Health Updates

The latest health updates will be posted below beginning May 26, 2020. For archived updates, see COVID-19 archive.

Click each header to expand and view updates.

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!”

— Yana

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,

Mark Putnam

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.

I urge you to spend time reviewing all the protocols and FAQs; below I highlight a few areas of most immediate interest.

General Information

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.

Mark Putnam

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,

Mark Putnam

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.


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.


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.

Go Dutch!

Mark Putnam

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.

COVID-19 Class

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.

Summer Visits

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.

Fall Opening

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.

Go Dutch!

Mark Putnam