The latest health updates will be posted below beginning May 26, 2020. For archived updates, see COVID-19 archive.
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OCT. 2, 2020 — Prioritizing Your Safety and Preparing for the Future | EXPAND
Summary: COVID-19 at Central College by the numbers, residence hall changes, quarantine questions, registration information, semester plans, and fall and winter athletics.
Dear Central family,
It’s been about seven months since COVID-19 started altering our lives, and more than a month since we returned to campus for in-person instruction.
In that time, we’ve focused on offering the safest learning experience possible, and the campus community has worked to be diligent. Thanks to the hard work of everyone, Central’s COVID-19 impact has been minimal. However, we must remain vigilant.
Residence Hall Changes
As a result of student efforts and Central’s low COVID-19 effects, this week we announced plans to move to a slightly more open guest policy in residential buildings. Details about the changes can be found here. Thank you for your cooperation and ongoing caution, which made this possible. As with all planning around the pandemic, the new protocols can be restricted or expanded at any time as conditions at Central and/or the Pella community change.
The Iowa Department of Public Health has changed its guidance on quarantine for people exposed to someone who has a positive case of COVID-19 if both people were wearing a facial covering. The state policy decision is intended for non-health care and non-residential settings.
Because we are a residential community, Central’s protocols on quarantine remain unchanged.
If we make any changes, we will notify you immediately. In the meantime, please continue to wear masks and follow Central’s quarantine and isolation protocols. They are working and allowing us to remain on campus for in-person learning.
Registration for Spring 2021 starts Nov. 2. Please contact your advisor to schedule an advising/registration meeting.
At this time, we plan to follow the normal academic calendar for the remainder of the fall semester. We continue to monitor and will make adjustments and provide timely communication as needed.
Modified scheduling concepts for Central’s four postponed fall sports — football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball — are in the works for the spring. In addition, we plan to launch a modified winter sports season after Jan. 1. It is our hope that we can provide some competition opportunities for student-athletes and do so in a safe and responsible manner.
I continue to be grateful for caring attitudes, testing and cooperation with the Marion County Public Health Department, emphasis on wearing face coverings and physical distancing, and the work by many on our campus who support students in isolation and quarantine. Let’s stay judicious so that we can manage control of COVID-19. Your efforts allow us to able to continue to offer in-person teaching, which is so much better than being at home learning remotely!
All the best,
SEPT. 16, 2020 — Campus Arrangements | EXPAND
Dear Central family,
In this update you’ll find details about our COVID-19 numbers, how we are handling quarantine and isolation, information about Central’s air handling systems and how we are preparing for Homecoming.
At a time when so many college and university campuses in the country — and in Iowa — are experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19, I want to thank you for your concentrated efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and for helping Central avoid large outbreaks thus far.
Since Aug. 24, the Central family has had a total of 16 people who have tested positive for the virus. Those numbers include faculty, staff and students. Our numbers thus far (found updated weekly on our “Weekly Report” dashboard) are aided by the support and care each and every one of you has given. I cannot thank you enough for your diligence to preventing the spread of the virus, for wearing masks and for paying attention to physical distancing guidelines. Your efforts allow us to continue to offer the in-person classes and programming we all so want.
One of the reasons for our success to date is the number of responsible individuals in our community who have come forward about possible symptoms and exposure and commenced isolation and quarantine until time and testing confirm results. All of us at Central are grateful that students, faculty and staff are following these protocols. Please keep doing this! It is imperative to the successful continuation of our semester. We cannot rest on our laurels.
Reporting and Services
As I indicated in my most recent memo, Charlie Strey, dean of students, is the point person for all students, faculty and staff to reach out to if they have a positive test, have symptoms or believe they have been exposed and are in need of isolation or quarantine. He will help coordinate care and services and provide recommendations. He can be reached at 641-628-5621.
I want to assure each and every one of you that there is no reason to not step forward. There is no shame in being sick or being concerned about exposure. Rather, coming forward demonstrates your heart for others. It also allows the college to show our heart for you.
Once Charlie is notified of a need, he and other members of the college community will jump to support you. With a team of individuals across campus supporting this work, Charlie will make sure faculty members are alerted to a student’s need for remote learning. He’ll inform dining services about the need for remote dining. He’ll also make sure students are placed in appropriate housing. For student-athletes, he’ll make the coaching staff aware. Best of all, he will ensure that someone reaches out to students in isolation and quarantine daily, helping to make sure they are cared for.
Whether it is a bottle of Gatorade, a charger for a computer or just someone to talk to, Charlie and the Central family will go to extraordinary lengths to make sure students are covered, supported and cared for while in isolation or quarantine. That’s the Central way.
Definitions of Isolation and Quarantine
A few of you have asked: “What is the difference?”
Individuals in isolation have either a positive test or symptoms of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals in these cases seclude themselves from others for a period of 10 days from a positive test result date. At Central, students in isolation are housed away from other students in a few townhouses currently used only for this purpose.
