COVID-19 Updates for 2021-22

Grand Canyon University (GCU) was successful in navigating the challenges of COVID-19 throughout the 2020-21 academic year, keeping the health and safety of our students and staff top of mind. Through our voluntary vaccine and testing policies, robust mitigation efforts and the diligence and cooperation of students, staff and faculty, we finished the year with five or fewer active cases of COVID-19 in each of the last six weeks of the spring 2021 semester.

We also proudly served our surrounding community during the pandemic by producing and distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), collaborating with our partners to offer COVID-19 testing sites on campus and operating a Point of Distribution (POD) vaccination site that administered more than 115,000 vaccines to the public.

For the 2021-22 academic year, we are delighted to announce that campus operations will be returning to the normal pre-pandemic experience that GCU is known for. This includes the welcoming and innovative move-in and Welcome Week experience as well as in-person instruction and campus activities, such as clubs and athletic events, that will operate without restrictions. Students who wish to take online courses will continue to have that option as course content permits.

We will continue to partner with local health authorities to monitor the data and information carefully, and we are confident we can adjust our operations, if needed. But our plan is to reopen the campus without restrictions in the fall semester.

Recent Communications from GCU

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FAQs for 2021-22 Academic Year

GCU continues to partner with state and local health authorities to carefully monitor COVID-19 in Arizona and its impact specific to our campus, and we are confident we can adjust our operations, if needed. Guidelines and policies outlined below are subject to change based on those conditions.

General

GCU will continue to encourage students, faculty and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccination and will assist those who want to receive the vaccine during the fall semester. However, vaccines will not be required to attend GCU.

In certain programs such as nursing, teacher education, counseling, etc. in which clinicals or field experience are required for licensure, students are subject to the health and safety requirements of the healthcare organizations or school districts that serve as clinical or field experience sites. GCU has been notified by many healthcare organizations and school districts that they will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees as well as others that will be working in their facilities beginning with the fall 2021 semester. GCU continues to monitor these requirements and will communicate that information to students as it becomes available. Some of these organizations may allow exemptions to students who meet the criteria established by the healthcare organization or school district. More detailed information regarding health and safety requirements in those settings is being communicated directly to students in each of those programs.

Students can reach out to GCU’s Health and Wellness Clinic at 844-391-1949 or HealthCenter@gcu.edu for assistance in receiving a vaccine or booster shot on campus. The Health and Wellness Clinic carries the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine.

Students and staff can choose to wear a mask in the classroom or indoors. However, masks are currently not required on campus. The only exceptions are in clinical settings, including the Health and Wellness Clinic, where face coverings are required, and in nursing laboratory environments where face coverings and shields are used in order to replicate real-world health settings in which those are utilized. GCU is continuing to monitor the pandemic’s impact specific to our campus and may make changes as necessary in order to ensure our students’ academic success.

It will be up to the discretion of the faculty member whether to ask students to wear face coverings in such meetings. Alternatives such as Zoom meetings will also be available. Students are free to wear face coverings in any such settings, whether the faculty or staff member requests it or not.

Masks are also required in GCU’s ACE Centers, and the Math, ENG and ELL Learning Centers. Due to a high volume of students entering and exiting this space throughout the hours of operation (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and because of multiple faculty members working in proximity with students—both participants must abide by the mask policy. Students who do not wish to wear a mask can seek guidance by scheduling virtual appointments through the Career Connections.

There might be some students in programs with higher contact rates, like athletics, where random testing is instituted. The student body at large should not anticipate a random testing program. Students who are symptomatic or in quarantine will be asked to test. Students who voluntarily wish to be tested can do so at the Health and Wellness Clinic.

GCU highly encourages all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated in order to create the safest campus environment possible and ensure that campus operations can continue without restrictions. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases nationally as a result of the Delta variant is primarily among those who are unvaccinated.

Coursework and Classroom Instruction

Yes, classes will return to the same format prior to COVID-19 with regular face-to-face instruction for all in-person classes. Students choosing to take online courses may pursue that option as course content and availability permits.

Programs leading to licensure or programs requiring any field experience are subject to the health and safety requirements of the external organizations that they are assigned to. Students in those programs should contact their assigned Field Experience Counselor for those detailed requirements.

More detailed information regarding health and safety requirements in those settings will be communicated directly to students in each of those programs.

Students needing quarantine or isolation are to contact the COVID hotline at 602-639-7300.

