Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
Northwestern College is actively monitoring the updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local and state health authorities concerning the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of the NWC community is of utmost importance.
In addition to monitoring this site for important Northwestern updates, please continue to educate yourself about the virus and take precautions to protect yourself and others. Reliable, up-to-date information can be found on the following websites:
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
March 23, 2020 | FAQs Online Message from President Christy for traditional undergraduates, parents, faculty and staff
Classes have begun online today. I’m so proud of our faculty for their hard work last week transitioning their classes online. Thank you to Drs. Phinney and Hoey and all the faculty mentors who helped make that happen as smoothly as possible. Convocation on Friday was a great community event and, I think, gave us a glimpse of what the remainder of the semester will be like. We’ve got this!
Convocation Slido Questions
Many of you asked questions using Slido during the convocation. I’m sorry we couldn’t address those live, but since that time, we’ve answered the most common ones on our FAQ page. Take time to check it out. And if there’s a question you have that hasn’t been answered, please email ResponseTeam@nwciowa.edu, and we’ll get you an answer as soon as we can.
Below were the top two questions asked during Convocation:
- Will I get a refund for room and board? On Friday, March 20, I met virtually with the presidents of Iowa private colleges to discuss this and other pertinent questions. Like other Iowa private colleges, we continue to wait on final guidance from the federal and state government about regulations regarding financial aid and student room and meal plan account adjustments. We want to make sure we are handling all student accounts consistently and in accordance with federal and state regulations. We have begun preliminary calculations and will be ready to move forward quickly when this guidance is received. Please be patient with us—we want to make sure we do this well.
- What about commencement? Commencement is a very important rite of passage for Northwestern College students, and we will do something for graduates and their families at some point. Our goal and desire is to host some kind of event—but given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 situation, we are unsure what that will look like. Please know that this is as important to us as it is to those graduating, and we will do our best to mark this important occasion and life accomplishment.
Facility hours changes
You may have heard that there has been the first case of a person testing positive to COVID-19 in Sioux County. This person is a male in his mid-60s (not connected to Northwestern College) and is in isolation at the Orange City Area Health System Hospital. This development makes it even more important that we as a campus community take every measure we can with social distancing and working remotely. To slow the growth of this pandemic on campus, in Orange City and the greater Siouxland area, I have asked every employee possible to work from home. Because of that, Northwestern offices are still in operation but are closed to the general public.
The Rowenhorst Student Center mallway and post office will now be open the same daytime hours of the Hub, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hub will also continue to be open for students and employees from 5 to 6:30 p.m., serving in a grab-n-go or takeout format.
A reminder in this transition
The weeks ahead may be challenging for all of us as we learn new normals—working and studying remotely, building community in a new and different way, striving for compassion and service in the midst of overwhelming needs in the community. I want to remind you of who you are and the family you belong to:
We're Raiders and Raiders stand out.
We're called to be different—
and to make a difference.
and succeed in ways that matter.
Raiders lead. And serve.
We're smart. And strong.
Courageous. And faithful.
We achieve—not for ourselves
but because excellence
honors God and serves others.
For our careers.
For God's call on our lives.
Because we're Raiders.
March 22, 2020 | Employees: Please work from home for the foreseeable future
Message to faculty and staff
As I am sure you have all heard by now, there has been the first case of a person testing positive to COVID-19 in Sioux County. This person is a male in his mid-60s and is in isolation at the Orange City Area Health System Hospital. This development makes it even more important that we as a campus community take every measure we can with social distancing and working remotely. While we do not know, there are likely others who will test positive—and possibly people among our faculty, staff or students. Let’s do all we can to slow the growth of this pandemic on campus, in Orange City and the greater Siouxland area.
As I shared with the Pandemic Response Team and President’s Cabinet at the end of last week, we need every employee who does not absolutely have to be on campus to work from home. We have some employees in areas like residence life, maintenance and campus dining that have to continue to provide services for our students living on campus. I would like every other employee possible to work from home. Please coordinate details or any questions you have with your supervisor.
The Pandemic Response Team will be meeting first thing tomorrow morning via Zoom, and I will provide you with further updates as needed. Please set up your desk extension to ring to your cell phone/home phone during regular business hours (or the hours you typically work) to ensure continuity of service and work. If you do not already know how to do this, please submit a helpdesk call or email, and computing services will work with you to set this up. We want to continue to respond in a timely manner to colleagues, students, parents, alumni, friends and vendors.
