COVID-19 Response

Updates

September 17, 2020

To: OCC Residential Students and Personnel
From: Executive Vice President of Administration Damien Spikereit

Dear Fellow Ambassadors,

I’ve been praying for you this week as we all lay low to control the spread of COVID-19 across campus. Your efforts are helping us manage our quarantine and isolation capacity, remain on campus for the rest of the semester, and most importantly, continue our mission of training men and women for Christian service. In this memo, I want to give you three things: a current update, some future instructions, and a big guiding principle. 

A CURRENT UPDATE
First, let me give you an update on where things stand. Our numbers of isolations and quarantines have improved since last week. This is an answer to many prayers, and I’m proud of the self-discipline and wisdom you’ve shown this week. So I’m glad to let you know that, thanks to your hard work, we will resume in-person classes and chapel next week, beginning Monday, September 21. Well done!

SOME FUTURE INSTRUCTIONS
We want to protect you from getting sick, and we want to protect you from getting stuck. You’ll notice in our COVID-19 dashboard that several of your peers remain in quarantine. On average, five students are placed in quarantine every time one student enters isolation. We reduce this number—and spare you the inconvenience of being in quarantine—when we practice social distancing on and off campus. 

To keep you from getting sick or being stuck in quarantine, here’s our ask: continue to significantly limit your interactions on and off campus, wear your mask on and off campus, and socially distance as much as possible. To this end, the following campus life policies will remain in place:

  1. Avoid riding together in cars. This is a major inconvenience, I know. But we’ve seen several students quarantined because of riding together in cars. Whenever possible, drive separately.
  2. Limit the number of people in a dorm room—no more than four people in a room.
  3. Limit your interaction off campus and in the community—including your church community. When you attend church in person or serve in some capacity, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Do not attend off-campus outings and activities where you can’t remain socially distanced from others. 
  4. Exercise on your own or in activities where you’re able to socially distance. Until further notice, all intramurals are suspended and the MPB and fitness facilities will remain closed. The tennis, volleyball, and outdoor basketball courts will be open for use, as long as you practice social distancing while playing. (For example, pickup basketball games can’t be socially distanced, but shooting around could be.)
  5. Pick up to-go meals from the Dining Hall, and sit no more than two people per table as you eat (indoors or outdoors). The Dining Hall will continue to serve to-go meals only.
  6. Especially for those quarantining off campus, limit your social interactions for the next 72 hours. The next few days are critical before we return to class Monday, so if you’re off campus this week, please truly quarantine until you return to your dorm. Do not come back to campus if you’ve had a fever or contact with a symptomatic person. 

If you’ve been off campus this week, let your RD know when you plan to return this Sunday, September 20. Additionally, the Student Center will reopen with adjusted seating this Sunday at 3 p.m. Life and mentor groups will continue to meet virtually until further notice, and residence directors will communicate adjustments regarding Thursday night dorm devotions. And whatever you do, whether on or off campus: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

THE BIG GUIDING PRINCIPLE
Now...may I tell you my fear? I’m afraid you’ll take this memo to say, “Quarantine is over—we’re free!” That mindset will quickly undo all the good you’ve accomplished this week. As Andy Storms says, “There’s never a time when we get to not be wise.” So here’s the big guiding principle: As long as COVID-19 remains a potential danger to our community and our campus, please be wise in all you do. 

We can’t possibly make or enforce a rule for every possible scenario you’ll encounter (and we wouldn’t want to do that, even if we could). But you can make a wise choice in every situation. Even if a circumstance hasn’t been clarified in a “rule,” you can choose the long-term good of our campus and community above your short-term freedom. So thank you in advance for choosing to “value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), for following the above instructions, and for practicing the guiding principle of wisdom in all things.

The Lord is watching over us, we’ll keep doing our best to watch over you as well, and I’m confident you’ll watch over one another. We love you, we’re proud of you, and we remain committed to providing you with biblical training for the kingdom assignment God has for you. He’s still at work, and I look forward to seeing you Monday!

In Christ,

Damien Spikereit
Executive Vice President of Administration

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September 9, 2020

To: OCC Residential Students and Personnel
From: Executive Vice President of Administration Damien Spikereit

In the first month of the semester at OCC, we’ve seen widespread cooperation with our COVID-19 guidelines. Thank you! We’re proud of your diligence and care for one another. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen concerning numbers as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Joplin and our campus. Currently, 10% of our residential student population is in quarantine or isolation. In order to not overwhelm our quarantine and isolation capacity, and so that we can remain on campus for the rest of the semester, Ozark Christian College has made two difficult decisions.

First, OCC will institute a one-week, campuswide self-quarantine for students, effective Saturday, September 12 through Saturday, September 19. During this one-week period, OCC classes and chapel services will be held online. The OCC offices, bookstore, and library will remain open, but the Student Center, MPB/Fitness Center, and Missions Building and Chapel lobbies will be closed. Students will be permitted to work on or off campus, but they will be asked to stay in their dorm rooms as much as possible or to go home for the one-week period. Classes will still be held in person for the remainder of this week, Thursday and Friday, September 10-11. More details about the self-quarantine are outlined below.

Second, OCC has made the difficult decision to suspend our fall sports for this semester. This cancellation includes men’s and women’s cross country, men’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. At this time, no decision has been made regarding our winter sports (men’s and women’s basketball). While we’re disappointed for our student-athletes, we’re proud of how our Ambassadors represent Christ, even in adversity. We’re grateful that our fall sports coaches will remain employed by the college and stay connected to our student-athletes, encouraging and shaping them as they pursue Christ (1 Tim 4:8).

