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Cornerstone University Announces Plans for Campus to Return to Operation This Fall

News May 21, 2020

Cornerstone University’s president, Dr. Joe Stowell, today announced plans for Cornerstone’s return to campus operations in Fall 2020. The plan features a full-fledged on-ground, in-classroom educational experience along with complete residency services for students intending to live on campus. Overarching the entire plan is a robust slate of measures designed to maximize community health and safety.

“During the past 10 weeks of COVID-19, the response of students, staff and faculty has been incredibly resilient,” said Stowell. “CU has demonstrated a commitment to support our students’ safety and their academic success. Now, we turn our complete attention to students’ return in September. Given that they are the life of our university, we cannot wait to have them back on campus!”


Highlighting the plan for Return to Operations (RTO) is an academic structure of “agile teaching,” in which faculty provide multiple modes of engagement and a variety of teaching and learning tools that allow quick changes and adaptability. The concept assumes face-to-face, in-classroom learning but also allows students to benefit from a personalized learning experience, particularly if those situations are impacted by COVID-19. Highlights of Cornerstone’s academic delivery include:

  • Scheduling of on-campus classes to enable and optimize social distancing if necessary.
  • Flexibility of course structure to, if desired by the student, allow for remote synchronized (real-time to the in-classroom experience) learning.
  • A “contingency plan” for each class and how it would adapt the course materials and assessments if forced to move online.
  • Added investment in classroom technology to enhance both on-campus and online learning.
  • Comprehensive student resources for academic support, technology training, career counseling and mental health wellness.

“We’ll be ready to serve our students with a complete on-campus learning experience,” Stowell said. “But, if the state of Michigan or our community dictates a suspension of on-ground operations, we will be prepared for seamless transitions of part or all of our academics. We are committed to providing our students with a premium Christ-centered education amidst a variety of public health scenarios.”


The Fall RTO also calls for disciplined practices in physical distancing, campus sanitization, illness triage, virus testing and many other measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 should the situation require. The university has an inventory of masks to comply with Kent County and the State of Michigan executive orders. Campus personnel are trained in utilizing CDC recommended cleaning agents, equipment, techniques and protocols (e.g., electrostatic sprayers, targeted cleaning of high touchpoints, etc.). The university has hired a third-party contractor to provide a quick-response and “deep clean” of any area when needed.

“Cornerstone is blessed to have an expansive physical campus that offers tremendous flexibility and space in residence halls, meeting facilities, dining commons and athletic facilities,” explained Stowell. “Our plan will reduce occupancy density, optimize distancing and maximize sanitization.”

In addition, a detailed protocol for students, faculty and staff who have symptoms of coronavirus or have tested positive for the infection will be in place. While the Cornerstone experience will continue to be rich in the fostering of community, if necessary it will do so with physical distancing and smaller groups. Additionally, the university will implement:

  • Self-screening, tracking and tracing mechanisms for those who are symptomatic of COVID-19.
  • Procedures for self-isolation, quarantine and support for those who have tested positive for the virus.
  • Measures for those individuals who are immuno-vulnerable.

Full details regarding measures to mitigate the spread of illness will be released in June. Meanwhile, Cornerstone staff continues to work closely with local health officials, various higher education organizations and collegiate athletic associations to collaborate on the best practices for the RTO.

More information on Cornerstone’s plans for handling the COVID-19 can be found at The page includes information on Cornerstone’s internal COVID-19 task force and its processes for recommendations, accommodations for intercollegiate athletics, financial information and FAQs.

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