Important News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

March 24, 2020

Dear AMBS Community,

We continue to monitor COVID-19 and have several updates to share. We are experiencing something new together. Although we do not have all the answers at any given time, we are committed to providing information and clarity as we are able. 

We encourage AMBS students and employees to approach the coming days and weeks with calm and supportive action as we all adapt to a changing environment. Anxiety is a natural response at a time of great uncertainty, and the stress we are feeling is real. We also know that God’s love is stronger than our fear. We are sustained by this love, and by the supportive communities we will strengthen and build as people of faith journeying through COVID-19.

The following topics are addressed in this memo. Your careful reading is once again appreciated.

Access to Campus and Library

Yesterday the Indiana state government released a "stay at home" order for the next two weeks, which means people should only go to their workplaces if they are essential businesses. Educational institutions that can practice safe distancing are considered an essential business. However, we encourage employees to work from home for the next two weeks if they are not already doing so. Employees who need to be on campus to perform their work responsibilities are permitted to come to campus with the practice of safe physical distancing. Employees should continue to contact their supervisor regarding their needs and options during this time. The doors that will remain unlocked during normal working hours are the tower entrance to access the library and the slider door by the mailboxes and reception area. The campus will not be open to the public.

The AMBS Library is suspending its regular hours for the general public, effective March 24–April 6. However, the library will remain open for students and employees only during campus hours — currently 8am–10pm Monday–Thursday, 8am–6pm Friday, and 9:30am–5:30pm Saturday. Campus hours may be changed on short notice via the announcements email. Students, please utilize these generous campus library hours as a time for interacting socially at a safe physical distance and keeping up with online learning activities and research assignments. (Back to the topic list)

Student employment and compensation

As activity on campus slows, student employees may wonder how we will deal with compensation if they are not able to work because of reduced campus activity or illness. If a student employee is unable to do their work because they cannot be in their place of work or the flow of work slows, we will continue to compensate students for the amount we committed to pay at the beginning of the year. If the effects of the pandemic heighten significantly in the coming weeks or go beyond the June 30 fiscal year, we have several contingency plans in mind. If you have any concerns or questions about your employment or pay status, please initiate a conversation with your supervisor or contact Ron Ringenberg (ext. 212, [email protected]). (Back to the topic list)

Student Health Insurance Coverage

We encourage students to be proactive about their healthcare needs and insurance coverage. 

Students from the US and Canada carry their own insurance and should contact their insurance companies directly with any questions about coverage. 

International students have insurance through Visit Health Insurance/Seven Corners. COVID-19 is covered on the Plan E Plus. The test and treatment would be covered subject to the same deductible ($100) and coinsurance as any other illness. If students on this plan have COVID-19 symptoms they must call their doctor or local emergency room in order to be pre-certified for a test. This process may change if additional testing becomes available in the near future. International students should contact the insurance company with further questions about services at 1-800-247-5575 or email [email protected] (Back to the topic list)

Medical Care and Mental Health Care

This World Health Organization website  is a valuable source of information for how to stay safe and when to take action. 

Anyone with symptoms should contact their regular healthcare provider. AMBS students who are patients at Maple City Health Care Center may call 574-534-3300 if they experience any symptoms. The receptionist will refer a student patient to a doctor and a nurse will call the student back to follow up on a plan. The plan may involve self-isolation or, if the symptoms are severe, a trip to an urgent care center or the emergency room. Maple City will call ahead to let the urgent care center or ER know that a patient is on the way.

Maple City Health Care Center provides sliding scale services based on income, and this includes mental health care for AMBS students who are patients. The counselors are now seeing patients either virtually or by phone. If you are a patient at Maple City and need counseling, please call 574-534-3300 directly.  If you need help making a connection for counseling, contact Andy Brubacher Kaethler (ext. 284 or 574-389-0810) or Janeen Bertsche Johnson (ext. 216 or 574-536-9386). 

If you are a residential student and need help accessing care after hours, contact the coordinator of your Campus Care Pod. If they are not available, reach out to Andy or Janeen. (Back to the topic list)

Academics

As emailed to students earlier today, AMBS Teaching Faculty developed and approved a temporary exception to our pass/fail policy in order to extend more grace during these extraordinary times. Please read the email carefully to understand when and how to communicate if you want to request the pass/fail option for any of your Semester Two courses.

If a student experiences any serious illness or medical emergency including a diagnosis of COVID-19 that makes it impossible to maintain their course work,  AMBS’s policies on course extensions for exceptional circumstances will apply. 

Decisions will be forthcoming about formats for Summer Intensive courses.

