Living on Campus

On-campus Cohorts

The cohort of students invited to live on campus each term will be determined by a variety of factors, including the pedagogical needs of certain courses, the curricular needs of students, and experiential learning considerations. Additionally, limited residential space will be available to students who do not have access to a home environment due to homelessness or current visa and travel restrictions. Invitations to campus will be made on a rolling basis in order to maximize the number of students on campus while observing recommend public health protocols.

As students return to campus, we will be continually evaluating the effectiveness of our efforts and the viability of increasing enrollment over time. The Summer term will be available to students who need additional coursework to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

7/27/20 Update

Residency Plan

With limited exceptions, we will actively plan for the following groups to live and learn on-campus during these corresponding terms: 

  • Fall Term 1: Small number of students approved for continuous residence, who will remain on campus for most or all the academic year 
  • Fall Term 2: Mid-year graduates 
  • Spring Term 1: First-year students 
  • Spring Term 2: Second- and fourth-year students 
  • Summer Term: Optional term to meet academic needs that arise

Enrollment Assumptions and Options

Due to anticipated space limitations, if you decline your invitation for a term on campus, we cannot guarantee that you will have another opportunity. Unfortunately, if public health conditions do not permit you to come during your designated term, we regret that we will not be able to make additional adjustments to the residency plan. If public health conditions warrant, however, we will be pleased to increase the number of on-campus students beyond those currently planned. We will continue to use scientific data and research in our decision-making processes, and to communicate our plans in a timely manner.

All students will be able to enroll in remote-learning classes this fall. Any student considering a delayed start or leave of absence will find instructions on our COVID-19 Information for Students page. For all enrolled students, we expect that you will be enrolled full time unless you are approved for part-time study.

Eligibility for On-Campus Invitations

Grinnell College is committed to helping students maintain progress toward their degree, and online instruction allows students to continue to earn academic credit when in-person instruction is not available. While enrollment status will not affect a student’s eligibility to return to campus, full or part-time enrollment is essential for academic continuity and can be a significant factor in student success. Grinnell is planning to invite every student to campus for at least one term during the 2020-21 academic year. Remaining enrolled or taking a leave will neither ensure or disqualify a student from being invited to campus. Helping students achieve curricular continuity is our priority. It is important that students consult their advisers on campus when considering a leave to weigh the possibility of missing classes that will only be offered when a student may be on leave.

Room Assignments

Residence Life will take a different approach to housing assignments for the next academic year. All students will be placed in family units called scurries and reside in single rooms. A scurry is the word for a group of squirrels—a homage to our informal mascot, Scarlet. A scurry will be comprised of 10-15 other students with whom you live. First-year students will be placed with a roommate and in a scurry based on a shared academic course. Returning students will identify names of other students they would like to live with or near (and who are present on campus at the same time) to establish their scurry. Each scurry will be spaced throughout the residence halls in accordance with our public health efforts. Room assignments for each term will be released just prior to the start of that term.

Rose Hall, Rathje Hall and all college-owned houses will be designated as quarantine spaces for the coming year. Consequently, residents of the Language and Project Houses will be reassigned to other residential spaces for the terms during which they are on campus. (12/3/20)


Dining Services

Dining at a safer distance for students on campus will be carefully choreographed to reduce transmission by scheduling small groups during each meal. It will be a challenge to accommodate even the lower density group on campus in a reasonable time period while adhering to physical distancing. Unfortunately, these constraints will not allow us to extend meal plans to students living off campus. Should an approved off-campus student seek on-campus housing for quarantine or isolation, a meal plan will be made available. (7/17/2020)

Meal Plan

Due to limited capacity and public health considerations, only students living on campus will have access to a meal plan. Only a full meal plan is available during the 2020-21 academic year and will be required for all students living on campus.

Dining Hall

Our approach to dining must change this year. We cannot responsibly serve food and drinks in ways that promote large group eating activities and compromise other mitigation efforts to contain viral spread. It is also true that students derive considerable social development and pleasure from dining together so we are working with our team of infectious disease experts to determine if we can preserve some of these features in a responsible manner. (7/17/2020)


Students living on campus will be required to remain in close proximity to Grinnell for public health reasons. Some students may need to travel a bit further for certain medical providers and/or other specialized services. We strongly advise that students observe the same public health protocols when they are off-campus as they will be required to observe on campus (e.g., physical distancing, PPE, frequent handwashing, etc.). These remain essential practices to curtail viral spread as others with whom students come in contact may not be adhering to the same prevention measures. Members of the Grinnell community miss having our students in town, but we want to do our part to minimize the spread within our community. Students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to serve as role models of responsible public health practices when spending time in the community.

Breaks and Transitions Between Terms

Between the time a student arrives on campus and their designated departure date, students will be expected to remain in close proximity to Grinnell. Travel during term transitions and within-term holidays will not be permitted. The only exception will be the Winter Break between Fall Term 2 and Spring Term 1. Students will be permitted to travel during that break.

In the event of an emergency, a student can seek permission from the Dean of Students to travel, but approval will be granted only in limited circumstances (e.g., death/serious illness of a family member). Students will be expected to quarantine upon their return in a similar manner to their initial arrival. Scurries will remain together during term transitions. (12/3/20)

Testing Protocols

Students will be tested on arrival and then on a regular basis throughout the term. Currently, results typically are received within 24-48 hours. Faculty and staff who have regular interaction with students will also participate in the testing protocol.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 but is not showing symptoms (asymptomatic), they will be relocated to a designated isolation location (e.g., residence hall or college-owned house). SHAW nursing staff will conduct regular check-ins with the student, monitoring symptoms and determining when the student can be released. Meals will be delivered to their location and they will not be permitted to leave the residence hall during the isolation period. The student will work with SHAW and Academic Advising to best manage their classes during this period.

Additionally, it is likely that fellow scurry members, classmates, and other close contacts will be tested and required to quarantine in their room for a designated period of time (7-10 days). Only those who have been in close physical proximity to a student who tests positive will be notified. Meals will be delivered to quarantining students during this time period, as well.

If a student begins showing symptoms, they will be referred to the local hospital for care. If the student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be relocated to a designated isolation location with the same protocols as detailed above for those who are asymptomatic and test positive for the virus. (12/3/20)

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