Montreat College is closely monitoring the 2019 Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Below, you’ll find resources and information about COVID-19 as well as any communications that have been sent to the Montreat community regarding the outbreak (in chronological order, beginning with the most recent).
Everybody should continue to practice everyday preventive action to help deter the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
Update, 3/30/20, 6:30 P.M.:
Montreat College students, parents, and employees,
I am continually mindful of the challenges you face in these days. The board of trustees, the college leadership team, and I are praying for you.
Thank you for your continued prayers as Montreat College makes decisions regarding how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. God is loving and sovereign, and He remains our help in times of trouble.
In addition to Buncombe County’s “Stay Home – Stay Safe” Supplemental Declaration issued last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order for the state on Friday, March 27, which directed all non-essential businesses to close by 5 p.m. today (Monday, March 30) through at least Wednesday, April 29. The Governor also issued a “stay at home” advisory for individuals during this same time period, requesting limited travel and personal interactions. In light of the statewide order, we are now facing disruptions that will last longer than originally anticipated and must navigate further impacts as a campus community.
Online Learning for the Remainder of Spring Semester for All Students (School of Arts & Sciences and School of Adult & Graduate Studies). We will not resume on-campus instruction on Tuesday, April 14, as previously hoped. Instead, we will extend online instruction through the end of the semester. While we are deeply saddened that we won’t be able to finish the spring semester on campus, the college’s leadership team has agreed this is the best course of action in the interest of safety for all. Dates for exams will remain the same. Students will not need to return to campus to complete coursework this spring.
I know this is unfortunate and discouraging, especially for our graduating students. Yet, I have witnessed an amazing display of agility, flexibility, creativity, and grit in these days. It is inspiring to see this community rise to new heights in the midst of a very difficult circumstance. In all of this uncertainty, your commitment to love and serve others remains unchanged. There is no substitute for the traditional Montreat College experience, but I am grateful and humbled by this community’s outpouring of support for each other. While we cannot come back together this spring as we had hoped, I am confident our faculty and staff remain steadfast in helping our students stay connected even while we’re apart.
Check-out Process for Residential Students. A comprehensive move-out plan for residential students is being finalized and will be communicated to students soon. Our Student Life team greatly appreciates your patience as they work to accommodate everyone. As a reminder, campus access remains restricted at this time. Any residence life questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commencement Ceremony Moved to October 3, 2020. We want to appropriately recognize and celebrate all of our 2019-2020 graduates (and their families) in person. Unfortunately, we are not able to do it in the traditional format on May 9. Therefore, the college plans to hold Commencement on Saturday, October 3, at 2 p.m. on Montreat’s main campus as part of an expanded Homecoming and Family Weekend on Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3. We believe this plan offers the best opportunity for graduates and their families to conclude their time at Montreat College with a well-deserved capstone experience.
In addition, we will also hold a virtual celebration on Saturday, May 9 at 2 p.m. EST for all of our December 2019 and May 2020 graduates. Watch for more details in the coming weeks. The board of trustees will still formally approve all degree recipients on May 1, so eligible students (all who have completed their graduation requirements) will officially graduate “on time,” with all rights, responsibilities, and privileges as per tradition. As we do each year, diplomas will then be mailed to students over the summer.
We hope rescheduling Commencement will allow Montreat College families to revise original travel and lodging plans. As soon as they are available, more details will be communicated by email to all of our graduates.
Financial Impacts. A tuition refund will not be offered since all courses will continue and students will have the opportunity to complete their coursework by the end of the semester. However, the college continues to carefully assess options regarding the issuance of prorated spring semester costs for room and board. The situation is different for graduating students and returning students, and we are evaluating the best way to meet the needs of our students while being fiscally responsible to the needs of the college. We will share the next steps on this process with students and parents by April 15. We appreciate your patience.
Employees. All employees are strongly encouraged to continue to work remotely through at least April 29 unless they are required to support an essential on-campus service. Those who do come to campus to perform essential services are required to continue to adhere to our safety protocols, including social distancing, working in isolation, frequent handwashing, and frequent disinfecting of work surfaces.
Rest in Him and Find Peace in His Promises. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 health crisis. Though this is not how any of us had hoped to complete our Spring 2020 term, we trust in God’s good plan and are doing our best to adjust our expectations accordingly.
I thank God for you and rest in the assurance that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). May the Lord bless you with good health, provide for your needs, and give you his unique peace and hope during this season.
