Houghton College’s Response to Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19)
As colleges across the nation confront the challenges of COVID-19 and those within New York State follow guidance from the governor’s office, Houghton College will share the best information available to students, families, and community members.
Full, In-person Experience in Fall 2021
Thanks to the diligence of all members of the community, with special thanks to the CoronaCare Team and Student Health Services, we had few disruptions to in-person learning this spring and look forward to an in-person commencement celebration for the Class of 2021.
The Preparing a Residential Education Plan (PREP) Team continues to act in consultation with county and state health officials and takes into consideration the infection rate, testing capabilities, and other societal issues. A safe start to the semester and continued wellness throughout the spring will depend on the actions of every member of the Houghton community.
“Fall Opening Plan” will be posted in early June.
There are many factors that work in favor of Houghton’s continued on-campus education. Our 1,300-acre campus does not have the viral exposure potential of schools in congested metropolitan or suburban areas.
COVID-19 Data – Spring 2021
Last updated: 04/19/2021
Number in Quarantine/Isolation
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.
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
For 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.
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.
Fall Campus Arrival
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.
We’ll be releasing fall campus arrival information in early June.
Learning Safely Together
All members of the community will be expected to follow COVID-19 safety procedures, 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.
Weekday symptom checks are a simple way for members of the Houghton community practice their commitment to care for one another.
All students, faculty and staff will agree to do a quick check-in through an online health monitoring tool to report on their health as relates to COVID-19 symptoms, such as high fever, difficulty breathing, or loss of smell or taste. Those with indicated potential symptoms should stay in their residences and will be contacted by a member of our CoronaCare Team for further evaluation.
Evidence of completion of your symptom check will be required to enter classrooms or the dining hall.
Last updated 7/13/2020
Classes will be creatively reimagined in a flexible manner so that, whether on or off campus, students still have every opportunity to receive the same high-quality Houghton education. When people are inside campus buildings in public areas, there will be an expectation that they will be masked and socially distanced. Desks and chairs will be arranged to provide for social distancing.
High-touch classes, like labs, ensembles, and equestrian classes will have additional safety precautions, such as increased social distancing or staggered offerings to accommodate fewer students within a session. You will receive additional information as it becomes available.
Last updated 7/13/2020
Furniture will be arranged to allow for more space between tables. The college is currently evaluating options for serving all students this fall. In the event that New York State requires it, we are prepared to modify our dining hall to be take-out only. Regardless of the circumstances, we are committed to supplying you with healthy food options, including options for those with special dietary requests. Big Al’s and Java will likely be take-out only for the fall semester.
Last updated 7/13/2020
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.
We are excited to be able to offer more off-campus study opportunities in the coming year, including our Highlander Wilderness Adventure program this fall and our East Africa and London Honors programs in the spring. While we anticipate fewer challenges in running these programs, we are evaluating whether we will require students participating in these programs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as we weigh student and faculty safety concerns and international travel requirements. We expect to communicate these expectations for students in the coming months.
Last updated 4/16/2021
We expect to return to full seasons of athletic competition this fall and are working in collaboration with institutions in our Empire 8 Conference, the NCAA, and our local and state Departments of Health. We will be in communication with student athletes and their families about these developments throughout the summer regarding testing, masking, and vaccination requirements and are excited to offer even more opportunities for athletic participation in the upcoming year.
Last updated 4/16/2021
As we continue to await further guidance for higher education institutions for the next year, we are planning for the possibility that campus events will continue to need to take place in venues that permit for appropriate social distancing. Use of fitness and recreational facilities will also need to meet the Big Three measures. Events, activities and groups that cannot be offered in ways which meet the Big Three measures will be re-imagined to take place through virtual platforms.
Last updated 4/16/2021
Official campus visitors are welcome! Those desiring to visit campus should work directly with the office or department that will serve as your host.
Official campus visitors are all those who are non-employees and non-students and are working directly with a host campus office/department. Campus visitors should submit a symptom check survey prior to approval to arrive on campus. Visitors will also be expected to abide by Make Safe Choices guidance: masking, social distancing, and cleanliness. While much of our campus will be accessible to visitors, key areas are reserved only for students and employees, including dining facilities, residence halls, and indoor spaces such as classrooms and offices.
Visitors who may want to use the college’s athletics or fitness facilities and attend home athletics contests can expect changes to access/hours in the coming year. The Department of Athletics is finalizing decisions to ensure the safety of all visitors and students. Visiting teams and athletes will adhere to NCAA and Empire 8 expectations, which will be communicated through the Department of Athletics.
Last updated 7/13/2020
Spiritual Life at Houghton includes giving ourselves over to the rhythm of worship and work, study and rest, prayer and play. We are hoping to provide even more opportunities this fall to meet together as a large campus community, though we continue to work on creative ways to regularly worship together and participate in a host of other service and ministry opportunities within the college community, particularly in the event that state guidance may continue to not allow for large worship gatherings.
Last updated 4/16/2021
Responding to Cases of COVID-19 On Campus
The campus will be notified of numbers of active cases on at least a weekly basis. 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 10-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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Stimulus Funding – CARES Act, CRRSA Act, ARP Act
Frequently Asked Questions
The Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act are all stimulus legislation enacted by Congress in order to provide assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each includes funding to be distributed as emergency grants to higher education students.
The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11,2021. We are awaiting guidance.
No, this funding will not affect current or future financial aid eligibility.
Per the Internal Revenue Service, the CARES Act grant should not be included in your taxable income. Please visit the IRS’s site here for more details. It is our understanding that the CRRSAA funds are not taxable either. We are still awaiting guidance on the taxability of the ARP Act.
No, you must have submitted a CRRSAA Exceptional Need Survey to be eligible. But submitting a survey does not guarantee a distribution.
Please submit your question to CARESAct@houghton.edu.
Please submit your request to CARESAct@houghton.edu. Any change will not be retroactive. Only the remaining funds after having applied the credit to outstanding charges will be available for cash disbursement.
No, submitting a CRRSAA Exceptional Need Survey does not guarantee a distribution from CRRSAA funding.
All survey respondents will receive communication regarding the results.
If you have been selected to receive a CRRSAA distribution and elected to have the distribution credited to your student account, you will receive an email notifying you of the amount.
If you have been selected to receive a CRRSAA distribution and elected to receive a check, you will receive a check through campus mail or through the United States Postal Service.
If you will not be receiving a distribution, you will receive an email.