2021 Spring semester return FAQ

return to campus Final Reminders 

Move in info: 
Students may move into their residence halls any time after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. There are no specific move in times assigned to residential students this semester. If you have questions about move in, please contact your resident advisor.

Testing reminder:
All students need to follow the testing protocol to return to campus. Details >

If you have not turned in your testing results, you will not be able to return to campus. For questions contact Amber Smith at smitha@bluffton.edu in the Student Life Office. There are free “pop-up” testing sites available across Ohio.

Green Badge System for daily symptom check
New this semester, all students will report their daily symptom check in the Campus Shield app provided by Cellular 911. Details on how to get this app will come via e-mail on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Each day, students will submit their daily 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. You will not be permitted into The Commons until you have a green badge for the day. This new system will also replace the RAVE system previously used as the campus-wide emergency text messaging system.


What are the “new” enhancements to the #ProtectTheDam plan?
Many of the processes that served our campus well in the fall are being repeated. The only “new” measures implemented for the spring semester are: 

  • the use of the Campus Shield app for daily symptom monitoring
  •  increased testing for all students
  • enhanced consequences for accountability (including suspension from campus for repeated violations). 

Why do I have to remain on campus or in the village?

One of the things we learned from last semester is that keeping students on campus, as much as possible, was key to keeping COVID-19 infections at bay in our campus community. This worked well until Halloween weekend when students left campus to attend large parties on other campuses and in their home communities (including large extended family gatherings like bridal showers, baby showers, etc.).

The intention is to limit the number of opportunities for students to unknowingly bring the virus back to campus. If a student needs to go to Lima or Findlay to pick up a prescription, for example, that is okay. We ask students to be vigilant about mask wearing and social distancing and to limit these types of trips as much as possible.

Students should avoid large gatherings or situations where people will be unmasked, sharing food and beverages and social distancing is not maintained. This also aligns with the group gathering advisory set by the Ohio Governor and the CDC.  

What if I need to leave campus overnight for a family event?

Every semester, including last semester, we have students leave campus overnight to attend special events such as family weddings, baby showers and so forth. While we do not encourage this, we understand students may continue to attend these kinds of special events.

To that end, we formalized the process from last semester. At least one week prior to leaving campus, students who need to leave campus overnight should complete the Notification for Leaving Campus for a Special Event Form, which will be available on the Student Life tab in my.bluffton.edu

The form will be reviewed by the Student Health and COVID-19 Steering Committee. A representative from the committee will contact the student with instructions for how to safely return to campus, based on the location of the special event and state and local health department recommendations. The committee may determine that a negative COVID-19 test is required before the student returns to campus.  

Students who leave campus overnight without completing the Notification for Leaving Campus for a Special Event Form will be required to quarantine and will be subject to consequences for violating campus expectations.

Can I still have my off-campus job?

Many Bluffton University students have off-campus jobs. We learned last semester that off-campus jobs did not contribute to on-campus spread of COVID-19. However, students who stayed at home overnight while working off-campus jobs were exposed to COVID-19 by family members. 

Students who are in this situation should contact the Student Health and COVID-19 Steering Committee to make a plan to protect themselves and our campus when working off-campus and outside the limits of the university and the village.

Campus Shield app

A key component for keeping all of our campus as safe as possible last semester was identifying potentially sick students through daily monitoring of symptoms. This semester, we have a more convenient way for students to report their symptoms: the Campus Shield app instead of reporting through my.Bluffton.edu.

Our plan is to have students show their “green badge” at mealtimes because it is a convenient reminder for students to complete their daily symptom monitoring. The daily symptom reporting takes only a minute or two to complete, so students will not be turned away from the Commons, they just need to complete the self-check prior to entry. Any students who report symptoms will be contacted by Dr. Sherri Winegarder, director of nursing, for follow-up consultation.

What if I’ve received the vaccine or have had COVID-19, do I still need to follow protocols?

YES – you still need to follow protocols. Currently, the CDC reports that those with the vaccine or COVID-19 positive test in the last 90 days still need to follow all safety recommendation (wear masks in public, social distance, monitor self-health, avoid large gatherings).

While the vaccine will protect an individual from becoming “sick” from the virus; there is not yet evidence that the vaccine protects an individual from carrying the virus to others. The same things is true for individuals who had COVID-19. There is not enough evidence at this time to indicate immunity lasts more than 90 days or that individuals cannot still be a carrier of the virus for others.