Campus Updates in Response to the Coronavirus

The health and safety of our students is always the top priority at Olivet Nazarene University. Our administrative team and a special taskforce of our Emergency Management Team are actively monitoring the potential impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our community.

Relevant campus updates will be posted on this page when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Frequently Asked Questions

Many students and parents have submitted questions and concerns. Get responses to the more frequent inquiries.


Update: May 11, 2020 11:00 a.m.

The following is a letter that was sent to current students, faculty, staff and prospective families.

Dear Olivet family,
I am very pleased to announce that this week Olivet Nazarene University is completing what has been a very stressful and yet a very successful spring semester. In the midst of this season of uncertainty, I would also like to extend a thank you to you for continuing to pursue a worthwhile degree and life-changing experience from Olivet. 

While the coronavirus pandemic did complicate University operations this spring, Olivet was able to rise to the occasion and find solutions to many of the challenges. Our Emergency Management Team met early in March to discuss multiple options for continuing classes. For the health and safety of our entire campus community, students did not return to campus after spring break. However, due to the extraordinary efforts of our faculty and staff, who quickly and efficiently transitioned our academic program and other services to an online delivery system, our current students were able to finish their classes and seniors to meet their graduation requirements. While it was not what we had planned, I was able to confer well over 1,300 degrees to graduates last Saturday morning as part of a special online Presidential Address.  The University will host a formal Commencement Ceremony on campus later this summer.  The tentative date is Saturday, August 15.  All graduates and their families are encouraged to attend.

As we look to the future, Olivet is making plans to open campus this fall with on-campus classes and activities. This will likely look different than it has in the past, but we are confident that we will have a strong start. In doing so, we will follow all federal and state directives regarding continued safety measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Management Team is continuing to review and formalize our continuity procedures, in case we need to modify our plans before or during the coming year. Decisions are being made with safety as our highest priority and we are constantly evaluating class size, housing, dining options, social events, and of course, the potential of another outbreak.

I anticipate welcoming a strong class of incoming freshmen and transfer students to campus for the start of the fall semester. Nearly all of our returning students have already completed their registration for next year and we are all expecting a thriving on-campus experience. In addition, the president of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) informed conference schools that the Association is planning a full schedule of fall sports.  Our coaches and teams are making plans to participate!

In the intervening months, a steady stream of information will be provided regarding the start of classes and other important activities. We are also using these months to make several significant campus improvements including upgrades to Ludwig Center, Reed Hall of Science, Burke Administration Building and other areas on campus.

The Alma Mater of this University declares in part, “The times we spent within these halls will ne’er forgotten be.” While that is true each year, it will be particularly true for all of us who have weathered the present storm.

Blessings to all!
John C. Bowling, President

Archived Updates
May 11, 2020 | 12:00 p.m.
Olivet Nazarene University is continuing to monitor the coronavirus pandemic situation and to abide by federal and state government rules and restrictions. However, the University is optimistically looking forward to the fall 2020 semester, knowing that some changes and adjustments will have to be made. The Emergency Operations Committee (EOC) is working to determine what the needs will be and will communicate updates directly to enrolled students, as well as update the FAQs page.
In the meantime, questions directly regarding the University's responses to COVID-19 may be directed to Questions regarding the undergraduate enrollment process may be directed to Thank you to our community, faculty and staff for your patience and support as we move forward! 
March 24, 2020 | 3:00 p.m.

UPDATE: Dr. Bowling Addresses Traditional Undergraduate Students

Dear Students and Families, 
Greetings from Olivet Nazarene University! It is certainly unprecedented that I am composing this update from the university campus that is nearly devoid of students. Frankly, it is unsettling to look across campus to see empty sidewalks and vacant classrooms. However, amidst this global pandemic, that is the situation in which we find ourselves. 

I am sure your situations have a similar surreal aspect — you are home and yet still in school. I  want you to know that I am thinking of you daily and praying for you as well. I am confident this is temporary. The Olivet campus we know and love will again be filled with students, faculty, staff, and promise. 

During this time when the entire country is under quarantine of varying ways, I want you — every student, parent and prospective student, to know that we remain fully committed to our mission to provide “An Education With A Christian Purpose.”  

God is With Us

I am also confident that God is with us here and with each of you. Since the University’s founding in 1907, we have faced adversity in many forms—including devastating fires, tornadoes, the financial stress of the Great Depression, world wars, and waves of social change. In all of these, God has proven faithful and Olivet emerged strong and united in its mission. We know scripture tells us “The One who has called us is faithful, and He will do it.” Therefore, we continue to seek His guidance, and trust His leading. 

Online Instruction 

As you are aware by now, all programming has shifted temporarily to an online mode. Though this has its challenges, our creative professors and staff have embraced this format and are working hard to maintain their connection with each and every student. Our aim is to maintain the highest standards of instruction, in an effort to move every student closer toward his or her educational goals. We understand that students are also adjusting to new learning environments, and we remain flexible in our expectations. While we have made immediate strides to transfer programming online, we anticipate a full return to residential campus life by no later than September 1. 

The Incoming Class 

The incoming class at ONU looks to be strong both in numbers and in its academic profile. The Admissions team has implemented a new, dynamic Virtual Visit component that allows prospective students to experience much of the key Olivet features from their home including campus tours, conversations with faculty members, financial aid visits and counselor visits. We are confident this will help equip the incoming class with all they need before fall. 