With deep gratitude for you and earnest prayers for your situation,
Paul J. Maurer
Update, 3/25/20, 4:45 P.M.
Montreat College students,
I know this is a challenging time for you and your family. I know that you are having to adjust to a whole set of new realities, and that the adjustments are coming swiftly. I also know that it can be a bit overwhelming. Or completely overwhelming. I want you to know that we’re on this journey together, and I am praying for you in these uncertain and challenging days, that God will supply you with all you need. I also wanted to provide a brief update concerning the college’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and local developments.
This afternoon (3/25), Buncombe County issued a “Stay Home – Stay Safe” Supplemental Declaration. This order goes into effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, and will continue through 6 a.m. on Thursday, April 9. This order was issued to try to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our area, and it impacts Montreat College in two additional ways:
- CAMPUS VISITS ARE SUSPENDED THROUGH APRIL 8: As a result of this order, Montreat College will cease all campus visits, including those from prospective students and their families. Current students who are not currently on campus are also asked to remain off campus through at least 6 a.m. on April 9.
- MOST COLLEGE EMPLOYEES WILL WORK REMOTELY THROUGH APRIL 8: While Montreat College is classified as an essential business and is therefore an exception in the county declaration, we are asking employees to work remotely unless it is essential for them to be on campus from Friday, March 27 through Wednesday, April 8.
Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and students followed closely by our ability to serve our campus community well in the midst of these changes. Even with many employees working remotely through April 8, Montreat College faculty and staff will remain available via email and phone to address the needs of our current students, prospective students, and broader community.
While less likely, we hope to resume on-campus courses on April 14 but will only do so if it is safe. The college will continue to monitor the developments related to COVID-19 and will determine on or before Monday, April 6, whether it is advisable to reopen campus and resume face-to-face classes.
Please continue to reach out and make us aware of your needs, and look for future updates by email and on this page.
We serve a loving Father. He alone is worthy of our trust and worship. May you rest in Him and His goodness. I pray you and your loved ones remain well.
Grace and peace,
Paul J. Maurer
Update, 3/20/20, 4:00 P.M.
Montreat College students,
We are working diligently to launch classes online on Monday, March 23. In order to ensure we’re able to support our students during this transition, we are asking EACH student to do the following:
- Verify that you can access your online courses – You recently received a survey link via text message to assess readiness for online instruction. If you haven’t already, please complete this short survey no later than 1 p.m. EST on Monday, March 23. If you are unable to access your courses online due to a technical issue, please contact IT at email@example.com immediately so they can assist you.
- Review the FAQ section on the website – We are adding questions and responses to our website frequently. Visit www.montreat.edu/coronavirus/faq and if you have a question that isn’t addressed, please email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org, and we will update this list of questions as soon as possible or reach out to you directly.]
- Check your montreat.edu email and OpenLMS daily – In order to be successful as an online student, you must stay engaged and plugged-in. Your professors and the college will be using email and the tools in OpenLMS to convey critical information. Get in the habit of checking and responding to email and logging into OpenLMS daily.
We know the transition to online courses is unexpected and some of you are anxious or worried. We’re here to help. Please continue to contact your professors, coaches, counselors, resident directors, Thrive Center staff, Dean of Spiritual Formation Rev. Rachel Toone, and Director of Counseling Services Wes Davis. You can also email any challenges or questions to COVIDemail@example.com, and we will forward your questions to the appropriate person.
We recognize that, given our deep commitment to residential Christian liberal arts learning that thrives in close community, moving face-to-face classes online until April 13 will have a significant impact on your Montreat College experience. Continue to speak up, continue to care for one another, continue to look for ways to connect with each other. We’re all learning and growing together, and we know this will be a season filled with flexibility and grace.
Dr. Brad Faircloth
Interim Co-Academic Dean, School of Arts & Sciences
Director of Assessment
Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Services
Dr. Daniel Bennett
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students
Update, 3/17/20, 8:00 P.M.
Dear Montreat College students, parents, and employees,
These are extraordinary days. Unprecedented. Unlike anything in my lifetime.
I, like you and everyone else, am processing our current reality one day at a time. New information comes out each day and sometimes by the hour. New information shapes how we think and decide. As a Christ-follower and leader, I have a particular responsibility to be thoughtful, deliberative, and prayerful. I also have the responsibility to make decisions to care for the health and safety of this community based on information rather than fear or speculation.
