Graceland University's Plan to Return to Campus
Graceland COVID-19 Dashboard
Data last reported August 14, 2020
Graceland University is excited to welcome students back to its campuses. During the past several months, our administration, faculty and staff have been focused on four key values as we work to redefine ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The health and safety of Graceland’s students, faculty and staff,
- The quality of our students’ educational experiences, whether they are remote or face-to-face,
- Providing rich student engagement and experiences, and
- Graceland’s sustainability.
Health and safety policies
In preparing health and safety policies, Graceland considered all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local health department guidelines. With those considerations, the following policies will be followed.
Face coverings required in public spaces
Cloth masks will be worn at all times in all public spaces, including but not limited to classrooms, dining halls, hallways, social areas, public restrooms, stairwells and elevators. All students, faculty and staff will be required to complete training on the proper use, removal and washing of face coverings. Cloth masks are not surgical but can provide protection to other people in case the wearer is asymptomatically infected. Cloth masks will be provided to all students, faculty and staff upon their return to campus. Students, faculty and staff will be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their own masks.
Social distancing in class
Keeping space from each other is an important part of keeping our community safe. Six feet of space will be maintained in classrooms, labs, restrooms and common areas. There should be no sharing of objects in classrooms for group or partner work. If social distancing in classrooms is not possible, plans are being developed by the faculty-led Creative Design Team. Students should sit in the same seats in classrooms on every occasion and the instructor will create and maintain a seating chart. Cleaning supplies will be available in all classrooms, and Graceland’s Facility Services team will ensure common work areas will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected per CDC recommendations.
Social distancing on campus
Outside the classroom, social distancing should still be maintained. Physical guides (tape on floor and sidewalks, signs on walls, etc.) will be posted throughout campus to remind students, faculty and staff to maintain six feet of distance. All public rooms, including restrooms, will have a maximum occupancy sign posted outside, and guidelines should be maintained. Water fountains on campus will be disabled, however, motion-activated bottle-fillers will remain available as long as safety can be maintained. All meetings, including house meetings, should be held virtually if maintaining six feet of social distance is not possible. Elevators should not be used, but if they must, only one person should be in an elevator at a time. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at elevator doors and should be used before and after use of the elevator.
Graceland will continue to welcome visitors to campus in a way that respects the health and safety of students, employees and the visitors. All visitors will be expected to comply with all of Graceland’s COVID-19 guidelines, as well as to register their presence on campus at the time of their visit.
Training and etiquette
Graceland recognizes that making sweeping changes like this can be overwhelming. Mandatory training will be provided for all students, faculty and staff on all new COVID-19 protocols and policies, including but not limited to proper hand hygiene, handwashing and respiratory etiquette.
Testing and health care access
Graceland will follow all guidelines in regard to testing and screening requirements. The Community Health Center of Southern Iowa in Lamoni is a certified testing location, and the Decatur County Hospital in Leon is the central hub for Decatur County for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. These nearby resources provide students, faculty and staff with excellent and convenient resources should symptoms develop.
Protocols for illness
Should a student, faculty or staff member experience any COVID-19 symptoms, they will be asked to stay home or in their room. They should not attend any classes, clinical/practicums, student teaching, internships, sports activities, or go to work. Once they have quarantined themselves, they should contact the Student Life office or their residence hall director to coordinate with them and the COVID-19 Coordinator on how best to proceed. Areas of campus have been set up for isolating students who are ill or who have been exposed. Students should not return to campus activities until they have been cleared by the COVID-19 Coordinator.
Should an illness occur on campus, contact tracing will be executed by the Decatur County Health Department or the Jackson County Health Department in accordance with local guidelines. Additionally, Graceland has developed an extensive quarantine and isolation protocol for residential students on the Lamoni campus, which will be strictly followed should illness occur.
Graceland is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival on campus to set a baseline for testing. On the Lamoni campus, the university has partnered with Corteva and the Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa for baseline testing for all students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, all members of our community are performing daily self-screening.