Individuals in quarantine have a known or possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms of the illness. Exposure by definition means that someone has had close contact (6 feet) for at least 15 minutes with or without a mask OR has physically touched or kissed someone who has tested positive. In these circumstances, quarantine is required for 14 days. Central students in quarantine are housed away from other students in townhouses and a residence hall designated for this purpose.
Be assured, when students are in either isolation or quarantine, Central will make sure they have everything they need. Don’t take my word for it.
Our team recently spoke with Sydney Glazier ’22, who was released from isolation last week. She was experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19 after a visit home. She ultimately tested negative for the illness but still spent several days in isolation. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:
“They did amazing with meals, snacks and Gatorade. It was a bit boring to be stuck in the room, but the staff brought me toys to play with (coloring pages, puzzles and a squishy toy). I took my classes on Zoom. I even took a test while in isolation at the same time I would have done in class,” Sydney says. “I’ve always had high expectations of Central and they did an amazing job for me.” A member of CAB, she also helped plan Homecoming activities while in isolation.
Her advice to others: “Stay calm. It is a confusing time. There is someone on Central’s staff who will fix concerns and get you what you need. Don’t stress about how it will go for those two weeks. Knowing that I could have prevented new cases while in isolation definitely made me feel better. This is a bummer situation but it was so much better than potentially exposing someone else. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when deciding about reporting.”
At the end of last week, we moved almost 20 people out of quarantine and isolation and back into daily activities at Central.
As the Air Flows
In addition to wearing masks, and taking steps like hand washing and physical distancing, researchers say that building ventilation systems can also help to lower the spread of COVID-19. You will be interested to know that Central’s building controls and air handling systems are designed to exchange the inside air between five and six times per hour during the working day. This level of ventilation and air exchange rates meets the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in helping to dilute COVID-19 particles that might accumulate. During busy times of the day when buildings are more fully occupied the air exchange rates may be even higher. As part of the air exchange process the system will bring in fresh outside air to blend with recirculated air.
When the weather is nice, opening windows also helps to introduce and circulate air in Central’s facilities. Low-tech (masks and hand washing) along with high-tech (building systems/air exchanges) can help to make a difference.
The student development team also has worked diligently with students from all across campus to make sure events, club meetings and more continue to happen while following safety guidelines. Homecoming Week begins Sept. 21 and many events have been reinvented so we can gather in-person while others have been moved online.
Look for details on Dutch Connect and in The Crier about spirit banners, free Central gear, a new Pinterest event, Homecoming Court and the Forever Dutch celebration. Homecoming may look different this year, but everyone is committed to finding fun and creative ways to celebrate! You deserve it!
Thank you again for the incredible work you are all doing every day in and out of the classroom to learn and come together as safely as possible.
SEPT. 4, 2020 — Return to Campus | EXPAND
Dear Central community,
For the past week and a half, I’ve been smiling broadly under my mask. It has been delightful to welcome students — you — back to campus for in-person learning. We’ve had a successful start to the academic year in and out of the classroom and during Move-In Day and Welcome Week.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine — a high school junior in Iowa — who this year is taking classes both online and in-person to meet guidelines for physical distancing at his school. All of his extracurricular activities for the fall have been canceled. When asked how he felt about the way he would be learning this year, he responded simply: “This is what we have to do to get to the other side of the pandemic. It’s not my first choice but it’s what I gotta do. I’ll adapt.”
For many years — long before the pandemic started — I have talked about how a liberal arts education prepares students for adaptation. While this is not the experience we all want (not our first choice!), I have faith our success in this space will serve as a bedrock for developing well-rounded citizen leaders who will adapt to a changing world and find solutions to emerging challenges in the workplace, local communities and society as a whole.
For now, the view is certainly one of disruption and adapting to that disruption. As a community, we will need to continue to adapt in new and unprecedented ways for the foreseeable future so that we may continue to enjoy the benefits of a Central educational experience.
Here are some things we are currently doing to adapt in an effort to get to the other side of this pandemic.
Charlie Strey, dean of students, is running point for the college on the health of the campus community. All students, faculty and staff who believe they have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19, are asked to contact Charlie at 641-628-5621. He will help coordinate care for students and give guidance to everyone for next steps. For example, if someone has been exposed to or developed symptoms for the virus and needs to quarantine for 14 days, Charlie will provide consultation, housing, meals and help get students to a testing site and provide direction. He’ll also provide support for taking courses remotely or working from home for that duration.
What It Means to Be Exposed
Many of you have asked what does exposure to COVID-19 mean? According to public health experts, exposure occurs when you have been within close contact (6 feet) for at least 15 minutes with or without a mask OR physically touching/kissing someone who has tested positive. Quarantine is required if you are exposed. As an ongoing resource, I invite you to see a list of definitions on our COVID-19 response website. This list is helpful to understanding the nuances of public health information.
The Marion County Public Health Department will do contract tracing for cases in Pella. The staff at public health also will notify those who have been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case. (And if you get that call, as per above, please reach out to Charlie Strey.)
We have started publishing a dashboard of confirmed cases and exposed cases on our website, which we will update weekly. We will continue to monitor this information and based on public health recommendations and science-based decision making, determine if the college needs to adjust the delivery of academic programs, student life or athletics.
