Message to Luther Community Regarding COVID-19 Update on International Programs

To: Luther College students, parents, faculty, staff, regents and emeriti
From: President Jenifer K. Ward
Re: COVID-19 Update on International Programs
Date: March 12, 2020  

Dear students, parents, faculty, staff, regents and emeriti,  

Today I am writing to inform you that in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic we have made the decision to recall two Luther-sponsored international programs and our students on Partner and Independent Programs in Europe. Our Malta program students and directors are presently on their way to Minneapolis via the United Kingdom. Our Muenster program students and director will depart Germany on Friday and will also travel to Minneapolis via the United Kingdom.  

Plans to recall both programs and to prepare travel arrangements began yesterday, as signs both in Malta and the United States pointed to increasing travel restrictions. Yesterday morning, Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta announced a country-wide travel ban that includes incoming and outgoing flights to Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland; a travel ban prohibiting incoming and outgoing flights to Italy was previously announced. Last evening, President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions that will prohibit travel by foreign nationals to the United States from Europe, except via the United Kingdom, for 30 days beginning Friday, March 13.  

Following the issue of the new travel restrictions by the United States government, last evening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed the Schengen zone in Europe, which includes both Malta and Germany but excludes the United Kingdom, as Warning-Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel. Our decision making protocols, which we previously communicated to the broad campus community on Tuesday, indicated that a Level 3 listing by the CDC would trigger program cancellation.  

Program students will return to their homes upon arrival to the United States (or potentially to campus if an international student). Upon their return, students and directors have been directed to follow practices for preventing illness and to monitor themselves for the symptoms of COVID-19. Students and program directors may also be required by their local departments of public health or the college to self-isolate for up to 14 days prior to returning to campus. The Dean’s Office and the Center for Global Learning will work with all students to complete their academic courses.  

We have been in conversation with the Nottingham Program director who, in turn, has updated Nottingham students. Luther’s Emergency Response Team, the President’s Cabinet, and Center for Global Learning are monitoring the situation in the United Kingdom. We will provide details as they emerge in a future update.  

We understand that each individual has a unique level of risk tolerance, and that some individuals might have reached a different decision regarding these developments. Please understand that we are, in this instance, faced with decisions that have an impact on community risk and public health.

Please keep an eye on your email for future updates. We encourage everyone to continue to follow preventive actions and travel information provided by the CDC. You may also visit Luther College’s Health Advisories webpage for resources and information about COVID-19. If you have questions, please contact the Student Life Office (563-387-1020; [email protected]) or Health Services (563-387-1045).  

Dr. Jenifer K. Ward, President
Luther College