Room and Board Credits 

It is important to us that we handle student room and board expenses appropriately. I am pleased to let you know that we will be providing credit for room and board for the unused portion of this semester and will provide a refund to graduating seniors. This is a commitment that we take seriously. Credits and refunds will be determined based on each student’s unique charges and the level of ONU scholarships each student is currently receiving. The Office of Student Financial Services will be sending details to each student as these are completed. 

Registration for Fall 2020 Classes 

Registration for the fall 2020 semester will begin on April 6. The Registrar’s Office will be sending updated information to all continuing students in the coming days. Returning students will also be receiving information concerning housing signups. 

Commencement Exercises and Senior Week Activities 

We understand that all of these changes have been particularly hard for our graduating Seniors, The Visionary Class. Efforts are underway to ensure each graduate has everything he or she may need to enter the workforce upon completion of their degree. Though we are not precisely sure when Commencement will happen, or what it may look like – we know what an important milestone it is for the entire community. We are working to find a time and a format when we can gather this great class back together for a closing farewell. We hope to have more information regarding that possibility in the coming weeks. 

The Great Unknown 

I recall my first days as a student on the Olivet campus. I had so many questions, I was so curious about the world and about all that lay before me. This adventure has not ended, just perhaps been put on hold for a brief moment. The Olivet you know — the Olivet we love will again open its doors. Please pray for us as we pray for you. Please take exceptional care of yourself and those around you. Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Our entire faculty and staff are still on the job and ready to help. 

Gratefully and prayerfully, 
John C. Bowling

March 20, 2020 | 6:00 p.m.

Students have been notified of the following information:
For residential students, the “Move Out” day will take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 21.  You may have heard that the Illinois Governor announced a “Stay at Home” order effective tomorrow at 5:00pm. The move out is not mandatory at this time. You can email if you have specific questions about the process.

All roadways and highways will remain open. Individuals can travel for work. Restaurants and essential businesses, including gas stations and hotels, will remain open.  

Please follow the check-out procedures posted in each residential living area. The ONU Post Office will be open tomorrow (Saturday, March 21) from 9am-5pm.

March 17, 2020 | 11:00 p.m.

Today, March 17, the CDC raised all cruise ship travel to a Level 3 Warning against non-essential travel. Cruise ship passengers, including those who took river cruises, are at an increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In the past month, there have been reports of outbreaks of COVID-19 among passengers and crew on cruises. 

If you have recently taken a cruise, please follow these CDC self-quarantine guidelines and DO NOT RETURN TO WORK OR CAMPUS for 14 days after your return from the cruise. Please also send an email to to inform us of your travel. We ask that you stay home, practice social distancing and monitor your overall health. You can refer to the CDC website for more detailed information regarding this Level 3 Warning.

March 13, 2020 | 3:00 p.m.

The University Emergency Management Taskforce (UEMT) has been meeting throughout the day and working with various areas across campus and FAQs have been posted below.  Please review these, so you have a sense of what is happening across campus.

We have communicated to students, parents, faculty and staff members that online academic instruction will be the standard for the balance of the semester.  There are some students who need to be on campus for educational experiences (student teaching, clinical rotations, etc.), however, for the majority of the student body will not be here unless they have a need.  The FAQs on this page will be regularly updated as more specific details regarding campus operations come together.

The UEMT recommends the following for students, faculty and staff:
If employees or students have traveled within the prior 14 days, we ask that you follow these CDC guidelines for movement and interaction on campus and at home.

For detailed guidance from the CDC. Please follow this link: 

March 13, 2020 | 9:30 a.m.

As a response to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information regarding travel and after close consideration of all options, Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais residential campus) is postponing all on-ground Spring 2020 classes until March 23, 2020. At that time, and until further notice, classes will be offered online. 

Beginning March 16, 2020, faculty will return from Spring Break as planned and will coordinate the shift to an online curriculum. Instruction will begin March 23, 2020. 

With the assistance of the University Emergency Management Taskforce (UEMT) and following guidance from the CDC and state and local officials, we are monitoring the spread of the virus and its impact daily. We will continue to evaluate and respond to this ongoing situation as we consider the structure of the remaining Spring 2020 Semester.

We know this situation is not ideal. There are still many questions and details yet unresolved. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE IN THIS DIFFICULT PROCESS. We will be posting some FAQs later today.



March 11, 2020 | 3:00 p.m.

Spring break travel guidelines:

In accordance with the latest CDC guidelines, all students, faculty members and staff that travel to countries under a CDC Level 3 travel advisory will be required to observe a 14-day self-quarantine at their own home before being allowed to return to campus or campus activities. As of March 5, those countries are China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy. It is the expectation of the administration and ONU Health Services that any student or employee traveling to a Level 3 country, will promptly inform ONU Health Services of any such travel.

Please be advised that layovers at airports in destinations with Level 3 travel notices are included in the CDC’s recommendation to avoid nonessential travel. If a layover is unavoidable, the CDC recommends that travelers not leave the airport. Travelers with such layovers may still be subject to additional screening and post-travel self-quarantine monitoring when entering the United States.

For anyone traveling abroad during spring break, we urge you to monitor the CDC and State Department travel advisories, as the safety level of any given destination or layover could change before or during your trip, making it difficult to return to campus by the March 16 resumption of classes. Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we continue to make decisions and develop plans to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty members, staff, and community.


The U.S. State Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with state and local public health partners to implement various travel-related health protocols. Based on their recommendations, Olivet's Emergency Management Team has outlined the following guidelines to limit the chance of exposure to and potential spread of the virus. We suggest that everyone familiarizes themselves with these basic guidelines, as well as staying up to date with information published on the CDC website:

About the coronavirus (COVID-19):
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventative actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses. These actions include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.