Masks! Masks! Masks!
I wanted to clarify our expectations about masks. Out of respect for the health of all, masks are required in indoor public and shared spaces. Masks also are required outdoors when 6-foot physical distances cannot be maintained.
Masks are not necessary in reasonably private spaces. What does that mean?
- For Central’s faculty and staff, an example is when alone in your office with the door closed.
- For students, in the residence hall rooms if both roommates agree and the door is closed.
- For everyone, it means in private spaces where 6-foot distances are possible.
These are merely examples. The evidence is growing that mask wearing protects those around you and reduces the chance that you’ll get infected yourself. At the end of the day, when in doubt about when to mask up, because it really is difficult to define every scenario, have a heart for others and minimize the risk of you or anyone being affected by COVID-19 and wear a mask.
We know masks drive down infection rates. If we all continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing as much as possible — no matter if we are on campus or elsewhere — it will make a significant difference.
Everyone on campus already should have received two masks as well as a shield if requested. If you did not receive these, please contact Charlie Strey. I’m also pleased to report that 32 alumni and friends of the college have made masks for students — enough for us to provide one to every student. In the very near future, the masks will be delivered with love to your campus mailbox, including a note indicating who made your mask.
We’re doing all we can to provide alternatives for safe interactions. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some great lower-risk (and often delicious) activities you can do while practicing physical distancing:
- Join the Flying Pans Steel Band.
- Attend the Taquiza Monday event outside of Maytag on Labor Day. The Taquero will be coming from Des Moines and will be serving tacos al pastor. Sign up here!
- Enjoy a game of Grocery Bingo from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the Wallace Spencer Stepenske Amphitheater.
- Enjoy a treat from Scratch Cupcakery when it arrives on campus during Homecoming Week, the week of Sept. 21. Look for details about Homecoming events for students in the weeks to come.
We’d like you to consider remaining on campus during the Labor Day weekend. Student development has lots of fun activities planned (check out signs around campus as well as in The Crier for details). Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus advisor, has been encouraging people not to gather in large groups over the holiday weekend to prevent another surge of the virus. She also has been urging college students to stay on their campuses to avoid potentially bringing the virus home to friends and family. Likewise, we’re encouraging you to avoid higher-risk locations — like visiting other colleges and universities.
I’ve been encouraged by the efforts of everyone to engage with each other and enjoy college life, while also being mindful about masks, physical distancing and other safety recommendations. That’s our new normal right now.
Diligence is crucial for us all. According to national data, at least 8,700 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at colleges across the United States. Let’s continue to rally together and do all we can to safeguard the health of our community within the kindness and culture that makes Central so special.
Yours in health,
AUG. 17, 2020 — Our Partners in Health and What to Expect on Campus | EXPAND
Welcome to the Fall 2020 semester! We are so pleased you have chosen to be a part of Central College’s incredible learning community.
With Move-In Day here, I’d like for you to hear from some of the people who have helped the college with its intense planning and pages of guidance to protect the community in managing COVID-19.
Central’s Partners in Health
Charlie Strey, Central’s dean of students, works closely with Lezlie Morris, PRHC’s chief of clinic services, and Kim Dorn, the county’s public health director, to keep our students and community safe.
This trifecta partnership is well-tuned and has existed long before COVID-19 appeared. That being said, this team served on Central’s COVID-19 campus protocol task force and worked diligently to operationalize the health protocols and develop plans for testing, quarantining and contact tracing services for Central community members.
These experts recently talked about how the three organizations work together. Let’s hear it in their own words:
DORN: MCPH has always done communicable disease follow-up and lots of public health programming. We have a long-standing relationship with Charlie and Central’s health task forces and planning groups. The college has done a great job of planning and figuring out what’s going to work on campus. The role of public health is to do COVID-19 testing and advising on isolation as well as quarantine and contact tracing for those who test positive. Right now, we’re offering tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays to asymptomatic people who think they might have been exposed. If there’s been a possible group exposure, we’ll test on other days, and in some cases can come to you to test.
There’s a very specific definition for what constitutes “contact” for COVID-19: You need to have been within six feet of someone for longer than 15 minutes. Even if you’re wearing a mask, that counts as a close contact. There are some caveats — if someone you’re close to coughs, sneezes or has some other aerosolizing event, we’ll count that as an exposure even if you’ve not been by them for 15 minutes. But not everyone you are near in a day will count as a close contact.
As soon as we learn of a positive COVID-19 test result, we’ll be in touch with the person, even if it’s on a weekend. We’ll tell you what you need to do to quarantine and we’ll ask you about people with whom you’ve been in contact so we can advise them to quarantine as well. We don’t disclose the names of people who are positive to those we contact.
MORRIS: PRHC provides health services to Central, working with Charlie to make the transition for students from college to our clinics when they have a health need. We do COVID-19 testing and then refer positive cases to the public health department for contact tracing. We prefer that symptomatic people get tested at the hospital rather than at MCPH because we’re better equipped to sort out a potential COVID-19 infection from any other illness onset or ongoing need that requires follow-up here. Right now, we’re doing COVID-19 screening on a drive-up basis in the parking lot; by Aug. 24 we plan to do scheduled testing, which should cut down on wait times. As we enter flu season on top of COVID-19 on top of schools restarting, we expect to be seeing a lot of people and want to be prepared for them. We’re reconfiguring some areas of the clinic to accommodate the influx of testing and diagnosis.
