ACU Committed to Health, Safety, Classroom Instruction and Full Slate of Activities in 2020-21
Dear ACU Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:
We realize that this is a season of challenge and anxiety for many members of our community, as it is for our nation and the world. And yet at ACU we know that God is in control – nothing that has happened or that will happen is a surprise to Him. And we know that He is for us, and that His purposes even in this crisis will not be thwarted.
We remain thankful to God that there are still no reported or suspected cases of the virus among our students, faculty and staff.
We continue to pray that God would use this season of “pause” as a time for us to refocus our lives on the things that matter most. We pray that many would come to faith in Christ – He is the only one who can provide peace, comfort and hope for the future. We also pray that followers of Jesus would recommit themselves to living lives of influence for the Kingdom – which is an important purpose of the education provided by Arizona Christian University. We also pray for an end to this virus and its economic consequences, for healing of the sick, and comfort for those who have suffered losses.
In the midst of these challenges, we are excited and confident that ACU’s future is one of continued growth and influence for Christ. We have experienced six straight years of record enrollment, combined with improved academic rankings and a beautiful new campus. And –despite the crisis of the moment — we are confident that our next academic year will be the best yet, and we are still anticipating our largest incoming class and highest enrollment ever!
We believe ACU’s mission of preparing Bible-believing Christian leaders to transform culture with truth is needed now more than ever. The need for calm, trustworthy, and Spirit-led leadership in our culture has never been greater than during this moment of crisis in a world gripped by fear.
Plans for the Fall Semester 2020
To that end, we want to be very clear that ACU will be in full operation on campus this summer and fall. We are looking forward to the safe resumption of face-to-face classes, along with all extracurricular and athletic activities.
ACU’s unique education is designed to occur in community — where students can build relationships with fellow students, along with faculty, staff and coaches. All of our academic and athletic programs, as well as our residential and food service offerings, will be fully operating when classes resume on Monday, August 24.
Higher education is an “essential service” in the State of Arizona, so ACU could continue operating during “stay at home” restrictions. We are thankful that the City of Glendale and State of Arizona have not imposed some of the draconian and possibly unconstitutional mandates we have seen in other states and cities, and we are thankful that the U.S. Department of Justice is monitoring potential infringements on civil and religious liberties in those places.
Unlike almost every other university in the country, ACU never closed its campus during the spring. No residential students were asked to leave campus, and our residence halls, food services, library, athletic training facilities and student lounges remained in operation while continuing to serve residential and commuter students in a safe manner that complied with all health recommendations and guidelines.
As a result, many residential students continued to safely live, eat, work, study and work out on campus throughout the spring semester, while many commuter students came to campus to use the library, connect with friends, visit with faculty, staff or coaches, engage in athletic training or grab take-out food from the Tower Grill or the Commons, while following social distancing guidelines.
Although our academic division transitioned temporarily for 6 weeks to exclusively remote learning this spring, we will not do so again next year. This temporary change was designed only to assist our community in preparing for potential virus outbreaks. At this point, national, state and local health officials have had ample time to prepare. Our hospitals have not been overrun, and the extra months of preparedness have enabled our health care system – and ACU — to be ready for any potential virus outbreaks in the fall.
As a result, there is no reason for ACU to revert to exclusively remote learning modalities this fall or next spring. We are confident we will be able to operate our face-to-face classes throughout the next academic year, while taking appropriate safety precautions.
Thankfully, Arizona is poised to end its “stay at home” guidance in May. By the end of June, we believe most of the restrictions on businesses are likely to have been modified, relaxed or eliminated in the State of Arizona. In addition, we expect to see the return of youth, amateur and professional athletic activities and events in the summer and fall.
At this point, NAIA varsity athletic competition is scheduled and expected to resume in the fall. Even if the coming season is delayed by national restrictions, ACU varsity student-athletes will continue to train, practice, engage in intra-squad competition, and be ready to compete locally or regionally as soon as intercollegiate competition is allowed, and with appropriate health and safety guidelines. If intercollegiate athletic competition is happening anywhere in America, it will be happening at ACU.
In addition, all ACU students will now be able to take advantage of the brand new athletic facilities being added to our campus this summer – 3 full-sized soccer and football turf fields, 3 sand volleyball courts, along with baseball and softball fields! (See the “ACU Campus Master Plan Fall 2020” below.) Demolition and construction are happening right now on campus, and we are so excited to welcome students to this new athletic, intramural and student activity open space on campus this fall!
