July 22, 2021
This semester, we’ll continue to follow our COVID-19 Operations Plan, adapting it as necessary according to our on-campus transmission rate. Here’s what that means for you as you arrive on campus in August:
- All students will be required to show proof of vaccination OR a negative test result within 48 hours before arriving on campus. (Guests will no longer be required to show these items.) While OCC does not require the vaccine, it is strongly encouraged as an effective tool to protect the community we love. The vaccine is readily available, and OCC recommends every member of our OCC family be vaccinated.
- Masks will not be required for fully vaccinated students, employees, or guests. Those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to wear face coverings (in accordance with CDC guidance).
- In-person classes, gatherings, and activities will continue with social distancing measures in place.
April 5, 2021
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and the number one tool we have to return to normal on campus. Phase 2 of Missouri's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is now open for all higher education employees (including OCC student employees). Phase 3 will open this Friday, April 9, for all Missouri residents. While OCC is not requiring the vaccine, we're encouraging all students and employees to be vaccinated.
- Click here for more about the vaccine and its distribution in Missouri.
- If you already meet one of the current requirements to be vaccinated in Missouri, sign up with Freeman, the Joplin Health Department, Mercy, or CoxHealth.
- After your vaccination, email [email protected] with the date of your completed dosage.
- Questions about the vaccine? Watch this informative Q&A session and/or contact our campus nurse Molly Shifferd at [email protected]
March 30, 2021
To: OCC Students
From: Academic Dean-Elect Chad Ragsdale
Subject: Fall 2021 Registration
It’s been a long year. We’ve asked you to do a lot of difficult things this year. We’ve asked you to wear masks and maintain physical distance from each other. We’ve asked you to attend hybrid classes, endure quarantines, and have a cotton swab jammed up your nose. We’ve asked you to wash your hands, but honestly, you should have been doing that already. It wasn’t always popular, but we did all these things and more because it was the right and responsible thing to do. Our long year has been a painful year of loss for many people around the world and in our college family. As we near the end of our long year, it’s good to pause and to pray a word of thanksgiving and a word of comfort.
Witnessing your hard work and perseverance this year has been inspiring. Under difficult circumstances, you continued to study, to serve, and to worship—often with a James 1 type of joy that only comes in the midst of trials. It could be that years in the future, you will look back on this season with a strange sense of pride in what you and your peers were able to overcome. I’ve never been as proud to be a part of the Ozark family as I am this year.
That said, I think we’re all looking forward to turning the page on this year. Personally, I’m excited to become Ozark’s sixth academic dean next school year. I’m humbled by the example of those who have preceded me, and I plan to continue their legacy in leading our Bible-centered academic programs as we continue in our mission to train men and women for Christian service.
I am also excited for a return to normalcy in the next school year. I’m excited about a return to hugs and handshakes, to serving and worshiping together as one family, to cultivating the type of deep, abiding community that has always been a hallmark of our campus. I’m excited about a return to all the things that make Ozark Ozark. This long year hasn’t changed God’s purposes or his calling on our lives. If anything, our task has never been more urgent and more relevant.
As we anticipate school next year, I want you to put April 5 on your calendar. That is the day fall registration opens for those students who have completed 60 credit hours. All other students will be able to register beginning April 7. We also want every student to meet in person with his or her academic adviser in April—even students who think they will not be returning in the fall. Look for an email from your adviser to set up a time to meet. In the meantime, you can read the fall course schedule here.
God bless you in your studies this semester!
OCC Academic Dean-Elect
P.S. Watch "Handshakes Returning" here.
March 12, 2021
To: Ozark Family
From: Damien Spikereit
Subject: Changes After Spring Break
Dear Ozark Family,
One more week before Spring Break! Just a quick note to tell you two things:
First, thank you! This semester, you’ve continued to handle the inconveniences of masks and social distancing with flexibility and grace. I’ve always been proud of our students’ attitudes, but you all have gone above and beyond during COVID-19. Thank you!