The COVID-19 hotline will collect the student’s information and share it with the necessary GCU departments to support the student’s academic progress. GCU will contact the faculty and instructors on the student’s behalf.

Campus Life

Currently, events are scheduled to operate at regular capacity and will not be modified. Students can expect in-person activities on campus including Chapel, clubs and athletic events. Students who choose to wear a mask can do so at all events.

Yes, visitors are currently allowed on campus. GCU asks that visitors are not exhibiting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and have not had contact with a positive COVID-19 patient in the last 10 days. Visitors, at their discretion, are free to wear face coverings in all settings if they choose.

Currently, all dining areas on campus are open without restrictions.

Health

If you are feeling ill, please stay in your residence hall room. If you must leave your room, use a face covering and maintain distance greater than six feet from others until you see a medical provider.

Call the COVID-19 Hotline at 602-639-7300 option #3. The GCU Health and Wellness Clinic asks that you call ahead so their team can properly screen each individual prior to entering the clinic. Many of the visits can be done by Telehealth. If it is determined, based on the telehealth visit, that an in-person visit is necessary, staff will arrange for a safe in-person visit with one of their qualified medical professionals.

If a student is seen in the Health Clinic, a mask will be required to enter. Upon entering the Health Clinic there will be a kiosk with the necessary PPE for those that need it. You can contact the GCU Health and Wellness Clinic at 844-391-1949 or HealthCenter@gcu.edu. If you are faculty or staff and experiencing these same symptoms, seek medical attention by calling a medical professional and do not come to work. Further instructions are available on LopeNet for faculty and staff. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, call 9-1-1 or seek immediate care at the nearest emergency room.

If students feel ill or need to report an exposure to a COVID-19 positive person, they must call the COVID-19 hotline at 602-639-7300 and press option #1. A quarantine and isolation team member can answer your questions, provide guidance on testing, and explain how to follow the Student Disability Office's (SDS) absence verification process. Students not following this process are delaying communications to your faculty and professors.

Students who test positive with an at-home quick test must verify that result with a COVID-19 test from a provider testing site. GCU's on-campus testing site is available for all students until 6 p.m seven days a week. Please submit your confirmation COVID-19 test results to SDS at DisabilityOffice@gcu.edu after speaking to the COVID-19 hotline.

If you have tested positive in the last 90 days and come into contact with another positive COVID-19 individual, you are expected to attend class. Following the CDC and Maricopa County public health's guidance, you are considered safe from reinfection during these 90 days. Therefore, your class absence may not be approved. If you have questions, please call the COVID-19 Hotline or email SDS.

Students have the option to isolate on or off campus. A section of rooms have been set aside to house students who test positive and need to be placed in isolation. Students who have come in close contact with an individual who tests positive and need to be placed into quarantine will be handled on a case-by-case basis depending on their living situation and whether they are symptomatic. Students who show no symptoms, test negative and live in a residence hall in which they have their own room may be able to quarantine in their room.

Additional isolation/quarantine spaces will be made available if needed. 

Students who can show that they are fully vaccinated may not have to be placed in quarantine if they come in close contact with an individual who tests positive and are asymptomatic.

Students who can show documentation of a positive COVID-19 test in the past 90 days and are asymptomatic will not need to quarantine.

Yes, students can go to the walk-up COVID-19 testing site located at the Trails parking lot by Technology Building 57 and Encanto Apartments Building 27 from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday. No appointment is necessary at the walk-up site. The site does accept insurance, so there are no out-of-pocket costs. Both antigen and PCR tests are available. Antigen test results are available within 15 minutes, and PCR results take 24-48 hours. Testing is also still available by making an appointment at the GCU Health and Wellness Clinic – 844-391-1949 or HealthCenter@gcu.edu.

GCU was blessed in that low case counts during the spring semester were manageable in large part because of mitigation efforts, mild symptoms experienced by those who did test positive and the cooperation and compassion of our students. During each of the final seven weeks of the semester, there were five or fewer COVID-19 cases connected to campus, and we finished the semester with zero active cases.

For the entire semester, since Jan. 1, 2022, there were 1,471 positive COVID-19 cases connected to the GCU campus community. Of those, 1,445 were students and 29 were employees.