The goal of these decisions is to control our quarantine and isolation capacity and especially to preserve our residential classes this fall. At the end of this week, OCC leadership will evaluate our campus situation to determine any possible next steps. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that you wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance from each other. Please continue to take these precautions seriously for your health and the benefit of our entire community. And as always, if you feel sick, stay in your room and email [email protected] immediately.

Though we’re sorry to deliver disappointing news, we will continue to do all we can to guard our mission: training men and women for Christian service. Thank you again for your diligence in following these precautions as we work together to keep our campus open. We’re proud of your Christlike attitude and service mindset in all things. As President Proctor has reminded our faculty and staff, “Three things: number one, God is still watching over us. Number two, he is working even in this for our good. (Remember the promise of Galatians 6:9, ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’) And number three, he still hears and answers prayers. So let’s all ask the Lord to lead us, like a shepherd, safely through.” We love you all, and we’re praying for you.

In Christ,

Damien Spikereit
Executive Vice President of Administration
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Self-Quarantine FAQs (September 12-19):

  • What about my classes? On Monday-Friday, September 14-18, OCC classes will be held remotely at their regularly scheduled times. Your professors will communicate any necessary details with you in class tomorrow or Friday (September 10-11) and on Canvas. MSSU classes will continue in person.
     
  • Will the Dining Hall still serve meals for students quarantining on campus? Yes. All meals will be served at their regularly scheduled times. Please observe social distancing as you wait in line. All meals will be “to-go” only. Do not eat inside the Dining Hall, and do not sit more than two people per table around campus (including picnic tables and dorm lobby tables).
     
  • If I self-quarantine on campus, what may I do? During our one-week self-quarantine, you may go to work (on or off campus). You will have access to your dorm, but you will not be permitted in other residence halls. Regular curfews will remain in place. Feel free to exercise on your own and participate in outdoor recreational activities in which strict social distancing is practiced at all times. (Follow-up question: Can you play football, ultimate frisbee, sand volleyball, or basketball while remaining six feet apart from one another? Answer: No. No, you can’t.)
     
  • If I self-quarantine on campus, what off-campus activities may I do? Stay connected to your church and Christian service opportunities, but please do not ride in cars with others or participate in any group activities in which strict social distancing is not observed at all times. (And please don’t just shoot for socially distancing 90% of the time. Please aim for 100% of the time...and grant yourself no exceptions.)
     
  • What if I self-quarantine at home? Even off campus, continue to follow our campus precautions this week: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Guard against activities where you can’t social distance from others at all times, and limit your social interactions.
     
  • What if I get sick while I’m quarantining at home? Whether you quarantine at home or on campus, if you feel sick, develop any symptoms, or are directly exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, contact [email protected] immediately.
     
  • What about chapel and life groups? Watch chapel services at occ.edu/chapellive on Tuesday or Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Life and mentor groups will be held virtually on the same day you usually attend.
     
  • How will my campus mail be delivered? Mail will be delivered to your dorm. Do not pick it up from the Student Center. If you quarantine off campus, your mail will be held until you return, or you can change your mailing address on the portal to have your mail forwarded.
     
  • What about ARC workshops? The ARC workshops scheduled for September 15 and 17 will be held virtually.
     
  • If I self-quarantine at home, will I receive a housing refund? Since the dorms and Dining Hall will remain open to you for housing and meals, refunds will not be given for this one-week period. However, in the event that the decision must be made to finish the semester fully online, we will prorate your Housing+ Plan at that time and refund your expenses accordingly.

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September 6, 2020

To: Williamson Hall Residents
From: Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms

As you may be aware, the number of COVID cases and COVID-related quarantines among our campus community has significantly increased in recent days. Unfortunately, at this time, the majority of those cases are from Williamson Hall. Because of this, we will increase our restrictions among Williamson Hall residents this week. Here’s what this means for you:

  1. If you are already home for the holiday weekend, we encourage you to stay home for the rest of this week. If you’re not home but are able to go there, we encourage you to go home. If you need to stay on campus this week, please self-quarantine within your dorm.
  2. This all-dorm quarantine means: this week, all Williamson residents will attend class online, attend chapel online, and pick up to-go meals from the Dining Hall rather than eat inside the cafeteria. 
  3. Whether you are at home or remaining in the dorm this week, your professors will be told that you are in quarantine. They will make arrangements for you to attend class remotely. 
  4. You are free to report to your job (on or off campus) during this week. Please limit your overall mobility, and as always, email [email protected] immediately if you develop any symptoms.

For the time being, plan to quarantine within Williamson Hall for one week. We will keep an eye on our numbers and community spread and update you on Friday, September 11, with next steps. This dorm quarantine is in addition to restrictions explained in the memo you received on Friday (regarding our two-week pause on all campus events). In the meantime, Mom and Dad Murdock will communicate more details with you regarding scheduled times to go outside, pick up to-go meals, watch chapel online, and more. 

We know you’ve been working hard to wear your masks and watch your distance from one another, and we’re proud of your efforts. Thank you for your willingness to take this next step for your safety and the health of our whole community. We’re grateful for your continued diligence in following these precautions as we all work together to keep our campus open this semester. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

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September 6, 2020

All varsity sports practices are canceled for the week of Monday, September 7-Friday, September 11.

