We ask that if you meet with your advisor, please be prepared to wear your face mask, as in many cases, six feet of social distancing may not be possible in a professor’s office. If students feel uncomfortable meeting in person, video conferencing is always an option. Please schedule these meetings with your advisor as needed.

Updated – July 7, 2020

No, Bethany will utilize its traditional grading policy at the start of the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Updated – July 7, 2020

The College is making every effort to have events take place this fall, but students need to realize that many events may be significantly altered or canceled altogether if conducting them is not feasible in a responsible, socially distanced manner.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Student Information: Athletics, Fine Arts, Organizations 

Yes, Bethany is planning to hold regular chapel services in Trinity Chapel, while observing social distancing. The Chapel seating will be arranged for social distancing. We are presently permitted to have up to 50% capacity, which would be around 210 worshippers. Other options are being considered including:

  1. Asking the faculty and staff to initially begin the year watching Chapel services online.
  2. Possibly assigning certain days of the week for in-person attendance by year in school if needed.
  3. Singing may be suspended, except by some chosen singers.
  4. Face masks will be required while in Chapel.
  5. No hymn books will be in the pews, but we will publish a daily bulletin which can be thrown away.

Finally, all of our Chapel services will be simulcast and archived in both audio and video formats. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

The Bethany Vikings will be on the field, court, and course in the fall of 2020 for NCAA and UMAC competition under COVID playing guidelines that are in place at the start of August practice. Bethany’s athletic administration and trainers continuously monitor the latest COVID developments with the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, and staff, as well as our upcoming opponents and fans, as the top priority.

All cross country, soccer, and volleyball athletes will report to campus mid-August to begin conditioning workouts and practice in adherence with COVID guidelines, as well as to begin their COVID phasing. Golfers will arrive on campus near the start of school.

Regarding travel for athletic teams, Bethany’s athletic administration and trainers will work with our charter bus companies and our own fleet of passenger vans to follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and MN Department of Health (MN DofH) COVID-19 guidelines for both transportation and hotel accommodations. In addition, the UMAC office, in conjunction with all nine member institutions, is coordinating the creation of COVID-19 practice and competition procedures based on best practices and resources from the CDC, MN DofH, NCAA Sport Science Institute (SSI), National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), American College Health Association (ACHA), and local and state health guidelines.

Updated – July 7, 2020

All music ensembles including Concert Choir, Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, Mary Martha Singers, Jazz Ensemble, Handbell Choir, Drumline, and Choraliers will be offered in the fall, and will follow CDC social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety of all participants. Concert Choir and Band plan to rehearse in Trinity Chapel, which allows for plenty of space.

Theatre events may look different than they traditionally have, but every effort is being made to create substantive theatrical experiences for both our students and audiences. As BLC continues to navigate the ongoing changes in the CDC and MDH guidelines, BLC’s commitment to excellence in performance will be maintained as we continue to innovate ways of bringing opportunities to our students and performances to our patrons.

We’re looking into alternative ways to effectively connect our students with professional artists. Stay tuned to Bethany channels for updates on new exhibition formats.  

A limited number of guests could attend an event with social distancing. Further precautions may include checking an audience member’s temperature at the door and wearing face masks. This is subject to change per CDC and MN Department of Health (MDH) recommendations. We plan to live-stream and record all music performances for viewing on a number of platforms.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Students should conduct meetings in the same socially-distanced manner as classes are conducted. Any student-led events will need to be approved for safety and risk/reward potential by the organization’s Faculty/Staff Advisor.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Yes, but students should be prudent about engaging in any off-campus events or activities. Bethany will not restrict a student’s off-campus involvement in service and volunteer activities provided the activity is conducted in a safe manner.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Intramurals will take place with low risk (outdoor, higher spacing) sports. Each sport season will be assessed for risk based on the current recommendations from MN Department of Health and the CDC.

Updated – July 7, 2020

The Fitness Center will not be open immediately upon arrival to campus in the fall. This policy will be reviewed monthly taking into account limited outdoor recreation/fitness opportunities as the weather turns colder.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Information for International Students

Yes. Bethany will be providing in-person classes and international students can maintain status by attending class on campus.

Updated – July 8, 2020

Bethany has the technology in place to allow first-year international students to attend in-person classes virtually until a visa appointment can take place. The College is awaiting forthcoming guidance from the U.S. Government on whether this will be an available option

Updated – July 8, 2020

Bethany’s HyFlex teaching model has the technological capabilities to allow you to attend classes virtually from your home country until you are able to return. Your lectures will be streamable live and also available by recording if that is more convenient. If you are able to return to Bethany mid-semester, you may do that to begin attending these classes in-person.