STREY: How do you think Central is doing in its preparations for fall?
MORRIS: The college has worked hard to consider all kinds of scenarios over the years, and COVID-19 is just the latest. They’ve had processes and policies in place, they’ve done their due diligence, they’ve worked with and taken guidance from us and MCPH. I’ve been very impressed with what the college has done. Everyone has been very thoughtful and prepared and pulled in stakeholders from within and outside to get in front of the pandemic as best they can. I think they’ve done a great job and I’m happy to be a part of that.
STREY: What advice do you have for students and their parents as they prepare to come to campus?
MORRIS: I’d tell students that it’s their responsibility to follow the rules. Doing this will help you to have a good college experience. Be truthful if you’re not feeling well and let the college know.
DORN: If you test positive, be up front with us about who your contacts are. There’s no shame in having a positive result. Stuff happens and people get sick. We need your help to get it traced down so it’s not spreading. Of course, we want you to do the things we always talk about — wash your hands, wear a mask, watch your physical distance and stay home and isolated if you are sick or if you feel fine but have tested positive. You can also protect yourself and others by keeping your circle small. If you have the same set of eight to 10 friends, stick with your tribe. Sit in the same place in your classrooms, labs and while dining. It makes it much easier for us to trace contacts and really helps limit the spread.
STREY: We have protocols in place on campus to quarantine and isolate people, and we can move people into those spaces very quickly. We also have the ability to have students continue to attend classes and events virtually while in quarantine and isolation, and we can have meals delivered to them. A positive test result doesn’t mean you have to go home, and it doesn’t mean your education and college experience are interrupted.
What to Expect on Campus
Over the summer we’ve shared our expectations and requirements of students, faculty and staff coming to campus this fall. Please continue to use this incredible resource that Charlie, Kim and Lezlie helped create. In summary, the guidelines on our COVID-19 response site can be expressed in three easy to remember W’s:
- WASH your hands.
- WEAR a mask.
- WATCH your physical distancing.
You can also watch this video to see to some of the steps we’ve put into place. And remember we have a heart for others and these protocols are necessary. Keeping our campus community safe and healthy depends on each and every one of us following them. Central and its health partners at the hospital and public health department have done and will continue to do the utmost in making this academic year successful.
What to Expect for Fun
We know the fall semester will be a push and pull between normalcy and managing the risks of COVID-19. Even so, we believe that incredible learning will occur and there will be time for friends and fun — it will just look a little different from how it has in the past.
Many of Central’s events are part of a long tradition. This year, the student development team has worked with the Campus Activities Board to adapt many of those traditions to ensure that as many people as possible can safely participate. Some events will become virtual and others will be both in person and virtual. In-person event safety precautions may include:
- Lowered maximum room capacities.
- Staged arrival and departure of controlled numbers of people, perhaps resulting in wait times.
- Mask-wearing where physical distancing isn’t possible.
- Cleaning during events.
- Postponing events that can’t reasonably be adapted to safety protocols.
- Events are subject to change as we continue to monitor new developments related to COVID-19 from state and local authorities.
Check out the details here of three early-semester events:
- Maytag Madness,7-10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23.
Come to the Maytag Student Center to enjoy free snacks and free swag, play a variety of fun games, create a make and take craft and win great prizes.
- Forever Dutch Celebration,2:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Gather around the pond for a brand-new, one-of-a-kind celebration including entertainment, speakers, free food and giveaways.
- Taquiza, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.
Gather on the Central Market Patio for a traditional Mexican taqueria crafting of authentic tacos and street fare. Enjoy music and lawn games around the pond; a live concert in the new Peace Mall amphitheater; a comedy show featuring Paul Schissler sponsored by the Campus Activities Board; paddle boarding at Robert’s Creek sponsored by Residential Life; Glow-in-the-Dark Capture the Flag sponsored by Campus Ministries; and a Game-Show-themed Late Night Central sponsored by Student Development.
We are pleased to bring you these opportunities to enhance your Central experience, meet and connect with others in our community and have a lot of fun. Remember, the success of fall semester rests in the hands of each individual community member. Having a heart for others is critical to do that successfully.
We can’t wait to see you. Behind our masks we’ll be smiling widely.
Mark L. Putnam
AUG. 11, 2020 — Four Fall Sports Postponed | EXPAND
Due to action by the NCAA Board of Governors late last week, Central College is joining other American Rivers Conference schools in postponing competition for four fall season athletics teams.
Football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball seasons are being postponed to the 2020-21 spring semester. Competition in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s golf and women’s tennis will proceed as announced July 28. League schedules are still being revised and will be released soon.
The men’s golf and men’s tennis squads, which have fall competition as part of their nontraditional seasons, will proceed as planned.
