Wartburg College is monitoring reports and recommendations regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from national and regional health agencies on a daily basis. The institution is taking safety precautions, following the latest guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). 

Questions? Contact Stephanie Newsom, Communicable Disease Response Team Chair

April 7, 2020 

Dear Wartburg College Community,

Today is RICE Day, and my calendar has been insistently reminding me of the many activities that I should be attending: the early morning reception for parents, the luncheon in honor of donors who’ve established scholarships, the late afternoon reception for parents, and many more.

 Obviously, the coronavirus derailed our day, the day I love only slightly less than Commencement Day. We’ve only been observing RICE Day for a few years, but it has become such an integral part of our academic rhythm that I deeply feel the loss. A whole day to celebrate our students’ work—their research, their internship experiences, their creative endeavors—is like a day in academic heaven. They so impressively display their knowledge, skill, and confidence that those of us who work with them nearly burst with pride.

 We have gathered together some of our students’ work, and we’ve posted it to our RICE Day webpage, and we’ll continue to post work as it comes in; but, sadly, we won’t be able to duplicate the day.

Nevertheless, I ease my sorrow a bit by remembering that RICE Day is only a day of show-and-tell; we weren’t able to gather together, and students weren’t able to share, but the work they’ve done is what really matters. I would have loved to see them in action, but the important thing to remember is that they’ve accomplished so much. 

Even this enormous disruption doesn’t deprive them of the knowledge they’ve gained, the skills they’ve developed, the confidence they’ve gained. If anything, the challenges they’ve faced in these past weeks have strengthened those character traits.

After spending five minutes watching and listening to the talk I would have heard at today’s scholarship luncheon, I relaxed, realizing that our students’ spirits haven’t faltered; instead, I clearly see how powerfully they’ll be able to express their faith and learning.

Darrel Colson

About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often. 

There are no known cases of COVID-19 within the Wartburg College community.


Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath) to severe illness or death. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure. If you develop any of these symptoms and believe you may have been in a location with known COVID-19 cases or in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed, please contact the on-campus Noah Health Clinic at 319-352-8436 or Waverly Health Center at 319-352-4120 to determine the desired course of action. If self-quarantine or other actions are deemed medically necessary, the college is poised to work with you and local health officials to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Frequently Asked Questions

We completed our in-person, face-to-face instruction at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 17. Classes will continue by remote modalities after that date; faculty will communicate with students to arrange the continuation of each class. Campus will remain open. Beginning on Wednesday, March 18, classes will transition to remote instruction, in keeping with individual faculty design. Winter Term will continue through April 17. May Term instruction will begin on April 27.

Regarding the Winter Term, we have passed the date when, under ordinary conditions, we would have provided any refund to students leaving the College. Normally, we would prorate charges until 60% of the term has passed. By that point in the term, we already have incurred the bulk of the costs associated with providing room and board. You can find our policy on our website

The College does not charge any additional amount for tuition, room, and board for May Term, assuming the student was registered full-time during the Winter Term. The only additional fee for May Term relates to costs for travel, and we are trying to recover as many of those funds as possible from our third-party partners. 

Information was sent to all students regarding the online housing lottery. Click here to read that email. Additional emails will be sent with each individual lottery link. 

Yes. Up-to-date information is available on the Iowa Department of Public Health website

A Communicable Disease Response Team — with members from our health clinic, maintenance and cleaning, residential life, student services, dining, and security teams — is monitoring the situation and making recommendations to the Cabinet. These campus leaders also have been working behind the scenes on prevention — by increasing the frequency in which they clean high touch points, like door handles, hand railings and handicap accessibility buttons — as well as preparing for the possibilty of a COVID-19 case in the community or on campus and transitioning our classes to online or distance education. This includes everything from finding safe places for students to self-quarantine to making plans for students to stay on campus should the college have to close unexpectedly and they are unable to leave to how to staff the college should an inordinate number of employees be unable to report for work. The details of these decisions have not been shared with campus, in part, because they are changing so fast. 

We will not be able to conduct our traditional Commencement ceremony on May 24; however, we will still celebrate the Class of 2020 on that day with a virtual Commencement. In addition, the Class of 2020 will have a special Senior Dinner/Reunion at Homecoming in October. During that time the newest Knights will have the opportunity to get their photos taken in their robes and be celebrated by the campus community. The students also will be invited back in December 2020 and May 2021 to walk across the stage with their classmates and friends. Additional information will be available on the Commencement website as it becomes available. 

All students studying abroad have now returned to their homes. 

The college is suspending all new, non-essential campus-sponsored air travel. Vehicular travel to events involving groups of 100 or more, through May 31, 2020, is also being suspended. Faculty and staff who have already purchased plane tickets can decide on a case-by-case basis to go through with those trips. Vehicular travel to smaller events may also be suspended on a case-by-case basis. All faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to consider delaying personal, non-essential travel and should follow all CDC guidelines if the trip is unavoidable.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, those returning from Level 3 countries, which include China, South Korea, Iran, and parts of Europe, should self-quarantine at home for 14 days upon their return and practice social distancing, should they be required to leave their home. They also should monitor their health during that time and seek medical advice for a fever, cough, or trouble breathing. Those returning from overnight travel to destinations other than the Level 3 list above should practice “social distancing” upon their return. This means they should refrain from crowded places, avoid group gatherings, and maintain an approximate 6-foot distance from others when possible. If they get sick with a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, or have trouble breathing, they should seek medical advice. Other guidelines for Level 2 travelers can be found here.

That is very unlikely. We are sensitive to that fact that many students are disappointed they will not have the traditional May Term, going to class, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the spring.  As was mentioned in previous communications, even though classes will be online, students are still welcome to stay on campus. 

If you think you may have acquired or been exposed to COVID-19, you can take a screening assessment online at virtuwell or Doctor on Demand. Both are available 24/7 at no cost to you. If you have additional concerns, contact your primary care clinic. As a HealthPartners member, you won’t have any out-of-pocket cost for administration of the COVID-19 laboratory test (regardless of where the test is performed). You will also not have out-of-pocket costs related to an in-network office or urgent care visit associated with the test*. Coverage with no member cost sharing will not apply to an emergency room visit. *If the test or office or urgent care visit is done out-of-network, coverage will be applied based on out-of-network benefits.

HealthPartners has also temporarily changed our early refill policy* due to the public health concerns caused by COVID-19. We want to ensure our members have access to adequate medication by allowing for early refills.
*For Medicare members we anticipate this will in place as soon as possible.