Classes begin online tomorrow. My hope is the vast majority of faculty have made arrangements to do their work from home. Faculty, thank you for your diligent work in moving all your face-to-face classes to online classes not only for this week but also in the weeks ahead. And thanks to Drs. Phinney and Hoey and all the faculty members who have served as Blackboard mentors for colleagues. Great job everyone!
May God guard and protect our students, their families and each of us and our loved ones during these uncertain times.
March 20, 2020 | Convocation
We gathered as a community online at 10 a.m. this morning to mark the start of our altered school year. Dean of Christian Formation Mark DeYounge shared a message about the assurance that is ours in Christ. After he encouraged the Raider family, vice presidents Dr. Nate Phinney (academic affairs) and Julie Elliott (student life) shared information about online classes, chapel and discipleship groups (D-groups).
Members of the campus ministry staff are praying for students and their families. All are invited to submit prayer requests.
March 19, 2020 | FAQ Page Online and Convocation Reminder
Message to traditional undergraduates, parents, faculty and staff
As we prepare to begin online instruction next Monday, we have created a new FAQ page for students, parents and employees that will be managed and updated regularly.
- FAQ page
- Email general questions to ResponseTeam@nwciowa.edu
- Email academic questions to email@example.com
Remember: Required Online Convocation on Friday & Class Check-In
Students, we are excited to have you join us again in community this Friday at 10 a.m. (CDT) for required Convocation online. Join us here. After Convocation, you will be required to check in with your classes. Professors will track everyone who checks in and follow up with those who don’t to ensure we are all ready for online classes to begin on Monday.
In this time of turmoil and frequent changes, let’s remember Paul’s encouragement in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Raider Nation, with God’s help, we’ve got this. Stay courageous and faithful.
P.S. I hope this YouTube video by psychology professor Dr. Laird Edman lifts your spirit. While preparing for Monday’s online-format classes, he tested his video-posting skills with a performance of “I Will Survive: Coronavirus Version” (lyrics by Missouri University of Science and Technology professor Michael Bruening). Thanks, Laird!
March 17, 2020 | COVID-19 Precautionary Measures
Message to traditional undergraduates, faculty and staff
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds today issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency. This action from the Governor is intended to slow the community spread of the coronavirus as much as possible as well as provide the context for local government and healthcare facilities to move forward with additional measures meant to meet the ongoing worldwide health crisis.
As we transition to an online format for traditional undergraduate courses, that means a few more changes in how we do our work.
Gatherings Restricted to 10 People or Fewer
Please be conscientious and restrict gatherings to 10 people or fewer while observing social distancing practices. If you want to learn more about social distancing, please see the New York Times article published yesterday “Wondering about Social Distancing?” by Apoorva Mandavilli.
HUB Open for Students and Employees Only
Until further notice, the HUB will serve grab-and-go and take-out meals to students and employees only.
No Prospective Students on Campus
Starting Wednesday, March 18, we will suspend hosting prospective students on campus. Red 101 and Raider Day visits have already been cancelled. The admissions team is working on a virtual visit website and will let you know when that is launched. In the meantime, please provide them with support by contacting prospective students remotely if they ask you to.
Noon Prayer Daily this Week
Let's be courageous and faithful by fasting and praying together as a Raider Nation family. Each day this week (M-F), we’ll fast from our busyness for 15 minutes and gather online to center ourselves collectively as a people of God. Please join us from noon to 12:15 here .
Remember: Required Convocation on Friday & Class Check-in
Students, please remember to join us Friday at 10 a.m. for required Convocation online. Join us here. After Convocation, you will be required to check in with your classes. Professors will track everyone who checks in and follow up with those who don’t to ensure we are all ready for online classes to begin on Monday.
Employees Working from Home
At this time, we are not requiring employees to work from home, but your supervisor may ask you to work remotely or to work flexible hours that minimize exposure but still ensure that offices are covered if necessary. Employees in roles that cannot be performed remotely should continue coming to campus, but when you are here, please observe social distancing guidelines by meeting with others only as necessary and when you do, keeping gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
If you are concerned about your health and the danger coronavirus presents to you or a vulnerable member of your immediate family, then speak to Human Resources about a work-from-home accommodation.
The workload of some staff members will decrease significantly now that our campus has far fewer students and visitors. If this is the case for your position, please speak to your supervisor or division VP about alternative campus roles you can fill. Human Resources is compiling a list of offices/departments that can use extra help.
