COVID-19 on the Luther College Campus

Luther College Aurora Choir gathers in Bentdahl Commons to record while wearing masks and socially distancing per Luther Colleges COVID-19 guidelines.

Danica Nolton ( ‘22) | Photo Bureau

Luther College Aurora Choir gathers in Bentdahl Commons to record while wearing masks and socially distancing per Luther College’s COVID-19 guidelines.

In light of the current global pandemic, Luther College has created a COVID-19 Response Team to react to current events regarding the virus on both a national and local level. This group discusses the pandemic’s changing conditions and the best ways to keep students safe while on campus.

“We adopted some of the ideas that were already in place at other colleges and universities,” Vice President for Mission and Communication and member of the COVID-19 response team Bradley Chamberlain said. “We did not build the entire idea of the COVID-19 levels and phases for Luther. We had made some changes as to what would best suit our students and faculty.”

The members of the response team have been advised by President Ward to keep up with current events regarding the national spread of the virus, and to monitor how other colleges and universities are handling the pandemic, to make informed decisions for the Luther College community.

Though there are measures to keep the community safe, many wonder whether or not the flu season will increase COVID-19 cases.

“We do not believe that there will be a rise in cases,” Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Kevin Kraus said. “We might actually see a decrease in the number of cases because of how vigilant we are with the protocols we have in place to keep students safe. As long as the weather stays somewhat decent and students aren’t forced to stay indoors, we should be okay with the coming cold and flu season.”

Kraus and the response team encourage students not to gather in residential rooms, as personal residence hall spaces are not congruent with Luther’s health and safety guidelines. If students want to have gatherings, it is recommended that they do it in one of the lounges in their buildings.

Luther College Collegiate Choir practices in the Decorah community pool to physical distance and follow local and
national health guidelines

Earlier in the year the team considered requiring singles for all Luther College students in order to reduce exposure to the virus. There was talk about building more residence halls for this school year, but it was ultimately decided that they would reduce the number of students per room. For example, a room made for a quad only has up to three people living in that room. Then a triple went down to two people living there, etc.

“The biggest reason we chose not to give each student their own room was the mental health side of things,” Executive Assistant to the College President Sally Ming said. “We really wanted to make sure that with all of the changes that were happening because of this pandemic. We did not want to cause more harm on the mental health side of things for our students.”

Another big change that the team initiated was the new academic calendar for this school year. The schedule was changed and divided into a September term and a quarter system in place of the usual schedule for the fall semester. This schedule provides for situations in which students and faculty may be asked to leave campus for health reasons. The team thought it was the most effective way to ensure that the students could handle the potential change between in-person classes and online classes at home.

The COVID-19 response team’s work is a large part of why students are on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, but it is also the responsibility of all Luther students, staff, and faculty to ensure that case numbers stay at a minimum, and that the health and wellness of all members of the Luther community are protected by following the recommended safety protocols and staying informed on how it affects Luther and the greater community.

Beginning on October 23, updates on COVID-19 cases are being posted each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Luther’s Being Community webpage. This new change to the COVID-19 update schedule comes in light of the recent increases of cases on campus among students, and the desire to keep the Luther College community informed.