NWC's Coronavirus Response:
Fall 2020 FAQs

If you have a question that isn’t addressed below, send your question to ResponseTeam@nwciowa.edu, and we will get you an answer.

Information About


Spring/summer 2020 FAQs



Q: What are you doing to prepare for the fall with COVID?

A: The Pandemic Response Team has been meeting weekly since the first week in March. More than 30 faculty and staff serve on this committee with wide representation across campus. Just recently, that committee split into six sub-committees to address and ensure a safe environment for when students return. Those subcommittees are:

  1. Campus Screening, Testing, Contact Tracing and Education
  2. On-Campus Events (orientation, chapel, conferences, theatre, music, prospective student visits)
  3. Off-Campus Events (internships, student teaching, and student travel)
  4. Classroom Scheduling and Safety within the Classroom
  5. Student Housing, Food Service and Infection Control
  6. Athletic Pandemic Recovery Team (events, practices, games, facilities, etc.)

Q: Is Orange City’s hospital equipped and ready?

A: Though we are in a small community, we are blessed by an outstanding hospital system in this area. Our hospital CEO, Marty Guthmiller, has provided daily updates on cases in the area. The communication has been outstanding. We also have strong relationships with larger hospitals in Sioux City and Sioux Falls.

Q: If arriving from out of state, will students be required to self-quarantine for 14 days before attending classes in the fall?

A: We are not sure at this time. It is a possibility, but that is still in development.

Q: Will we have to wear masks?

A: We are in process of determining what mask wearing will look like on campus. That is part of the work the Pandemic Response Team is currently doing. We will share that information as soon as we have made those decisions.

Q: If there is a vaccine that comes out, will we be required to have one?

A: Most likely. We already require certain vaccines for students who attend Northwestern. If you have medical reasons for not having vaccines, there is a process for exemptions.

Q: Will you be screening students when they move onto campus to determine their exposure risk?

A: We have engaged a company called Castle Branch to help screen students. Students will hear more about that in the coming weeks.

Q: Will Northwestern be doing contact tracing if a case of COVID-19 is discovered on campus?

A: We will work with Community Health Partners in the region and they will assist with contact tracing if a positive case of COVID-19 is on campus.

Q: What will happen if someone gets sick? Will they have to quarantine, and their roommate(s) too?

A: We have already designated several apartments and wings for quarantine spaces for students who are ill or who have been exposed to COVID-19. These spaces have private entrances and bathrooms. Students who are quarantined will be able to continue their coursework online and will have food brought to them. We will ensure that every NWC student who may become ill is well cared-for and receives the medical, emotional and spiritual support they need.

Identified quarantine spaces are spaces that will not be occupied in the fall, so no one will be displaced if quarantine space is needed.


Q: Will New Student Orientation go on as scheduled?

A: At this point, we are planning to welcome new students to campus on Aug 21. We have delayed releasing the detailed schedule as we await guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health on social gatherings. Safety is our highest priority. Even if the schedule of what happens during orientation changes a bit, our O-Staff leaders will ensure you build friendships, experience community, worship together, and learn what it means to be a Raider!

Q: Will there be designated move-in times to allow for less crowding?

A: Yes, we are in the process for planning what move-in will look like for athletes who arrive on Aug. 14 and new students on Aug. 21. We will be sure that we stagger move-in times to eliminate congestions in the hallways. This is still in process.

Q: Will there be any changes in residence life to ensure students’ safety from COVID-19?

A: We are working closely with the Pandemic Response Team to ensure that students’ living environments are safe and clean. We are ramping up cleaning schedules in the common areas and bathrooms.

Based on the guidance we receive from public health officials, we may need to restrict the number of people who can be in the lounges at one time and at least for the fall semester, limiting non-NWC guests in the halls and apartments. We will follow the lead of officials and experts.

Q: If regulations dictate single rooms, can Northwestern facilitate that?

A: We are not able to accommodate single rooms at this time due to capacity issues; that will be the case with most colleges across the country. Given that students will be in the dining hall and other public spaces, we are not sure much is gained by using single rooms. If students become ill, we will use quarantine spaces.

Q: How can you ensure that community bathrooms will be safe?

