Letter from President Pollard - July 21

COVID-19 Covenant


July 21, 2020

Dear JBU Students & Parents,

We are looking forward to having you back on campus this fall (d.v.). We believe that JBU’s education and spiritual mission is better accomplished through face-to-face instruction on campus in a residential context. We also recognize that JBU will not be able to offer its “normal” education program on campus this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and since COVID-19 has been spreading in Arkansas and other regions of the country. Gratefully, there is every indication that COVID-19 does not pose a significant risk to many of you — college students who do not have any underlying health conditions. However, we also know that COVID-19 could be a serious, even deadly, threat to some JBU students, faculty and staff as well as to people in Siloam Springs. Accordingly, we have written a COVID-19 addendum to our regular student community covenant which requires students to take certain actions to protect their own health and the health of others. We are asking you to commit to that covenant for three reasons:

  • Love your neighbor: By taking these steps, we believe that we will lower the risk of COVID-19 spreading to people who are more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill;
  • Love yourself: By taking these steps, we believe that we will lower the risk of you being infected by COVID-19 and being placed into isolation for at least 10 days or being exposed to someone infected and being placed into quarantine for 14 days.
  • Love JBU: By taking these steps, we believe that we will lower the risk of a widespread outbreak of infection on campus that might force us to move to remote education again.

We recognize that circumstances and information could change during the academic year, and we may need to alter or revise this list of actions to reflect that new information. We all need to work together and hold each other accountable to minimize the risk of having COVID-19 threaten the lives of others or interrupt our living and learning together on campus this year.

Accordingly, we are asking all students to commit to following these practices while enrolled on campus at JBU during the pandemic:

  • Self-screening for illness: Students will take their temperature every morning before leaving their rooms or, for commuters, arriving on campus, and will report to their RDs or the JBU nurse and isolate in their rooms or at home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. This includes a temperature over 100; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; chills; muscle pain; sore throat; or loss of taste or smell. Students will also report to their RDs or JBU’s nurse and quarantine if they learn that they have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Specific isolation and quarantine locations for the student will be worked out in consultation with the student development staff and may include the student’s room, their home or alternatives approved by the staff.
  • Testing, contact tracing and quarantining: Students agree to be tested for COVID-19 if the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) or JBU determines that it is reasonable to do so. Students will cooperate and share test results with the ADH and JBU to assist with contact tracing and to determine who else might have been exposed. Students will follow ADH and JBU’s guidance for isolation (if they test positive for COVID-19) or quarantining (if they have been exposed to COVID-19). Student health information will be kept confidential by the ADH and JBU except as needed to do contact tracing.       
  • Personal Hygiene: Students will wash hands frequently throughout the day and will use proper respiratory etiquette (coughing or sneezing into a tissue or upper arm).
  • Physical distancing: As much as possible, students will remain six feet from other people on campus, both inside buildings and outside, except when they are in their residential spaces or engaged in other activities authorized by the university (e.g. athletics, certain academic activities).
  • Wearing a close-fitting cloth mask: Students will wear close-fitting cloth masks whenever they are inside a building (except in their residential spaces or when eating in the dining hall). Students will also wear close-fitting cloth masks outside when they cannot be physically distanced from others or when requested as part of an activity (e.g. singing in outside chapel). This requirement is consistent with the mask order issued by Arkansas Governor Hutchinson, effective July 20, 2020.
  • Sanitizing common areas: Students will help to sanitize common areas after use (e.g. exercise equipment in WLHC, computer in a computer lab, spot at the table in the Caf or classroom desk). JBU will provide sanitizing wipes or spray bottles and paper towels.
  • On and off-campus: Students will engage in these behaviors both on and off-campus as much as possible.
  • Graceful cooperation and accountability: Students will cooperate as gracefully as possible with JBU faculty, staff and students when the inevitable conflicts emerge over these expectations. We will hold each other accountable for these expectations with grace, love and kindness.

JBU faculty and staff have been asked to follow a similar list of guidelines as part of our employee expectations during the pandemic. It is essential that the whole JBU community works together to minimize the risk of infection on campus and among our neighbors in Siloam Springs.

Given these expectations, we are asking that students bring the following items with them to campus: thermometer, alcohol-based hand sanitizer and three to five close-fitting cloth masks in addition to the one that will be provided by JBU. (Bandanas, neck gaiters and snoods are less effective, so please come with close-fitting cloth masks). 

Soon we will be sending you the protocols for isolation and quarantining required by the ADH if a student gets infected or if they are exposed to a person who is infected. We are trying to plan for enough isolation and quarantine beds here, and we know that many students may choose to go home, if feasible, if they have to isolate or quarantine, and those decisions will help JBU maximize its isolation and quarantine space on campus. We will ask you to complete a short survey to give us more information on your potential plans, so you may want to talk about the options as a family.

We invite you to visit our Back to Campus website where we continue to update information and FAQs. We expect to have answered most of the questions that we have received by early next week and to host several Q&A forums to further respond to your questions. There is also a form to ask questions that may not be answered in this letter or on the website. We will also continue to disseminate information via email and the JBU Parent Facebook Community.

We will face new challenges this fall at JBU, but I expect that God will use these challenges to teach us how to be more faithful in following him. As James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We continue to pray for our students and their families and look forward to being together this fall.


Dr. Charles W. Pollard

President, John Brown University