COVID-19 Campus Update: Important New Information

March 13, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

We know how hard the sudden end to our time on campus this year has been on everyone, especially for the class of 2020. As we strive to keep you up-to-date amid a rapidly changing situation, we know a lot of information is coming your way and that you may quickly need to shift plans. We recognize that everyone is grappling with the anxiety we face in these difficult times.

We want to remind you that should you need someone to speak with, mental health services are still available for students through SHAW 24 hours a day. Please reach out by phone at 641-269-4404. We are also working quickly to ensure services are available to you after you have returned home and will keep you updated on how to access those services.

In this time of transition, as we work toward instructional continuity, please continue to check your emails for further updates. We will also keep updating our COVID-19 Response website.

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

We thank you for your flexibility and responsiveness.


Students Asked to Move Off Campus Sooner Rather than Later

Because things are changing quickly related to travel and public health, students who have registered that they will leave campus sometime next week are being asked to revisit their plans and leave as soon as possible. We are making this call in light of the public health and travel information we are seeing change rapidly.

Student Affairs has communicated the following to students:

  • If you have a car and are able to leave, please leave this weekend.
  • If you have a scheduled flight and need help to explore moving up your flight to an earlier day and time please contact Meg Jones Bair at for help with logistics.
  • Move-out help will be available through Monday, March 16. We can help any student get their belongings packed and to the door prior to the end of day on March 16.
  • Details about shuttles and other logistics will come from Student Affairs soon.

We know this feels abrupt, and it is. But we are here to help you through this. We are all in a new world and we are trying so hard to keep you safe. We need you to act expeditiously.

Limiting Large Gatherings

We know that you care deeply about protecting your friends and family as much as we do. We need to minimize gathering in large groups now:

  • Do everything you can to avoid large gatherings/audiences of 25 or more.
  • Public events on campus have been cancelled through May 15.
  • As previously communicated, that means there will be no in-person Senior Event held today.

The limit on large gatherings is in response to current public health recommendations for communities that have no known cases of COVID-19 illness: to remain out of congregate settings, avoid mass gatherings, and maintain distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.

Postponing Commencement

Sadly, there will be no “traditional” graduation ceremony this May. Instead, we will begin looking at alternative ways that we might honor graduating seniors. As Dean Anne Harris said during the town halls this week: “We know how hard this is, class of 2020. We love you. We really, really do. I have faculty and staff members literally stopping me in the streets with ideas for how to celebrate you.”

We are committed to celebrating the class of 2020 in the future and giving them and all the rest of us a chance to recognize their contributions and accomplishments.

Some of the options being considered include an online ceremony, or perhaps bringing seniors back in 2021 for a joint ceremony. We want to celebrate and cherish our students, but we must realize there is no logic to sending people away for the health and safety of all, and then attempting to bring everybody back in for a large gathering in May.

We are exploring alternative opportunities for the classes of 2020 and 1970 (another class that missed a formal commencement ceremony) to be recognized in the future and will share those plans as they are developed.

Educating Ourselves About Self-Isolation Measures

Many in our community have questions about what it means to self-isolate should they become symptomatic. We will post instructions for self-isolation, and additional prevention measures, on the College’s COVID-19 response website.


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