Opinion: Olivet Nazarene University puts Kankakee County at high risk for COVID-19


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UPDATE: As of 8:45 am, Olivet Nazarene University has suspended the Spring 2020 schedule. More to come. Original op-ed below:

The Earth is closed, and it’s due to arrogance.

It took less than three days from Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz contracting the virus for ALL MAJOR SPORTS LEAGUES currently in season to shut down, including the 5-game young XFL has been forced to postpone operations. 

Gobert, days prior, openly made fun of the contagion, wiping hands on various reports mics following a press conference with the Utah Jazz. Days later, teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the late show jokes and quip remarks are a thing of the past. Doctors are approaching an unknown barrier, deciding who lives and who dies.  

On Thursday in Buncombe County N.C., a State of Emergency has been declared. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer signed a proclamation banning gatherings of 250 people or more. So far there have been no cases reported in the County.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered shutdown of public events of more than 1,000 people on Thursday as Illinois’ coronavirus count grew to 32 confirmed cases.

In Kankakee County, those at the highest levels at the biggest variable in the County have not taken action. At Christian liberal arts Wheaton College, currently on spring break, students have been told to move out of their dorms and return home as there will be no further face-to-face instructions for the remainder of the school year. 

Students at universities across Illinois have taken similar moves, including Illinois State, which has closed its campus and moved to online only. Universities following include the University of Illinois System, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, and Loyola University.

At DePaul, the University has canceled all school events “until further notice” and said finals will not take place on campus. 

Public leaders in the education hierarchy across the state lead with science, advisors, and caution. Meanwhile at Olivet Nazarene University officials so far have shown nothing but leading with arrogance, welcoming students from across the Globe back to school in open arms. Ignoring the State of Illinois’ recommendation of banning events or gatherings of over 1,000 people. Yet in an official statement on Thursday to students, the University said it would, ‘continue to follow the guidance from local, state and national public health agencies which includes potential alternatives to on-site, face-to-face instruction.’

That statement, issued by David Pickering, the University’s Executive Vice President and CFO. Olivet has 4,986 students enrolled at the University. They will continue to update daily at 3 p.m. here, yet yesterday was the first statement issued to students in over a week on the Coronavirus pandemic.

Even in Congress, access to buildings is limited to essential staff. Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16, R) will allow his D.C. staff to telecommute during this time. In a release issued Thursday, Kinzinger said:

“The reality is that the spread of the coronavirus is a pandemic and it deserves to be taken seriously. Taking this seriously does not mean it’s a cause for panic or fear-mongering. We are a strong, capable nation and I know that if we make practical decisions, prepare ourselves as best we can, and support each other, we will pull through this crisis and come out even stronger on the other side. The United States is battle-tested and combat-proven, and the coronavirus is just another challenge. I’m confident we will rise to the occasion and overcome this together.”

Kankakee Community College took action Thursday night, showcasing leadership within the County community by canceling face-to-face classes entirely, optimizing their online structure to move classes to digital. Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School along with Manteno Schools have scheduled an early release Friday to hold an “Emergency School Improvement Days.” The activity is designed to prepare for the intimate threat public schools are issued to close.

“While there are no known cases of COVID-19 in our area, we remain vigilant. The last 24 hours have been unprecedented and I have not seen a scenario like this in my 18 years as an administrator. ” Manteno Superintendent Lisa Harrod said in a letter to parents yesterday.

If Olivet chooses to believe their students belong on the Campus in Bourbonnais, the school will be introducing over 4,000 variables into the community for possible Coronavirus exposure. With an incubation time of 14-days…where will you want to belong?

My guess? Not in a hospital bed.

Students are expected to return to Olivet Nazarene University as soon as today from spring break. But that’s on Olivet for dragging their feet! Olivet students have the tech to support an instant online transition. The University has the resources to aid a community.  

It may hit you hard in your CFO, but now’s a great time to show some leadership in case you were wondering. If you need to brush up on your ethics lessons…now might be a good time. Do the right thing, ONU, move classes online and suspend face-to-face sessions. 

If Olivet chooses to stay the course, Bourbonnais’ Mayor Paul Shore along with County Officials need to step in before a Community reaches a crisis. 

This is zero hour. 

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoffhttp://www.SocialSnowball.com
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


  1. Hello Shane Saathoff. You might have posted this “Update” Friday morning but you are already working with out of date information. Friday morning at 8:38am David Pickering sent an email to the Olivet student body saying classes have been cancelled till March 23 and will then proceed in on online format after March 23. As you can see this email was sent out about ten minutes before the time you so blatantly state in the title of this article, so by the time you posted this article it was not fact anymore but irrelevant fake news. You article was very striking but make sure that next time before you degrade a fine establishment make sure you get all of the real facts and not spread rumors. You may claim that Olivet is acting out of arrogance, but you sir are the one who is acting out of arrogance thinking he can write an article like this with out correct information and think he can get away with it.

    • Yep. We posted this at 6 am and edited it to reflect at the top of the op-ed when the announcement was made. That doesn’t mean the original opinion doesn’t still stand and is reflected by the timeliness. Thanks for the feedback.


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