March 16, 2020 | COVID-19 Updates and Message from President Greg Christy
Message to traditional undergraduates, parents, faculty and staff
In order to ensure you receive all your email communication, please white-list firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easter Break Adjusted
Given the reduced class schedule for this week, we plan to adjust Easter break. Classes will be held Thursday, April 9, and Monday, April 13. Campus offices will be closed and classes will not meet on Good Friday, April 10.
We are still discussing commencement and what that may look like—no decisions have been made.
Beginning this week, buildings will run an altered schedule through the end of semester. DeWitt Theatre Arts Center and the Korver Visual Arts Center will be closed. Ramaker Center, DeWitt Learning Commons, Zwemer, and the RSC offices and mallway will be open regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.
Recreation Facilities Closed until Further Notice
Juffer Fieldhouse, RSC Fitness Center and Bultman Center will be closed until further notice. The RSC offices and mallway will maintain regular business hours.
President’s Cabinet and the Pandemic Response Team continue to meet regularly. We are working through many issues and ask for your patience as we communicate decisions to the community. In addition to making important decisions, we are also holding you—our students—before the Lord in prayer.
May the Lord bless you and keep you as you navigate these unchartered waters. We will miss you here on campus but we look forward to seeing you again in the future.
March 13, 2020 | Northwestern Transitioning to Online Classes
Message to all students, parents, faculty and staff
As you all know, we have been monitoring the global outbreak of COVID-19. Our highest priority is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of every member of our community. We are also working collaboratively with our local health system and the Iowa Department of Public Health as we seek guidance and contribute to the general welfare of our communities.
We have taken a number of actions to keep our community safe and have shared those actions with you in previous emails. The expanded Pandemic Response Team met again today to evaluate the current situation and made weighty decisions for preventive action.
- By the close of the day today, Friday, March 13, all traditional undergraduate on-campus classes and instruction are canceled through Thursday, March 19. The campus will reconvene virtually (online) on Friday, March 20, at 10 a.m. for required convocation. All instructors will offer their classes online starting Monday, March 23, through the rest of the semester. Follow-up information will come via email.
- All student activities, campus ministries and campus events are canceled by the close of the day tomorrow, Saturday, March 14.
- Normal campus operations will continue at this time. Faculty and staff are expected to work as usual. However, there may be some modifications to campus services and to work assignments. Faculty and staff needing accommodations for health reasons should contact human resources.
- Recreational facilities (Juffer Fieldhouse, RSC Fitness Center and the Bultman Center) will be temporarily closed beginning Saturday, March 14. Date to reopen and hours will be determined and communicated at a later time. RSC offices and the mall area will be open during regular business hours starting on Monday.
- Campus visits for prospective students will be available on a limited basis.
Current Graduate and Online Courses
If you are currently enrolled in any online courses, there are no changes. They will operate as previously planned with no break next week.
Residential students are asked to move out of the residence halls/apartments as quickly as is reasonably possible, but no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18.
- You will need to complete a check-out with your RA or RD prior to departure, and can do so as early as this evening.
- At the time of check-out, you will need to turn in your room keys and demonstrate that all personal belongings have been removed and that the room/apartment has been cleaned.
We recognize that there may be some students in specific circumstances whose situations may necessitate extending their on-campus housing. Circumstances could include students expected to stay in the area for practicum, student teaching, internship, etc., as well as those whose homes are in areas where there is widespread community transmission or travel restrictions and those living with someone who is immunosuppressed or has the virus. If any of these situations apply to you, petition to continue living on-campus beyond 5 p.m. on Wednesday by filling out a form here by noon on Monday, March 16.
Campus dining will remain open for regular hours through Monday, March 16. Food service will be available in the following weeks for those students who must remain on campus. Details will be sent to students remaining on campus.
Students who do not expect that they will have access to a personal computer, other device or Internet connectivity are encouraged to contact the helpdesk to discuss their resource needs and how the college may assist.
Chapel, Student Activities and Events
Effective by the end of the day on Saturday, March 14, we are suspending all on-campus events—this includes student activities, campus ministry gatherings and Christian formation events (chapel included). Reservations for external groups using campus facilities are being further evaluated. The Christian formation credit policy requirements are being suspended for this semester only, but we will continue to offer voluntary online opportunities to help the NWC undergraduate community grow spiritually and stay in touch with each other.
Required Online Convocation
We plan to live out our vision of Christ-centered work for the common good while being in community online. All traditional undergraduate students are expected to attend virtually (online) a livestream event on Friday, March 20, at 10 a.m. At that time we will worship together, share answers to questions and receive additional guidance for the transition to online instruction. Details and a link for joining the convocation will be sent at a later time.