A: Residence Life and maintenance are working closely to ensure that we have staffing every day in the bathrooms and in the community spaces to make sure they are disinfected and cleaned regularly.

Our nurse practitioner will share some health information with students on best practices this summer. That will include handwashing, what to bring to campus, etc.

Q: Online school has shown to be very difficult for many people academically and emotionally. Will your school therapists be able to meet everyone’s needs?

A: Yes, we will have four therapists on staff this fall, with increased hours for free and confidential mental health care.

Q: In what ways will food service be different?

A: Creative Dining Services, our food service provider, has published a “playbook” that guides its service at all of its 70 locations across the country. We will follow this playbook as we continue to offer a top-notch dining experience for you. Some of the changes you can expect to see in the fall are:

  • Greater social distancing in the cafeteria with staggered lunch and dinner periods
  • The removal of self-serve stations, such as the salad bar, ice cream machine, silverware dispensers, etc. Your favorite foods will still be available, but they will be served by campus dining staff.
  • Continual sanitation of all service area and dining surfaces
  • Contactless food delivery for students in quarantine or who are ill

Q: What will chapel be like?

A: Our campus ministry staff will continue to provide opportunities for you to be formed in your Christian faith. Safety will be our top priority as we consider in-person, virtual and hybrid options for worship, service and discipleship. Even if we are physically spaced in our fall events, we will strive to be spiritually and relationally connected with one another and with God.

Q: Will students be able to travel home for breaks?

A: We do not have an answer for this right now, but one of the things we are looking at is the academic calendar breaks.

Q: How will students’ work-study jobs be affected?

A: Students will still have work-study jobs across campus, including cleaning the bathrooms and working in the cafeteria, library, RSC and offices.

Q: If international students are required to be quarantined, when should they arrive at Northwestern College? Will food and accommodations be provided?

A: We are following the lead of our public health officials. It’s possible that we will ask international students to come early. If that does happen, we will ensure they have what they need during that quarantine period. Dr. McMahan will be in contact with international students.


Q: How are you planning for classes this fall?

A: The faculty work group involved in planning for the fall semester began meeting the week of May 11. The group includes faculty and academic support staff from across disciplines. These three principles are guiding our planning for this fall:

  1. Delivering on our college mission
  2. Consistent experience that is also flexible
  3. Prioritizing in-person instruction

Q: How will social distancing look in classrooms?

A: Classroom capacities will need to be adjusted to accommodate social distancing. What community looks like in our classroom will be different than normal. In some instances, we may have to consider hybrid models where some instruction is done digitally, while still prioritizing face-to-face instruction.

Q: What about the library?

A: The library staff is working on practices that will ensure safety in using that space. We expect to open the library in early June, which will allow us to experiment and develop practices that will work well for library staff and patrons. We expect to employ additional cleaning protocols and limit access to particular spaces.

Q: What about computing services?

A: The Computing Services Office is making plans for what computer usage and health and safety look like around computer labs.

Q: What about those with weakened immune systems? Will there be a way of recording classes if it gets bad or if there is risk?

A: This is why we are approaching academics during COVID with flexibility in addition to consistency—so we can accommodate all of those needs. We are trying to plan for disruption in students’ abilities to attend in-person classes. Our goal is to structure every class so it can continue regardless of what happens during the course of the semester.

Q: Are the study abroad semesters still going on?

A: At this point, we are in a holding pattern when it comes to global education offerings. We will be making a decision by July 1 about our international study abroad offerings and July 15 for our domestic off-campus programs. We are committed to finding ways to provide great experiences off-campus in future semesters if we are unable to run our normal programs this fall.

Q: What about the arts—what are your plans for theatre and music?

A: Theatre and music are important components of the Northwestern academic experience and will be integral to our discussion about academic planning over the next few weeks. We think it’s extremely important to offer these experiences to our students, but to do so safely.


Q: What will athletics look like in 2020–21?

A: If you are a fall athlete, I know you are anxious about whether there will be competitions in the fall. We are currently planning on our traditional fall start dates. However, we are waiting for continued guidance and communication from the NAIA regarding fall athletic competitions: about when and if they will happen, who can attend the games, etc. Your coaches will be in touch with you just as soon as we know more. Stay tuned.