Graceland Continues Efforts to Limit COVID-19 Spread With Update to Spring 2021 Academic Calendar

The Higdon Administration Building with spring blossoms on trees

As we near the end of the fall semester, extreme precautions continue to be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 on the Lamoni campus – both now and in the spring.

The university formed nearly 20 task forces to address all aspects of Graceland from academics to athletics. The academic calendar was adjusted to limit travel to and from campus. Students of any classification were offered the opportunity to request a single occupancy room in all residence halls. A round of baseline testing was completed as students and employees arrived on campus for the Fall 2020 semester. A mask requirement and social distancing guidelines were enacted and remain in effect on campus. Space for quarantine and isolation was identified for student use. And Test Iowa named Graceland as a free testing location for students and employees.

Now, without a clear end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, Graceland continues to review and adjust efforts that will ensure students are able to continue in-person learning, even after an extended winter break. So, after consideration of multiple factors and options, Graceland’s board of trustees has approved an adjustment to the Spring 2021 semester that will move spring recess from March 8-12 to March 22-26. The semester will begin Monday, Jan. 11, as originally scheduled, and the rest of the Spring 2021 calendar will remain the same.

Graceland administration considered eliminating spring break and condensing the semester, as was done for the Fall 2020 semester; however, they believe the break to be necessary and valuable for the mental and emotional well-being of both students and faculty, and feedback from both groups supports this belief. This decision will also time the break during warmer weather and further from the height of flu season. Students who wish to remain on campus during the 2021 spring break will be allowed to do so, and Student Life hopes to provide opportunities for continued activities and entertainment during that time.

As an added precaution, Graceland will conduct additional rounds of baseline testing for students and employees during the Spring 2021 semester. At this time, a round of testing is planned when everyone returns in January and after spring break in March, and additional rounds of testing may be added as well. Information about return dates to accommodate testing for students and faculty who leave Lamoni during the break will be announced in January.

Additionally, Graceland will maintain supervision of the on-campus Test Iowa site for the spring semester, which provides free COVID-19 tests to Lamoni-campus students and employees who live in Iowa. Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa, the local health care clinic located just a few blocks from campus, also offers a rapid testing option for a fee. The university believes these and other easily accessible testing options will help to support the health and safety efforts of the campus community and limit spread of COVID-19.

“While this has been anything but a typical semester for our students and faculty, I am grateful for the efforts of each of them as we have approached this challenging time with strength and care for one another,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Jill Rhea. “The decisions to move spring break and provide additional testing on the Lamoni campus are important to our next steps in navigating the pandemic at Graceland, as we seek to continue to provide a quality education and learning experience for our students.” Rhea continued, “I am proud to know our Graceland community will approach the remaining challenges created by COVID-19 with the same power of together that has defined the Graceland experience for 125 years.”

To learn more about the actions Graceland has taken and is taking in its efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, visit graceland.edu/covid-19 and learn about our Toward Together plan.

Graceland also has launched a dedicated campaign for raising funds to help offset the costs of COVID-19. 80% of these funds go directly toward supporting students and the rest will go toward funding the university's efforts to increase the health and safety of its campuses. Donate to the campaign here.