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September 4, 2020

In an abundance of caution as many students and employees travel over Labor Day weekend, and due to an increased number of COVID cases and COVID-related quarantines within our residential community, OCC will temporarily pause all campus activities from Saturday, September 5, through Sunday, September 20. During this time, all classes will continue in person, OCC offices will remain open, and chapel services will continue to meet. Watch for more details in Monday’s student newsletter, including:

  • suspension of in-person life/mentor groups 
  • suspension of all campus life activities, including club activities and other events
  • suspension of all organized athletic activity on campus, including intramural competition 
  • continued closure of the MPB and Fitness Center
  • adjusted seating in the Dining Hall, with to-go meals encouraged
  • adjusted seating in the Student Center
  • suspension of dorm activities, including dorm devotions
  • enforcement of dorm room capacity limits (no more than four residents in a room)

OCC’s 2020 Commencement services will still be held with reduced capacity on Saturday, September 5. Classes will continue in person and OCC offices will remain open Tuesday-Friday, September 8-11, and Monday-Friday, September 14-18. OCC students, faculty, and staff are diligently observing our safety measures, but during these two weeks, we’ll practice our precautions even more. We hope that limiting activity will help us control the spread of the virus in our community so that students can remain on campus for the rest of the semester. Our professors are prepared to move their classes entirely online—offering the same excellence and care they provide in-person—but closing our campus completely is a step we hope not to take.

Students and employees who travel over Labor Day weekend should continue to use wisdom and follow safety measures. If you develop symptoms at home this weekend, please remain off campus and contact [email protected] (students) or [email protected] (employees).

Our prayer is that this extra measure of caution will slow the spread of the virus in our community. Please join us in praying for God’s protection and help. Pray especially for our students, faculty, and staff as we continue our mission of training men and women for Christian service.

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September 2, 2020

To: OCC Residential Students and Personnel
From: Executive Vice President of Administration Damien Spikereit
Subject: Multi-Purpose Building Closure

Due to an increased number of confirmed COVID cases and COVID-related quarantines connected to our gymnasium and athletic facilities, effective immediately, OCC will close the Multi-Purpose Building through Monday, September 7. Classes will continue to meet in the MPB this week, and our 2020 Commencement services will still be held in the MPB this Saturday—open only to graduates, their families, and faculty—after our custodial crew has had a chance to fully disinfect the gym.

The MPB closure includes the fitness center, weight room, and indoor basketball, volleyball, and racquetball courts. OCC’s outdoor facilities (basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts as well as our frisbee golf course) will remain open. As you participate in outdoor recreational activities, please practice social distancing measures and wear a mask when distancing is not possible. Remember that social distancing helps us guard against quarantine, and masks help us guard against illness, so continue to “wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.” Thank you for your continued diligence in following these precautions as we all work together to keep our campus open this semester.

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August 29, 2020

Join us online as we send out the Class of 2020! Due to social distancing guidelines, commencement services will be closed to the public, but everyone is invited to watch live on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at 10 a.m. CT at occ.edu/commencement.

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August 24, 2020

OCC Athletics Update: All athletic competitions have been delayed until Friday, September 11, as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our community and on our campus.

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August 3, 2020

To: OCC Residential Students
From: Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms
Subject: Move-In Day Details and the AMBASSADOR AGREEMENT

Hello again from OCC! Campus is a busy place as we prepare for your return. This year, because of COVID-19, we’ll all encounter inconveniences with extra restrictions on campus and extra hoops to jump through. At OCC, let’s see these extra challenges as extra chances to train for Christian service to one another. With that in mind, let me share several items you’ll need to know before classes begin. Please read through these bullets carefully, and be sure to sign the Ambassador Agreement at the end. Let me know if you have any questions.

Campus Life:

  • This semester, to-go meals will be available in the Dining Hall! We’re excited to offer this option to you.
  • If you feel sick or think you may have been exposed to the virus, contact OCC Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood at [email protected]
  • For the time being, face masks are required on campus, including in classrooms and dorm lobbies. Plan to bring a few cloth masks with you to campus. Accommodations will be made for students with legitimate, documented health concerns regarding face coverings, but masks will be required for everyone else.
  • At this time, masks are not required in dorm hallways. However, when residents are in someone else’s room or congregating in the hallways for more than 15 minutes, masks must be worn.
  • To ensure social distancing is feasible, dorm residents should limit the number of people in a dorm room to up to four people.
  • To allow for social distancing this semester, we will have two identical chapel services each week. Half the student body will attend on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., and half will attend on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. Students will receive their chapel assignment before Welcome Week. Chapel services will be closed to the public this semester.
  • Students will attend life and mentor groups on Tuesdays or Thursdays at 9:30 a.m., on the opposite day of their chapel assignment. This semester, each life group will be assigned an on-campus location.

Academics:

  • In order to accommodate social distancing protocol, several courses will need to have instruction components both in class and online. We will communicate more details in the weeks to come.
  • Tuition will remain the same whether delivered in person, online, or in a hybrid format.

