COVID-19 Campus Update: Contingency Plan Implementation

March 23, 2020

Hello Grinnellians. The start of another week brings with it more planning for your health and safety. Please read today’s message carefully, as it calls for significant changes.

There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on campus or in the City of Grinnell.

Be aware that unfounded rumors are circulating and will likely continue to do so. The College will continue its practice of sharing only OFFICIAL AND VERIFIED INFORMATION as expediently as possible.

On Saturday, March 21, we learned about and shared the news of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Poweshiek County. The College’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Team has determined that, in the absence of adequate testing capacity, we will be taking universal living precautions and begin enacting our contingency plans for when we have an individual in Grinnell test positive for the virus, rather than waiting for a positive test.

We are taking a phased approach to implementation of our plan, starting with students and then moving to faculty and staff actions. We thank everyone in advance for adhering to these guidelines not only for their own health and safety, but also for the health and safety of the whole community.

Raynard S. Kington
President

 

STEPS BEING TAKEN: READ CAREFULLY AND OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING

Students Living on Campus – Required Actions Effective Tuesday, March 24

  • Remain in your residence hall room unless it is essential for you to leave (e.g., to pick up your self-care kit, to get mail, or to exercise). Use your assigned restroom.
  • We encourage you to go for a walk or get outdoor exercise if you are able and to maintain a 6-foot (~2 meters) physical distance from others.
  • The dining hall will be closed. Dining services will be making deliveries of food directly to residence halls.
    • Students in residence halls: Midday and evening meals will be delivered to the loggia (delivery time information for each hall will be shared separately)
    • Students who live off campus and have dining meal plans: Midday and evening meals will be available for pick up in front of JRC (pick up time information will be shared separately)
    • A continental breakfast will be delivered with the evening meal
    • Beverages will be provided
    • Snack bags will be provided
  • Shuttle services are suspended until further notice.
  • Call 911 or Campus Safety at 641-269-4600 for emergencies.
  • Students living on campus who have not picked up the self-care kits provided by SHAW, should get those from their mailboxes as soon as possible. These kits contain supplies a student may need if they become ill. 
  • Students employed in operations-critical areas — including safety, dining, mail, and ADA accommodations — should look for follow-up communications from their supervisors.
  • On campus work is suspended for students employed in areas that are NOT considered operations-critical. Students may be reassigned to operations-critical areas if there is need.
  • Students who are working in approved remote positions may continue to do so.
  • To ensure students on need-based financial aid are able to receive funds they intended to earn through need-based work, the College will convert the unearned portion of your spring work award to a grant on a prorated basis. The grant will be applied to your student account, and as appropriate, a refund will be provided. The processing of these grants will take place after April 15 to account for previous work on campus. Those able to secure continued remote or essential on-campus employment should do so. Students without a need-based financial aid award will be compensated for hours worked. However, no grants will be awarded to these students to replace hours not worked..
  • Continue not congregating in common areas.
  • Continue making every effort to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet (~2 meters) from other people.

Faculty/Staff – Required Actions Effective Wednesday, March 25

  • Once critical operations begin, all buildings will be locked and access restricted to faculty and staff who have been designated as operations-critical by their chair or supervisor respectively.
  • If you are unsure whether your position is considered operations-critical, contact your supervisor if you are a staff member, or your chair if you are a faculty member.
  • Staff employed in operations-critical areas should expect instructions from their supervisor. Faculty who have been designated as operations-critical by their department should be in touch with their chairs.
  • Faculty members who need to retrieve materials from their offices should email access requests to Retta Kelley, who will help coordinate retrieval.
  • Please remove or dispose of perishable items, especially from refrigerators.
  • Faculty and staff NOT employed in operations-critical areas should prepare to go home and begin working remotely (if not already doing so). If you are unable to work remotely for any reason, remain home and contact your supervisor. Employees will continue to be paid.
  • Faculty and staff already working remotely should plan to continue doing so.
  • Mail deliveries to buildings will continue, as needed. Check the website for preliminary mail services details.

At this time, classes are still scheduled to resume through distance learning on March 30, thanks to all the hard work done by faculty and staff preparing courses. Students should update faculty members about illnesses or other circumstances that might make it difficult for them to participate in online studies. Faculty should update the Dean’s Office about illnesses or other circumstances that would make teaching difficult. We will do our best to provide support.

 

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Why is the Emergency Operations Team Taking These Steps Now?

  • We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution to do our best to slow the spread of the virus and to protect the health and safety of our community. At the same time, we are preparing should additional measures become necessary. 
  • The Governor’s office has shared that testing for COVID-19 will continue to be limited due to lack of test kits and lab capacity. The best information available indicates more testing might be available by early-April, at which time we will re-evaluate the situation and steps being taken.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been unable to provide any case information regarding the positive case reported in Poweshiek county, except that the individual is in isolation. We are unable to determine if the individual was infected by community spread or direct contact.
  • A growing number of medical and scientific experts believe that COVID-19 may be affecting younger people more severely in the United States than it did in other countries.
  • It appears that asymptomatic carriers, who show no overt signs of infection themselves, are spreading the virus.

Important Prevention Reminders

Please continue to make prevention a priority and reach out for assistance, as needed.

  • Limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
  • Do not congregate in common areas.
  • Make every effort to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet (~2 meters) from other people.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow/upper arm.

Remember it’s important to stay active through physical activity and personal connections.

Stay Home When Ill

The Iowa Department of Public Health has directed that sick Iowans must stay home and isolate from others in the house/residence until:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers),

AND

  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved),

AND

  • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

If you think you may need health care, call first. Your provider can assess whether you need to be seen in the office or if you can recover at home.

Counseling and Listening Resources

Many of us may be feeling a heightened level of stress and anxiety right now. It’s a normal reaction to what is going on. Finding ways to stay connected to your friends and family may help ameliorate any sense of anxiety. Never hesitate to reach out for professional assistance at any time. Following are some of the counseling and listening resources available to you.

For Grinnell Students

Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) Counseling Services can help connect you with mental health resources 24 hours a day:

For students in the state of Iowa:

  • Call SHAW at 641-269-3230.
  • During normal business hours staff will triage your request and work to get you scheduled with a provider. 
  • After hours, you can follow the prompts to consult with a counselor via Need to Talk or leave a message.

For student who are not in the state of Iowa:

  • Use the Need to Talk line for counseling help available 24/7. Call 641-269-4404.

For Grinnell Faculty and Staff

Counselors with Employee & Family Resources, the College’s employee assistance provider (EAP) resource, can discuss any life situation. EAP services are confidential; six sessions are provided at no cost. Visit the EFR website or call 800-327-4692.

Faculty and staff who might prefer to speak with a SHAW counselor, as available, can request a brief consultation or referral, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday, Call 641-269-3230.

Additional Local and National Resources

Warm Line Confidential Listening Servicea peer-run, non-crisis, telephone-based confidential listening line for anyone struggling with mental health or substance use issues is staffed by people who have been through a similar journey and are in recovery themselves. Services are available from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Call 844-775-9276.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)recommendations for managing anxiety and stress.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): online assistance guide and HelpLine, available 10 a.m.–6 p.m., EST, Monday-Friday, Call 800-950-6264.

 

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