Second, good news! We’ve told you that as coronavirus cases decline across campus, we will begin to relax some of the safety measures we have in place. Out of an abundance of caution, after Spring Break we will continue to require masks on campus. Our classroom desks will remain distanced from one another, too (so that if one student goes into isolation, the rest of the class won’t need to be quarantined). However, while we’ll continue to wear masks, wash our hands, and watch our distance, we’re excited to relax our gathering guidelines. This means that after Spring Break...
- We will return to one chapel service each week! Beginning Tuesday, March 30, chapel services will be held every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. We’ll ask you to leave an empty seat between you and the person next to you, but we’ll all be back together to worship as one. Chapel services will continue to livestream on Tuesdays at occ.edu/chapellive, and guests will be restricted from attending to allow for 50% capacity.
- We will return to one meeting day for life and mentor groups—Thursdays only, also at 9:30 a.m.—beginning Thursday, April 1. Your group leader may communicate with you regarding a possible location change for your group.
- We will resume normal seating and traffic flow in the Dining Hall. Please continue to exercise caution during meal times so that if someone you eat with goes into isolation, you can avoid quarantine.
- We will resume hosting gatherings on campus, including Women’s Event (April 9-10), Baccalaureate (May 6), and Commencement (May 15). Some safety guidelines will remain in place for those events, but we’re looking forward to welcoming our guests back to campus.
One more thing: it was one year ago today that we “extended” Spring Break by one week...which of course became the rest of the semester as we finished classes online. What a year it has been! Thank you again for your perseverance. And most of all, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
We're proud of you, Ambassadors!
Executive Vice President of Administration
P.S. Just a reminder...as you know, OCC is not requiring students or employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, we do strongly encourage you to be vaccinated when you’re eligible. Click here for a list of current eligibilities in Missouri. After your vaccination, email [email protected] (for students) or [email protected] (for employees) with the date of your completed dosage.
January 25, 2021
To: OCC Residential Students
From: Student Newsletter
Subject: COVID-19 Vaccine
The State of Missouri is currently offering COVID vaccinations for Phase 1A and Phase 1B (Tiers 1 and 2). This includes vaccinations for people with weakened immune systems, heart conditions, and more.
- Read the list of current vaccination eligibilities here.
- Sign up to receive vaccination information from the Joplin Health Department, from Freeman, from Mercy, or from CoxHealth.
December 31, 2020
To: OCC Residential Students
From: Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Storms
Happy New Year, Ambassadors! I hope you’re having a restful break, and I’m looking forward to another great semester together. In addition to the information Damien Spikereit already communicated earlier this month, let me give you a few details of what we’re requiring, requesting, and preparing as the semester begins.
- This spring, we’ll ask all students to continue to adhere to our COVID-19 Operations Plan. Our quarantine and isolation policies and our mandatory mask policy will remain in place. As the CDC says, the more consistently and correctly we wear our masks, the more our community will benefit.
- Residence halls open on Saturday, January 9, at noon for Winter Session students and Saturday, January 16, at noon for all on-campus students. Before returning to campus (whether Winter Session or regular classes), all students must choose one of the following options—either:
- take a free nasal-swab COVID-19 test on campus at the designated times, or
- provide verification of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to moving into the dorms (on-campus students) or the first day of class (off-campus students), or
- provide verification of a positive COVID-19 test taken within the past three months
Submit this form to let us know which of the above options you choose. Any student who is unwilling to abide by these requirements must contact the Student Affairs Department.
- Before the semester begins, will you please limit outside contact with others for the next few weeks? Self-imposed quarantines will help us begin the semester with minimal exposure.
- Once the semester begins, will you please plan to stay on campus as much as possible through the month of January? We request that you not travel home for the first few weeks of the semester. When you do leave campus for church or work, please continue to wear a mask at all times.
Coming This Spring
This semester, OCC Health Services will provide on-campus rapid testing for symptomatic students and employees. These tests will let us quickly identify those who are sick so we won’t need to quarantine as many people in our community. OCC Student Affairs is also planning several on-campus activities for you, including fun events during Welcome Back Week. And, we’ve adjusted our classroom schedules so that all classes will be held in person and no classes will be held in the MPB.
Be sure to submit this form to let us know your plans regarding our mandatory COVID testing.