A separate memo will be sent to AMBS students to address specific questions about managing academics. Direct communication with professors about your concerns and questions for specific courses is always encouraged, and especially important during this time of physical distancing. (Back to the topic list)

Commencement

As we communicated to the class of 2020 earlier this afternoon, it has now become more clear that we cannot hold the gatherings that are typically part of AMBS Commencement. We deeply regret this. To mark the significant accomplishments of our graduates, AMBS will hold a virtual Commissioning and Commencement service during the first weekend of May. Members of the class of 2020 will also be invited to participate in the 2021 Commencement events if they are able to do so. (Back to the topic list)

Additional Resources

We are grateful for the Campus Care Committee (Andy, Janeen, and Rachel Miller Jacobs) which last week set up four Campus Care Pods for AMBS students and their families. Each pod coordinator has one or two coordinators (Michelle and Jacob Curtis; Endalk Degefu; Febri Kristiani; Salomé Haldeman and Kristen Swartley). The pod coordinators will check in with their pod members daily to see how they are doing spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and physically. Andy or Janeen will check in with the coordinators daily as well to see if there are issues or needs that students have that require attention.

If you have financial concerns and want to know what resources you are eligible for, Church Community Services (CCS) in Elkhart has counselors available to assess individual needs and help access services. Please call 574-295-3673 to be connected with a CCS counselor.

We expect any shortages of supplies or food staples in grocery or drug stores to be temporary.  As noted earlier, if on-campus students are not able to find basic sanitary supplies (soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, etc) or food staples in stores, we will make available our campus supplies. If you run out of supplies or staples and the stores do not have these, please contact Linsey Vandrick at ext. 0 (zero) or [email protected] and she will arrange to make needed campus storage supplies available.

In this time of physical distancing, we urge our community members to take advantage of opportunities to be socially connected and spiritually resourced. Chapels continue to run remotely, and the Library remains open for student use as noted above. The new AMBS webpage With Hope and Resilience initiated and coordinated by AMBS’s Communication and Marketing Team is another resource to help sustain each other.

We know we have not answered every question or addressed every uncertainty with this update. We will do our best to provide information and clarity as we journey through COVID-19 together. We will continue to send emails when there is news or information to share, and will also document our communication at the AMBS Update Center. (Back to the topic list)

May God’s peace be with each of you, 

David Boshart, President
Beverly Lapp, VP and Academic Dean
Ron Ringenberg, VP and CFO


March 17, 2020

AMBS Library & Bookstore Hours and Modified Services

Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the library will have abbreviated regular hours and longer campus hours. This will be the case at least for the remainder of the current semester. This gives us flexibility to respond to staff absences due to COVID-19.
 
Regular hours are Monday to Friday, 1pm to 4pm. During regular hours, the library will be fully staffed and ready to serve students, employees, community borrowers, and bookstore customers. Regular hours will be posted publicly on the library website. Regular hours may be suspended by seminary administration for health and safety reasons.
 
Campus hours are Monday to Thursday 8am-10pm, Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturday 9:30am-5:30pm. During campus hours, the library will be *open only to AMBS students and employees*. Some services may be unavailable at times, including library checkouts and bookstore transactions. Campus hours may be cancelled on short notice via an announcement to the all-campus email list.

Other changes to services

We are implementing other changes in the library to help everyone stay safe and retain access to resources. Check out our Library Guide on COVID-19 for more information about library services during this time.

  • We are delivering all reserve readings electronically. All reserve books are now in non-circulating status behind the library desk. Please fill in this form or see the library assistant to request a scan.
  • We are offering proxy pickup or mailing service for print books in our collection. See our guide for more details.
  • We are acquiring more e-books and providing scans of generous portions of print items in our collection.
  • We are quarantining recently returned books and wiping down frequently used surfaces.

Thank you for your understanding as we adapt to serve you. Let us know if you have any questions or special needs.

Karl Stutzman, Director of Library Services


March 16, 2020

Dear AMBS Community,

With this memo, we have several updates to share. Your careful reading is once again appreciated.

COURSES

As we continue to learn more about what our communities near and far are facing with COVID-19, it has become more clear that our classes cannot run normally for the rest of the semester. Effective Tuesday, March 17, we will move all classes to one of the following online formats, through April 13 and possibly beyond:

  • Virtual class sessions with all students and the professor attending remotely. The class would meet at the regularly scheduled time. 
  • Fully online format with interactive components.
  • A mix of virtual class sessions and online course activities.

Professors have already or will soon communicate directly with students to explain how specific course(s) will move forward. 

