Academics and Student Life

For the 2020-21 academic year, Luther College designed a revised academic calendar to enable the highest possible degree of face-to-face instruction and residential living on campus, while also protecting individual and community health and remaining flexible to unfolding pandemic conditions and governmental directives. The college will be monitoring a variety of conditions that may result in a decision to shift all courses to online instruction. These conditions include community spread of COVID-19 on campus, in Winneshiek County, in Iowa, and in nearby states (Minnesota, Wisconsin); or directives and guidance received from federal and state governments or public health agencies.

Outline of the 2020-21 Academic Calendar

September Term

September Term features a phased approach to returning students to campus. 

  • First-year students participate in face-to-face instruction on campus in their First-Year Seminars. By privileging the first-year experience, we acknowledge its importance to persistence and graduation rates and the special needs of these students, the newest members of the Luther College community.
  • All other students reside off campus and may participate in online courses or internships. 
  • Resident Assistants and student-athletes who are on Luther’s NCAA-sponsored teams reside on campus, with sophomores, juniors and seniors taking coursework online. 

Fall Quarters 1 and 2

The two Fall Quarters return all students to campus for face-to-face instruction and residential living on campus. Each Fall Quarter serves as a module in the fifteen-week Fall Semester. The modular approach of the Fall Quarters provides flexibility in response to pandemic conditions. Should a shift to online instruction at any time in the fall be deemed necessary, students would only participate in a maximum of two online courses at a time. 

Spring Semester

The Spring Semester returns the campus to more normal operations and schedules, social distancing measures notwithstanding. Depending upon the trajectory of the pandemic, Spring Semester may be adjusted to incorporate two spring quarters.

June Term

June Term will be focused upon study-away courses (domestic and international) that were originally scheduled for January Term 2021. Study-away courses offered in June Term provide an opportunity for these courses to be retained in the 2020-21 academic year at a time that is likely to be more viable for international travel.

More Information: 

Revised Daily Schedule

The meeting periods for Fall Quarter 1 and Fall Quarter 2 are shown below. The periods are based upon the usual MWF and TR schedules. Period lengths are doubled (including the breaks between the periods, with the exceptions of Period 6 and Period 7) in response to moving a course from a 15-week format to a 7.5-week format.

Course Meeting Schedule for Fall Quarters 1 and 2

Period Number


Start Time

End Time



8:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m.



11:00 a.m.

1:15 p.m.



1:30 p.m.

3:45 p.m.



8:00 a.m.

11:15 a.m.



12:45 p.m.

4:00 p.m.



6:00 p.m.

9:00 p.m.



6:00 p.m.

9:00 p.m.

Course Formats

Throughout the summer, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, in collaboration with the Dean’s Office, held a series of Course Design Institutes. The Institutes provided faculty opportunities to discuss and creatively solve issues related to pedagogy in the context of physical distancing, online learning, and designing courses that are resilient to disruption.

Classes during September Term (First-Year Seminars only), Fall Quarter 1, and Fall Quarter 2 will use a mixture of in-person and online formats to promote physical distancing. Faculty will use online formats when they are deemed pedagogically advantageous, such as for small group work. All courses for sophomores, juniors, and seniors in September Term will use entirely online formats. The Dean of the College may approve some courses for entirely online formats in Fall Quarter 1 and Fall Quarter 2. 

Students who are unable to physically return to campus for Fall Quarter 1 or Fall Quarter 2 due to a medical condition or difficulty obtaining a visa may enroll in online courses offered through the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities’ Online Course Sharing Consortium. The Registrar’s Office has pre-approved a set of consortial courses, allowing students to enroll in them without first submitting a Course Approval Transfer Form. Students needing to access courses offered through the consortium should contact the Center for Academic Enrichment (563-387-1270; [email protected]). 

