COVID-19 Campus Update 3-12-20

March 12, 2020

We write with today’s updates to our continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic with thanks for the efforts and understanding of our community as its members make important decisions about the rest of the semester.

Your health and safety remain our top priority. We also are committed to supporting completion of coursework and graduation requirements as well as minimizing the financial burden on our students.

Students Moving Out

Students are scheduling their move-out dates between now and Monday, March 23. Faculty and staff have generously volunteered to help students bring their belongings out to waiting vehicles. We ask that the minimum number of caregivers and visitors come to campus and that they not enter residence halls or campus buildings so as to minimize the risk of transmission. Box lunches and beverages will be provided for caregivers and visitors.

Information about support for moving out is also updated on the Grinnell College Division of Student Affairs Facebook page as well.

For the few students who must remain, as we move to a new normal for the rest of the semester, life will look and feel different. We are working on moving as many of our services and programs online as possible. Our goal is that you will continue to have access to much of the support you rely on at Grinnell, but how you access that support will change. We will continue to provide regular updates and encourage you to bookmark the College’s COVID-19 response website where we will keep the most up-to-date information.

Should you need someone to speak with in this time of transition and throughout the semester, please know that mental health services are still available for students through SHAW. We are also working quickly to provide services  to you after you have returned home and will keep you updated on how to access those services.

Living On- and Off-campus

We continue to hear many questions, especially from students currently living off-campus or considering moving to an off-campus residence, about their potential access to College resources. In order to minimize transmission and infection risk, our goal is to have as few students as possible remain in Grinnell. Students currently living on-campus choosing to move into the city of Grinnell without permission of the College do so against the explicit instruction and advice of the College. If you have not received permission to stay on campus and are now considering moving off campus, your access to campus buildings will end on March 24. To be clear, students who move off campus who do not already live off campus will not have access to buildings on campus. Below is a summary of building and dining access that clarifies many of the questions that emerged in the town halls yesterday. These measures are being taken to sustain our commitment to slowing transmission of the virus. All access is subject to change depending on the COVID-19 situation.

For students who have petitioned for and have been given permission to live on-campus:

  • Students who have a meal plan will have P-card access to the dining hall.
  • Students who have assigned work on campus will have P-card access to the building they work in.
  • Students will have P-card access to the building they are assigned to live in, Burling Library, the Grinnell Museum, and the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center.

For students who already lived in the city of Grinnell during the spring term and plan to remain in those off-campus accommodations:

  • Students who already had a meal plan will have P-card access to the dining hall.
  • Students who have assigned work on campus will have P-card access to the building they work in.
  • Students will have P-card access to Burling Library, the Grinnell Museum, and the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center.

Students who choose to move off campus into the City of Grinnell without explicit permission of the College:

  • Your room and board will be refunded on a prorated basis.
  • Your P-cards will be deactivated.
  • You will not have access to the dining hall, academic buildings, Burling Library, the Grinnell Museum, or the Bear Recreation and Athletic center.

Reducing Academic Stress: Grinnell’s version of Pass/Fail

In the wake of Grinnell’s decision to transition temporarily to a distance education model, the Grinnell College Executive Council has determined to provide students with expanded access to the S/D/F grading option for the spring 2020 semester.

Effectively immediately, students may elect to switch some or all of their spring 2020 courses to S/D/F. The deadline to switch spring 2020 courses to S/D/F is Friday, April 10.

For those unfamiliar with the S/D/F grade mode, it is Grinnell’s version of Pass/Fail grading. Students earning the equivalent of a “C” or better are awarded a grade of “S” (satisfactory). The “S” carries no grade points and is NOT computed into a student’s semester or cumulative grade point averages (GPAs.) A grade of “D” (passing) or “F” (failing) is recorded normally and computed into a student’s GPAs. Instructors are NOT notified and typically unaware that a student has elected to take their course on an S/D/F basis. Given the unusual circumstances of these policy exceptions, if students would prefer their instructors be aware of their decision, for whatever reason, the Executive Council wants to assure students that instructors will be receptive and supportive.

Submit the S/D/F Grading Opt-In Form to switch any or all of your spring 2020 courses to S/D/F. Expanded access to the S/D/F grade mode aims to reduce student stress during this already-stressful time, while still providing a pathway to fulfill program and degree requirements. While students may decide to continue to pursue a letter grade (A-F) in their spring 2020 classes, the S/D/F grade mode may be a sensible and stress-reducing option, depending on individual circumstances. Students are encouraged to consult with their adviser(s) prior to electing S/D/F.

There are no expected immigration-related impacts on international students who elect to switch their courses to S/D/F. Also, the Iowa State Board of Education has confirmed that courses taken S/D/F and graded “S” may satisfy requirements for teaching certification/licensure.

Check Spring 2020 Exceptions to S/D/F Policy for more information.

Financial Aid and Refunds

In addition to regular office hours, the Office of Student Financial Services (Financial Aid and Student Accounts) will remain open today (Thursday, March 12) until 7 p.m. and will be open Saturday (March 14) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Updates regarding additional expanded hours will be provided as they are available.

Room and Board Refunds

  • Pro-rated refunds for room and board will be activated by submission of the survey Student Affairs has requested of all students.
  • These refunds will be issued for students who are currently living and dining on campus and will be leaving Grinnell College for the remainder of the semester.
  • The precise amount that a student will be reimbursed will depend upon a number of factors unique to them. A credit will be placed on the student’s account and a reimbursement issued for any balance due to the student.
  • Reimbursements will be direct deposited if we have your automatic bank transfer information on file. Otherwise, they will be mailed to students at the home mailing address on file.
  • Those students who do not have access to the resources required to travel home or another destination where they will live for the spring semester should visit the Financial Aid Office where an expedited refund process can be initiated. A financial aid officer will assess any additional, unmet need, and utilize emergency funds to assist with transportation costs as necessary.

Work Study Opportunities for Students with Financial Need

  • The College will evaluate each student’s circumstances so that there is no need to remain on campus solely due to work.
  • Students with permission to live on- or off-campus who work as part of their need-based financial aid package will be provided with opportunities to continue working in their current job or an alternative job.
  • Students with permission to live on- or off-campus who work and do not have a need-based financial aid package may continue working in consultation with their supervisor.
  • Because work for many students is a part of their need-based financial aid package, we will work with students to assess individual need and may convert what would have been earned to grant funding.
  • Remote work may be an option for students with or without a need-based financial aid award if approved by the College. A process for approval has been initiated with student supervisors.
  • A work grant is not available for students without a need-based financial aid award.

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