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COVID-19 Update: March 12, 2020

From Bob Lane, Interim President
March 12, 2020
5:28 p.m. Central Time

Dear Simpson College Campus Community,

We are in the midst of an unprecedented global circumstance due to the evolving nature of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have seen an increased presence across the United States and now in Iowa. The health, wellbeing, and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of our extended community, is of paramount concern.

Our Crisis Management Team meets daily and is monitoring the situation hourly as we follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and the Iowa Department of Public Health. Our goal is to protect the wellbeing of our ENTIRE community while minimizing disruption to teaching and learning to the extent possible. Below, I have outlined key decisions our Crisis Management Team has made while considering the varying needs of all of our diverse audiences.

Simpson College will remain open but will extend spring break through Sunday, March 29, 2020. During that time, we will continue our preparations and evaluate as a possibility that we move our undergraduate and graduate courses online. We will continue to monitor the situation with the hope that we can return to in-person instruction before the end of the semester. Students should continue to monitor their email for information from the college and for instructions from their faculty members about the specifics of their courses going online. PLEASE NOTE: We recognize there are long-term implications for our labs, internships, and other course activities and will continue to work individually with students to ensure their needs are met.

  • We will be making a final decision regarding future course delivery the week of March 23.

Who do I contact with academic questions?

Please contact your faculty advisor with individual questions or concerns related to your academic course work.

If you are planning to leave campus for Spring Break, we recommend that students make preparations to be off-campus for at least two weeks. Just as our residence halls are open during Spring Break, they will also remain open during this additional week of break to ensure housing for those who choose to remain. We are aware that not all students have off-campus housing options and our Dean of Students Luke Behaunek (515-961-1562; luke.behaunek@simpson.edu ) is available to work with students individually to address their questions. Should we decide to move to online course delivery after Spring Break the residence halls and dining services will remain open and operational to allow students the opportunity to use their meal plans and access quality Wi-Fi in an effort to manage their online class experience.

As it relates to Term 4 courses, (Began March 9) - these courses WILL CONTINUE online during Spring Break and throughout the extended, second week of Spring Break.

We are adhering to CDC guidelines and protocols related to the cleaning of our campus facilities.

Who do I contact with student life-related questions?

Heidi Levine, Vice President for Student Development & Planning

Study Abroad/May Term
We have been in contact with Simpson College students who are studying abroad to make arrangements for those in CDC Level 3 locations to return to the United States.

In addition, we have CANCELLED all international May Term travel. Faculty are discussing whether any of these courses can be offered in an alternative format.

We will continue to monitor the situation related to domestic and on-campus May Term courses and will be making a final decision by March 23.  In addition, as we look ahead, we will make decisions regarding Fall 2020 semester trips expected to depart in early summer.

Any student who requires a May Term course in order to graduate in 2020 and meet degree requirements, will have options available to them.

Per our existing guidelines already in place, “If the May Term travel course is canceled by the College due to uncontrollable circumstances such as acts of war, health risks in the host country, U.S. State Department warnings, or any other reason, the College cannot guarantee, but will attempt to secure a partial refund of the final payment.” https://simpson.edu/internal/business-office/refunds

Who do I contact with study abroad/May Term travel course questions?

Jay Wilkinson, Director of International Education
Phone: 515-961-1288

Simpson College Faculty
The week of March 23 will be a planning week for faculty to continue their efforts to adapt to online learning and course redesign. Simpson College IT staff will continue to work with faculty to help transition to online learning. Additional information to support faculty will be shared by the IT team. A list of resources and tutorials will be made available along with assistance.

Simpson College Staff
Staff are very vital to the success of our college and campus community. Currently, Simpson College will remain open and we will keep normal hours for ALL staff members. As a staff member if you have individual concerns or a desire to work remotely due to health-related issues, we request you contact your supervisor to explore options related to accommodating your individual needs.

The American Rivers Conference will be meeting tomorrow to explore options related to athletics.

Meetings, events, campus-related activities
During this period, we will cancel all campus events involving more than 50 individuals. We are asking faculty and staff to postpone all outside meetings. Most activities will be curtailed to encourage social distancing. We will continue our efforts to reduce disease transmission.

Moving Forward
We recognize that these are unparalleled times and we know there are no easy answers to this complex situation.  I want to thank each of you for your time and attention to these delicate matters. We know there are many unanswered questions and are striving to do our best to respond quickly and appropriately while keeping the safety and security of our students top-of-mind.

We will continue to make daily updates and communicate vital information via our special landing page at Simpson.edu/covid19. In addition, we will be updating social media on an ongoing basis.

Thank you for your time and dedication to Simpson College.

Bob Lane ’81
Interim President