In order for the EFCA’s Trinity International University to love thy neighbor in a pandemic, it took an order from a secular government leader. In late August, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued a vaccination mandate for students, faculty and staff in higher education settings. That moved Trinity to require vaccination or for students to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
“Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction ‘Love the neighbor as thyself.“
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3:8 ESV
A few weeks ago this blog researched and wrote about the ongoing issues with Trinity International University and vaccination. You can read that post in, “Trinity International University is Not Requiring COVID Vaccination For Returning Students Putting it at Odds with Other Illinois Universities. Does the Legacy of Scopes Hang Over the Flagship School of the EFCA?” Well the situation has changed and this blog needs to do an update to make sure the correct information is communicated. Let’s look at what happened.
An Illinois Governor’s Order Requiring Vaccination
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is far more infectious and lethal then the original coronavirus. You can read the facts from the Centers of Disease Control here. Yale Medicine also has a good description of the Delta variant which you can access here. In response to the changing situation Illinois Governor J.N. Prtizker issued an executive order that sought to change the course of COVID in the state. Pritzker’s executive order mandated the wearing of masks inside buildings. He also required that all P through 12 grade teachers, health care workers and those in higher education be vaccinated against COVOD-19. The governor took this action due to Illinois hospitals being slammed by the Delta variant. You can read more about this in the following news articles.
- ABC 7, “Illinois COVID-19 orders: A legal look at Gov. Pritzker’s 10th disaster declaration.“
- NBC 5, “Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Mask Mandate, Vaccine Requirements, COVID Metrics.“
Trinity International University Responds to the Vaccine Mandate
Within a few days after the vaccine requirements Trinity International University announced they would comply. The school required masks in indoor spaces and also required proof of vaccination. Trinity students had to declare their vaccine status by September 7, 2021. They had to show that they were fully vaccinated with the second Pfizer/Moderna shot or the 1 Johnson & Johnson shot. If they do not do that then Trinity students will face weekly COVID testing that they have to submit to regularly. This applies to all students in face to face teaching situations, dormitory settings, and all faculty and staff. Trinity President Nicholas Perin responded to the campus on August 31, and the school released a statement on September 2, on their COVID-19 page. Here is what Nicholas Perin wrote.
Dear Trinity Community,
With the new semester just underway, it is clear that we are entering a reality different from the one we had been hoping for. Several days ago it was reported that the daily average for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the United States has exceeded 100,000. Yes, we all had hoped for a better scenario. But God calls us to live wisely, faithfully, and responsibly—not in a fantasy world of unencumbered freedom but in the reality that he has sovereignly ordained, whatever its challenges, which are ultimately for our salvation (Romans 8:28).
In response to the increasing cases of COVID-19, on August 26, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an Executive Order mandating that all adults in Illinois who are medically able must wear face coverings in public indoors and in other specified settings; the order further mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all healthcare workers, school personnel and higher education personnel and on-campus students; otherwise, an individual would be required to participate in a weekly COVID test.
On Monday, August 31, I wrote a brief message reaffirming Trinity’s commitment to preserving—as much as it is within our power under the constraints of the law—the agency, dignity, and privacy of the individual, while also prioritizing the health and welfare of the community as a whole. Given the outworkings of providence (i.e., our reality) and given our institutional commitments, Trinity will be adopting the following provisional policies, pursuant to current healthcare trends as well as the governor’s mandate:
All students (taking face-to-face classes and/or residing in dormitory spaces), faculty, and staff will be required to choose one of two options:
- EITHER provide proof of full vaccination for COVID-19 (according to the Order, an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after receiving a single-dose of the J&J vaccine or the second dose of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine);
- OR be tested weekly for COVID-19 (at no financial cost to you).
At Trinity Deerfield, evidence of vaccination is to be submitted online through MedProctor (instructions for employees HERE; most students are already registered and simply need to upload their vaccine documentation, if applicable. If needed, registration instructions for students are HERE). This service is free to you. Those not registering their full vaccination by Tuesday, September 7, will be contacted with further instructions regarding the weekly testing process. Vaccination status can be updated at any time on MedProctor.
Please note two further changes to earlier policy. First, following a recent mandate from the Lake County Health Department (LCHD), we are reinstating the quarantine policy on campus. Dormitory students instructed to quarantine by LCHD will be provided with (1) a space to quarantine; (2) special care from our Health Services and Student Life teams; and (3) the opportunity to self-serve their meals. Second, in light of the governor’s mandate, our masking policy will now require masks in all public indoor spaces except for your own dorm room, dormitory suite, and floor, as these areas are, once again, deemed non-public spaces (“home-pods”).
Finally, we need to keep our eye on the “what ifs” ahead. With the documented rise of “breakthrough cases” over the summer (for example, this week Minnesota health officials reported that 30 percent of coronavirus infections in the first four weeks of August have involved people who were fully vaccinated), we need (1) to continue to encourage Trinity students and personnel to vaccinate, while also preparing ourselves (2) to take additional measures should the current breakthrough trends persist. Should reliable data show the continuance of this trend over the next 30 days, I will be asking the COVID Response Team to explore a scenario requiring all duly vaccinated Trinity students and personnel to test on a monthly basis. Campus safety is a top priority and everyone’s responsibility; out of love for another, we will all need to play our part.
We got through this last year by God’s grace and by working together. We are going to get through this year the very same way.
Nicholas Perrin, PhD
Trinity International University
Analysis and Missed Opportunities By Trinity to Love Thy Neighbor
This blog agrees with the Illinois Governor order requiring vaccination in higher education settings. This blog is grateful that Trinity is responding to the Illinois Governor’s order. However, this blog would like to point out that Trinity International University still failed to love their neighbor and did not live to the standards of Christian faith they proclaim. Here is the deal, Trinity is taking this action because it is required. They are taking this action because the schools’ attorneys looked it over and stated that they need to follow to be in compliance. In order for Trinity to love thy neighbor in a pandemic it took a secular Illinois Governor, JB Pritzker to act. Many other universities acted long before Trinity. That is what my first blog post is about in regards to Trinity International University. They had regular and frequent opportunities and they missed those often. In the view of this blog if you really want to experience a Christen education one should go to a state school system and leave the evangelical bubble. Interacting with the outside world can educate and broaden your perspective. Evangelical Christian schools kill faith and have deep problems. And while Trinity is far more intellectual than other evangelical schools they missed the boat on the COVID-19 pandemic. This blog believes that Nicholas Perrin deserves the blame for that aspect. This blog is still going to monitor the situation.