All data last updated 4/24/2022


Communications from GCU


Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was passed which authorized funding under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (“HEERF”) to Institutions of Higher Learning. These funds were divided into a “Student Portion” and “Institutional Portion.” The Student Portion is required to be provided as Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. The Institutional Portion is to be used to reimburse the University for costs it incurred related to disruption on campus. GCU is committed to using the Institutional Portion to provide additional student grants and other expenditures for the direct benefit of students.

In December 2020 additional funds were authorized by Congress through the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

In March 2021, additional funds were authorized through the American Rescue Plan Act. This included a third round of emergency aid for students.

In totally, GCU has been authorized to award up to $22,351,397 in CARES Act funds with at least half disbursed directly to students and $28,854,795 in combined HEERF II and III funds through those Acts as award to students. GCU was not awarded any institutional aid in 2021 or 2022.

As of March 31, 2022, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has awarded an additional $28,709,760 in HEERF awards to 75,552 students. These funds were authorized by Congress in December 2020 through the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and in March 2021, through the American Rescue Plan Act, which included a third round of emergency aid for students. GCU has been authorized to award up to $28,854,795 in combined HEERF II and III funds through these Acts as award to students. GCU was not awarded any institutional aid in 2021 or 2022. All required Applications, Certifications and Agreements (C&As) were returned. All HEERF I (CARES Act) funds were fully disbursed during 2020, see above for the details of those grants.

Any student who attended during the period January 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021 was initially considered for the HEERF II and III funds. To be eligible, students who had not been dismissed were required to have a valid 2021-2022 ISIR by January 6, 2022 with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in range for Federal Pell Grant eligibility, pass a separate means test for noncitizens, or if they were a citizen/eligible noncitizen with no 2021-2022 ISIR, a valid 2020-2021 ISIR with an EFC in range for FPELL. There were 158,079 students evaluated for eligibility for these funds. Please see our HEERF II and III Grant Program Distribution page for further details on the application and awarding process. It was determined that 75,552 students were eligible. The total allocation of $28,854,795 was divided by 75,552 to determine the amount per student. We rounded down to $380 per student.

As of March 31, 2022, of the 75,552 checks issued, 69,906 checks for a total of $24,664,280 have cleared the bank and two have been voided. We are attempting to contact the students who have not cashed the checks as well as those for whom the check was returned as non-deliverable. Funds are drawn down from ED’s G5 system after the checks cleared the bank.

As of December 31, 2021, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has not drawn down the HEERF II and III funds. GCU is planning to distribute these grant funds to students starting in February 2022. It is estimated at this time that approximately 80,000 to 100,000 students may be eligible to receive an award based on the eligibility criteria. GCU has determined that the most equitable way to disburse these grant funds to our students is to divide our total allocation by the number of students who are eligible. It is estimated that the award provided to eligible students will be approximately $250 to $300 depending upon the number of students that are ultimately determined to be eligible. An email notification has been sent to all eligible students with instructions to complete a FAFSA (or alternative application) by no later than January 7, 2022, if they have not already done so. International students and any others who cannot complete a FAFSA were offered an alternative means test utilizing the Estimated EFC calculator provided by the Department of Education (ED).

As reported above, as of September 10, 2021, Grand Canyon University (GCU) had signed and returned to ED the HEERF II & III Applications, Certifications and Agreements. All funding under this program will be distributed as emergency grants to students with exceptional need. GCU has been authorized to draw up to $28,854,795 for student grants for a period of one year from the date the funds became available. ED has determined that all undergraduate, graduate and professional students are eligible to be considered for this award. GCU students who were actively enrolled and not academically dismissed between January 1, 2021 and October 31, 2021 will be considered for the award. Because the award is required to be based on exceptional financial need, we require that a FAFSA be filled out and on file by all students who are eligible to fill one out. GCU will use the Official Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) to determine financial need. The EFC must be in the range for Federal Pell Grant eligibility; EFC of $5,846 or lower for the 2021-2022 FASFA or $5,711 or lower for the 2020-2021 FAFSA. GCU will use the most recent valid FAFSA data on file. ED has stated that international, undocumented, and non-US citizens students may also be eligible to receive these grant funds, therefore, we have designed an alternative process to determine financial need for those who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA. Noncitizens must also have been living in the US during that same eligibility period.