Move-In Day:

  • If you have traveled internationally, please quarantine for 14 days from the time you returned to the U.S. before coming to campus (or let me know if you need to make on-campus quarantine arrangements).
  • Each student may only bring up to two helpers to the residence halls on Move-In Day. The helpers must also wear masks.
  • Plan to bring your own masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometer to your residence hall.
  • When you arrive at your dorm, be prepared to answer a few health-screening questions, including, “Have you recently had a fever?” and “Have you recently traveled internationally?”

Before You Arrive:

In Christ,

Andy Storms, Vice President of Student Affairs

P.S. One more thing: if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to sign this semester’s Payment Plan Agreement here. And, read our previous updates at occ.edu/coronavirusupdates. Can’t wait to see you soon!

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July 27, 2020

Two important updates (sent today to OCC residential students):

1. Face Masks: As mentioned in a July 13 student email, for the time being, face masks will be required on campus, including in classrooms and dorm lobbies. Students should plan to bring a few cloth masks with them to campus. Accommodations will be made for students with legitimate, documented health concerns regarding face coverings, but masks will be required for everyone else. While we know masks are an inconvenience on us all, we’re proud of our students' willingness to wear them for others as they “value others above themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Students who aren’t willing to comply with the mask requirement should consider taking online-only classes (and not living on campus) this semester. Contact Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms with any questions.

2. Fall Schedule: Also in our July 13 student email, we mentioned upcoming changes to our fall schedule. Here’s the latest:

  • Convocation Service will be held during the first chapel service of the semester, rather than on Sunday, August 16.
  • To allow for social distancing this semester, we will have two identical chapel services each week. Half the student body will attend on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., and half will attend on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. Students will receive their chapel assignment before Welcome Week. Chapel services will be closed to the public this semester. 
  • The OCC Ministry Expo (scheduled for August 18) has been canceled.
  • 2020 Commencement (September 5 at 10 a.m.) will be limited to 2020 graduates, their families, and OCC faculty only. Commencement will be closed to the public.
  • Getaway (September 25-26 for grades 6-8) has been canceled this year.
  • Fall Break (October 12-13) has been canceled to accommodate our adjusted Thanksgiving Break schedule. Classes will be in session and offices will be open on October 12-13. 
  • The Event (November 6-7 for grades 9-12) has been postponed till March 19-20, 2021.
  • Thanksgiving Break and final exams: The final two weeks of the fall semester will change to a week of remote learning after Thanksgiving Break and a week of remote final exams. OCC residence halls will close for Thanksgiving Break—and for the semester—on Saturday, November 21, at 10 a.m. Classes for the week of November 30-December 4 will be held remotely. Final exams (December 7-10) will be held remotely as well. And here’s a note of good news: since the dorms will close two weeks sooner than anticipated, students will receive a credit for the housing adjustment, applied to their student account after the semester begins.
  • OCC’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, scheduled for December 3-6, has been postponed until December 2021.
  • Download an updated calendar at occ.edu/calendar, and subscribe to OCC’s Residential Activities Google calendar here.

This semester may look different, but that’s okay. We’ll take the changes in stride, and we’ll trust God to use it all for his glory. In the meantime, we’re praying for all our students as they wrap up the summer and make last-minute preparations for the fall. See you soon, Ambassadors!

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June 14, 2020

President's Letter

Beginning June 16, Missouri Governor Mike Parson says our state is “fully reopen” and “all statewide restrictions are lifted.” So this serves as the official announcement that Ozark is now fully reopened as well and that we plan to hold all fall residential classes back on campus beginning August 17, 2020.

Last week, on our June 12th birthday, OCC celebrated 78 years of training men and women for Christian service, and while that educational mission will continue on campus this fall, it will look a little different. To guard the health of the Ozark family, we have a plan in place to deliver the high-quality biblical education our students expect in the safest environment we can provide. Health measures for this fall include:

  • Increasing sanitization frequency on campus
  • Providing hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass guards around campus
  • Observing capacity limits for campus gatherings
  • Preparing quarantine plans if a student is exposed or infected

Read OCC’s entire Return to Campus Plan for details. We are coordinating with our educational partner Missouri Southern State University, and the plan remains flexible, ready to adjust to changing circumstances. We will continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC, the State of Missouri, and the Joplin Health Department. With an excellent team of administrators and health professionals working together, we will keep our commitment to a healthy and safe environment for students and employees.

Of course, no one can protect against every danger or prepare for every uncertainty. We do not own a crystal ball, but neither do we own a white flag. In the face of challenges, our mission matters too much to surrender. In today’s struggling economy, global pandemic, and racial unrest, people are confused and hurting. When Jesus saw the first-century crowds “confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” he said our best response is to “ask the Lord of the harvest…to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt 9:36-38) A lost world needs gospel workers most of all, and our mission is more urgent than ever.

So I hope you’ll join me in praying for two specific things:

  • Pray for incoming students. We believe God still wants to call young people in these next two months. If you know any, send us their names or, better yet, bring them on a campus tour. (You can schedule it at occ.edu/tour.) Most of all, ask the Lord to raise up more harvest workers.
  • Pray for our graduates. We are looking forward to our 2020 Commencement on Saturday, September 5. Please join me in praying that, through those 149 graduates and our other 15,000 alumni, the gospel will be preached, souls will be saved, marriages will be mended, children will be taught, addictions will be broken, the hungry will be fed, the grieving will be comforted, the Scriptures will be translated, communities will be transformed, and nations will be reached with the good news of Jesus Christ.