The nine-team league announced its decision Tuesday, Aug. 11.
“It was our hope that we could safely continue to provide the kind of participant-oriented competitive athletics opportunities that are a vital part of Central students’ educational experience and were taking extraordinary measures to make that possible while mitigating the COVID-19 health risks,” President Mark Putnam says. “But what were initially provided last month as return-to-play guidelines by the NCAA were changed to requirements last week. We support taking every possible precaution to ensure the health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff, but after carefully reviewing these new requirements, it’s become clear that they are not only logistically challenging but cost-prohibitive and we must adjust our plans accordingly.”
According to the NCAA Action Plan, there are significantly more complex return-to-play requirements for the four postponed sports than the others. The NCAA’s “Resocialization of Collegiate Sport: Developing Standards for Practice and Competition” document outlines details.
Athletics director Eric Van Kley says spring semester options for the postponed sports are being reviewed. That could include spring competition events as well as practice, small-group training, skill development, strength and conditioning development and leadership opportunities.
“It’s too early to know what that might look like,” he says. “But our goal is to provide a meaningful experience for each student-athlete. We’re carefully evaluating every option to provide the best possible opportunities. We will continue to rely on the input and collective wisdom of the medical experts on our campus COVID-19 Athletics Protocol Task Force and state and local authorities.”
Putnam and Van Kley remain enthused about Central’s 2020-21 athletics campaigns.
“I am confident that our teams will respond as Dutch teams have always responded to challenges in the past, with a positive spirit and a determination to overcome any and all obstacles on the road to success,” Putnam says. “I’m as excited as ever about our teams’ potential for the year ahead.”
Central remains committed to in-person learning this fall, Putnam adds. Updates and resources from the college on plans for returning to campus for the 2020-21 academic year can be accessed at central.edu/health. Fall semester classes begin Aug. 26.
Student-athletes will retain a season of eligibility should they choose to extend their time at Central, Van Kley notes.
Central’s winter athletics seasons are not impacted by Tuesday’s action but decisions have not yet been made regarding practice start dates. For additional information from the American Rivers Conference, see today’s announcement.
AUG. 7, 2020 — Welcome Week | EXPAND
Dear Central Family,
With the fall semester about to start, campus plans are well underway to welcome you to Pella and 812 University St. — from Welcome Week to efforts to protect the health and well-being of the campus community.
We sincerely look forward to seeing the return of upper-level students as well as meeting first-year students!
While the pandemic has required us to make adjustments to keep everyone on campus safe while moving forward to meet the needs of our students, many things remain the same, among them are high-quality academics and a team dedicated to your success.
One of those team members is Yana Rouse ’21. Last spring, Yana was elected to the position of the college’s student body president. During the year, she is my co-president and we will work together to foster student success and joy. I encourage you to read the story on Central’s website about Yana so you can get to know her a little bit before you come to campus.
Yana also shares a few words for you here as you prepare to come to campus:
“I’m Yana Rouse ’21, your student body president. I bet you’re just as excited to get to Central as I am! My student government colleagues and I — along with the entire Central community — look forward to welcoming you to campus during Welcome Week. For some of us, we are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and professors and getting back to our home away from home. For incoming students, we are looking forward to having you make connections with classmates, roommates and professors. We are a community that prides ourselves on connections and we can’t wait to make that happen.
During Welcome Week, the incoming class will get to meet their fellow classmates, attend information sessions about Central and our academics and explore campus and Pella. Welcome Week is a time familiarize yourself with campus and all of the fun (and learning) that awaits you this semester.
I’m particularly excited to invite you to join fellow students plus faculty and staff for a brand-new, one-of-a-kind, Forever Dutch Celebration from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25. We’ll gather around the pond for entertainment, speakers, free food and giveaways! To keep everyone safe and healthy, please have a heart for others and follow Central’s COVID-19 protocols and guidelines during this event. It will be a great time to see those whom you’ve missed, meet new Central friends and rejoice in being back on campus where we belong.
Meanwhile, our faculty is doing all they can to ensure we all have a great academic year. Thanks for being a part of the Central community during this unconventional time. Once you are on campus, keep an eye on The Crier and on bulletin boards around campus for events throughout the semester. I look forward to seeing you at many of them. And I hope your academic year is the best it can be!”
Safe travels to Pella. We’ll see you soon!
Mark Putnam and Yana Rouse ’21
JULY 31, 2020 — Coronavirus and Co-Curriculars | EXPAND
Dear Central Family,
As you all know, “Forever Dutch” is our motto. It’s a permanent identity for Central and for each of us, one we will do anything to nurture and preserve, come what may.
“What may,” at this moment in history, is COVID-19.
To make sure Central stands strong now and in the future, the college has created many health and safety protocols for our students, who we expect on campus in a few short weeks. From academics to athletics and theatrics, the college has been exploring how to preserve as much as we can the enriching traditions of a Central education while ensuring the safety of our students and our community.
