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SAU Fall Semester Update

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Update For Traditional Undergraduate Students

Spring Arbor University is excited to have our students back this fall. As our traditional undergraduate students return this fall you will notice just the right balance of changes on campus that will help us care for the health and well-being of our campus community and still enjoy what makes SAU special. We remain fully committed to providing a Christ-centered and transformational education to our students in a community that considers the value of each and every individual: the students, the faculty and staff, and our neighbors.


SAU will be providing COVID-19 testing for students on their arrival to campus. Testing will take place before classes begin. We are offering the FDA-approved Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) which boasts a 99 percent accuracy rate of whether the virus is currently present. The PCR test is a gentle swab of the nostril rather than the more invasive nasopharyngeal procedure that some have heard about or undergone. SAU will also offer group testing dates throughout the summer to meet the needs of athletic teams and student leaders when they arrive at their predetermined time.

Students will be asked to complete online health screening each day before arriving on campus or leaving their residence hall; If a student identifies COVID-19 symptoms, it will be reported through the screening, and a Holton Health and Wellness Services professional will make contact and provide direction. Any student feeling unwell must commit to staying home or in their room. Students with symptoms will be asked to complete a COVID-19 test in the Holton Health and Wellness Center or with their healthcare provider and avoid campus until further notice.


SAU will resume in-person classes. Occupancies for classrooms and labs have been reduced, and the arrangement of tables, desks, and seats are being adjusted to maintain social distancing. With these adjustments, all students will be allowed to attend all face-to-face class sessions physically, unless they are unable to attend due to illness or COVID concerns. If a student is quarantining they will be expected to attend class via Zoom. If a student is unable to attend due to illness, they may view the recorded classroom session later online if needed. Technology in classrooms, including webcams and microphones, is being enhanced to allow for this approach. 

In light of the Executive Order made on July 13, we expect faculty and students will be required to wear masks when they are in classrooms and labs. Students who are unable to wear masks due to medical reasons may contact the Director of the Academic Support Center, Manda Kelly, at

Some learning activities will be done via Zoom or online. Handouts and course materials will be distributed online, and students will submit assignments online. Longer class sessions will be shortened, with some instruction moving online or to Zoom. Evaluation is underway to determine how hands-on learning activities such as labs can best be accomplished with adjustments. We are committed to ensuring the high-quality learning experience and personal attention from faculty that SAU is known for. 


SAU is evaluating capacity in residence halls, including lounges and laundry areas; the default will continue to be double occupancy rooms. A limited number of single rooms may be made available as an accommodation. In order to minimize the potential impact of COVID-19 on our community, guests will not be allowed on campus or in the residence halls. We will provide further instruction related to masks in the residence hall closer to your arrival on campus so the most up-to-date decisions can be made. To accommodate whatever policy is deemed best, you will be provided two SAU masks and are encouraged to bring your own as desired.

For questions on learning accessibility and residential accommodation for at-risk individuals please e-mail the Director of Academic Support Center, Manda Kelly at


SAU will also be implementing minor changes within our dining facilities and food service procedures, depending on the state requirements at that time. You will notice increased spacing throughout the dining area, and food will be served to students to minimize the spread of germs. There will be regular and increased cleaning of public spaces to follow the CDC-recommended standards with special attention on high-traffic intersections and high-touch areas. Occupancies for auditoriums and athletic facilities will be reduced for appropriate spacing.


As a campus community, we will abide by a new set of practices to ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community. Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to follow the 6’ physical distance in navigating the campus and in all public spaces, including the library and dining facilities. We are encouraging individuals to greet one another with social distancing in mind. We ask that all individuals on campus wear a mask in accordance with the current executive order which includes being inside a public space where 6’ social distancing is not possible. We are also encouraging everyone to practice frequent hand washing and respiratory hygiene practices.


  • We will follow current state guidelines regarding public gatherings (assuming our area of Michigan is in Phase 5 at the start of classes):
    • Indoor gatherings will generally be limited to 50, or the COVID capacity for that space.
    • Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 250 individuals
    • Athletic exceptions are permitted by Executive Order to capacities of 25% of the outdoor venue, or 500 observers (whichever is smaller)
  • Chapel programming will be adjusted to accommodate social distancing
    • SAU Chaplain Brian Kono and Student Development are developing a Chapel experience that meets our community’s desire for worship together and incorporates the appropriate safety requirements. The attendance requirement may be adjusted as needed to recognize the unique setting of and opportunities within the large group and small group activities
  • Athletic practices, competitions, and traveling will be adjusted (using guidance from the NAIA, CDC, and other authoritative sources)
    • Athletes and coaching staff will participate in a health screening (including having their temperature taken) before practices and competitions

Current CDC guidance requires international travelers to quarantine for 14 days after travel. Further communication will be provided for our international students. 

Any students who have concerns or reservations may direct those questions to Student Development and Success ( to review options.

We will be hosting a parent and student Q&A session with SAU President, Dr. Brent Ellis, and other cabinet members to answer your questions. More information on registering for this Q&A will be provided shortly.

For more information on our full community preparedness plan, please review the following document: SAU COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

For more information on protocols and health screening for employees visit

Update For Adult & Professional and Graduate Students

Spring Arbor University’s COVID Planning Team has been working diligently to determine the best plan for instruction this Fall in each learning modalities. This content outlines details for our graduate and nontraditional students whose cohorts normally meet in the evenings at our regional sites. We remain fully committed to providing a high-quality Christ-centered education while caring for the health and well-being of our students and faculty.

Based on the latest information that we have from the CDC and the State of Michigan, face-to-face instruction held over a four-hour span in an enclosed classroom is an activity with a greater level of risk related to COVID-19, even if all those participating were to wear masks and participate in social distancing. We have determined that the best option to ensure the highest quality instruction possible without changing students’ schedules is to provide the scheduled classroom instruction for graduate and nontraditional programs via the synchronous Zoom format for the Fall semester. We will continue to monitor the outbreak closely to determine our approach for the Spring semester. When the current restrictions lift, we will re-evaluate this decision related to our instructional delivery and inform you of any adjustments to be made that will impact your educational experience.

We understand the disappointment that comes with this notification, and we regret we cannot hold those classes face-to-face. We will provide updates as soon as we are able to return to face-to-face instruction safely.

Any student questions may be directed to your Student Success Advisor.