Archive: Coronavirus Updates

This information is archived as of May 26, 2020. See latest health updates.

May 18, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central College family,

Now that the spring semester has officially ended, and I think about the days in this semester – many of which felt a lot like Groundhog Day – I think not only of the challenges but also of the many amazing successes.

You all have worked diligently to make the good happen during a challenging time. First there was the incredible group effort to move classes to a remote learning setting. We also witnessed many individual achievements, including members of our family receiving the prestigious Goldwater and Udall scholarships. Two members of our community earned accolades from the Iowa Campus Compact. And we can’t forget to mention how renovations are buzzing along on our P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium.

All of us have appreciated the ways in which you have worked together to overcome the tremendous challenges brought by the coronavirus. Thank you.

While our challenges are certainly not over, many changes and opportunities to connect and celebrate are on the horizon.


Thank you, everyone, for selecting your preferences for refunds and credits around spring semester housing and dining costs. We have finalized that work and, depending on your preferences, the checks are being mailed or credited to your account for next year today, Monday, May 18. I also wish to thank the many of you who donated your refund or credit to the college to use for Journey Scholarships and the Central Cares Fund. We are humbled by your generosity.


Current Central students eligible for funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will receive funds once federal disbursement guidelines are resolved. The act provides emergency aid to federally eligible current students for expenses related to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Central Cares Fund

We continue to accept applications to the Central Cares Fund to help students navigate barriers created by COVID-19. This fund is made possible by donations. If you are in need of assistance, please fill out the application. We will review and respond to you promptly.

COVID-19 Class

Don’t forget current students are invited to join a special remote learning course this summer called An Interdisciplinary Conversation on COVID-19. We are very grateful to the nearly 20 faculty and staff members who are working together to offer this course to stay connected to our students. Every participant who completes the course will receive two credits toward their academic work at Central at no cost. Classes will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays from May 28 to Aug. 6. If you are interested in this course, please register by May 22.

Summer Visits

In the past few weeks, the State of Iowa has begun to lift restrictions. Informed by the latest guidance from local, state and federal officials, I am pleased to share the college will begin offering in-person visits to campus for prospective students beginning June 1. We have implemented a number of safety measures to help protect visitors and the Central community.

Fall Opening

We continue to focus on how we will restart campus for the Fall 2020 semester. Many members of the Central community are developing our return-to-work and in-person instruction plans. Be assured we are strategically considering all scenarios to allow for learning on campus while following all appropriate guidance and health recommendations. As always, our Central family is the focus of this work so that we may ensure every member of our community is safe and healthy. I will communicate information about these plans when they are finalized.

Homecoming and Commencement

I wish to once again extend my congratulations to the members of the Class of 2020. Hoo-Rah! We are very proud of you! Please share your home graduation celebrations with us by posting on social media with #CentralGrads2020 and #BeyondCentral. In light of the exceptional circumstances of this semester, we continue to work on plans to hold Commencement on Sunday, Sept. 27, following the college’s Homecoming. Please mark your calendars and plan to come to campus to help us celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our graduates as well as enjoy a Homecoming that will be more special than ever. We continue to monitor state and local guidelines and will provide details about our plans around these events later this summer.

In closing, I hope you and your family are staying as healthy and safe as possible. Moving forward it is my intent to communicate with you as needed to share updates about the work we are doing to return to campus safely. Thank you for your hard work and dedication this semester.

Go Dutch!

Mark Putnam

May 11, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central College family,

As we look forward to gradually reopening Central’s campus, your health and safety – and the health and safety of the entire Central community – are our top priority.

As you know, information about the virus changes rapidly – sometimes daily and hourly. So must our response. I promise you these things will remain constant:

  • Central will model proactivity, vigilance and prudence as we prepare our campus for reopening.
  • We will follow national, state and local guidelines as they pertain to Central’s operations.
  • We will consult the best available expertise in medicine, epidemiology, government and higher education in determining how best to move forward.
  • We will seek the latest information and incorporate the most current best practices.
  • We will communicate frequently with you and all members of the Central community.
  • As always, we invite your questions and input.

Steps We’ve Taken

The college continues to work closely with our federal and state elected officials on opportunities for financial flexibility and student and employee support. Last week, we received the good news of qualifying for a funding opportunity with the U.S. Small Business Administration. I extend my deep appreciation to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst for their work to ensure the college’s eligibility in the Paycheck Protection Program.

We have made many changes in these unprecedented times to our cleaning procedures, food delivery, housing options, building security, campus travel policies and more.

In addition, we have convened two task forces – the COVID-19 Campus Protocol Task Force and the COVID-19 Athletics Protocol Task Force – to help us plan carefully for how we will gradually reopen campus. Members also will provide guidance on how we will continue to keep the Central family safe should anyone become ill.