Earlier this week, after extensive review and deliberation, the Presidents Council of the American Rivers Conference, to which Central belongs, committed to proceeding with fall conference competition. Team schedules will not exceed 50% of the originally planned schedule. This allows students to preserve their eligibility for future play if they desire to do so. Central has taken the following steps as we move forward with our athletics plans. Revised schedules will be available soon, so please stay tuned.
The model adopted by the A-R-C balances a meaningful athletics experience with concern for public health and safety. I am grateful for the work of the A-R-C and our athletics department in establishing protocols on campus and at a conference level.
Other opportunities on campus also are being adjusted. We continue to plan art events in the Mills Gallery. The theatre department will offer students the opportunity to perform and participate in one drama this fall. The performance, Doubt, A Parable, is set in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, where a strong-minded woman wrestles with conscience and uncertainty as she is faced with concerns about one of her male colleagues.
Our music department continues to evaluate how music ensembles may be offered as safely as possible. Including these programs, Central offers more than 124 opportunities to get involved on campus — all of which allow students to learn new skills, challenge themselves, meet new people and enrich their time at Central.
And this is the purpose of a Central education. There is much to be learned from these experiences. The adversity we face, the twists and turns we encounter and the resilience we demonstrate all belong to our education.
Co-curriculars at Central are not recess from the academic experience. They are materially important to learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. It has required us all to ask each other to do things we never would have dreamed of asking, including changing how we participate in traditional experiences like athletics and theatrics (and more than 100 other programs). The lower density of competition and performance will allow us to continue to live out the fullness of a Central education as much as possible during a pandemic.
As in any year, students will return to a campus dedicated to academic excellence, student-centered care and well-being. This fall, co-curriculars will look different yet still promise meaningful experiences students may enjoy and learn from, allowing them to build strong leadership and team-building skills — things future employers want.
As we prepare for courses and co-curriculars in a few short weeks, please consider starting the routines we are requiring this semester and have a heart for others. Out of respect for the health of all, wear a mask in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six-foot physical distances cannot be maintained. Wash those hands. Carry a personal supply of hand sanitizer. And stay home when you are sick.
Thank you for being Forever Dutch. Even with the modifications the pandemic is requiring us to make, we are excited about our future together.
See you soon,
JULY 24, 2020 — Protocols and Guidelines for the Academic Year | EXPAND
Dear Central Family,
I hope your practice of physical distancing, face covering, hand-washing and other well-known tenets of pandemic protocol have kept you and your loved ones healthy and looking forward to Central’s fall semester — which we are currently planning on running as scheduled with classes starting Aug. 26 and ending Dec. 11. Final exam week is Dec. 15-17.
Because the health and safety of all members of the Central community are of primary importance, here on campus we have been and will continue work to prepare for your arrival. We have developed many new procedures, protocols and behavioral guidelines, all of which can be found in the COVID-19 section of our website. We’ve developed these with the continued input of our two coronavirus task forces and state and national authorities. We have learned considerably more in recent weeks about the spread of the COVID-19 virus and as a learning community it is important that we apply what we learn.
It is now required and absolutely essential to our shared success that all members of the Central community wear a face covering in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six-foot physical distances cannot be maintained. All students should bring at least two washable face masks, a personal supply of hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies for the residence room, and patience as we all adapt to the changes in the way we must interact during the pandemic. Central will provide two additional face masks and a reusable face shield when you check in during Move-In Day. Faculty and staff will also have access to face masks and shields, and everyone is reminded to wash face masks and shields (and hands) regularly. The masks and face shield will be provided to students, faculty and staff at no cost.
Central’s student-athletes and athletic training students will be among the first to arrive on campus in early August. The athletics task force reviewed the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NCAA and consulted with the American Rivers Conference in developing the detailed protocols regarding practice, competition and travel. Given the dynamic nature of athletics competition and team building, these protocols [link to athletics protocols when done] are critical for all student-athletes to review and understand prior to arriving on campus.
In order to minimize congestion when students move into the residence halls, move-in will occur over multiple days in a staggered manner with assigned times. All students and visitors are required to wear masks and visitors are asked to leave the rooms as soon as possible to respect the health of student residents.
All staff and students are required to wear face coverings (mask or face shield) when preparing, serving or picking up meals. Dining services staff follow the strict guidelines of the CDC and Food and Drug Administration in food preparation and service, for their health and yours. Students will be expected to maintain six-foot physical distancing in our dining facilities and not to move tables. If an individual coughs or sneezes in the serving area without a face covering, we are required under health regulations to discard the prepared food in the area, clean the area and begin the cooking process again. As you can imagine, this would be incredibly disruptive to our normal schedule. Accordingly, no one will be admitted to our dining venues without a face covering.
Classrooms have been set to maintain a six-foot physical distance between all students and faculty. Therefore, you may find yourself in an unusual classroom this semester! Cleaning supplies will be available to wipe down desktops, chairs, etc., at the start and end of class, a new routine that will not take long — just like carts at the grocery store. Wear a face mask and/or face shield in your classes and please avoid clustering in the hallways. Members of the faculty will provide specific instructions for any additional or adaptive requirements depending on the nature of each course.
We’ll continue to update our COVID-19 web section as we get more information in response to the pandemic and state and national guidelines.