I can’t wait to see you all this fall, and until then, “my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.” (Phil 4:1)

In Christ, 

Matt Proctor
President

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June 4, 2020

Ozark Christian College is committed to providing in-person, residential classroom instruction in the fall while maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Ozark has developed a cautious, compassionate, and comprehensive plan for the wellbeing of our entire community. The COVID-19 Operations Plan, which will be implemented during the fall 2020 semester, adapts our normal campus procedures to accomplish the ongoing work and mission of the college.  

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June 3, 2020

In compliance with the Higher Ed Emergency Relief Fund reporting requirements:

Ozark Christian College signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement. OCC has issued 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

Ozark Christian College received $489,464 from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

OCC has designated $244,732 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission.

OCC estimates that 440 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

As of May 24, 306 students have received a total of $158,025 in Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

OCC determined which students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act based on a calculation of need determined through the FAFSA and student enrollment status. 

Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

Students received an email notification from the Executive Vice President letting them know that we have received funds for Emergency Grants.

Student Financial Services emailed a notice of award to eligible students that included what the funds could be used for as well as instruction for acknowledging that they had experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

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May 1, 2020

Executive Vice President Damien Spikereit shared three important updates with OCC students regarding our CARES Act grant funds, our plans for on-campus summer events, and our preparations for students' return in the fall. Read the entire memo here.

In light of this memo, OCC will not host any overnight on-campus events this summer, including Creative Arts Academy and Ambassador Sports Camps. (Instead, we will host two sessions of volleyball camps for junior high girls. Find out more at occ.edu/sportscamps.)

Ozark Christian College is committed to providing in-person, residential classroom instruction in the fall while maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Here are six steps we’re taking to facilitate your safe, on-campus experience next semester:

  • Academics: review policies for attendance and class sizes, enhance classroom sanitization, and allow flexibility in case of illness
  • Residence Life: enhance sanitization, reserve rooms and bathrooms as quarantine areas if needed
  • Dining Services: provide takeout options for meals, maintain high standard of cleanliness and food safety
  • Large Assemblies: adjust seating and sanitization as recommended by the CDC and health department 
  • Community Response: maintain communication with local health departments, publish a COVID-19 Readiness and Response Plan, make available personal protective equipment as needed
  • Emotional Support: continue pastoral and professional counseling services

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April 11, 2020

Of all the hard decisions we've had to make in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, the decision to postpone this year's Commencement may have been the most difficult. Class of 2020, while we wish we could celebrate your accomplishments in May, we're looking forward to being with you for your 2020 Commencement on Saturday, September 5, at 10 a.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building. Read more at occ.edu/2020commencement.

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March 20, 2020

CLASSES MOVING TO ONLINE FORMAT
Beginning Monday, March 30, all OCC residential classes will move to an online format for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. (Spring Module 2 online courses will continue as scheduled.) We’re thankful that our Online Learning Department and faculty already have the structure in place to make this change. Your professors will communicate next steps for your courses by no later than Thursday, March 26.

RESIDENCE HALLS 
Starting Saturday, March 28, the OCC residence halls will be open by permission only for students who must stay on campus, including international students, essential OCC student employees, students without online access at home, and students who are unable to return home. If given permission to remain in a residence hall, you may be required to relocate to a different dorm and/or room.

Students checking out of dorms will be scheduled a move-out time/day between March 21-April 3, to avoid large crowds on campus. Your residence director will contact you to arrange your move-out time and date. 


ALL RESIDENTIAL STUDENTS MUST COMPLETE THIS FORM BY 5:00 PM ON FRIDAY, MARCH 27.


ROOM & MEAL REFUND
All dorm students (except those given permission to remain on campus) will receive a $1,000 room and meal refund applied as credit to their school bill. The refund will be reflected on your student account by May 1.

STUDENT EMPLOYMENT
Most student employment positions are suspended for the rest of the semester. We want to encourage students to remain home and under the care of their family and trusted healthcare provider. Your on-campus supervisor will contact you if your position has been deemed essential. 

CAMPUS ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
All OCC campus events and all events hosted on OCC’s campus have been canceled through Thursday, April 30. This includes the cancellation of public chapel services. The Seth Wilson Library, OCC Mail Center, and the Academic Resource Commons will remain open only to staff and current students. The OCC Bookstore will remain open to the general public. The Multi-Purpose Building/Fitness Center, Chapel Building, Missions Building, and Student Center will be closed. Residence hall lobbies will be open only to students who have received permission to remain in that dorm. Food services will be takeout only from the Dining Hall for students who have been given permission to remain in the dorms. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Please continue to watch your OCC email and this webpage for the latest information regarding OCC’s response to the outbreak. We are praying for your health and peace in the weeks to come. We are so proud of the way you’re letting this time of uncertainty build your faith and bring glory to God. Now more than ever, you truly are Ambassadors for Christ! 

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March 16, 2020

All OCC events and all events hosted on OCC's campus are canceled through April 30. See occ.edu/events for more.

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March 12, 2020
An update from President Matt Proctor

Dear Ozark Family,

For the last several weeks, OCC’s administrative leadership has been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, and in consultation with local and national health experts as well as other colleges and universities, we have sought to communicate with you appropriate preventative measures. Though there are no known cases in Jasper County, we as leaders care deeply about guarding both your health and the health of the larger regional community, and we are grateful for your patience and flexibility as we respond to this evolving situation. Our goal is to make proactive—but not premature—decisions that will, first, ensure the safety of our college family and second, continue our educational mission in the most effective way possible. 

