Message to Luther Community Regarding April COVID-19 Update

To: Luther College students, parents, faculty, staff, regents, and emeriti
From: President Jenifer K. Ward
April COVID-19 Update
Date: April 21, 2020

Dear Members of the Luther Community,

Today I am writing to inform you of several decisions that I and my Cabinet have made as part of Luther College’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic; these decisions affect the Rochester Semester for Fall 2020, summer courses, summer collaborative research projects, and camps and conferences in June. I also write to provide an update regarding financial relief for students via the CARES Act, college-sponsored gatherings and travel, and the use of personal protective equipment on campus. These decisions and updates were informed by recent proclamations by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds that ordered additional protective measures for Northeast Iowa and the extension of the closure of Iowa PK-12 schools, guidance that we have received from consortial and professional networks regarding the CARES Act, and predicted timeframes provided by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the easing of social distancing measures in Iowa.

Rochester Semester

Due to the difficulties created by the pandemic in identifying internship sponsors, the Rochester Semester is canceled for the Fall 2020 Semester. The Rochester Semester program will resume in January 2021. This decision does not affect Luther College’s clinical year program at the Mayo Clinic for nursing students.

Summer Session I Courses

All courses for Summer Session I will be offered in a distance learning format. The Dean’s Office will contact all instructors scheduled to teach during the session with further information and resources. Students should contact the Registrar’s Office (563-387-1187; [email protected]) with any questions or concerns.

Summer Collaborative Research Projects

Summer collaborative research projects that may be performed remotely will be allowed to proceed. Summer research students may not live in the residence halls and will have limited access to buildings on campus. Projects for this summer have not yet been chosen. The Dean’s Office will contact all student-faculty teams that submitted applications with further details.

Summer Camps and Conferences

Given the ongoing restrictions on travel, guidelines for social distancing, and the increased liability of minors on campus during a pandemic, all summer camps and conferences scheduled for June have regrettably been canceled. The Campus Programming Office will be in contact with all camp and conference directors to explore possibilities for rescheduling at a later date and/or mechanisms for refunding deposits to registrants. Decisions regarding camps and conferences scheduled for July will be made soon.

Financial Relief for Students

A team of staff from Financial Aid and Financial Services are working closely with our consortial and professional networks to understand and expedite the distribution of the emergency financial aid that the CARES Act provides for students. This aid will total $690,342 and will be disbursed directly to students as soon as possible after the funds are made available to Luther College by the federal government, and within the parameters it sets. Per the guidance from the Department of Education, students with greater financial need will receive more emergency financial aid; the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated as a part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will provide the baseline for this calculation.

Retrieval of Belongings from Residence Halls

The Student Life Office and Residence Life Office will provide an update later this week to all students and parents regarding retrieving personal belongings from the residence halls. The college seeks to avoid inviting large numbers of individuals back to campus at one time, in accordance with state guidelines and in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Winneshiek County Public Health.

The Residence Life Office will soon begin a process of inviting students back to campus from the local area. The process will then expand to other counties in Northeast Iowa that have reported low case numbers of COVID-19. Students from areas outside of Northeast Iowa will be invited back to campus at a later time, depending on travel directives from state governments and reported incidence rates in their county of residence. All students invited to campus will be contacted directly by the Residence Life Office to schedule an appointment to retrieve their belongings. Students are not allowed to return to campus before receiving an invitation from the Residence Life Office.

College-sponsored Gatherings and Travel

All events at Luther College are canceled through at least Sunday, May 31. All college-sponsored travel is prohibited through at least Sunday, May 31. No travel should be scheduled or booked, even for after May 31, unless approved by a supervisor.

Personal Protective Equipment

Beginning immediately, all employees on campus are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while on campus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas experiencing significant community-based transmission. Mayor Lorraine Borowski is also urging residents of Decorah to wear face masks when leaving their homes. Employees and students residing on campus who need a free cloth face mask should contact Facilities Services at 563-387-1146. Facilities Services is coordinating the production of face masks with the support of the staff in the CFA costume shop.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Luther College and its community — stay tuned for further updates as we continue to monitor the changing landscape and are able to reach decisions to share with you. Stay well!

Dr. Jenifer K. Ward, President
Luther College