Keeping Each Other Safe
One fact will not change: Safely reopening the campus and keeping it open for in-person learning is up to each one of us. By practicing good pandemic hygiene, we will go a long way toward keeping the health of our community manageable. This also means doing so on and off campus, during classes and while on breaks, with friends, roommates, colleagues and family members and with all we interact.
I cannot overemphasize the need for vigilance. Never has the continued health of the college, the Central community and, indeed, of our state and nation been more directly dependent on the day-to-day choices made by each one of us. Please join me in making every effort to keep yourself and everyone with whom you interact safe. And encourage others to do the same.
I so appreciate all of the many and great sacrifices all of you have made to ensure one another’s safety while continuing our educational mission since the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, we’ll need to remain observant and careful for the long haul. I say this not to discourage. No one is more enthusiastic about reopening campus than I am. But you deserve to hear the truth from me: We will have to continue to adapt in many ways, some foreseen and others unforeseeable. If we all come to campus determined to keep one another safe, we can prevail.
Have a Heart for Others
At Central we have a heart for others. This is why it is now required that all members of the Central community wear a face covering in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six-foot physical distances cannot be maintained. So wear a mask. Maintain physical distance. Wash hands frequently. Carry hand sanitizer. Clean and disinfect. This is how we can be there for each other now. Entire countries and world regions have largely returned to some semblance of normal with the help of these simple means along with testing, quarantining and contact tracing. With your help, we will do the same on Central’s campus. I know it is a sacrifice. But if ever there was one worth making, this is it.
I’ll continue to be in touch. Take care, be well and see you soon.
JULY 2, 2020 — Return to Campus Health Initiative | EXPAND
Dear Central Family,
Have a heart for others.
That’s the lead of this note to you.
It’s also the Central College way and the culture of who we are as a community.
The global pandemic we find ourselves in the midst of has mandated a need to make changes for a yet undetermined amount of time to enable our students to participate in learning at Central. These changes are practical and based on science – and, at their core, all about having a heart for others.
Over the past two months, we have been busy preparing for the arrival of our students on campus in August. The college has engaged in significant research and effort with assistance from experts on two different task forces. Our goal has been to help Central resume our mission of educating tomorrow’s leaders with maximum safety. The work of creating protocols and expectations that reduce the known risks of the coronavirus has been done in a framework of having a heart for — and a responsibility to — others.
We have recently launched this new health initiative website that outlines our expectations for the Central family as we approach the beginning of the fall semester. The coronavirus will remain a fact of life for some time. The nature of how we understand the virus is continuously evolving. As a result, some approaches on the site may change over time as we learn more about the virus and as therapeutic and vaccine solutions are realized.
As you might anticipate, out of respect for the health of all, we expect members of the Central community to:
- Wash hands frequently and avoid touching face and eyes.
- Carry a personal supply of hand sanitizer.
- Wear a mask and/or face shield when working indoors or near others outdoors.
- Maintain a six-foot distance from each other whenever possible.
- Avoid congregating in hallways and common spaces.
- Stay home or in the residence hall when sick.
From this list, the most debated is wearing a mask. As a campus society, we won’t mandate their use outright — although under certain circumstances they can be required or alternatives be mandated. For example, face shields will be required in language courses because it’s important for faculty and students to see each other’s mouths for optimal learning.
As you make plans to return or come to campus for the first time, it is essential for you to have a heart for others. Please carry a mask and/or a face shield with you and wear it when you are indoors and in close proximity to others because the research is finding that the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the air we share. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone wear a mask as a way to beat the pandemic and keep the world open. Right now, these steps are the best we have until a vaccine is found.
We all have a role, and a responsibility, in ensuring the health of our college community. I thank you in advance for familiarizing yourself with the guidance shared as part of our ongoing health initiative.
Yours in health,
June 15, 2020 — Summer Visits and More | Expand
Dear Central College Family,
Summer is officially underway. With its arrival starts our gradual, phased return to activities on campus and the continuation of several recent initiatives. Here’s an update:
Our admission team has returned to its office in Central Hall and, in accordance with guidance from local, state and federal officials, began offering in-person visits to campus for prospective students June 1. We have implemented a number of safety measures to help protect visitors and the Central community during the tours. So far, nearly 30 prospective students have come to campus to visit while the admission team continues to have a busy virtual visit schedule as well.
About 200 current and incoming students are taking a free, two-credit course titled An Interdisciplinary Conversation on COVID-19. It is the first course of its type in Central history and I hear it is going extremely well. Thanks to all who are participating, and especially to the nearly 20 faculty and staff members who are offering the course.
CENTRAL CARES FUND
We continue to accept applications to the Central Cares Fund to help students navigate barriers created by COVID-19. If you’re a student in need, please fill out the application. We will review and respond to you promptly.
Beginning Monday, June 15, the Ron Schipper Fitness Center in the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex will open to faculty, staff and students.
The fitness center will be open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
To use the facility:
- Central IDs will be required at all times for check in.
- All users must check in and out at the M. Joan Kuyper Farver Atrium entrance.
- Continue to follow physical distancing guidelines along with proper hygiene procedures.
