Campus Update: Influenza and Coronavirus

March 02, 2020

Since January, the College has sent several updates on the quickly evolving developments related to the coronavirus COVID-19. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community continue to be our priority as we navigate this global health issue. Grinnell celebrates the diversity of our academic community; our students come from across the country and around the world. The COVID-19 situation is impacting Grinnellians who are concerned about loved ones, and we invite you to seek support from campus resources to alleviate and address these concerns. Because this issue has also led to acts of bias and racism throughout the world, it is especially important for members of the Grinnell community to support one another through this challenging time.

Grinnell Monitoring and Planning

A monitoring and planning group representing key areas on campus including academics, student affairs, health and wellness, emergency preparedness, facilities management, dining, and communications has been meeting weekly to monitor coronavirus developments and plan for the potential impact on Grinnell. To provide accurate information and raise awareness about COVID-19, a Grinnell coronavirus response website has been set up. Questions or comments about the College’s coronavirus response can be submitted via a qualtrics form. Please note: this form is for non-emergency communications only; individuals seeking urgent care or assistance should call Campus Security at 641-269-4600 or call “911.”

Members of this monitoring and planning group are staying current with recommendations from the following expert sources: the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), State Medical Director and Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati, Unity Point Health–Grinnell Director of Public Health and Wellness Shauna Callaway, and Grinnell College Medical Director Dr. Laura Ferguson.

The situation is changing rapidly both globally and nationally. For the most up-to-date information, the College will rely on the WHO, the CDC, and the Iowa Department of Public Health. Following are updated fact sheets prepared by the CDC.


WHO: World Health Organization

CDC: Coronavirus Situation Summary website

CDC: “What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019” fact sheet

IDPH: “COVID-19 Guidance: Colleges and Universities”

International Programs and Travel

Many Grinnellians and their families are understandably worried and wondering about current and upcoming international travel. Grinnell College leadership, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and how it may impact travel. The College refers to both the U.S. State Department travel warning system and the CDC to make decisions about all student-related travel. We also monitor information provided by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, World Health Organization, GeoBlue/Drum Cussac, study abroad partners, and various news sources.

As changes in circumstances warrant, the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) and the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) will communicate with students, faculty, staff, and parents about international programs and travel developments that may impact them.

Grinnell College is currently evaluating the following:

  • Students currently in off-campus study (OCS) programs around the world: IGE continues to work with our study abroad partners as they determine matters related to their programs.
  • International students: F-1 students who are considering travel abroad for spring break and/or the summer are advised by OISA to be mindful of the health risks of travel as well as policies regarding exit and reentry to the United States.
  • Spring Break programs: Grinnell has academic programs scheduled to travel abroad within the next two weeks, and also has students conducting externships. The College will continue to monitor events, and will make a decision about College-sponsored programs no later than Monday, March 9. As warranted, the College will be in communication with students, faculty, staff, and parents regarding decisions.
  • Summer (MAPS, internships, study abroad programs, faculty-led programs, etc.): A decision regarding the feasibility of summer 2020 programs will be made by April 1.
  • Fall OCS students: The College will evaluate and monitor the situation this spring and into the summer. OCS will continue to keep students, faculty, and parents informed of on-going changes to fall programs.


Grinnell College: International Student Affairs staff

Grinnell College: Institute for Global Engagement staff

CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel website

DOS: U.S Department of State Travel Advisories

NAFSA: Coronavirus Resources

OSAC: Overseas Security Advisory Council

WHO: World Health Organization

GeoBlue/Drum Cussac

Critically Important Prevention Measures

As a matter of course, the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine (although there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, this is recommended as a preventative measure for seasonal flu), taking preventative actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antiviral medications if prescribed.

The following precautionary measures may aid in defending against the flu and COVID-19:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper arm/elbow.
  • Clean hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently (faucets, doorknobs, phones, etc.).
  • Avoid contact with sick people.


CDC: "What to do if you are sick” fact sheet

What to Do If You Are Sick

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing — and especially if you have traveled internationally in the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has — you should seek medical care right away.

Health Care for Students

  • If you develop flu-like symptoms, call Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) at 641-269-3230 to consult with a nurse. SHAW is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • If you become ill after hours or on the weekend, call SHAW to speak with an after-hours nurse.
  • If you feel you need to seek immediate after-hours treatment (and do not have transportation to the local Walk-In Clinic or ER), call Campus Safety at 641-269- 4600, to request a ride to the local hospital.
  • Students should stay away from classes and campus activities if they are sick.
  • Faculty can seek support from Academic Advising/SHAW about reasonable measures to accommodate sick students. The Dean will be in communication with the faculty about how to address class attendance in these circumstances.

Health Care for Employees

  • Employees should stay home if they are sick.
    • Supervisors can seek help from Human Resources about reasonable measures to accommodate sick employees.
  • You should seek care from your family doctor, urgent care facility, or hospital.
  • If you are seeking care, call ahead to your doctor’s office or emergency room and advise them of your recent travel and symptoms.


Grinnell College: SHAW 641-269-3230

Grinnell College: Campus Safety phone number, 641-269-4600

Grinnell College: SHAW website

CDC: “What to do if you are sick” fact sheet

IDPH: Infectious Disease Hotline number, 800-362-2736

Previous Campus Update Messages from Grinnell College

Update on CDC Guidelines Implementation (2-10-20)

CDC Coronavirus Guideline Implemented on Campus (2-6-20)

Coronavirus Outbreak and China Travel (1-30-20)

Flu Activity at Grinnell College (1-28-20)

Important National and International Resources

CDC: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

CDC: Fact Sheets

WHO: World Health Organization website

John Hopkins: COVID-19 Global Map

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