Guidance for Thanksgiving Break

Dear Students and Parents,

Please read this complete message to understand all of the details regarding our guidance for Thanksgiving Break. If you are looking for the main takeaways, they are:

  • Students are permitted to leave campus for Thanksgiving Break (November 21-29). Students who leave campus are expected to return for the beginning of classes in Fall Quarter 2 (November 30).
  • Students are encouraged to remain on campus for Thanksgiving Break. Compared to prior years, additional support will be provided to students throughout the break.
  • All students should communicate their plans for Thanksgiving Break as soon as possible to the Residence Life Office by completing the form distributed by Hall Directors on Wednesday, November 4.
  • Students who choose to leave campus for Thanksgiving Break are encouraged to reduce their in-person social interactions beginning today, and to limit in-person social interactions while away from campus.
  • Given the rising number of cases both nationally and regionally, students should remain vigilant both on campus and in Decorah with regard to wearing face masks, observing physical distancing, and using the CampusClear daily health monitoring app.
  • The format of classes (in-person or online) for Fall Quarter 2 will be announced on November 16. Decisions regarding class format will be guided by Luther College's system of COVID-19 indicators and alert levels.

As we approach the end of Fall Quarter 1, I am writing to provide guidance developed by the COVID Response Team (CRT) for students as they consider their options for Thanksgiving Break. The guidance takes into account the considerations developed by the American College Health Association (ACHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for travel and activities over the Thanksgiving holiday. The guidance also recognizes that many students have already chosen to leave campus or return home periodically on weekends during Fall Quarter 1, thus making prohibitions on travel over Thanksgiving Break inconsistent with the current situation on campus.

Presently, the COVID-19 pandemic is more widespread than at any other time. Daily cases are at an all-time high in the United States. Test positivity rates and daily cases in Winneshiek County are back to levels observed in August, and local public health officials, physicians, and hospital administrators are urging all individuals to take actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Given these developments, the CRT strongly recommends that all students limit their travel and in-person social interactions during Thanksgiving Break. The CRT encourages students to remain on campus, if possible, during the break, and has made arrangements for additional support for students remaining on campus compared to prior years; this is especially true with respect to Dining Services, which will remain open throughout the break this year. The CRT discourages all students from attending in-person gatherings, including those with extended families and friends.

Guidance for Students Leaving Campus for Thanksgiving Break

  • Students should not leave campus if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Students who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should contact the Student Health Service (563-387-1045; Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or Winneshiek Medical Center Emergency Services (563-382-2911; weekends and weekdays after 4:30 p.m.; ask for the triage nurse and let them know you are a Luther student).
  • Students should begin reducing their in-person social interactions TODAY in advance of Thanksgiving Break.
  • Students should limit in-person social interactions with those outside of their household while away from campus and should avoid in-person gatherings.
  • Students should limit their stops during travel to and from campus.
  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing will continue to be available through Luther’s surveillance testing and the TestIowa program. Presently, surveillance tests are limited to students athletes, Resident Assistants, and students in music ensembles. You will be notified in advance if you have been selected to receive a surveillance test. Luther is not able to test asymptomatic students upon request. Please recall that the TestIowa program gives priority to individuals who currently have symptoms, have interacted with someone who has already tested positive, or have recently visited places where COVID-19 is widespread. Students who are tested as part of the TestIowa program must notify the Student Health Service in advance of receiving the test, and must quarantine while waiting for test results.
  • Students should bring their class materials for Fall Quarter 2 with them in case they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 while they are away from campus and are unable to return to campus until the completion of an isolation or quarantine period.
  • Students are not permitted to remain at home following Thanksgiving Break and take classes online in Fall Quarter 2, unless Luther College announces a shift to online learning, either on November 16 or in response to prevailing conditions on campus or in Winneshiek County.

Guidance for Students Remaining on Campus for Thanksgiving Break

  • Students should remain vigilant both on campus and in Decorah with regard to wearing face masks, observing physical distancing, and using the CampusClear daily health monitoring app throughout the break.
  • Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the break should contact the Student Health Service (563-387-1045; Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or Winneshiek Medical Center Emergency Services (563-382-2911; weekends and weekdays after 4:30 p.m.; ask for the triage nurse and let them know you are a Luther student).
  • Students should avoid in-person gatherings.
  • Students should limit travel back and forth to campus and avoid travelling outside of Decorah.
  • The Cafeteria will be open throughout Thanksgiving Break; other service locations on campus will be closed. All meals will be carryout only, and all seating in the Cafeteria will be closed. Hours of operation for the break will be posted on the Dining Services website. Lunch and dinner will be provided each day, as well as light grab-n-go breakfast items. Students will be given two meals at the same time on November 26 (Thanksgiving Day) and November 27.
  • The Regents Center will be open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, November 23, through Wednesday, November 25. The Regents Center will be closed all other days during the break.
  • Dahl Centennial Union will be open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. on all days during the break.
  • The Student Activities Office and Wellness will offer several programs, including geocaching, a Netflix watch party, a shopping shuttle in Decorah and other take and make activities. A full list of activities and resources will be posted on the Student Activities and Organizations events calendar.

The format of classes (in-person or online) for Fall Quarter 2 will be announced on Monday, November 16. Decisions regarding class format will be guided by Luther College’s system of COVID-19 indicators and alert levels and guidance from local, state, and federal public health agencies. At this time, we anticipate continuing with our tentative plan to begin Fall Quarter 2 with in-person classes and residential living on campus.

Students, I want you to know that I have heard so much admiration for your excellent level of compliance with our mitigation measures, which--while necessary for our community health--are not always convenient or fun. As we approach the end of Fall Quarter 1 with all of the stress that comes with papers, projects, and finals, even in non-COVID times (multiplied exponentially by election and pandemic stress), I have been struck by your resolve and attitude. I take daily lessons from you, and I thank you.

Sincerely,

President Jenifer K. Ward