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OBU's Response to COVID-19

Last updated May 26, 2020.

This page contains important updates and information about the University's guidance and actions regarding the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. We have been monitoring this situation closely since January 2020 and will update this page as needed with important information for our campus community. This is intended to inform you of the actions OBU is taking in response to COVID-19.

May 26, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

Dr. Heath A. Thomas shares information about several things to watch for during the upcoming summer months: policies and procedures being developed by the Return to Campus Task Force, ongoing communication and updates from OBU, and "10 Minutes That Make a Difference" videos from faculty.

May 18, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

Dr. Heath Thomas announces the formation of a campus taskforce charged with ensuring the safe and healthy campus learning experience when we return to campus in the fall and discusses the importance of a Christian liberal arts education.

May 14, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas commends students, faculty and staff for their hard work through the end of the semester and encourages students to stay in touch with OBU through the summer.

May 4, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas shares this week's update with the OBU community.

April 27, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas shares an update with the OBU community.

April 20, 2020: Commencement Update from Dr. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas discusses the CARES Act and May commencement.

April 13, 2020: Update from Dr. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas shared a weekly update and message of encouragement.

April 6, 2020: Words of Encouragement from Dr. and Mrs. Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas and first lady, Jill, share encouragement, thoughts, and a special Easter week message with the OBU family.

March 30, 2020: Update from President Thomas

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas shares an update at the beginning of the second week of fully online learning.

March 23, 2020: President Thomas Shares Updates and Encouragement on the Launch of Online Learning

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas recorded the following video March 23, 2020.

March 24, 2020: Spring Chapel Credit Details for Students

Clay Phillips, Director of Student Ministry, sent the following email to students March 24, 2020.

Hi Students,

I pray this email finds you and your families well during this trying time for all of us. Since my last email on Friday, March 13th, there have been significant changes in the Covid-19 Pandemic and our response as a university. In light of those changes, we have developed a new plan and solution to chapel and chapel credits for the remainder of the semester.

Today, you will all be enrolled in an Online Chapel course on Canvas that will give you the opportunity to earn credit for the online chapels that we offer for the remainder of the semester. Chapels will be live-streamed via our official OBU Facebook page each Wednesday at 10 am. Links to the videos will be added to the Canvas course for students to view after the live-stream ends. Credit for each chapel will be earned through a quiz, and further instructions for those will be given on the main course page.

To clarify, this will be separate from our senior chapel reports course for students who were already unable to obtain their chapel requirements with the 9 originally scheduled chapels. Seniors who were on track to complete their chapel requirements need only to watch the chapel videos and complete the quizzes to obtain their remaining credits. Students who are in the senior chapel reports course are encouraged to obtain the nine credits that will be offered online through quizzes in lieu of writing reports for those chapels.

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to respond to this email and I will work to answer them ASAP!

March 23, 2020: Important Information About Forwarding Student Mail

OBU Mail Room Supervisor Anastasia Duncan sent the following message to students March 23, 2020.

Hello Students,

I pray that you are all well and continue to stay that way during this COVID-19 pandemic. I know that you have received many emails recently in regard to our current situation. I will try to kept this email as short as I can. That being said there is a lot of information that I need to convey to you, and I apologize for the length. Please read this entire email so that you do not miss any important information.

Some of you have already contacted me to inquire about receiving your mail during this time. Due to the move to fully online classes, we will begin to forward the mail to you. In order for us to accurately forward your mail, I need you to follow the link below and fill out the form with your current forwarding address. If you are one of the students granted permission to stay on campus, please send me an email at mail.room@okbu.edu, and I will not forward your mail. Please have the form filled out or email notification sent no later than Sunday March 29th 11:59 pm.

Carefully read the instructions below before filling out the form.

Mail Forwarding Information

Students must fill out the form to inform the Mail Room if they will be returning for the next term/when campus opens. If you have not submitted this form, you run the risk of your mail being sent to an old address on file or returned to sender.

Forwarding only applies to USPS mail. UPS and FedEx packages will be refused and returned to sender by the carrier. I am unable to forward mail outside of the US as well.​ (Due to the current situation allowances can be made if you contact the Mail Room as soon as possible with your inquiry about your mail/package(s).) Please come by the Mail Room when you are checking out of your dorm rooms to pick up all mail in your mailbox and any packages that we are unable to forward.

