Iowa colleges respond to COVID-19

DMACC has announced that face-to-face classes will be postponed after spring break until further notice, although they will continue online.

An email to students stated that between March 23 and 28 there will be no face-to-face classes, and beginning March 30 all classes will be strictly online.

However, select lab-based classes will meet as scheduled; emails will follow with more information as to which labs.

DMACC states in the announcement, “This will allow self-isolation and social distancing to be a priority for anyone who has traveled during break.”

This decision should help limit the potential spread of the virus. Because those affected don’t display symptoms for the virus until up to two weeks after infection, they may spread the virus without even knowing they’re sick. Now that students who traveled are able to stay home, they may find out they have the virus before being able to infect others.

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has been declared a pandemic situation by the WHO. As of writing this article, there are over 124,000 confirmed cases, over 4,500 deaths, and over 67,000 recoveries. Recently in Iowa, 3 people in Johnson county have tested positive for the virus after coming back from a cruise in Mexico; they are currently recovering in isolation. As the amount of confirmed cases rises, people are becoming weary and travel is being halted throughout the country. 

President of DMACC, Rob Denson, recently sent an email out to all faculty and staff eariler in the week about the risk of the virus: “The impact of an outbreak of COVID-19 at DMACC could be devastating. Based on the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Iowa Department of Public Health, the evolving impact of COVID-19, and the recent decision made by the Board of Regents, DMACC has cancelled college-sponsored international travel for all faculty, staff and students for 30 days (including spring break) effective immediately.” 

DMACC also asks students and staff to weigh the risks of travel over spring break, according to a statement released on March 9. The statement cites that cruises and flights increase your risk of contracting the virus, and that travel such as this is not worth risking your health and the health of others. Additionally, DMACC asks that students and staff stay home for 14 days after visiting a country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice such as China, Italy, Iran or South Korea. 

Currently, DMACC has 23 students and two faculty studying abroad in London. Denson states that the students are in a virus clear area, and DMACC is constantly in contact with them. DMACC is monitoring the situation daily to ensure the health and safety of everyone. 

Furthermore, according to Vice President of Academic Affairs, MD Isley, trips beyond 30 days are currently under consideration by DMACC. Trips being reconsidered include: a May trip to Belize, a Culinary Institute trip to France, and other various conferences. Isley also stated that DMACC has cancelled spring break trips to France, Spain, and Guatemala. 

Grinnell college has also announced that they will be shifting to online classes starting March 23, and will minimize students in residence. The college requests that all students go home for spring break, and plan on finishing the semester there. Similarly, Drake University will also be transitioning to online classes from March 23 to April 3rd. Drake plans to continually assess and monitor the risk for plans beyond April 5. 

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is for everyone to take preventative measures in their everyday life. This includes washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face, avoiding contact with others, covering when you cough or sneeze, disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, and staying home if you feel sick. 

If you believe you have contracted COVID-19, or have traveled over the break, please isolate yourself from others immediately and contact your physician before seeking treatment.

This is an ongoing story, check your local authorities for the latest information and tips to stay safe.

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