To accomplish this, we have developed a Coronavirus Response Plan flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances, and our leadership team is meeting regularly to decide when to implement each next phase in the plan. In our meeting this morning, we decided to extend OCC’s spring break by one week, through Saturday, March 28. This extra week will allow us to monitor the situation and determine the best way for classes to resume on Monday, March 30. Please check your my.occ.edu email and this coronavirus webpage daily over the next two weeks for updates as they are communicated.

If you are a student, what does this mean for you practically?

  • As you pack for spring break, please pack appropriately for a longer absence. Also, please pack any needed school supplies (textbooks, technology, etc.), in the event that classes might resume on March 30 through an online format, rather than in person. That decision has not yet been made, but we want you to be prepared for that possibility.
  • For our dual degree students, we remain in close communication with MSSU, and we are taking into consideration any decision they may make regarding their educational format for the remainder of the semester. We will continue to do everything we can to make your dual education a smooth and coordinated experience.
  • Residence halls and the Dining Hall are closed as usual for spring break. For those with extenuating circumstances with regard to housing over this now-extended spring break, please direct your questions to Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms at [email protected]

If you are an employee, what does this mean for you practically?

  • Employees should continue to report for work as usual over this extended spring break. (Of course, the campus will be closed March 19-20 as originally planned.) For some, working from home may be an option. This option can be discussed with your direct supervisor or Human Resources Director Whitney Morgan at [email protected]
  • Under the leadership of Jerry Stansberry, OCC’s custodial team has added extra measures to their customary excellent work in keeping our campus hygienically safe and clean.
  • As we’ve communicated in previous posts, we encourage you to continue practicing preventative measures such as regular handwashing, the use of hand sanitizer, “social distancing” and avoiding touching your face.
  • If you are feeling ill or showing symptoms of sickness, please do not come to work. If you are concerned about the use of your STAT time, please communicate with your direct supervisor.

If you are a faculty member, what does this mean for you practically?

  • Please monitor your email closely for communication from Academic Dean Doug Aldridge and his team for further information.
  • Please plan on attending a mandatory faculty meeting on Monday, March 23. More details about that meeting to follow.

We are making this decision to guard the health and safety of our OCC family, but we also want to exercise our neighborly and civic responsibility to prevent the potential spread of this illness in our larger community. There may be more decisions necessary in the days ahead, so may I close by asking three things of you?

  • First, please pay close attention to your email and the OCC website for regularly updated information. Each next phase in our Response Plan involves a number of important details, and we will seek to communicate those and answer your questions in a timely manner at each step along the way.
  • Second, please pray. Pray for the college leadership as we seek to make the best decisions possible under the circumstances, asking for God to give us his wisdom (James 1:5). Pray also that God would guide our country’s leadership as they respond to this situation, and pray especially for all those affected by this illness.
  • Third, please continue to keep faith in our good and all-powerful God. In times of crisis, wise planning is a biblical response. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their way” (Prov 14:8). Fear, however, is not. While many are understandably worried, take to heart the promise of Philippians 4:7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We here at OCC are blessed with a gifted and godly team who are working hard on behalf of our students and employees, and I count it a privilege to work alongside them. We will keep you updated on developments in the days ahead. In the meantime, enjoy your spring break!

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President 

  • OCC Women's Event (April 3-4) has been canceled. Click here for details.
  • Unite Youth Ministry Gathering (April 2) has been canceled.
  • The NCCAA National Basketball Championship Tournament (March 11-14) has been canceled.

_____
March 11, 2020

OCC students and employees:

In the days to come, many of our Ambassadors will be traveling during Spring Break. Due to the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), OCC is requesting the following actions from all students and employees:

  1. Follow the recommended protective measures. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jasper County. However, please follow these precautions from the World Health Organization:
    • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer).
    • Keep your distance from individuals who are coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. When using a tissue, dispose of it immediately after use.
    • If you have a cough, fever, or any trouble breathing, seek medical care early. Stay home (isolated) if you’re feeling unwell.
  2. Consider your travel plans. Please use caution when traveling overseas, to large cities, or to affected areas. Consult the CDC’s travel recommendations here, and consider this global map of confirmed cases. As of Wednesday, March 11, OCC has not issued a travel ban to our students or employees.
  3. Stay informed. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Watch for updates via email and on this webpage, and read the most current information about the virus from the CDC and from the Missouri Department of Health.
  4. Contact OCC.

As always, your health and wellbeing are our priority. Thank you for your continued diligence and discernment as this situation continues to evolve.

_____
March 2, 2020

A word to OCC students, employees, and families about the coronavirus:

Some of you know that one of our spring break trips, a trip to Japan to survey Mustard Seed Network, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus (and because Japan has closed its schools and churches for the time being). Intercultural Studies Director Chris DeWelt is working with Mustard Seed and our students to reschedule the trip for a later date. In the meantime, though we have no direct reason to be concerned for our students and campus regarding this pneumonia-like illness, we do prioritize your health. Here are a few links and resources for the OCC family.