Instructions

If you are returning for the next term/campus opens:

  • Summer and Fall are your options. Please select the term that planning to return to OBU.
  • Do not turn in your mailbox key.
  • Fill out the form to notify the Mail Room staff you will return to campus.
  • If you are leaving campus, you must have your mail forward during your absence from campus. If you do not provide a forwarding address, your mail will be returned to sender.
  • Should your plans change and you do not return, please send your mailbox key to the Mail Room at the following address as soon as possible:
    • Oklahoma Baptist University
      OBU Box 0
      500 W. University St.
      Shawnee, OK 74804

If you are graduating or otherwise not returning:​

  • You must turn in your mailbox key to the Mail Room. If possible, please check your mailbox before turning in your key.
  • If you are unable to return to campus to return your key, please send your mailbox key to the Mail Room at the following address as soon as possible:
    • Oklahoma Baptist University
      OBU Box 0
      500 W. University St.
      Shawnee, OK 74804
  • A $25 un-returned key fee will be charged for keys that are not returned.
  • Fill out the form to notify the Mail Room staff you will not return.
  • Provide a forwarding address for mail received after you leave.

Mail keys need to be return no later than April 17th.

Click here to fill out the form. If for some reason this does not take you to the form please let me know and I will resend you the link.

Again if you have any questions about your mail/package(s) that were not addressed above please email me at mail.room@okbu.edu.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this uncertain time, and God Bless you!

March 20, 2020: Student Guidance for On-Campus Housing

Dr. Susan DeWoody, Provost, sent the following message to students March 20, 2020.

Dear OBU students,

In light of recent developments regarding the worldwide outbreak (COVID-19), university leadership is taking the following immediate actions in the interest of safety for all members of our campus community:

  • We are replacing all in-person classes with online instruction beginning March 23rd through the end of the spring semester.
  • Students should check university email regularly and log in to Canvas to receive directions for online course instruction.
  • All OBU affiliated group travel scheduled for the remainder of the spring semester is suspended at this time.
  • For students who had made arrangements to remain on campus during spring break, campus housing will be closing as scheduled, today, Friday, March 20. If you believe you have an extreme hardship, please review the content below to pursue approval for on-campus housing March 23rd through the end of the spring semester.
  • Students who were serving as student workers on campus should seek employment close to their permanent residence. Because OBU is moving to complete the semester online, the student work program will be discontinued due to the inability to offer student employment as remote work or a reason to apply for hardship housing.

How do I gather my things and move out of my dorm or apartment?

Residential students will receive additional, detailed directions via your OKBU.edu email account on Monday, March 23rd to sign up for housing move-out. As you can imagine, the process will be complex as we will seek to protect our students and their families during this time through social distancing and following the government guidance for limiting congregation. Students, look for your sign-up invitation on Monday! Married Student Housing occupants will remain in their apartments for the duration of the individual signed lease agreement.

What if I want/need to move back on campus? Read Below.

Only students who meet the criteria described below will be approved to move back on campus. All students applying for extreme hardship must fill out the form linked below, even if students have submitted a form before. This is a different process with new requirements. Please read below carefully:

Required Off Campus Quarantine – Unable to Return to Campus

OBU Students who have traveled to the following international locations in the past 30 days will not be eligible to return to on-campus housing at this time:

  • China
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Multiple European Countries (listed below):
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Italy
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Monaco
    • San Marino
    • Vatican City

OBU Students who have traveled to the following domestic U.S. locations in the past 30 days, listed by the CDC as outbreak locations of 92 or more cases confirmed, will not be eligible to return to on-campus housing at this time:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington

U.S. Locations Requiring Self-Quarantine

The following locations are currently listed by the CDC as medium range outbreak areas registering between 51 to 91 cases confirmed as of 3/19/2020. Students who have traveled to the following states in the last 30 days may be eligible to return to campus housing with a hardship exemption, but only if the student agrees to undergo ongoing screening for Coronavirus and will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days on campus:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

On Campus Housing Available for Extreme Hardship

OBU Students who meet one of more of the following criteria should complete the housing hardship request form and be prepared to provide evidence of hardship claimed:

  • If the student’s permanent residence is outside of the United States and they are unable to travel to their home country.
  • The student has one of the following extraordinary personal circumstances which prevent student from returning to or residing in an off-campus home, including:
    • No Permanent Address: The student/student’s family does not have a permanent address.
    • COVID-19 Community Quarantine: The student’s home community is currently under COVID-19 quarantine, according to the CDC or local state department.
    • Independent Student: The student is considered an independent student according to the federal definition for Federal Student Aid with on campus housing being their only housing option during the spring semester.
    • Personal Health/Safety Risk: The student would be faced with a personal health and/or safety threat if he/she returns home.
    • Insufficient Access to Online Instruction: The student does not have the means to sufficiently access their courses remotely either due to a lack of technology hardware and/or home internet access.

OBU Students who meet one of the criteria for hardship housing and cannot make alternative off-campus housing arrangements should fill out the OBU Extreme Hardship Housing Form. Anyone seeking extreme hardship must submit this form as soon as possible. In order to be prepared to receive you for move-in, the form is due to be submitted no later than Sunday, March 22nd at 5pm CT in order to move in on Monday, March 23rd. The student must receive written approval from the Provost prior to returning to campus. The Provost’s Office will provide written approval or guidance via the student’s OKBU.edu email address.

Meal Services through Chartwells Food Service

Limited daily meal services will be available to students who must remain on-campus. Portable to-go meals will be distributed twice a day, with the second meal distribution including breakfast items for the following morning.

Quarantine Requirements

If a student is approved to live on campus due to hardship and begins to exhibit any of the symptoms for Coronavirus, the student will be required to relocate to a quarantined space on campus. Commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. The OBU Campus Nurse is equipped with an N-95 medical grade respirator mask and protective gear. The nurse will check in on quarantined students on a daily basis to determine if additional medical attention is recommended. Students in quarantine will receive to-go meals delivered twice daily, with breakfast for the next morning in the second distribution of the day. Once a student is symptom free for 14 days and/or cleared by a medical professional, the student will be allowed to return to regular housing and daily activities appropriate to CDC and federal guidance.

On a personal note, we will miss you! As an administration, we have been praying and seeking any opportunity to continue the semester in person, but there is no way we can do that and provide a safe, healthy environment for our community members. Keep an eye on your email and OBU social media as we will continue to reach out to you to connect throughout the remainder of the semester. OBU students or families who have reviewed the full written guidance for students interested in returning to campus and have remaining unanswered questions should contact OBU Provost and Acting Dean of Students, Dr. Susan DeWoody, at susan.dewoody@okbu.edu.

Sincerely,
Dr. Susan DeWoody
Provost | Acting Dean of Students

March 20, 2020: OBU to Continue with Fully Online Learning for the Remainder of the Spring Semester

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas emailed the following to students, faculty and staff March 20, 2020.

Dear OBU Community:

I pray this email finds you well amid the challenges we all face. As I have stated before, these days remain unprecedented in so many ways. Still, our hope is in the Lord. Thanks to the countless numbers of students and employees who have reached out to me directly as I have sought the best course of action for OBU in the days ahead. At this time, I believe it is in the best interest of OBU to move to fully ONLINE for the remainder of the semester.

Arriving at this decision was neither rash nor easy. I love what we do at OBU, as do you. But I believe it is in the interest of our entire community to move to fully ONLINE for the remainder of the spring semester. This action adheres to national and state guidelines for action in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, protects our students and campus community, and positions us to continue our quality instruction at OBU.

The outcomes of this decision are as follows:

  • Classes are fully ONLINE beginning March 23 through the end of the semester.
  • Campus Housing is closed except for extreme hardship cases and married students. Students and employees will be receiving an email from OBU later today providing specifics on housing and food service options for those who need to stay on campus for extreme hardship. Additionally, students will receive an email from Residential Life about procedures regarding procuring belongings from residence halls and apartments.
  • OBU will be providing relief for students for room and board. Details will be coming next week.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will make a decision concerning Spring Commencement at a later date.
  • The OBU campus is not closing. We are directing individuals who can work from home, to work from home to reduce the number of people on campus in accordance with CDC guidelines. Essential personnel will work from the OBU campus and other personnel will work remotely as necessary. Supervisors are working with the President’s Council to identify positions/employees in their specific areas who can work remotely from home and are making arrangements for them to do so. Working remotely from home is a temporary measure during this time of national emergency.