We are discussing commencement, and will make and communicate a decision about that at a later time.
We realize that we likely have not addressed all of your questions with this email. Should you have additional concerns, please use the following emails:
- Campus Housing: Talk with your RD
- Student life/activities: Email Julie Elliott, Vice President of Student Life
- Online courses: Email email@example.com, and a dean or the VPAA will answer your question
- Computer Need or Technical Question: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- International students: Email Kevin McMahan, Associate Dean of Intercultural Development
- Other concerns: Email email@example.com
March 12, 2020 | Latest Coronavirus Updates
Message to all students, parents, faculty and staff
Northwestern College continues to monitor the risks associated with the coronavirus—now a global pandemic—in light of its mission and vision of preparing students for Christ-centered work for the common good. The college’s disposition at this time favors judicious decision-making within the context of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Iowa Department of Public Health. It is our responsibility to do what is measured and necessary to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus both in our immediate and larger communities.
International Travel Suspended
Based on the rapidly changing global concerns for the spread of COVID-19, Northwestern is suspending all college-sponsored outbound international travel, effective immediately through June 30, 2020. This includes Summer of Service and summer study abroad trips. At this time, we are not suspending domestic travel.
Our students in Spain with Trinity Christian’s study abroad program will return in the next two weeks. Students who are currently out of the country on other college-sponsored travel are not being required to return at this time; however, we are assisting them if they would like to return. We continue to monitor closely those students and the countries they are in.
If you intend to travel internationally for personal reasons, please be aware that upon your return you may be expected to self-quarantine for 7 days or more at home prior to returning to campus. Please make your residence hall director aware of your plans so they can work with you. Faculty and staff, please work with your dean or supervisor.
Preparation for Possible Transitioning to Online Classes
While we hope that it will not be necessary to have our campus classes convene online like a number of other colleges have done, the faculty is fully engaged in preparations for this possibility. Attention is also being given to important exceptions to online delivery of courses, especially for students who are in programs leading to state licensure that require practicums or field placement hours. Faculty are actively communicating and working through areas of concern should this transition be necessary.
Continue to Monitor Your Health
As we have stated before, please actively monitor your health status, particularly if you have traveled recently:
- Should you experience the symptoms of COVID-19 please call your local health center, describe your symptoms and follow the health professionals’ recommendations regarding if you should go in or stay home. COVID-19 symptoms include: fever 100.4 degrees or higher, cough and shortness of breath.
- Students: Contact your professors to let them know if you are ill and cannot attend class. Please confine yourself to your room and notify your Resident Director that you are unwell.
- Faculty and staff: If you are unwell, stay home and follow standard procedures for an illness resulting in an absence from work.
We will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Orange City Area Health System. As you have seen around the country, this is a rapidly changing situation. We will make decisions and communicate them to you as quickly as we can. As a reminder, if we cancel any in-person classes or events, students will receive a notification via the Northwestern alert system, the entire community will receive an email with information from the President’s Office, and we will add the updates to this webpage.
March 9, 2020 | COVID-19 Update
Message to traditional undergraduates, parents, faculty and staff
There are now three cases of the coronavirus in Iowa, as well as reported cases in Minnesota and Nebraska. We are excited about your return to campus this week, but as you get ready to return from spring break, we ask you to carefully evaluate your health. If you are unwell, please delay your return to campus until you are feeling better.
If you have been traveling—whether overseas or within the U.S.—please pay close attention to your health status.
- If you are unwell, stay home and plan to return to campus only when you are feeling better.
- Should you experience the symptoms of COVID-19 please call your local health center, describe your symptoms and follow the health professionals’ recommendations regarding if you should go in or stay home. Symptoms include: fever 100.4 degrees or higher, cough and shortness of breath.
- Students: Contact your professors to let them know you are ill and cannot attend class. If you are unable to stay home, please confine yourself to your room and notify your resident director that you are unwell.
- Faculty and staff: If you are unwell, follow standard procedures for an illness resulting in an absence from work.
Members of President’s Cabinet, the Core Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Risk Assessment Team and the Pandemic Response Team continue to actively monitor any possible future cases of COVID-19 among the Northwestern population and notify the community appropriately. Should there be a need to cancel any in-person classes or events, the decision will be made by President’s Cabinet in coordination with CERT, the Pandemic Response Team, and the Iowa Department of Health. Students will receive a notification via the Northwestern alert system.