Please find here additional information on those initiatives:

COVID-19 Campus Protocol Task Force

This group includes members from the fields of medicine and epidemiology in addition to members of Central’s faculty and staff. This task force is charged with advising the college how to reopen and run the campus as safely as possible. This group will meet regularly for an indefinite period of time. It will review recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, state or medical information and develop recommendations in the days ahead.

Task Force Members

  • Kim Dorn, Director of Public Health, Marion County, Iowa
  • Lezlie Morris, Chief of Clinical Services, Pella Regional Health Center
  • Jeff Oliver ’79, Trustee and COO, Pathology Associates Ltd.; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Creighton University School of Medicine – Phoenix Campus
  • Ellie DuPré, Professor of Biology, Central College
  • Janine Fontana, Director of Purchasing and Facility Services, Central College
  • Charlie Strey, Dean of Students and Central Emergency Management, Central College
  • Tom Johnson, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, Central College
  • Carol Williamson, Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment, Central College
  • Mary E.M. Strey, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty (task force chair)
  • Nadine Argo ’91, Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty

COVID-19 Athletics Protocol Task Force

Central’s athletics department has convened a task force to consider additional best practices for athletics participation. Task force members include those from the fields of medicine, athletic training and sports medicine. This group will provide recommendations on best practices for dealing with the pandemic specific to athletics in consultation with the NCAA and the American Rivers Conference.

Task Force Members

  • Stacey Neu ’92, Family Practice Physician, UnityPoint Health and Faculty, University of Iowa Family Practice Residency at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Des Moines
  • Brad Floy, University of Iowa Men’s Basketball Athletic Trainer
  • Chris Viesselman, Program Director, Athletic Training, Grand View University
  • Joe Rosauer ’12, Athletic Trainer, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Martha Errthum, Team Physician, Red Rock Healthcare
  • Steven Perkins ’01, Trustee and Physician, Mayo Clinic Health System Family Medicine Clinic, Waukon, Iowa
  • John Roslien, Athletic Trainer and Associate Professor of Exercise Science, Central College
  • Frank Neu, Head Athletic Trainer and Clinical Instructor of Exercise Science, Central College
  • Kyle Johnson, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Fitness Center Director and Lecturer of Exercise Science, Central College
  • Eric Van Kley, Director of Athletics and Head Wrestling Coach, Central College (task force chair)

In closing, please know we’re delighted you are a part of the Central family. Thank you for your continued faith and trust in us as we move forward to ensure your safety and the safety of the entire Central community going forward.

We can’t wait to welcome you to campus again. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to be in contact with updates and what we are learning.

We send this with our very best wishes for your continued health and safety.


Mark Putnam

May 4, 2020 | Expand

April 27, 2020 | Expand

Dear members of the Central family,

We continue to have much for which to be thankful. And, not a day goes by where I do not hear amazing stories of your work and your commitment to each other during these times. To be a part of the Central College family is truly a blessing to me.


To our seniors, your families and the many of us who can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments, Commencement 2020 will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.

For those who requested, your caps, gowns and tassels will be sent to you in a few weeks at no charge to you. Then, at the completion of the semester, you will receive a separate mailing related to your specific academic achievements, including your diplomas. We look forward to seeing your pictures on social media; and, we do hope to see you in person again at our fall ceremony as well!

In the meantime, please enjoy this gift today.

Student Refunds

Students who studied on our international programs received credit and refund information at the end of last week. Contact Jeff Sanger, senior staff accountant, at or 641-628-5161 with questions.

Healthy Environment

We have made a lot of changes in the past few weeks to ensure the health and safety of all in our community. The list is extensive and continues to grow. We’ve altered our cleaning procedures, food delivery, housing options, building security and much more.

In the weeks ahead we will be consulting and convening teams of medical and industry-specific experts, as we seek to advance our work toward maintaining a healthy environment for all and a gradual re-opening of the campus. We are thinking deeply about protocols and doing a lot of planning work. What does it mean to live safely and healthily when we are not on campus? How will we adjust to life when campus begins to fill with smiling faces and the energy of our Central family? And, how will we continue to keep our community safe if anyone should become ill?

There will be more to share in the weeks ahead. Be assured we care about Central, our community, and the health and well-being of all.

Board Affirmation

Saturday, the Board of Trustees put forth a resolution of commendation “to express deep gratitude for all Central College faculty and staff for their continued commitment to Central students and support of each other through the successful and unexpected transition to remote education as a result of the coronavirus pandemic after spring break during the spring 2020 semester.” It passed unanimously by acclimation.

We have an incredible group of trustee leaders. Like all of us, they are managing through their own professional and personal challenges presented by the pandemic, but they also are whole-heartedly committed to our mission and the long-term strength and success of the college.