Updated – July 9, 2020

Residence Hall Information

Bethany is waiving the two-year residency requirement for all students for the 2020-21 academic year. The College is requesting that all students who live close to campus (or have family who live near campus) consider commuting to campus.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Move-in will take place in a two phased process. Phase 1 will entail drop-off and set-up of rooms for anyone close enough to take advantage of the option. Phase 2 will entail scheduled move-in beginning August 22 (new students and any returners who chose to move in) and will continue through August 23 (remaining returning students).

NOTE: No exceptions, all students must move in during the scheduled phases. Athletes will receive move in information from their coaches. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

Students are asked to read the BLC COVID-19 FAQ page frequently and become familiar with all contents prior to returning to campus.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Yes, only Bethany students will be allowed in the Residence Halls. No off-campus guests will be able to enter the BLC Residence Halls. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

The MN Department of Health (MDH) allows for more than one person per room, under the context that a roommate(s) is considered or treated as a ‘family unit,’ much like those who reside elsewhere. The MDH, upon touring Bethany’s campus in June 2020, was unconcerned with larger groups of roommates based on the cubic space allotted to each roommate.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Like the rest of campus, students are asked to remain six feet apart, wear masks when in public spaces where social distancing can’t be ensured, and adhere to posted room capacity limits. Students do not need to wear masks in their private residences (room or apartments).

Updated – July 7, 2020

The Residential Life Office will attempt to minimize housing disruptions, but always reserves the right to place students based on the needs of the College.

Updated – July 7, 2020

If COVID -19 resurges, and Bethany is forced to return to only-online classes, students will be asked to move home. Anyone who cannot make it home due to travel restrictions or extenuating circumstances can petition the Residential Life Department to remain on campus.

Updated – July 7, 2020

If you are feeling sick, your should take every precaution to prevent infecting others, go home or isolate in your residential space, and call Mayo’s Mankato Eastridge Clinic at 507-594-6500. You may tell them you are a Bethany student and have access to our on-campus Express Care Clinic. Please follow the instructions of the health professionals. If you are asked to come in for testing, please alert the College as you must temporarily quarantine until the results of the test are returned.

If you test positive for COVID-19, students should be isolated according to CDC guidelines. Any residential student is encouraged to leave campus and recover elsewhere if at all possible.  Residential students who have nowhere else to recover will be isolated on campus. Student Services will offer limited services such as meal delivery, trash retrieval, etc. according to CDC guidelines.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Students who have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, but are not COVID-positive, will need to quarantine in their room according to CDC guidelines. Meals will be delivered to the student and he or she will have use of designated bathrooms.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Faculty and Staff Information

All departments of the College now have the flexibility to work from home. The process to define how this work-from-home scenario is implemented for each department will be determined by the vice presidents and department leaders in consultation with their employees.

Beginning August 1, faculty may return to campus. While working on campus, anytime you are inside a building or walking between buildings, face masks will be required. However, if you are sitting in a stationary situation and at least six feet from the nearest person, you can remove your face mask.

The College has reduced the number of staff occupying office spaces to the extent possible. Workspaces have been reviewed and adjusted to maximize social distancing. Employees are expected to practice social distancing in office and shared workspace settings. Employees should not use one another’s office or related office furniture and equipment such as desk, phone, computer or chair. Signage, floor markings, and dividers have been placed in offices and some employees have been moved to new locations to help attain social distancing around campus. Seek out larger spaces, like the rooms in third floor of Luther Hall, for meetings that provide good social distancing options. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

For all employees, do not come onto campus if you are not feeling well. Your presence puts everyone at risk. If you have influenza-type symptoms, you should stay home.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Yes, but please seek out larger spaces, like the rooms in third floor of Luther Hall, for meetings that provide good social distancing options. 

Updated – July 7, 2020

All non-essential college travel, domestic and international, is suspended until further notice. A faculty or staff member who believes that he/she has an essential business reason to travel can seek approval through the divisional vice president.

Updated – July 7, 2020

Campus Emergency & Closure Notifications

The Bethany Lutheran College messaging system is a key component of the college’s emergency notification program. In the event of a campus emergency or closure, the College will send notifications through a number of communication channels including text, voice, and email messaging.