We are praying for you as 2021 begins! It’s our honor to be a part of your training for Christian service, and we’re excited for what God has in store this spring. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can serve you in any way.
Vice President of Student Affairs
P.S. Don’t forget! This Tuesday, January 5, is the deadline to pay for the spring semester in full or to sign the Payment Plan Agreement here. Contact [email protected] if you have any questions. We’re proud of you, Ambassadors! See you soon.
December 14, 2020
To: OCC Residential Students and Personnel
From: Executive Vice President Damien Spikereit
Last week, most of you took your final exams and officially finished the fall semester. Well done! Now, we’re excited to turn our attention toward the spring semester and having you back on campus soon. When classes begin in January, we will still be at Level 2 in Ozark’s COVID-19 Operations Plan, which means we’ll still observe many of the protocols we followed in the fall. We’ll have a few additions, too, including required testing for students in January.
Read the main points of our spring semester plans below (and read the entire COVID-19 Operations Plan here). We look forward to having you on campus in January as you train for Christian service!
Academics and Activities
- OCC’s 2021 spring semester academics calendar will continue as planned. Winter Session begins Monday, January 11, and regular semester classes begin Tuesday, January 19. Spring break will be held Monday-Friday, March 22-26, and our 2021 Commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 15.
- We’ve adjusted our classroom schedules so that classes will not be held in the MPB this semester. Also, all students will attend class in person, rather than the hybrid model some classes observed in the fall.
- Chapel services will be held twice a week—alternating with life/mentor groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays—to allow for social distancing. To begin the semester, life groups will meet on campus in assigned locations. OCC chapel services will remain closed to the public this semester.
- OCC men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams will play as scheduled, with regular testing and additional precautions for players and coaches.
- We’re also planning several campus activities for you, including some fun events during Welcome Back Week in January.
General COVID-19 Policies
- Our quarantine and isolation policies for students and employees (outlined fully in our COVID-19 Operations Plan) will continue to follow the guidance of our local health department and federal, state, and local authorities.
- While campus remains at Level 2, our mandatory mask policy will remain in effect in public spaces, classrooms, offices, or where it is not practical or feasible to socially distance.
- We will also continue to observe our student and employee gathering conditions for Level 2, which include guidelines on social distancing, masks, travel, food, and guests at gatherings and events. These gathering conditions will also mean changes to The Event (scheduled for March 19-20) and OCC’s Women’s Conference (April 9-10). See occ.edu/events for details.
- Non-personnel and non-students are restricted from campus facilities, including the MPB, Student Center, dorms, Dining Hall, Chapel, and classroom buildings. Off-campus guests will be allowed to visit the bookstore and library, participate in designated campus tours, and attend athletic events. All visitors will be required to wear masks in accordance with campus mask policy and maintain appropriate social distancing.
- Our OCC custodial crew will continue to take extra measures for us as they keep our campus clean. In everything, OCC will continue to practice our three most important guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
Testing and Vaccination Policy
Before classes begin in January (whether Winter Session or regular classes), students will be required to do one of three things—either:
- take a free COVID-19 test on campus, or
- provide verification of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to moving into the dorms (on-campus students) or the first day of class (off-campus students), or
- provide verification of a positive COVID-19 test within the past three months
Watch your student newsletter for details on testing and dorm arrival times. OCC also encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19. Read more about our testing guidelines and vaccination policy in the COVID-19 Operations Plan.
A Community that Cares
At OCC, we’re a community that cares for one another. It’s important that we all—faculty, staff, and students alike—take responsibility for our own health and safety. It’s also crucial that we respect and protect each other. With this in mind, we’re asking all students and employees to follow our campus COVID-19 policies together, for the good of our whole community.
I’ve overloaded you with information! Do take time to rest and enjoy your break. We’re praying for you to be healthy and encouraged this Christmas, and we’re excited for what God has in store for you this spring as you train for Christian service. We’re proud of you, Ambassadors!
Executive Vice President of Administration
P.S. Watch your student newsletter for more details, and don’t forget to read the COVID-19 Operations Plan.