What follows is the product of days of reading, individual conversations, and meetings with the college’s leadership team. It is co-mingled with priorities and values we hold dear. I hope you find it helpful.
Safety. The safety of the Montreat College community, your safety, is my #1 priority. It is also the top priority of campus leadership. While it is not the only priority and consideration, it is the most important. All of our actions seek to keep our community as safe as possible.
Education. We are a college, and thus we exist to educate our students. As such, we are committed to a top-tier education for each of our students. Beginning last Thursday and extending through this extra week of spring break, faculty are preparing to teach all courses online. The faculty met yesterday for a special workshop and additional meetings are scheduled throughout the week.
A season of online delivery of all classes. Beginning Monday, March 23, and extending through at least Monday, April 13, all courses will be moved 100 percent online.
Will the college re-open campus to residential students? It is our hope that we can safely invite students back to campus beginning Tuesday, April 14, following Easter break. The college will continue to monitor the developments related to COVID-19 between now and Monday, April 6. At that point, perhaps earlier, the college will determine whether it is advisable to reopen campus.
Why do we think resuming in-person classes might be possible? There are three basic reasons:
- Flattening the curve. As you know, public health officials are seeking to flatten the growth curve of COVID-19. I have been in regular consultation with Dr. Jeff Heck, a public health expert, physician, CEO of MAHEC, and a Montreat College trustee. Dr. Heck reports that within the global epidemiology community, it is reasonable that we might know by early April whether the growth curve in the United States has begun to flatten. Due to increased testing in the United States, the experts expect a sharp rise in the number of known cases over the next 12-15 days. So over the next 12-15 days, expect a spike in reported cases, but don’t mistake that for the growth of COVID-19 in the U.S. It is only after these days that we’ll begin to accurately understand the growth curve of COVID-19. There is certainly no guarantee the curve will begin to flatten within the next 3 weeks, but a great deal of new information will be known in the next three weeks.
- We are a small campus. Our classes are small compared to most of our educational peers. State schools routinely have classes with hundreds of students. We typically have classes of 15-30. The current CDC guideline is to limit gatherings to no more than 50. That may change upward or downward. We’ll know more in early April. It is possible that the college could manage appropriate social distancing and limited gatherings.
- Social distancing of our students over the next three weeks. Most of us had not heard the phrase “social distancing” until a week ago. Now our behavior has changed. For most Americans the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 remains low, and over the next three weeks, our new social distancing habits will only continue to decrease this risk.
We neither expect that students will return, nor do we expect that they cannot return. We will simply defer that decision until April 6.
Commencement. We will hold a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020. It may be postponed, but it will not be canceled. At this point, we do not know a date. Currently, commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 2020. We may still be able to hold commencement on that date, but we are continuing to assess our options over these next weeks. A decision will be made by April 6.
Events and Activities. Effective immediately, all campus activities and events of more than 50 people will be canceled or postponed through April 30. Between today and March 31, there will be no campus gatherings of more than 10 people.
Athletics. The NAIA has canceled all Spring 2020 athletics practice and competition.
Offices will remain open. Unless future government actions force modifications to the workplace, campus operations will continue as effectively as possible in support of our students. For employees, if needed, please speak with your immediate supervisor to request any modification to your normal work arrangements.
Residence halls and housing. To do our part in helping to reduce the impact of COVID-19, we will offer limited on-campus housing and dining options. For those who are able, we would ask that you live at home or off-campus through at least Monday, April 13. However, we also acknowledge that for some of our students remaining in on-campus housing may be the safest option. If you would like to request on-campus housing and limited meal service, our residence life staff will work with you to accommodate your needs. Students may also request access to their room in order to collect personal items. Any student who needs to connect with residence life staff should do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online accessible learning after April 14. Any student who cannot or chooses not to return to campus will be able to complete the semester online. Please contact your individual professors and the office of residence life at email@example.com if you will not be returning to campus.
We appreciate your flexibility and patience as we navigate this constantly changing situation. We are thankful for God’s promise of wisdom and peace as we trust Him during difficult times, and we ask you to join us as we pray for all those impacted by COVID-19 throughout the world. In addition, in the midst of this rapidly changing situation, please practice healthy self-care habits like: maintain your normal routines, connect with family and friends, eat well, stay active, and get adequate rest.
Please continue to check your email and montreat.edu/coronavirus for important information and updates.