  • The celebration of faculty achievements and announcements of award recipients will be held virtually, at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 7.
  • The annual Celebration of Student Scholarship and Inquiry will occur via the web this year. Student work will be available to view beginning April 30.
  • If you missed the Dutchies last night, watch it now.
  • Scholarships bring us all closer together. In honor of our annual Scholarship Celebration, check out this incredible video about the unique connections between Central scholarship recipients and our friends and donors.

Thank you for your continued strength and efforts to focus on the many positives.

Until next week,
Mark L. Putnam
President, Central College

April 20, 2020 | Expand

Dear members of the Central family,I want to lead with a huge thank you for continuing to do great things during times of adversity. I am especially grateful to our staff members who are adjusting to changes in their circumstances in order to keep Central in a position of strength for the future. I appreciate the incredible adaptability of our faculty and students in this remote learning environment as well.

While we are all contributing to our shared success in different ways, I say with confidence that we all are committed to optimizing our position and the great things ahead for the fall semester. And, we all cannot wait to celebrate the return of students in August!

Health and Care

None of this has been easy and it’s important that you care for yourself and others.


Remember, EAP offers free webinars and tools for Central College employees.


Counseling services are available for students. If you are having difficulty managing your anxiety and stress, reach out to Counseling Services for FREE telehealth (video-based) counseling support. To ask any questions about counseling services or make an appointment, contact the student development office at ( or call 641-628-5293.


We are in the process of collecting feedback on two date options for a fall commencement ceremony. For the time being, please hold Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 27.

Student Refunds

Last week all on campus students received information and options related to their account credits for room and board expenses. Students who have questions should contact Wayne Dille, director of financial aid, at 641-628-5336 or Students who studied on our international programs will receive information later this week.


We continue to explore options for summer activities on campus – those related to both longer duration events and programs, and also those more condensed in nature.

Summer undergraduate research will be hosted on campus for Central students. Housing for summer interns and undergraduate research students will be available.


  • Thursday was to be the original date of our annual scholarship dinner where we celebrate private support from donors that aids students in the forms of both annual and endowed scholarships. While we will miss hosting more than 600 students, parents and donors for this truly inspirational time that connects the Central family, you can browse the evening’s program.
  • Another cherished tradition at Central College is the Dutchies. With deep thanks to sports information, SAAC leadership and communications, the fifth annual Dutchies event will be held virtually, Sunday at 6:30 p.m. To join in, go to the college’s YouTube channel.
  • The celebration of faculty achievements and announcements of award recipients is another favorite tradition. We are exploring ways to announce these honors and share with the community in the coming weeks.
  • There also will be many student awards to celebrate in the weeks ahead.
  • The annual Celebration of Student Scholarship and Inquiry will occur via the web this year. Student work will be available to view beginning April 30.
  • While we are eager to celebrate the return of our current students, we also are very excited to welcome a new class of students this fall! A wonderful class is building. As of April 17, we have 258 deposited new first-year students and 11 transfers. I’ve shared this before but it’s worth saying again – while we never could have predicted what is happening in the world today, our new annual tuition price of $18,600 and our commitments to families mean even more now.
  • Thank you to everyone who is helping recruit students; it will be a reward to see all the smiling faces this fall. Thank you again for your keeping your Central spirit alive. We look forward to the day when we can be all together again.

Mark L. Putnam
President, Central College

April 13, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central family,Spring is budding all around Central’s campus. I hope you found moments of joy this weekend celebrating the Easter holiday as best you could while social distancing with friends and family.

I am constantly reminded that even in the midst of this pandemic, we are surrounded by support from each other and the beauty of a hopeful spring.

Since the pandemic emerged, the senior leadership team and I have continued to make decisions based on the best information available at the time. I write today to share with you details of some new decisions as well as a few things to celebrate.

Fall International Study Updates

Because of minimal student interest alongside visa stipulations in Vienna, Granada and Mérida, we have decided to suspend our programs in these countries for the Fall 2020 semester. It is our hope that by the spring or summer of 2021 the pandemic will have abated via vaccine availability and international travel and study to these locations will be feasible again.

At this time, we still have a number of students interested in study in Bangor and London this fall. We will continue to plan to sponsor these programs until/unless we receive information that travel restrictions or decisions by our partner programs indicate otherwise.

Room and Board Refunds

We continue to diligently process the room and board credit information for each student. Details will roll out to students this week.

Central Cares Fund

Central has established the Central Cares Fund thanks to generous donors to Hoo-Rah Day (see below). The fund is intended to help students experiencing extreme hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. Students with need may use this application to request support.

