CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES

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

We’re in this together!

Wartburg College Counseling Services invites you to join virtual information meetings via Zoom about COVID-19 and ways to address adjustment difficulties related to the pandemic.

Every Tuesday during May Term, 1-2 p.m.
ZOOM LINK: https://wartburg.zoom.us/j/95080630157
*Maximum of 12 students per session; first come first serve

May 13, 2020 

Dear Wartburg College Community,

As we near the end of May Term, I wanted to update you on just a few things that have been happening on campus recently. Thankfully, we are making progress on a number of projects important to our students. 

UKnight for Students grants for emergency financial aid

Checks from our UKnight for Students Fund to address unexpected expenses and emergency financial needs have been placed in the mail or in campus mailboxes (for those still living on campus). Each check was sent with an explanatory cover letter and list of frequently asked questions (which you can access here).

Virtual Commencement

We continue to move forward with our plans for this month’s virtual Commencement on May 24, at 1:30 p.m. The event will be live streamed on Knight Vision so everyone can participate. In the coming week, graduating seniors should receive their caps, gowns, tassels, diploma covers, and any honor cords that haven’t already been distributed. Additional information about Commencement can be found on our website.

That morning, at 10 a.m., on May 24, we’ll also offer a virtual “Blessing of the Seniors.” The Rev. Dr. Brian Beckstrom, Dean of Spiritual Life, will share the Baccalaureate message via live stream.

Looking forward to Recovery

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced earlier today the re-opening (at reduced capacity) of some businesses statewide, including eating establishments and wellness centers. Our on-campus professionals in each of these areas, in consultation with state and national experts, have been planning for this and have designed protocols in keeping with state regulations.

Happy to take this initial step toward recovery, we continue to work on the overall plan for re-opening campus for students this fall, and I’ll be sharing further news as available.

In this challenging moment, I remain thankful for the many people with whom I work, the people who have answered the call to serve Wartburg’s students. Watching them adapt to each obstacle and improvise to seize each opportunity affords such reassurance: our students are indeed in good hands.

 Thank you again for your continued patience and support as we continue working our way back.

Yours,
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. 

Symptoms

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. 

The College will provide financial aid in the form of grants for every full-time student who is curently registered for Winter Term courses.  Every one of these students will receive a grant to defray some of the additional expenses incurred when the Governor’s proclamation caused our transition to remote learning and otherwise disrupted campus activities.  Because these grants address unexpected expenses, those who were full-time residential students will receive a larger grant than those who were not and whose additional expenses were likely to have been lower.

In addition, the College will provide financial aid in the form of grants to meet the pressing financial need of students among this group.  Using information such as FAFSA filings and requests submitted to the UKnight for Students Fund, the College will strive to respond to those who were especially hard hit. Click here to learn more

During the next few weeks, the College will receive an allocation of nearly $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education as a result of Congressional action.  By law, half of this money must be used for just this purpose, to help students deal with emergent financial needs resulting from the coronavirus; the other half may be used for various qualified purposes at the discretion of the College. 

Wartburg’s Board of Regents has chosen to make all of this money available to meet students’ emergent financial needs, in combination with other institutional resources, including the money generously given on UKnight for Students Day.

The Business and Financial Aid offices have taken numerous steps to help our students during this time. Here are just some of the ways they are removing barriers for students;

– Normally, only students with credit balances are allowed to charge May Term adopted course materials to their student account up to their credit balance. Now, ALL students are able to charge their adopted course materials to their student account, regardless of account balance. Students have been assigned a unique TextbookX Charge Code allowing them to charge up to $250.

– Several May Term courses with additional associated fees had the fees waived and the credits are already reflected on the student accounts. 

– The College has waived finance charges for current students on their student acount balances for March, April and May 2020.

– The due date to pay off student account balances was deferred from April 10 to May 10, 2020. 

– Financial holds associated with an outstanding student account balance were lifted related to housing and class registration for 2020-21. 

– The Financial Aid Office has reviewed several special circumstances, at the request of the student or a parent, to determine if there is any additional financial aid that could be provided in the current year. If you believe you or your family have a special circumstance that will affect your ability to pay in 2020-21, please email the Financial Aid Office at finaid@wartburg.edu.

Funds will vary by student, because the College seeks to address each student’s individual situation, therefore, students will receive this information as soon as it’s available.  

The College is committed to disbursing these grants by the end of May Term; and they will be credited to students’ accounts, which is the fastest way the College can disburse money to so many people.  Normally, the College would not release money to students whose accounts show a balance due to the College, but these grants are different:  because they are intended to meet pressing needs, students may withdraw these grant funds within 30 days of being credited to the student account.  Often the best choice is to leave the grant in place so that it reduces the balance owed to the College or creates a credit to help meet next year’s charges; but students will be able to make that choice.

Wartburg is almost unique in providing most of the vital services that support the needs of students.  Most schools outsource one or more of those services, including dining, housekeeping, and maintenance, to corporate vendors.  In times of drastic disruption, such as a pandemic, those vendors will quickly renegotiate their contracts, thus freeing money that client schools can pass through to students.

Wartburg has always believed that everyone in the community — whether they are faculty or staff, counselors or housekeepers, vice presidents or cooks — plays an important role in mentoring our students, thus advancing the College’s mission.  Because of our values, we actually employ the people who prepare food and maintain the campus.

More than half of each dollar we receive pays for the salaries and benefits of the people who work at the College.  Another 16% supports the many programs, including academic, that serve students; 11% pays for the loans that helped to build the Student Center, the Science Center, and the W.  Smaller portions pay for the continual maintenance of the campus, the wages paid to student workers, the technology and equipment that students, faculty, and staff use every day.

While many schools actually closed their residential operations, thus no longer needing their corporate vendors to prepare food or to provide maintenance, Wartburg has not done that.  Although it would have saved some money, we did not force any students to leave the campus if they, or their parents, think this a better or safer place for them to be. 

Many students continue to live on campus, and therefore our staff must continue preparing food as well as cleaning and maintaining the halls.  While we are purchasing less food that we normally do, we have also had to purchase packaging and other supplies and equipment to shift to a take-out service.  Even in normal times, the cost of food is not the major expense at a residential college; most of the money collected for room and board pays salaries and benefits for those who serve students. 

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. 

The Wartburg Graduation Fee of $125 covers cap/gown/commemorative tassel,  diploma cover/diploma, ceremony expenses, and costs associated with printing, mailing, and tracking of degree completion.

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. 

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.

Any employee or student who returns to work after traveling internationally (work or personal) must refrain from coming to campus for 14 days upon their return. Employees who are able to work from home can continue to do soe while self-monitoring at home.

 Individuals who return to campus from overnight will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to work on campus unless they have:

Any of the newly expanded symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Had contact with a person who is being tested for COVID-19.
Had contact with someone who is ill with respiratory symptoms.

For additional information about the risk associated with traveling during a pandemic, please visit the CDC website

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.