  1. Information: Click here for the most current information about the virus from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, including how COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads and simple steps to protect yourself from respiratory viruses.
  2. Travel: Please use caution when traveling overseas or in large cities. If you plan to travel abroad during spring break or in the immediate future, consult the CDC’s travel recommendations here.
  3. Precautions: Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available in common areas across campus. OCC’s custodial staff has increased their normal daily cleaning procedures to include even more disinfecting of all door handles and frequently touched surfaces. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water, cough and sneeze into your elbow (not your hands), and avoid touching your eyes.
  4. In case of illness: As always, if you develop flu-like symptoms, contact Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood or your preferred health provider. You can also take advantage of OCC’s telemedicine service, DirectConnect. Access DirectConnect on the Health and Wellness section of your Student Life portal tab.

Questions? Contact Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood at [email protected]

COVID Dashboard

Return to Campus Plan

Objectives

Though no one knows what the future holds for COVID-19, Ozark Christian College is committed to providing a full college experience in the fall of 2020. Things will look a little different than usual, but we’re excited to offer the same excellent Bible college education and campus community that has drawn students to OCC for 78 years. 

We have developed a cautious, compassionate, and comprehensive plan for the wellbeing of our entire community. OCC's Return to Campus Plan adapts our normal campus procedures to accomplish the ongoing work and mission of the college during the pandemic. The plan is guided by the following objectives:

  • To continue OCC’s commitment to train men and women for Christian service 
  • The health, safety, and welfare of our faculty, staff, and students is paramount
  • To recover from disruptions or suspensions of operations as safely and efficiently as possible
  • To establish multiple modes to communicate with the campus and community
  • To set benchmarks that define thresholds for action

COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented infectious disease risk with an unclear duration and no vaccinations or antiviral treatments to date. Public health guidance, scientific knowledge, and clinical best practices will change, and these guidelines will be updated accordingly. Restrictions and limitations in activities may be in place for several months, and return to a fully active on-campus environment will depend on widespread testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine of ill and exposed individuals (on campus and in the community). In the event of a local outbreak, changes to OCC operations will be made rapidly. Federal or state mandates will guide any plans made by the college.


Three Levels

Three-Level Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

OCC will follow the recommendations of the CDC, the State of Missouri, and the Joplin Health Department. Additional consideration will be given to the plans of Missouri Southern State University and the City of Joplin. OCC’s three levels of response are based on guidance issued by the CDC and on the level of community transmission: 

  • Level 1: when there is no community transmission (preparation and prevention)
  • Level 2: when there is minimal to moderate community transmission
  • Level 3: when there is substantial community transmission

Even with the extra measures and care OCC is taking on behalf of our students, staff, and faculty, the college cannot possibly guarantee “zero cases” or prevent community infection. However, the OCC community understands and acknowledges that we have a shared responsibility to be safe, honor restrictions, and follow CDC guidelines as we care for one another. With that in mind, OCC will implement the following to minimize the risk of infection and transmission:

  • Limit social contact by implementing recommended social distancing guidelines
  • Sanitize high-touch surface areas
  • Reduce use of large gathering spaces and community areas
  • Expect adherence to public health practices including proper hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, and mask/face coverings 
  • Require the use of face masks on campus, including in classrooms and residence hall lobbies
  • Require notification if any student, staff, or faculty member becomes ill, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in known contact with person infected by COVID-19
  • Establish screening questions, policies, and procedures for all students, personnel, and campus guests

What to Expect

Here’s a look at what to expect when you return to campus in August...

Residence Life will be modified to comply with public health orders. 

  • In addition to routine sanitation, every room and common space on campus have been deep-cleaned this summer
  • Students may be required to complete a self-screening questionnaire before moving in, in addition to other modified move-in procedures
  • Adherence to social-distancing guidelines will be required
  • Overnight guests in dorms, including family members, will be prohibited 
  • Until further notice, masks or face coverings must be worn in all campus buildings including classrooms, dorm lobbies, offices, and outdoor spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Exceptions will be made for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition, for those in the Dining Hall while they are eating, for organized group or team sports, or other physical activities where it is not feasible to wear a mask or socially distance.

Dining Services will modify seating arrangements and serving procedures to comply with public health orders. 

  • All employees will be required to wear a mask when working in the Dining Hall
  • Sanitation will be increased during meal times
  • “To-go” service options will be available to students 
  • Card scanning and serving lines will be modified to allow for social distancing

Gatherings and events will comply with public health orders, including appropriate limitations on the number of participants or attendees. 

  • Chapel services will be adjusted to accommodate required capacity limitations
  • Fitness areas and other gathering spaces may have limitations subject to public health orders
  • External groups will be closely managed or not allowed on OCC’s campus

Classes will incorporate appropriate social distancing and scheduling adjustments to increase physical space between students.

  • Academic policies and procedures will be reviewed and adjusted 
  • Attendance policies cannot encourage class attendance in the event a student is sick
  • Classroom technology will accommodate recording and/or livestreaming for remote learning
  • Academics Office and faculty are prepared to transition to a hybrid or virtual learning environment if necessary 
  • Regardless of the learning environment (on-campus, in a hybrid learning environment, or entirely remotely), tuition and fees will be the same

On-Campus Measures

If an OCC community member becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, OCC will implement the following measures in accordance with local health department guidelines.

Test
The OCC community member will be referred to a local testing facility. 

Isolation
OCC will help the community member isolate in a pre-arranged location while providing for cleaning, academic, and nutritional needs.

Trace
OCC will work with the local health department to make a list of people who were exposed to the infected person while contagious. The public health official and/or designated OCC official will then contact the people on the list, warn them of the potential exposure, and offer guidance on what to do next. 

