Houghton College & Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19)

As colleges across the nation confront the challenges of COVID-19 and those within New York State await final guidance from the governor’s office, Houghton College will share the best information available to students, families, and community members.

Fall Restart Information

Plans for restarting on-campus education are dependent on the virus and its impact on our community. The Preparing a Residential Education Plan (PREP) Team continues to act in consultation with county and state health officials and take into consideration the infection rate, testing capabilities, and other societal issues. A safe start to the semester and continued wellness throughout the fall will depend on the actions of every member of the Houghton community.

Fall Restart Plan

There are many factors that work in favor of Houghton’s restart of on campus education in Fall 2020. Our 1,300-acre campus does not have the viral exposure potential of schools in congested metropolitan or suburban areas.

COVID-19 Data

Tests Administered
This week Total
6 93
Positive Tests
This week Total
0 1
Active Recovered
0 1

Number in Quarantine/Isolation

Active Released
2 7
Active Released
2 92

Last updated: 10/26/2020

Make Safe Choices: The “Big Three”

Students, staff, and faculty must partner with one another in the shared task of keeping our community safe and healthy. The ongoing safety of that environment, however, will depend upon the consistent and deliberate choices that each student, staff, and faculty member will make each day to mask, socially distance themselves from others when possible, and maintain a clean environment and practice good hygiene.

Students will agree to wear masks when they are not alone or solely with their roommate (commuters and students living off-campus will need to wear masks at all times while on campus except during meal times). Masking and social distancing will not be necessary when in a student’s room. Employees will be required to wear masks when inside campus buildings not in their offices.
Social Distancing
Students and employees will agree to keep socially distanced (at least six feet) from others at all times and wear a mask when they are not able to do so. When they are outside, they will not be expected to wear masks as long as they are socially distanced from others that are not their roommate. If they are unable to socially distance while outside, they need to be wearing a mask. Even while socially distancing outside, students are encouraged to wear masks.
Students and employees will agree to practice good hygiene, being sure to wash their hands frequently, regularly cleaning their personal masks, and utilizing the additional sanitizing stations set up around campus when entering a building and interacting with others. Additionally, while bathrooms, common spaces, classrooms, and offices will be cleaned regularly in the residence halls, cleaning products will be provided for every member of the community to help keep these areas clean. Consistent sanitizing and decluttering of common spaces will be important.

Flexible Learning Options

student working on laptop computerFor vulnerable populations and those who wish to remain home for the fall semester, Houghton offers the option to complete courses through remote instruction. Whether choosing to complete a full semester online or transitioning mid-semester due to changing circumstances, students have the flexibility to stay on track for graduation wherever they are.

CoronaCare Team

A team of individuals consisting of representatives from Student Health Services, Student Life, and Facilities will coordinate contact tracing, monitoring of weekday symptom checks, as well as the treatment and care of isolated and quarantined students.

Coming Together for the Fall

As the campus responds to the realities of COVID-19, the support of every member of the community will be more important than ever. This semester, residential students will get to know their fellow floor, townhouse, or apartment residents on a deeper level as they experience Houghton together.

Learning Safely Together

New procedures will be implemented, designed to ensure the continued health of all residents of Houghton and the surrounding region. Because the arrival and spread of the virus on campus would put in jeopardy our ability to continue to meet in-person, the commitment of every individual to follow these procedures will be paramount.

What does this mean for…?

These new procedures will inspire many questions. As we await final guidance from New York State, Houghton will continue to provide the best information available concerning those treasured aspects of the Houghton Experience that are impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

Responding to Cases of COVID-19 On Campus

Positive Test

In the event that a member of the Houghton community tests positive for the virus, the campus, including parents, will be notified. Following the directives of New York State, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will enter mandatory isolation. Students will be cared for in designated isolation units by the CoronaCare Team and outside healthcare workers as needed. Anyone who, while not displaying signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has been in close contact with an infected individual, as determined by the department of health, will enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. While in quarantine or isolation, students will be able to continue participating in their courses through remote learning options. It is important to be mindful of the highly contagious nature of the virus. A single case of COVID-19 on campus will activate the prescribed procedures, however, a higher infection rate on campus may necessitate the transition to remote learning for the safety of the community.

Moving to Remote Learning

The college is prepared to transition to remote instruction, at any time, should the college reach at least 90% capacity of isolation units. A spike in cases within Allegany County, the Western New York region, or on our campus may necessitate the transition to fully remote learning, including the return of students to their homes for the remainder of the semester. Community members, including parents, will be notified in the event of a mandatory departure from campus.


  • If you have a specific question concerning how Houghton College’s restarting on-campus education preparations will affect you this fall semester, submit it using the form below.
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Expanding the Houghton Promise

Preparing students for a life as large as God’s calling is the heart of Houghton College. Today we want to expand on the Houghton Promise, which already guarantees students a high-quality education that puts God first and prepares them for an ever-changing world. We are planning to welcome you to campus and are working with the Governor in Albany to make that possible. We are at the same time preparing for all eventualities, and will keep you informed regularly on the college’s plans for the fall.

In this moment when there are so many uncertainties in life and in the world, Houghton College is assuring our students, returning and new, of the certainties they can count on from the college:

  1. Personal Attention
    Houghton will continue the trademark commitment to meet students where they are, to welcome them into the large family of Houghton community and alumni connections, and to support them in their journey through college. This is more important than ever.
  2. Progress Toward Graduation
    We will work creatively to keep COVID-19 from disrupting a student’s path to graduation. Houghton will offer its hallmark, high-quality instruction in the fall semester, whether on the residential campus or online. For those of you who prefer to remain at home to begin or continue your coursework, you will receive the same high-quality instruction and faculty care.
  3. Proactive Concern for Your Health and Wellness
    Houghton will take all appropriate precautions to maintain the health and safety of our residential community. Plans are already being put in place with protocols and protections that will guide our life together in this moment when we must look out more than ever for each other.
  4. Protection of your Financial Investment
    Houghton will provide you with your full financial aid package for the fall semester. Room and Board will only be charged for the time that you are in residence on campus. If a residential student believes that he or she should return home during the fall semester as a result of COVID-19 safety or health concerns, the student is free to do so after consultation with the Student Health Center and will receive a prorated reimbursement of room and board.
  5. Participation in a Supportive and Thriving Community
    Houghton is organized for the sole purpose of promoting your growth into wholeness—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and vocationally—on campus or off. This community is what Houghton students treasure almost more than anything else. We are committed to helping you become the person God has made you to be and to matching your gifts to a place of service and impact larger than you ever imagined through customized academic and co-curricular planning.


Creekside Chats with Dean Smithers

Join Dean of Students, Marc Smithers, as he finds answers to your most frequently asked questions about student life at Houghton College.