While ACU has grown to nearly 1,000 students, we still have a relatively small student population given the size of our new campus, which was built to accommodate about 2,000 students. Our students are spread out in residence halls, most of which have rooms that open to the outdoors, and that are more similar in size and structure to apartment buildings than to traditional university dormitories.
We believe ACU’s size, campus layout and largely external-opening residence hall rooms may make it one of the safer campuses in the country from this type of infectious disease. And again, even with widespread Arizona outbreak of COVID-19, we still have no known cases in the ACU community.
In addition, we have learned much more about this virus than we knew in early March, including the fact that — while this disease is highly infectious among college-age students — they are extremely unlikely to suffer serious health consequences unless they have a significant underlying medical condition. The latest health data indicates the mortality rate of COVID-19 for those under 60 years of age is very similar to the mortality rate for the seasonal flu. More than 97 percent of deaths in Arizona have occurred in those over age 65 who also had another underlying chronic health condition. Of course we recognize that there are those in the ACU community – faculty, staff, and students with an underlying medical condition – who are at greater risk, and we will follow CDC recommendations to mitigate the risk to the most vulnerable in our community.
We continue to take the virus very seriously and are committed to doing all we can to protect the health and safety of our community and thwart the spread of the disease. In addition, we have taken or are taking the following steps:
- We will continue with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols;
- We will continue to remind our community to stay home when sick, to wash hands regularly, and to frequently use the hand sanitizers installed around campus;
- To the extent possible, and if still recommended in the fall, we will encourage social distancing in our common dining areas and in our large classrooms;
- Temperature checks may be required in order to be cleared to participate in some extracurricular and athletic activities, to use the workout facilities or to attend large chapel or athletic events;
- We will work to accommodate and protect any students, staff or faculty who are in a higher risk category for consequences from COVID-19;
- Our counseling center, which operated virtually during the spring, will again be operating face-to-face on campus to assist with any mental health issues;
- If there is an occurrence of COVID-19 on campus, we expect to work with health officials to isolate, quarantine and track contacts for anyone who becomes sick;
- Finally, we are delighted to announce that an ACU Trustee and parent, Dr. Greg Koury, M.D., along with his wife, registered nurse Lori Koury, will be relocating their family medical practice to ACU’s campus this summer, and will be on campus in the fall to help address any medical emergencies and to help guide our response if any COVID-19 cases develop here.
We hope this information is helpful to our community. We also hope it will be reassuring to students, prospective students and parents regarding ACU’s commitment to health and safety and our commitment to resuming full university activities for the entire 2020-21 academic year.
Information Regarding Applications for CARES Act Funds, Spring Room and Board, and Commencement Schedule
In addition to the temporary academic adjustments, many other elements of university operations have been affected this spring, requiring constant monitoring and analysis of governmental responses, new health regulations, Congressional action affecting universities, and event re-scheduling. Please see the following linked web pages for more details:
- Apply for COVID-19 related student grants (HEERF) from the CARES Act
- Information about the new date for Commencement
Get Re-Started on Campus this June – With Free Tuition and Classroom Instruction!
If you just can’t wait to get back on campus and see your friends, and as a “thank you” to our ACU students for working with us through disruptions this spring, we will have a face-to-face Bible class available for summer school during the session that begins June 7 – and it will be tuition-free for new and returning ACU students!
For students who have been missing social interactions and are anxious to reconnect with friends, and who want to get a head start and relieve some of the pressure of a full academic schedule in the fall, we will be offering one Bible class face-to-face and tuition free, in addition to our traditional online offerings at their normal fee. Special packages will also be available for those who want to live and eat on campus this summer. This class will be available for the first 25 students who register. While spots are available, eligible students can register by logging onto Populi, then clicking on My Profile > Registration and selecting 2019-2020 Summer Semester from the drop-down box. Then click on the green “+” next to BIB399 and click save.
Certainly we have not been cursed with having to live during ordinary times! At ACU we thank God for choosing to allow us to be part of what He is doing here during these critical days, and for empowering us to raise up Christian leaders for such a time as this. We pray God’s blessing on you this summer and look forward to seeing all of our community restored, on campus and in classrooms in a few short months!
Learn more about the University’s response to COVID-19 with a message from President Len Munsil.