Return to Campus 2021

March 19, 2021

Bluffton University event attendance policy update

The COVID-19 Steering Committee is pleased to announce that starting Friday, April 2, participating Bluffton University students will be allowed two tickets for parents to attend certain approved on-campus athletic events and performances.

The COVID steering committee has taken into consideration the following:

  • Governor DeWine’s announcement on Tuesday, March 16, regarding vaccines being available for all Ohio residents over the age of 16 as of March 29.
  • Consistently low positivity rates on campus and improving positivity rates in the region and state of Ohio.
  • After Easter weekend when many students have returned home, random testing on campus will increase to 50 percent of the undergraduate student population.

We believe these changes will create a safer opportunity for parents to support students at limited end-of-the year events.

Ticketed events will include music recitals, the senior art exhibit and remaining home athletic events. Additional events will be considered by the COVID-19 Steering Committee. Students, faculty and staff may submit a proposal for a ticketed event to Karen Bontrager for review and action by the COVID-19 Steering Committee.

In most cases, student life programs not normally open to the public will not be permitted tickets for guests as we continue to #ProtectTheDam and limit off campus visitors to campus. Ticket distribution processes will be managed by individual areas for approved events. Details on tickets will come from professors or coaches. This does not impact attendance policies for “away” athletic contests.

At ticketed events, parents will have designated seating areas separate from students. Parents are strongly encouraged to limit interactions with their students (no hugging, kissing or shared meals) and are restricted from entering the residence halls. Parents are required to wear a mask at all times while on campus property.

In the event the positivity rate on campus is higher than the seven-day average of the positivity rate in the state of Ohio, per the Ohio Department of Health website, or a sudden cluster of cases develops on campus, tickets to events will no longer be issued.

All other #ProtectTheDam polices remain in effect.

COVID-19 vaccines

Students, faculty and staff are highly encouraged to seek out vaccines. The Allen County Department of health web site and Ohio Department of Health website are resources for vaccine clinics and registration information. Most vaccine locations will require you to register for an appointment. After March 29, all persons over the age of 16, including non-Ohio residents enrolled on college campuses in Ohio, are eligible for vaccines.

While improvements are happening with vaccines and low positivity rates, we still have seven weeks of classes left. The end is in sight but we are not there yet.

Our goals is to continue to #ProtectTheDam so that we can continue to live and learn in person, finish sports seasons, hold an in person graduation and send students on cross cultural experiences.

Jan. 8, 2021

Special announcement


Below are five NEW enhancements to the Protect The Dam Plan for the spring semester. Lessons learned from fall semester> 
Answers to FAQ for spring semester #ProtectTheDam plan >

Testing to Return to Campus

For all students enrolling in the spring 2021 semester, you will be required to submit ONE of the following (paid for by the student) before you move back onto campus (residential students) or attend your first class (commuter students):

  • Documentation of a COVID-19 positive test result from sometime in the 90 days prior to Jan. 19, 2021.
  • Documentation of a COVID-19 negative test result performed after Jan 11, 2021. 
    **Contact your County Health Department for testing locations and if there are free testing sites in your area.**
  • Documentation of a COVID-19 antibody test with a positive result performed in the 90 days prior to Jan. 19, 2021.
  • Documentation of being administered a vaccine for COVID-19.

Documentation must show the student’s name and date of test/vaccine and the result. Please blank out any personal information regarding social security number, health ID, insurance ID, etc.

Email proof of documentation to Amber Wineland in the Student Life Office at

Students will not be permitted to return to campus without documentation on file with the Student Life Office.

Everyone should limit your exposure to large gatherings 10 days before you return to campus. This will help ensure a safe and healthy start to the semester.

International students who are returning from international destinations will need to quarantine on campus for 10 days after their arrival. International students who are domestic, need to follow the process above and will not need to quarantine. 

Testing During the Semester

Student athletes, athletic staff and the inner bubble for each team will continue to follow the testing plans as established by the NCAA.

Students who do not participate in athletics will be screened with random weekly tests. These tests will be administered by Campus Health Center with rapid tests (less invasive nasal swab and 15 minute result).

Faculty and staff not involved in the athletics program will not require testing.

Green Badge System for Daily Symptom Check

New this semester, all students will report their daily symptom check in a new Campus Shield app provided by Cellular 911. Each day, students will submit their symptom report into the app. A green badge will then display on the app. Students will need to show their green badge to get into The Commons for meals. If you do not have a green badge for the day, you will not be permitted into The Commons. More details will be provided on how to download the app. This new system will also replace the RAVE system previously used as the campus-wide emergency text messaging system.

How to avoid quarantine via Contact Tracing

The best ways for students to protect themselves and to limit their risk to COVID exposure, to end up in quarantine or isolation:

  • wear your mask at all times
  • follow social distance rules
  • limit time when eating
  • don’t share utensils
  • avoid large gatherings.

Protect yourself so you do not have to be contact traced.

Campus Community Covid-19 Expectations and Consequences for Accountability

  • Students must remain on campus or in the village on evenings and weekends.
  • Students must obtain written permission from their hall director to be off campus overnight and follow appropriate protocol upon return to campus.
  • Students must wear masks over the nose and mouth when outside their dorm room.
  • Students must complete daily symptom monitoring using the Campus Shield app.
  • Students may only be excused from attending in-person class for quarantine or isolation when directed by Dr. Sherri Winegardner.
  • No guests or visitors will be permitted on campus or in residence halls.

Students who violate the Campus Community Covid-19 Expectations will be held accountable with the following outcomes:

  • First infraction: Meeting with Mr. Phill Talavinia, VP of Student Life, for an official warning.
  • Second infraction: 3-day off-campus suspension from classes (students may not receive credit for course work collected during the period of suspension) and extra-curricular activities, followed by rapid testing (at the student’s expense) upon return to campus.
  • Third infraction: Suspension from Bluffton University with no refunds on tuition, fees, room and board.

COVID 19 Steering Committee

Dr. Sherri Winegardner,
Director and associate professor of nursing,
Karen Bontrager,
Director of president’s office,
Robin Bowlus,
Vice president of advancement and enrollment management,
Tyson Goings,
Director of residence life and diversity, equity and inclusion,
Iris Neufeld,
Amber Wineland,
Student life coordinator,
Phill Talavinia,
Vice president of student affairs and athletics,