Changes to the academic calendar
Much like many other institutions across the country, Graceland is conscious of the need to limit the movement of students to and from the campus so as not to expose the community to asymptomatic infection. In order to limit the need for our residential students in Lamoni to travel outside of campus, specifically during the Thanksgiving holiday, the academic calendar has been changed.
First day of classes: Monday, Aug. 17
Last day of finals: Tuesday, Nov. 24
This calendar begins the semester one week earlier than scheduled and ends on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The calendar also removes fall break and will make Labor Day an instruction day. With the earlier start and the removal of fall break and Labor Day, the instruction time for the semester is exactly the same as it would have been in previous semesters. Graceland is thrilled to be able to offer its students the same high-quality educational experience they have come to expect.
For our online and Independence campus programs, the academic calendar remains the same.
Graceland will hold the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, October 3, 2020. Seniors who were set to walk during Spring 2020 will have the choice to be recognized in the rescheduled commencement ceremony. In order to provide the most flexibility, seniors may also choose to walk in the Fall 2020 (December) or Spring 2021 ceremony.
Residential living and dining policies
Single- and double-occupancy rooms will be available.
As Graceland prepares to welcome students back to campus, the university acknowledges that there will be a variety of needs and desires for housing. Some students will want a roommate for social, academic or health reasons. Others will feel more secure in an individual room. While it is not traditionally Graceland’s policy to offer these options to all students, the executive council is making an exception to the current policy for the 2020-21 academic year, giving students the ability to request an individual room, should they so desire.
Single- and double-occupancy rooms carry different costs. This year, the difference in room rates will be waived for students with greater financial need, based on estimated family income on their filed FAFSA, to ensure equity for all students as they make their choices.
The decision to make this housing policy exception was not made lightly. Research suggests that students with roommates tend to have more opportunity for connections that positively impact students’ emotional and mental health than students without roommates. This mirrors the observations made by Graceland’s residence Life team. House presidents and house council members will be encouraged to pay special attention to and check in with students in single rooms, making every effort to connect them with house and campus activities.
Graceland has worked closely with its partner Sodexo to ensure that all CDC guidelines are met. Sanitation protocols have been expanded, and improvements have been made to takeout and packaging to help ensure safety and flexibility in dining options.
- Floor decals and consistent signage will reinforce traffic patterns and social distancing.
- All food stations will be attended by uniformed staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- All food options will be served in disposable containers if the student chooses to take their food to-go.
- No personal refillable containers will be allowed.
- Prepackaged items, including salads, deli sandwiches, desserts, baked goods, condiments and beverages will be spread across stations.
- Tables will be spaced to accommodate proper social distancing guidelines.
- Outdoor seating options will be provided.
- Visible, constant sanitation by uniformed staff will be performed, disinfecting tables after each use.
Athletics: Return to play
Graceland believes a vibrant athletics program is vital to the student life experience and plans to participate in all athletic competitions this fall in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines. At the end of July, Graceland announced its Return to Play Manual (link below). This comprehensive player manual covers a wide variety of topics that have been considered to ensure a safe competition season.
All policies and procedures regarding practices, conditioning, competitions, locker room usage and other considerations have been developed with the NAIA, the Heart of America Athletic Conference and the CDC guidance for athletics.
The NAIA released their Fall 2020 Guidelines & Recommendations on July 20 which includes return to play, health and safety recommendations, screening, testing and more.
July 28, 2020: NAIA Postpones Most Fall 2020 Championships to Spring 2021.
August 3, 2020: Graceland has released the Return to Play Fall 2020 Manual
Know the Symptoms of COVID-19
Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Others
There are several steps everyone should be taking to remain vigilant in the spread of the virus. That includes:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces regularly.
- Keep your distance from those who are showing symptoms.
- Stay home when you are ill or are experiencing any symptoms.
- Cover your cough and sneeze.
On the lighter side
First Thursday at Noon recital - April 2020
2006 NAIA Men's Soccer Championship Game
2018 NAIA Men's Basketball Championship Game
Please keep your eyes on our website, on the daily announcements, and on your Sting email, as we will be sharing new information as it becomes available.