Academic Support

Throughout the fall semester, the staff in the Center for Academic Enrichment (563-387-1270; [email protected]), TRIO Achievement Program ([email protected]), and the Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success (563-387-1014; [email protected]) will be available to students for both in-person and virtual appointments. The Center for Academic Enrichment (CAE) will provide both in-person and online tutors in September Term. The CAE and Norse Writing Center will provide in-person tutors in Fall Quarter 1 and Fall Quarter 2. Students may submit accommodation requests to the CAE throughout the summer and the fall semester. Luther College will loan technology equipment to students in need of technology due to COVID-19; read the complete details on the CAE web page.


The Presidents Council of the American Rivers Conference (ARC) announced the postponement of football, women’s and men’s soccer, and volleyball to spring 2021. See the Luther Norse website for the schedules for fall competition in women’s and men’s cross country, women’s and men’s golf, and women’s and men’s tennis.

The NCAA’s Division III Management Council changed its rules regarding playing and practice seasons in July 2020. Consequently, all 19 NCAA-sponsored athletic programs at Luther College are now considered “in season.” The new NCAA measure designates 114 days of physical training with coaches rather than 19 consecutive weeks; the 114 days do not need to be consecutive.

The Director of Intercollegiate Athletics will make decisions regarding spectators at athletic events two weeks in advance of each event. Decisions will take into account conditions on campus and in the local community.

Luther Athletics has adopted departmental policies and protocols to protect students and staff involved in all team sports.

Music Department

The Luther College Music Department has adapted its educational methods, procedures, and protocols, in order to protect students, faculty, staff and the Decorah community from the serious health risks posed by the novel coronavirus through the rehearsal and performance of music. These departmental policies and protocols aim to deliver the highest quality musical education possible, within any methodologies or modalities we adopt. Luther musicians will observe the campus-wide protection protocols at all times, as well as the protocols specific to the study of music. As understanding of the coronavirus evolves, and as local and regional conditions change, the Music Department may need to adjust protocols accordingly.

Student Activities

The Student Activities Office and Student Activities Council will offer virtual and in-person opportunities to engage in cultural, educational, social, and recreational activities throughout the fall semester. Student organizations will remain active, following campus guidelines for physical distancing. Intramural and club sports and student-led music groups will follow the guidance of national organizations and the athletics and music departments at Luther College. The Student Activities Office will work with all student organizations to fulfill each group’s specific needs.

College Ministries


Chapel is a gathering where we live out Luther’s mission to meet at the intersections of faith and learning, to make connections to the wider world, and to learn and lead courageously for the common good. Because it is rooted in the intentionally open and curious theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chapel at Luther is a place where people of multiple faiths and core convictions have voice and find meaning.

The Chapel schedule is Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:30-10:50 a.m., when class is in session, beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Monday and Friday Chapel are online, accessible by a link posted on All Wednesday chapels in September are in-person--physically distanced but socially connected--on Bentdahl Commons. The theme for chapel is “Chapel Without Walls.” 

Focus: Word. Worship. Witness

Focus is multi-denominational, student-organized and -led, Christian worship and fellowship at Luther College. Worship is every Sunday night (when class is in session) at 8 p.m., starting Sept. 6; worship this year will start online and the link to join will be at

Living and Dining on Campus

For COVID-mitigation policies and protocols in the residence halls and dining spaces, please see the Protection Protocols

While wearing face coverings and physical distancing has to be the new norm on campus, we realize that students who are living and dining on campus together need to be able to bond socially and interact within safe boundaries. Student Life is promoting these ideas and practices and will be working with student groups on these ideas. 

Campus Events

The Office of Campus Programming is ready to answer questions about adjusted capacities for all classrooms and gathering spaces on campus. For up-to-date information on in-person and virtual campus events, visit the Calendar of Events or contact Campus Programming at [email protected] or 563-387-1291.

Student Code of Conduct Addendum

Upholding our community standards around safety and well-being is paramount as we navigate the current realities of COVID-19. In the case of a pandemic, individual conduct has a stark impact on community health. In alignment with the clear expectations shared with members of the Luther College community, we have amended our Student Code of Conduct to define violations of COVID-19 policies and procedures that will be subject to disciplinary action.