We also want to assure international students that the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) has issued emergency guidance that will allow international students to exceed the limit of online courses they are typically allowed to take (which is 3 credit hours) as part of their full-time load.  As long as international students are still maintaining a full-time course load - whether that is on campus or online - and they are still actively participating in each of their classes, then they are cleared to remain in the U.S.  

Decisions about potential changes to formats for Summer Intensive Term will be made at a future time. We are committed to meeting students’ course needs to the best of our ability. 

CAMPUS ACCESS

While some AMBS employees will begin working from home, our intention at this time is to keep main offices open with safe cleaning and social distance practices in place. We are also planning to keep the AMBS Library open though there may be some adjustment to hours. See the AMBS Library Response to COVID-19 for updated information about access and services.

Please be judicious about your presence on campus. If children are on campus, we ask that they be under close supervision and practice physical distancing. Use preventative public health and hygiene measures as described by the World Health Organization. Additional sanitizer is available around campus. We encourage keeping doors open when possible and other efforts to limit contact with common surfaces.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms or with household members with symptoms should not come to the main campus. If anyone has had a fever, they should not be in a campus building other than their own apartment unless they have been fever-free for 36 hours.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

We will not hold gatherings of more than 50 people and public campus events until the CDC advises otherwise. 

Regular in-person chapel will be suspended until further notice. However, stay tuned for information about how we will create virtual and outside worship opportunities through this time. 

Tuesday evening potluck meals and Wednesday lunches will be discontinued for now.  There will be further information about replacement or refunds for those who signed up for Wednesday lunches. 

The Presidential Inauguration service and related events scheduled for the weekend of April 18-19 are postponed. There will be future communication about the rescheduling of this. 

We will be reviewing options for the April 16-18 AMBS Board Meeting and the May 1-2 Commencement events.

CARING FOR EACH OTHER

Although we are fortunate to have faculty experience and technical readiness to make the shift to virtual and online courses, we know it will not be easy. The other adjustments we are needing to make will also be difficult on campus, in our homes, and in our communities. This is an extraordinary time that will require extraordinary levels of communication with each other. We ask all to exercise patience, adaptability, and grace as we together learn how to be an engaged and supportive learning community through an unprecedented challenge. 

In addition to caring about public health and the physical health of the AMBS community, we need to be attentive to each other’s emotional and spiritual well-being. We encourage creative community endeavors to build and maintain connections. For example, perhaps AMBS could have a “virtual potluck” where we gather to each serve up a joke, a prayer concern, or a song. We are confident the ideas will begin flowing.

Andy Brubacher Kaethler (ext. 284 or 574-389-0810) and Janeen Bertsche Johnson (ext. 216 or 574-536-9386) are available to provide support, prayer, and help in discernment if you have personal or family concerns. Contact Beverly Lapp (ext. 267 or 574-596-4025) if you are not able to reach Andy or Janeen.

Please stay tuned for further updates as the situation unfolds. We will continue to send emails when there is news or information to share, and we now also have a webpage that documents our campus decisions and announcements: AMBS Update Center

With gratitude for the human and spiritual resources of our community,

David Boshart, President
Beverly Lapp, VP and Academic Dean
Ron Ringenberg, VP and CFO


March 13, 2020

Community needs during this time

As you know there is now a declared national state of emergency. We understand this is important for states and local communities to access necessary services and relief. It may also lead to unhelpful panic and a rush on grocery supplies. It may be highly concerning to witness this or to see empty shelves as a result. We expect stores to be able to quickly restock, so if you see empty shelves, do not worry.

If in the coming days or weeks any supplies are needed that are not available in the stores, we will make staples from the AMBS kitchen and other AMBS supplies available to campus residents. We do not expect this to happen, but as a community we commit to caring for each other. We encourage you to contribute to calm and supportive action, not to panic. Please look out for each other's needs and report any concerns to any Ad Cabinet member or Andy or Janeen.

We will continuously monitor the situation and keep everyone informed of any changes to our schedule or practices.

On behalf of the AMBS Ad Cabinet,

Beverly Lapp, VP and Academic Dean
David Boshart, President


March 12, 2020

COVID-19 continues to be in the news all the time everywhere. No doubt you have been hearing about changes in travel plans, work routines and schools that are moving their courses all online. It’s a confusing and anxious time. The health and safety of our campus is our highest priority and we want to do everything in our power to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and all transmittable diseases on our campus and in the wider community. We are following state and county guidelines and consulting with partner organizations as we monitor the situation.