None of these moves are what we want. I understand that. We have worked diligently to find the best course of action for our entire community, and it has led us to this moment.

As always, trust in Jesus. Stay safe. We will be praying for OBU’s safety, direction, caution, and calm in the days ahead. This has been my prayer early in the morning, the middle of the night, and late at night for the past few weeks. I ask you to join me in prayer for our community and our country.

March 19, 2020: Kemp MFT Clinic Closing In-Person Services

Dr. Tara Signs, Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic Director, released the following statement March 19, 2020.

Based on the continuing developments surrounding COVID-19, the Kemp MFT Clinic will be closed to in-person services beginning Friday, March 20th and reopen on Monday, April 6th. This was a difficult decision, but MFT Faculty believe this is in the best interest of our students and community. While we will be closed to in-person services during this time, the Kemp MFT Clinic will be implementing Telemental health and phone-based services with clients who need continued care.

We know this is a challenging and stressful time for you, your families, and the OBU community. During this time of social distancing, we encourage you to consider other ways that you could connect and engage with one another.  We have also included information below on ways to manage anxiety and stress during this time.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

March 16, 2020: Library Closure and Librarian Assistance

Julie Rankin, Director of Library Services, released the following statement March 16, 2020.

Due to the university's cautionary measures regarding the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus, the OBU Library will be closed to the public until at least Monday, April 6th. The university will make a determination as to whether to extend the closure by March 27th. Do not concern yourself with overdue library materials or fines during this special circumstance. All overdue fines will be cleared upon the return of the items once in-person classes are resumed.

Your library staff is happy to serve you remotely during this time. We offer online research appointments, chat services, InfoGuides and more. Please view our remote services website for more details and a full listing of our digital resources and online services.

https://okbu.libguides.com/remote/

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have. Stay safe and healthy and enjoy spring break!

March 13, 2020: Video Update from President Thomas

March 13, 2020: Online Instruction March 23-April 3

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas released the following statement March 13, 2020.

Dear OBU Community,

I pray this email finds you well. The past week has been extraordinary in so many ways, and the recent events have led us to a decision point for OBU regarding our campus. In light of recent developments regarding the worldwide coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), university leadership is taking the following immediate actions in the interest of safety for all members of our campus community.

Students:

  • We are replacing all in-person classes with online instruction for a minimum of two weeks following Spring Break (March 23–April 3). A decision regarding whether to continue with online instruction will be made no later than March 27 and communicated to you via email.
  • Students should take all items necessary for online courses with them, such as laptops, textbooks and other course supplies.
  • Please check your university email during Spring Break and log in to Canvas to receive directions for online course instruction.
  • For students who have made arrangements to remain on campus during spring break, campus housing will be closing Friday, March 20. If you have an extreme hardship, please contact your RD by Wednesday, March 18.
  • All OBU affiliated group travel during March is suspended and will be re-evaluated March 27.

Employees:

  • Campus will remain open and employees will report to work on their normal schedule. Details concerning self-isolation and other safety protocols will be sent via email from Human Resources. Please watch for those instructions to come by noon today.
  • Faculty: Information will be coming to you via email from Dr. Susan DeWoody and Academic Technology regarding assistance for accomplishing online course delivery.

Please continue to monitor okbu.edu/coronavirus as well as your University email account for further updates. This is a fluid situation and it is important for you to remain informed as further announcements are made. We pray for your health and safety and that your time away from campus will be refreshing and fruitful.

March 12, 2020: RAWC Closure

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of the OBU community, the RAWC will be closed beginning March 14th through April 5th. This is in tandem with OBU's announcement to switch to online learning for the two weeks following Spring Break.

For those who have current paying memberships, your membership expiration date will be extended in relation to the time the facility is closed.

Thank you all for your understanding! Stay safe, stay blessed and we can't wait to see you all soon!

March 12, 2020: Situation Update and Spring Break Reminder

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas released the following statement March 12, 2020, regarding recent developments concerning COVID-19.