- Until further notice, all other areas in the complex are closed due to construction.
Our work on how we will restart campus for the Fall 2020 semester is well underway. Move-In Day for first-year students is Aug. 22. Returning students may move in Aug. 24. The academic semester will begin with classes Aug. 26 and conclude Dec. 10.
We have convened two task forces to help us plan for the fall semester:
The COVID-19 Campus Protocol Task Force includes members from the fields of medicine and epidemiology, in addition to members of Central’s faculty and staff. This group is advising the college how to reopen and run the campus as safely as possible. It also is providing guidance on how we will continue to keep the Central family safe should anyone become ill. This task force is reviewing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal, state and local medical information.
We are encouraged that last week Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted the 50% capacity restriction on businesses and organizations effective June 12 after continued downward trending case numbers in the state.
The COVID-19 Athletics Protocol Task Force includes members from the fields of medicine, athletic training and sports medicine. This group is providing recommendations on best practices for dealing with the pandemic specific to athletics in consultation with the NCAA and the American Rivers Conference. Central has decided not to offer athletics camps this summer out of an abundance of caution. It looks forward to working with the NCAA and American Rivers Conference in planning the resumption of athletics activities on campus as soon as possible.
HOMECOMING AND COMMENCEMENT
We look forward to welcoming alumni and friends of the college to Homecoming Sept. 25-26. This year, the event will include the dedication of the new History Garden and Peace Mall on Friday, Sept. 25.
We also look forward to welcoming the Class of 2020 on Sunday, Sept. 27, for its Commencement ceremony.
Mark your calendars for these two momentous occasions. We will continue to monitor state and local guidelines and will provide details about plans for these two events later this summer.
Meanwhile, stay safe and stay in touch. I’ll do the same, with periodic updates throughout the summer on the work we’re doing to safely continue to reopen campus.
May 18, 2020 — Opportunities | Expand
Dear Central College family,Now that the spring semester has officially ended, and I think about the days in this semester – many of which felt a lot like Groundhog Day – I think not only of the challenges but also of the many amazing successes.
You all have worked diligently to make the good happen during a challenging time. First there was the incredible group effort to move classes to a remote learning setting. We also witnessed many individual achievements, including members of our family receiving the prestigious Goldwater and Udall scholarships. Two members of our community earned accolades from the Iowa Campus Compact. And we can’t forget to mention how renovations are buzzing along on our P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium.
All of us have appreciated the ways in which you have worked together to overcome the tremendous challenges brought by the coronavirus. Thank you.
While our challenges are certainly not over, many changes and opportunities to connect and celebrate are on the horizon.
Thank you, everyone, for selecting your preferences for refunds and credits around spring semester housing and dining costs. We have finalized that work and, depending on your preferences, the checks are being mailed or credited to your account for next year today, Monday, May 18. I also wish to thank the many of you who donated your refund or credit to the college to use for Journey Scholarships and the Central Cares Fund. We are humbled by your generosity.
Current Central students eligible for funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will receive funds once federal disbursement guidelines are resolved. The act provides emergency aid to federally eligible current students for expenses related to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Central Cares Fund
We continue to accept applications to the Central Cares Fund to help students navigate barriers created by COVID-19. This fund is made possible by donations. If you are in need of assistance, please fill out the application. We will review and respond to you promptly.
Don’t forget current students are invited to join a special remote learning course this summer called An Interdisciplinary Conversation on COVID-19. We are very grateful to the nearly 20 faculty and staff members who are working together to offer this course to stay connected to our students. Every participant who completes the course will receive two credits toward their academic work at Central at no cost. Classes will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays from May 28 to Aug. 6. If you are interested in this course, please register by May 22.
In the past few weeks, the State of Iowa has begun to lift restrictions. Informed by the latest guidance from local, state and federal officials, I am pleased to share the college will begin offering in-person visits to campus for prospective students beginning June 1. We have implemented a number of safety measures to help protect visitors and the Central community.
We continue to focus on how we will restart campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Many members of the Central community are developing our return-to-work and in-person instruction plans. Be assured we are strategically considering all scenarios to allow for learning on campus while following all appropriate guidance and health recommendations. As always, our Central family is the focus of this work so that we may ensure every member of our community is safe and healthy. I will communicate information about these plans when they are finalized.
Homecoming and Commencement
I wish to once again extend my congratulations to the members of the Class of 2020. Hoo-Rah! We are very proud of you! Please share your home graduation celebrations with us by posting on social media with #CentralGrads2020 and #BeyondCentral. In light of the exceptional circumstances of this semester, we continue to work on plans to hold Commencement on Sunday, Sept. 27, following the college’s Homecoming. Please mark your calendars and plan to come to campus to help us celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our graduates as well as enjoy a Homecoming that will be more special than ever. We continue to monitor state and local guidelines and will provide details about our plans around these events later this summer.
In closing, I hope you and your family are staying as healthy and safe as possible. Moving forward it is my intent to communicate with you as needed to share updates about the work we are doing to return to campus safely. Thank you for your hard work and dedication this semester.