At this time, there are no other adjustments to the day-to-day operation of the college. We will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, the Iowa Department of Health and Orange City Area Health System and provide updates on this page as more information becomes available.
March 4, 2020 | COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Northwestern
Message to all students, parents, faculty and staff
There are no reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa at this time and relatively few in the United States—the risk level to the Northwestern community is low. However, we care deeply about the well-being of our students, and we continue to monitor the news closely and to make plans should the situation change.
Overseas SSPs to Return Home Early. In light of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that colleges consider postponing or canceling student foreign travel due to the rapid spread of the virus, and the associated travel logistic risks/variables, Northwestern’s Risk Assessment Team met Tuesday afternoon to begin the process of working to get our overseas Spring Service Partnerships teams home earlier than originally planned.
We are sorry that they’ll not be able to serve through spring break, but given the dynamic situation and the possibility of travel restrictions or other challenges in returning if the coronavirus outbreak would escalate in Europe over the next several days, we feel it’s wise to follow the CDC guidance at this time. The Amsterdam team will return on Thursday and the Dublin team will return on Saturday. Campus housing will be available to students if they are not able to go home or to another family member’s home.
Health Monitoring. Faculty, staff and students who have done any traveling over spring break—whether overseas or within the U.S.—are asked to pay close attention to their health status upon returning:
- If you are unwell, stay home.
- Should you experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, and shortness of breath), please call your local health center, describe your symptoms and follow the health professionals’ recommendations regarding if you should go in or stay home.
- If in Orange City, call the clinic at 712-737-2000.
Reviewing and Planning. Members of President’s Cabinet, the Core Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Risk Assessment Team and Pandemic Response Team met today to review the current global status and are coordinating with the Iowa Department of Health and the Orange City Area Health System.
We will actively monitor any possible future cases of COVID-19 among the Northwestern population and notify the community appropriately. Should there be a need to cancel any in-person classes or events, the decision will be made by President’s Cabinet in coordination with CERT, the Pandemic Response Team, and the Iowa Department of Health. Students will receive a notification via the Northwestern Alert system.
At this time, there are no other adjustments to the day-to-day operation of the college. We will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC, the Iowa Department of Health and the Orange City Area Health System and provide updates as more information becomes available. We will add information on this webpage as warranted.
February 28, 2020 | Coronavirus Readiness Update
Message to all students, faculty and staff
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) a “global health emergency.” Northwestern’s Core Emergency Response Team has been monitoring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization reports on the coronavirus since late January. As in past years for outbreaks like H1N1 influenza, Northwestern has deployed its Pandemic Response Team and Plan and continues to closely monitor CDC recommendations.
As of Feb. 28, confirmed COVID-19 cases have now topped 83,800 globally, and while 94% of them have been in China, the number of countries with infections has been increasing rapidly. South Korea has more than 2,300 cases while Italy reports 655. There have been 60 confirmed cases in the U.S., 43 of which originated on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. There have been no confirmed cases in Iowa.
We have been carefully observing the global health situation, particularly as it pertains to students traveling for Spring Service Partnerships. International teams are going to Dublin, Amsterdam and Mexico, and we have 9 teams traveling in the United States, including California. We continue to be vigilant in order to respond appropriately and in a timely manner to any situation that could risk the health and safety of members of the Northwestern community.
If you are traveling for spring break, please take time to evaluate your travel plans and the risk your destination may pose for the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control’s website, cdc.gov, is a great resource. Two particularly helpful webpages address prevention and treatment and what to do if you are sick with COVID-19. In particular, note these preventive actions that should be taken to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
February 6, 2020 | Coronavirus Readiness
Message to all students, faculty and staff
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus (2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease) a “global health emergency.” At this time, there are more than 24,500 confirmed cases globally. Most of them are in China, where 491 deaths have been reported, but 25 countries have reported cases, including the U.S., where there are currently 12 confirmed cases (none in Iowa). As part of Northwestern’s Core Emergency Response Team, and as in past years for outbreaks like H1N1 influenza, Northwestern has begun deploying its Pandemic Response Team and Plan and is monitoring closely the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After speaking with our community health professionals, we feel the threat to our campus is low at this time. However, we are monitoring the situation closely and making preparations should measures need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of members of the Northwestern community.
For more information about the coronavirus, visit cdc.gov.
*Note that the numbers here are based on information from the WHO and CDC at this time and are changing rapidly.
If you have questions about Northwestern's coronavirus response, please contact Duane Beeson, Director of Marketing & Communications and a member of the Pandemic Response Team.