COVID-19 Campus Update: Thank You

March 14, 2020

Dear Grinnellians,

With deep admiration and gratitude, we want to acknowledge and celebrate how truly remarkable our academic community is. Although we have always known that to be true, it has been proven again and again as we all respond to a rapidly changing world.

Over the course of the last few days you have shown consistent sensitivity, flexibility, and responsiveness to a rush of critical communications and requests. Yesterday, we urged students leaving campus to do so sooner rather than later,recommending an accelerated departure timeline due to a growing concern about canceled flights and travel issues. That departure has started to happen and we are grateful to our considerable network as its members continue supporting those who need it.

As of yesterday, 82 students had departed campus and we anticipate approximately 1,000 more will leave over the next few days. This effort has been aided by an unprecedented outpouring of support from students, faculty, staff, and community members. A special thank you to our alumni who are stepping up in this time of need with resources and support, including opening their homes to students between flights.

Behind the scenes, faculty and staff are providing one-to-one advice and support for students, designing plans for those needing special assistance, helping students make last-minute travel arrangements and securing many of the costs from College funds, giving students a hand with packing and moving their belongings out of the halls, prepping box meals and washing dishes in the dining hall, and the list goes on and on. Alumni are volunteering to help in any way they can; community members and businesses are reaching out; and as always, students are helping each other.

Families and parents have also been very understanding in considering not only the needs of their own students, but of all students. Words of support from families to Division of Student Affairs staff are deeply appreciated. We hosted two parent call meetings yesterday (you can listen to the recording or read a transcript online), and many have expressed their gratitude for our efforts and engagement. Those families who needed to come to campus to help their students move out have heeded our requests to let us help organize their coming-and-goings for the safety of all; even to the point of accepting our offer of box lunches rather than trying to use campus dining. Thank you for joining us in our efforts to limit transmission. Many families seem to be genuinely touched to see the network of support that is making this difficult time more bearable, and we appreciate your support of our faculty and staff. Many thanks to our Communications team for keeping us connected with you with updates and information through multiple platforms.

All-in-all, this sad but necessary exodus from campus has gone remarkably well because of your spirit, because of everyone’s spirit, of “we are all in this together.” The collective force of our collective will, at Grinnell and beyond, will “flatten the curve” of transmission.

As we regroup and look forward, we urge you to check the College’s COVID-19 response website regularly. You also can expect an ongoing stream of communications, much of it coming from departments and offices, via Grinnell email about preparations for making the most of our “new normal” as an academic community. There will be communications about support services, technology resources, instructional continuity, and information about how we will work to address our community’s academic, social, and safety needs. In short, we will figure out how we begin living apart together.

We want to conclude where we began: all of you — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — are part of a remarkable community. You have our deepest respect and admiration for modeling what it means to be a Grinnellian.

We thank you with all our hearts for being part of this Grinnell family.


Raynard and Anne


Raynard S. Kington

Anne Harris
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College


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