As a small seminary, we are fortunate that our gatherings do not have the crowd density that many larger institutions have. Our face-to-face class schedule will continue as usual. But stay tuned to campus communication in the event that the spread of the virus increases in this area and we determine it is safer for our learning community and for public health to move to online formats for classes and meetings. Overall, our goal is to keep everyone safe, while also supporting students to continue learning and to complete their courses.

During these uncertain times we want to attend not only to our physical health needs, but also your emotional and spiritual needs. Andy Brubacher Kaethler (ext. 284 or 574-389-0810) and Janeen Bertsche Johnson (ext. 216 or 574-536-9386) are available to provide support, prayer, and help in discernment if you have personal or family concerns. Contact Beverly Lapp (ext. 267 or 574-596-4025) if you are not able to reach Andy or Janeen.

If you need to miss class or work due to illness or other reason please contact your supervisor or instructor.

We ask all to practice preventative public health and hygiene measures and encourage social distancing as described by the World Health Organization. Additional sanitizer is available at various locations around campus. Our custodial team has increased attention to disinfecting public areas and especially
commonly touched surfaces. We encourage keeping doors open when possible and other efforts to limit contact with common surfaces.

We want to remind you again to not come to campus if you or anyone in your household are experiencing flu-like symptoms. If you have symptoms (fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting) please do the following:

  • Limit your physical contact with others.
  • Remain home from class, work, and other public activities to limit the spread of infection. You should be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to classes and work.
  • Contact a doctor or provider at the first sign of flu-like symptoms to potentially shorten the impact of the virus.
    • Students and employees who exhibit flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their regular health care provider.
    • Elkhart students can also contact Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen at 213 Middlebury St, Goshen. 574-5 34-3300. In case of an after-hours emergency, contact Andy Brubacher Kaethler (ext. 284 or 574-389-0810) and Janeen Bertsche Johnson (ext. 216 or 574-536-9386)
    • Employees should contact their supervisors.

As always, the health and well-being of our community is our highest priority. Please be understanding and as flexible as possible if a member of our community needs to take time away. If the situation on our campus changes we will let people know as soon as possible. Please pay attention to announcements or emails from us about the virus and our response. Thank you for helping us create a campus community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone, and where all are treated with care, dignity and respect.

Blessings,
David Boshart, President
Beverly Lapp, VP and Academic Dean


March 2, 2020

Update about Coronavirus (COVID-19) precautions

Although there have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Indiana, we have been closely monitoring the situation in the United States and around the world. In the United States, the threat to the general public for contracting COVID-19 remains low . We will work closely with local health resources and as a leadership team in order to be prepared if this changes.

We are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for decisions, including about travel abroad. If you have traveled to a country with a CDC Level 3 warning (currently China, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Iran) in the last 14 days or plan to in the future, please contact Beverly Lapp or Ron Ringenberg immediately to take appropriate precautions.

Even if you haven’t recently traveled abroad, taking good care of yourself is important not just for you, but for the entire community. We encourage everyone to take these basic steps to help protect yourself and others from viral illness:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Greet each other by bumping elbows rather than shaking hands or hugging.
  • Don’t share water bottles, glasses or eating utensils. Limit close contact, including kissing, with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands). Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Get a flu shot – it’s not too late.
  • Be aware that facemasks are not needed for the general public.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
  • Our custodial staff is asked to maintain strong procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects in public areas that are touched often, and to also take extra precautions in areas that are identified as needing it.

If you become ill with flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting):

  • Limit your physical contact with others.
  • Remain home from class, work, and other public activities to limit the spread of infection. You should be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to classes and work.
  • See a doctor or provider at the first sign of flu-like symptoms to potentially shorten the impact of the virus.
    • Students and employees who exhibit flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their regular health care provider.
    • Elkhart students can also contact Maple City Health Care Center in Goshen at 213 Middlebury St, Goshen. 574- 534-3300.
    • Please contact Mary Ann Weber at [email protected] or ext. 207 if you need help connecting or have any questions.
    • In case of an after-hours emergency, go directly to the closest emergency room. The closest emergency room to the AMBS campus is Elkhart General Hospital at 600 East Blvd, Elkhart, 574-523-3315.
  • Let others know:
    • Students: Contact Mary Ann Weber immediately so we can be of assistance to you and track campus health needs. Contact family members and let them know you are taking the necessary steps to restore your health.
    • Employees: You or your supervisor should contact the Human Resources Office to report absences due to flu-like symptoms.

As always, the health and well-being of our community is our highest priority. Please be understanding and as flexible as possible if a member of our community needs to take time away. Thank you for helping us create a campus community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone, and where all are treated with care, respect and dignity.

Sincerely,
Beverly Lapp, VP and Academic Dean
Ron Ringenberg, VP and CFO