As of September 10, 2021, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has signed and returned to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) the HEERF II & III Applications, Certifications and Agreements. All funding under this program is to be distributed as emergency grants to students with exceptional need. GCU has been authorized to draw up to $28,854,795 for student grants for a period of one year from the date the funds became available. ED has determined that all undergraduate, graduate and professional students are eligible to be considered for this award. GCU students who were actively enrolled and not academically dismissed between January 1, 2021 and October 31, 2021 will be considered for the award. Because the award is required to be based on exceptional financial need, we require that a FAFSA be filled out and on file by all students who are eligible to fill one out. GCU will use the Official Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) to determine financial need. The EFC must be in the range for Federal Pell Grant eligibility; EFC of $5,846 or lower for the 2021-2022 FASFA or $5,711 or lower for the 2020-2021 FAFSA. GCU will use the most recent FAFSA on file. ED has stated that international, undocumented, and non-US citizens students may also eligible to receive these grant funds, therefore, we have designed an alternative process to determine financial need for those who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA. Noncitizens must also have been living in the US during that same eligibility period.

GCU is planning to distribute these grant funds to students by February 2022 and as of September 30, 2021, GCU has not drawn down these funds. It is estimated at this time that approximately 80,000 to 100,000 students may be eligible to receive an award based on the eligibility criteria. GCU has determined that the most equitable way to disburse these grant funds to our students is to divide our total allocation by the number of students who are eligible. It is estimated that the award provided to eligible students will be approximately $250 to $300 depending upon the number of students that are ultimately determined to be eligible. An email notification will be sent to all eligible students with instructions to complete a FAFSA (or alternative application) if they have not already done so.

As of June 30, 2021, all checks sent to the students that were voided, due to returns or were stale dated, were resolved. These uncashed student checks were from both the student and institutional allocations of funds. The Institutional Portion of the CARES Act funds were then reallocated between the categories of disbursements to students and offsets to housing refunds. After resolving the voids and re-issued checks, the University retained $3,272,917 to offset housing refunds issued to students in the Spring 2020 semester from the Institutional Portion. The remaining portion of $7,902,781 was accepted by students as direct payments. Combined with the emergency financial aid grants to the students, a total of 34,226 checks were cashed by students, totaling $19,078,590. There were 24,935 students who received one or more direct payments. Student awards were $610 for those funded for the spring 2020 term and $500 for those funded for the fall 2020 term. Some students received awards for both terms.

As of December 31, 2020, the University completed the disbursement of the entire $11,175,699 in emergency financial aid grants to 18,420 eligible students. Additionally, in October 2020, GCU received the Institutional Portion of the CARES Act funds in the amount of $11,175,698. The University retained $3,055,807 to offset housing refunds issued to students in the Spring 2020 semester. The remaining amount of $8,119,891 was disbursed directly to 16,239 students as additional emergency financial aid grants.

Subsequent to July 29, 2020, the University was able to validate students’ eligibility and additional Student Portion grants were distributed and others were returned to the University by students for various reasons. As of 9/30/2020, GCU has issued a total of 17,867 checks totaling $10,898,970 for the Student Portion for eligible students. The remaining funds will be disbursed to students by the end of December 2020.

As of July 29, 2020, there were an estimated 18,000 students from spring 2020 eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (the “HEA”) and were potentially eligible to receive the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. The University sent out 17,946 emergency grant checks totaling $10,947,060.

In order to be considered for this grant, students attending the spring 2020 term must have been in an Active status within our Student Information System as of March 1, 2020, must have been enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program of study that was not offered in a 100% online modality, and must have met all Title IV eligibility requirements set forth in HEA Section 484. As we confirm students’ eligibility for Title IV funding, the estimated number of eligible recipients fluctuated. Recognizing that all eligible students experienced additional expenses due to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GCU determined that the most equitable way to disburse these grant funds to our students was to divide our total allocation by the estimated number of eligible students.

Information on the use of the Student Portion grant funds was communicated to students via a letter insert with the emergency grant check which informed students that this grant was to assist with any unforeseen expenses that may have been incurred as a result of the disruption of campus operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic such as expenses for food, housing, course materials and technology, health and childcare. Students for whom GCU was unable to confirm eligibility to receive a grant based on HEA Section 484 requirements have also been contacted to provide them an opportunity to demonstrate eligibility under HEA Section 484.

Grand Canyon University signed and returned to the Department of Education its Certification and Agreement for the Student Portion on April 15, 2020, with our assurance that GCU has used or intends to use 100% of the Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students funding for eligible students. We have $11,175,699 available for the Student Portion.

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