Dear OBU Community:

We are monitoring the realities on the ground regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) closely. Please refer to our coronavirus information website for precautions and protection protocols. There are NO confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students or employees of OBU. We understand opinions are mixed and the situation has escalated rapidly, but OBU will err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting our students, employees and our wider community.

We recognize some students and other members of our community were at the Thunder game last night. The individuals who were in direct contact were sent home and told not to return to campus. However, those who were not in direct contact were allowed to come back to campus, following the Oklahoma Department of Health guidelines. Still, we are operating in an abundance of caution.

According to state health officials, "Those who were in attendance at the game are not at risk of catching COVID-19. As a reminder, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. Only individuals who are in close contact with a person with COVID-19 would be at risk of exposure."

Students and employees, if you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have coronavirus or if you are showing signs of illness, you need to contact your physician immediately, get tested, self-isolate and inform your RA/RD or supervisor.

Students and faculty, we continue to monitor the situation closely to determine the nature of course delivery following spring break, whether on-campus or online. No determination has been made at this point, but we will continue to monitor and update our community regularly. For additional information and updates, please see the OBU coronavirus information website.

Employees: At this time, all staff scheduled to work during spring break should plan to come to work unless they are ill or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19. Since this is an ongoing situation, updates will continue to be provided via email as decisions are made.

Reminder: Students and employees, please complete the spring break travel form and remember to take home your laptops, books and any supplies that might be needed to complete coursework or telecommute following break, should we move to an online delivery system (Canvas). Stay current with OBU’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and find the travel form at okbu.edu/coronavirus.

March 10, 2020: Spring Break and CDC Guidance

This page contains important updates and information about the University's guidance and actions regarding the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. We have been monitoring this situation closely since January 2020 and will update this page as needed with important information for our campus community. This is intended to ease your concerns by reassuring you of the best ways to stay well and also to inform you of the actions OBU is taking in response to COVID-19.

The OBU Community Health Taskforce, appointed by Dr. Susan DeWoody, has been meeting and will continue to meet regularly to develop responses as the situation changes. Updates will be posted to this page.

We have also put in place several procedures regarding spring break that you need to be aware of and act upon. It is imperative that you read those below these prevention guidelines.

CDC Guidance on Coronavirus Prevention

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick. Facemasks will be available at the front desk of all residence halls.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

For the most current guidance and information from the CDC, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html.

Spring Break Information

Given the seriousness of this outbreak nationally and internationally, and the responsibility we have as an institution to help reduce the spread of illness within our campus community, the University is taking the following actions regarding spring break:

  • While no decision has been made to do so, we are exploring the possibility of moving in-person classes to online delivery for up to two weeks following spring break if deemed necessary for the safety of our students and employees. All students should take laptops, course materials and anything needed for courses with them when they leave for spring break. If that decision is made, resources will be made available to assist faculty through the office of Academic Technology.
  • We are asking our students and employees to let us know where they are going during Spring Break by completing a short form.
  • All OBU sponsored student travel over spring break and in the forseeable future is canceled UNLESS authorized by the President’s office.
  • Any on-campus resident student needing housing over Spring Break due to the cancelation of OBU-sponsored trips or other issues related to COVID-19 travel restrictions should speak with their RA or RD immediately regarding Spring Break on-campus housing options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is novel coronavirus?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China (source: CDC). Read more about 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

How is it transmitted?

Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread (source: CDC). Read more about how COVID-19 spreads.

What are the symptoms?

Commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. While the exact incubation period for this coronavirus has not yet been determined, it is believed that most infected people will develop symptoms two to 14 days after they were exposed.

What should you do if you have symptoms?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, you should seek medical care right away from a health care provider. Please avoid contact with others until you have been evaluated by a health care provider. Read more about what to do if you are sick.

What measures can you take to minimize risk of exposure?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses. Read WHO advice for the public.

Don't forget to protect yourself from another common virus, the flu (influenza).

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. See People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications for a full list of age and health factors that confer increased risk. To be clear, the influenza virus is a different virus from COVID-19, and getting your flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19. But both viruses are spread in the same fashion and we do have a vaccine to help prevent the spread of the flu. At this time in the United States, your risk of getting the flu is much greater than your risk of contracting COVID-19.