Presidential Update – March 12, 2020

Dear Members of the Loras College Community,

As you are aware, the situation involving COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve. We are in ongoing contact with city officials, the CDC, the State of Iowa Health Department and other agencies, higher education organizations and our colleagues locally and across the country. We take any threat to our students, faculty and staff and the public very seriously, and with that in mind have made adjustments to campus activities and travel (see below).

Most institutions of higher learning are increasingly making decisions based on the timing of their spring breaks, their locations and campus size. Combining these factors with the current situation and in light of the fact that Loras’ spring break is not scheduled to begin until April 4, Loras will continue to offer in-person classes at the current time. That said, we are ready to deliver coursework on-line if determined necessary.

There are currently 16 confirmed cases in the state of Iowa at this time with none in Dubuque County.

Study Abroad Updates

With a tightening of restrictions on travel between Europe and the U.S., and the CDC issuing a Warning Level 3, Loras is suspending Spring 2020 programs in Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Spain. All students studying in these locations have been asked to make immediate arrangements to depart their host country and return home to the United States by March 21st. Loras College and the Center for Experiential Learning are working to support students as best as possible given this rapidly changing situation.

Students returning from study abroad will not be allowed to return directly to Loras College. Per the CDC guidelines, a 14-day home self-quarantine should be implemented. Additional guidelines are posted here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/coronavirus-europe.

Athletic Event Protocol

The NCAA Division III today cancelled all national championships. Loras teams and coaches who traveled to participate in this coming weekend’s championships will be returning to campus, with athletic and health professionals monitoring the wellness of each student.

On behalf of the entire Loras community, I offer my deep pride in and gratitude for you – individually and collectively, especially our senior student-athletes and coaching staffs. While my heart aches for all of you, know that you are all National Champions at Loras. Congratulations to #2 Wrestling, #2 M. Indoor Track & Field, #5 W. Indoor Track & Field, and #13 W. Basketball on your respective extraordinary seasons.

A telephonic meeting is scheduled for the presidents of the American Rivers Conference tomorrow morning to discuss plans for the Spring athletic seasons. Any decision made will be immediately shared with the teams directly affected.

On-Campus Events

To help minimize the risk to students, staff, and faculty, many events scheduled to take place on campus will be cancelled or re-scheduled for a future date. Those events that are allowed to continue may be modified to ensure smaller gatherings of individuals in any one location and appropriate venues to ensure greater social distancing.

Travel

Most Loras-sponsored faculty, staff, and student travel off-campus will be cancelled. Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to weigh any personal travel plans seriously and to follow all CDC guidelines (see below).

Stereotyping

We want to reiterate that the Loras community creates a culture of mutual respect and understanding for one another, and works to guarantee that all students are able to study and learn in an environment that is healthy, safe and free from bias or discrimination. With that in mind, the College will not tolerate racial, ethnic or cultural harassment or bullying.

Personal Responsibility

While we recognize that the world wide pandemic is cause for great concern, it is important to rely on facts. To that end, please refrain from spreading rumors, speculation, and inappropriate commentary. Instead, if you have questions or wish to share a concern, please do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted campus professional. We are all trying to do the best we can under unprecedented and difficult circumstances. The points immediately below are behaviors that we can all fulfill.

Prevention and Awareness

Per the CDC, there are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and all members of the Loras community are strongly encouraged to practices these measures. These include:
o Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
o Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
o Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
o If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should
o Stay home when you are sick.
o Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
o Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Conclusion

We will continue to share information and updates as they become available. Our decision-making processes are determined by information as it becomes known. I plan to send another update on Monday, March 16th, unless circumstances dictate an earlier communication. In the meantime, please continue to access the Loras website for updates and pertinent information.

I offer special appreciation to my talented colleagues who serve on our Emergency/Crisis Management team. They demonstrate strong professionalism, deep care and provide outstanding expertise.
Thank you for your assistance in keeping the Loras College community a healthy and safe environment for all.


Cordially,


James E. Collins ‘84
President
Loras

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2019, Loras was the second-highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the third consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).