We trust in a loving and sovereign heavenly Father as the One who holds the future. With this hope and knowledge, we seek to live with compassion and care for one another through these challenging days.
Grace and peace,
Paul J. Maurer
President, Montreat College
* Any modifications to this plan will be announced on or before Monday, April 6.
Update, 3/17/20, 11:20 A.M.
Dear Montreat College students, parents, and employees,
For the continued safety of our entire campus community, we will not ask our traditional undergraduate students to return to campus on March 23 as previously communicated. We will move all in-person classes online starting March 23 until at least April 9.
Faculty and students, please prepare for an extended period of fully online courses.
The college leadership team understands there are still many unanswered questions, and we ask for your understanding and patience. These are unprecedented times, and guidance concerning COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly. The college leadership team is working quickly to determine the best course of action for our campus community.
I will provide a more detailed communication before the end of the day, including more specifics related to residence life and housing for students.
Paul J. Maurer
Update, 3/12/20, 7:00 P.M.
Please know that we take the welfare and safety of the Montreat College community very seriously. Given the uncertainties around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the need to further plan for contingencies in how best to continue the semester, Montreat College will delay the return of residential undergraduate students to campus by a full week, with the anticipation that classes will resume on Monday, March 23, in either an in-person or, if warranted, in an online format.
The leadership team at Montreat College and the Emergency Preparedness Team continues meeting regularly and will provide additional communications related to this decision as action steps are finalized. For now, here are the key aspects:
- Campus will remain open and operational. Healthy faculty and staff are expected to continue work as normal. Faculty should use this time to assess and prepare for online education with the expectation that online delivery will be needed for at least some students. The Library, Dining Services, Counseling Services, Thrive Center, Health Center, and other resources will remain operational to accommodate the small population on campus and work with students by phone.
- We are asking all undergraduate residential students to return to or stay at home through Sunday, March 22, rather than returning to campus on Sunday, March 15. Student Life and Dining Services will make accommodations for students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to remain off campus next week.
- In-person and online classes School of Adult and Graduate Studies will continue as scheduled. Should any student have current symptoms of flu-like illness of any kind, please ask them to stay home until symptom-free.
- All Montreat College athletic games and practices have been canceled until further notice.
- Preview Weekend for accepted prospective students was scheduled for March 20-21. This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
- No overnight visitors will be permitted on campus during this time.
With every hour, the landscape surrounding the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 changes, and Montreat College’s Emergency Preparedness Team continues to monitor and respond while accounting for the unique needs of our campus community. This situation is constantly evolving, and we are planning for a range of scenarios as well as short- and longer-term impacts. If warranted, we will transition to an online format.
Please continue to take everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, such as staying home when sick; appropriately covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces; and washing hands often with soap and water. In addition, in the midst of this rapidly changing situation, please practice healthy self-care habits like: maintain your normal routines, connect with family and friends, eat well, stay active, and get adequate rest.
By being proactive—taking a thoughtful, faithful approach—we have an opportunity to care well for people. We will send further information as planning develops. Please continue to check this webpage and your montreat.edu email for additional details as updates are needed.
Update, 3/11/20, 6:45 P.M.
Our community continues to prepare for and respond to the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
- We are not aware of any coronavirus case associated with members of the Montreat College community.
- The state of North Carolina reports a total of seven confirmed cases. All of the patients are in isolation while officials identify close contacts.
- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10, noting that the move will give the state increased flexibility to respond to the spread of coronavirus. The state of emergency declaration does not mean there is imminent danger to the college community.
- Montreat College is continuing normal operations, even as we plan for a possibility that we could be affected on campus at some point in the future.
A team of campus leaders is meeting daily to share information and make decisions about preparation and strategies. We are aware that some universities with direct exposure to coronavirus have switched from classroom instruction to online classes. Montreat College is not currently implementing such action. Currently, all on-campus traditional undergraduate classes will resume as scheduled on Monday, March 16, and face-to-face and online courses for our School of Adult and Graduate Studies will continue as scheduled.
If you are at high risk of contracting illness or feel you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, please contact Campus Health directly to arrange for accommodations. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please contact your doctor and self-isolate off-campus for a minimum of 14 days. You should not return to campus until you are free of symptoms or are cleared by your doctor.
Montreat College is in close contact with local and state officials and will continue to monitor this evolving situation closely. We will share more information as needed.