Disinfect
The OCC custodial team will disinfect all areas used by the infected community member. 

Additional Measures
OCC will announce additional measures to be taken to minimize the spread of the virus. These may include modification of classroom sizes, adjustments to campus activities, adjusted Dining Hall procedures, and any other measures that allow for continued instruction. 

FAQs

Has OCC received any government funding for students?

Yes. The CARES Act is an emergency grant for students provided by the federal government that allowed Ozark to offer grants to eligible students. As part of the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Education announced that more than $14 billion is available to institutions as part of the funding allocated in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Institutions are required to spend at least half of their HEERF funds on direct cash grants to students as a way to help offset financial loss experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

OCC received $489,464, and $244,732 was been designated for direct cash grants to students. In accordance with the guidelines issued by the Department, Ozark has determined that eligible students include those who had completed a FAFSA and those who were enrolled in a residential degree program. The amount of the grant per student was a calculation that factored enrollment status as well as “expected family contribution” as indicated in the student’s FAFSA. Eligible students received an email from OCC Student Financial Services, outlining the amount of the grant available to them and instructions on how to receive it.


What is happening with OCC classes?

In the spring 2020 semester, OCC extended spring break by one week and then finished all residential classes in an online format. We’re thankful that our Online Learning Department and faculty already have the structure in place to make this change. In the fall 2020 semester, OCC will resume in-person residential classes on campus. Ozark's COVID-19 Return to Campus Plan will be implemented to deliver the high-quality biblical education our students expect in the safest environment we can provide.


Have any OCC events or activities been canceled?

  • OCC's 2020 Commencement Day has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 5. Commencement is only open to 2020 graduates, their families, and OCC faculty. Read more about commencement at occ.edu/2020commencement.
  • OCC's will have two identical chapel services this fall (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.). Chapel services will be closed to the public.
  • Getaway (scheduled for September 25-26 for grades 6-8) has been canceled. occ.edu/getaway
  • The Event (scheduled for November 6-7 for grades 9-12 has been postponed till March 19-20. occ.edu/theevent
  • The final two weeks of the fall semester will include a week of remote learning after Thanksgiving Break and a week of remote final exams. OCC residence halls will close for Thanksgiving Break—and for the semester—on Saturday, November 21, at 10 a.m. Classes for the week of November 30-December 4 will be held remotely. Final exams (December 7-10) will be held remotely as well.
  • OCC's Christmas production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has been postponed till December 2021.
  • Watch occ.edu/events for updates.

What campus services are available?

The OCC Mail Center is open to employees and students during normal business hours. The OCC Bookstore and Seth Wilson Library are open to the public Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The OCC Multi-Purpose Building/Fitness Center is closed through Monday, September 7. The Chapel Building Lobby, Missions Building Lobby, residence halls, and Student Center remain closed to the public. 


What about Tuesday Tours?

Tuesday Tours are scheduled for fall 2020. Individual tours may also be scheduled at occ.edu/tour. High school seniors and transfer students can still receive a $1,000 Ozark scholarship when they apply at occ.edu/apply. Contact [email protected] with any questions.


How is OCC monitoring the situation and making decisions?

In March 2020, Executive Vice President of Administration Damien Spikereit assembled a Coronavirus Response Team (CRT). The CRT met regularly to monitor the situation. OCC remains in communication with the Joplin Health Department and is following recommendations from the CDC. According to the CDC’s community mitigation strategies, OCC is taking what qualifies as “substantial” measures to slow the spread of the virus. Submit any questions about OCC’s Coronavirus Response Plan in our feedback form here.


What should I do if I feel symptomatic?

Employees or students in the Joplin area who display symptoms of COVID-19 should do the following:

  1. Call the Joplin 24-hour COVID-19 hotline at 877.435.8411. Due to the limited availability of tests, the health official will ask a series of screening questions to determine testing eligibility.
  2. If eligible for testing, then a test will be scheduled at the drive-thru facility located at Thousand Oaks Medical Center on 32nd Street. Current testing times are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-6 p.m. Location and testing times are subject to change.  

If not in Joplin, consult your physician. You can also access OCC’s telemedicine service, DirectConnect, on the Student Life/Health and Wellness section of your portal. Contact Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood if you believe you have COVID-19 or if you have been exposed to the virus.


Where can I find information on COVID-19?

OCC recommends the following helpful resources:


Are OCC employees required to come to work?

The OCC offices reopened Tuesday, June 16. All OCC (non-student) employees should observe Level 2 of OCC's COVID-19 Operations Plan. Contact Human Resources Director Whitney Morgan at [email protected] with any questions.

CARES Act

In compliance with the Higher Ed Emergency Relief Fund reporting requirements:

Ozark Christian College signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement. OCC has issued 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

Ozark Christian College received $500,000 from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

OCC has designated $244,732 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission.

OCC estimates that 440 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

As of August 25, 353 students have received a total of $242,702 in Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

OCC determined which students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act based on a calculation of need determined through the FAFSA and student enrollment status. 

Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

Students received an email notification from the Executive Vice President letting them know that we have received funds for Emergency Grants.

Student Financial Services emailed a notice of award to eligible students that included what the funds could be used for as well as instruction for acknowledging that they had experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

Learn More

Accreditation

Ozark's accreditation with ABHE and HLC.

Accreditation
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