Education Accreditation

We learned last week that our education department has received accreditation from the Department of Education to move forward with offering an early childhood designation. We are thrilled for the doors this opportunity opens for our future educators.

Hoo-Rah Day

Central held its fourth-annual Hoo-Rah Day on April 7. In total, the college raised a record $225,272 to support scholarships for students and to provide support for the Central Cares Fund. In addition, the online celebration garnered more than 70,000 social media impressions and over 5,000 hits to the college’s Hoo-Rah Day video. Rah! Rah! Whoo!

As a college community, the past month has been filled with what often has seemed like insurmountable challenges. Yet the sun has been shining and flowers are blooming. I’ve been proud of how each of you have helped and encouraged each other. I am confident we will come out stronger and more united on the other side.

Mark L. Putnam
President, Central College

April 6, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central family,The world shifted pretty quickly — in fact, multiple times — in the past month.

So did you.

This month we have been heartbroken, inspired and encouraged — sometimes simultaneously. And yet you all have buckled down to find and build the best educational solutions possible as we navigate this unprecedented disruption created by the coronavirus.

I applaud each of you for how you have come together while being apart during our first full week of remote education.

In under two weeks you prepared for remote learning and other important Central College traditions. Whether you coordinated and participated in internship workshops via Zoom, helped find ways to socialize from afar, began studying remotely or successfully offered and took tests on Blackboard, you all have ripped up your old roadmaps and found new paths to succeed in learning and supporting each other.

Now that most students have moved out of the residence halls, we are diligently processing the room and board credit information for each student. In mid-April students will receive an email with updated account balance information and the amount of refund if applicable along with detailed options to process your account balance.

While these times are uncertain, we continue to celebrate all the doors you are opening:

Hoo-Rah Day

Tuesday, April 7, we will host our annual Hoo-Rah Day. Please join the fun on social media. This day always has been a day to celebrate Central, share the college’s pride with the world and support students.

This year we’ve included a new way for the Central family around the world to help students experiencing extreme hardship during the pandemic. We established the Central Cares Fund to alleviate some of the anxiety students may be experiencing and minimize disruptions to their academic experience at Central. Soon we will share details about how students may apply for funding and support from this fund.

Students, I hope you know Central is here for you, no matter what happens.

Remote Learning

We also have been committed to each other in our remote classrooms and meetings. Information Technology Services shares that between Monday, March 30, and Friday, April 3, the college community has participated in 1,585 Zoom classroom settings or meetings for a total of about 351,000 minutes. On Blackboard, we’ve averaged almost 37,000 page views per day — compared to 17,490 total page views the first week of fall semester. In addition, the Central family has used Panopto for 81 pre-recorded presentations/lectures this week — compared to nine the first week of the fall semester.

This data is incredible and shows me how dedicated you all are to keeping connections open for a future filled with relationships you can lean into time and time again.

Class of 2024

We haven’t just focused on our current community, either. During this month of profound adaptation, we also have come together for future Central students:

Our Class of 2024 continues to grow. As of today, 216 first-year and six transfer students have submitted deposits to enroll this fall, placing us on target for where we would expect to be in a year without the coronavirus. Our admission team continues to work diligently with faculty and coaches to keep prospective students and their families connected to and interested in the college.

The team began offering virtual visit days and one-on-one visits with students and families this week. This has been wildly successful with around 100 participants registered for individual, financial aid, baseball and wresting virtual visits within just days of starting this offering.

There is no script for this moment we are experiencing and the whirlwind of emotions and challenges it has created. Yet there is one underlying theme at Central. Community. Please continue to share and support each other. Raise your hand if you have questions or a new idea to navigate the coronavirus storm. Be as innovative and hopeful as you can. Study hard. Find moments of joy and share those moments with your Central family. And wash those hands.

Together we seek to be supportive of each other. Student support services, human resources and employee health services also are available to meet your needs and for you to access.

You have demonstrated this month we are a community hardwired to care. What I have learned is that whether we are together in Pella or temporarily scattered to help flatten the curve, we are a community connecting with each other wherever we are.

Mark L. Putnam
President, Central College

March 30, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central students, faculty and staff:Greetings! As we begin remote teaching and learning today, I welcome you all as we resume the spring semester.

As we move to remote learning, all of us at Central have stepped up to support students and each other. I recognize your great sacrifice — most especially that of the Class of 2020. I commend all of you for your willingness to give personally to ensure the greater good.

Students, you left campus when asked even as every fiber of your being wanted to stay. You are the reason we’re here and the truth is, we miss you. Thank you for your resilience and your devotion to your education. As classes begin, please let us know how things are going for you and what we can do to help. We remain fiercely devoted to your success.

Faculty, you embraced with determination and creativity the temporary but urgent need to teach remotely. Thank you for your Herculean efforts. I know you will bring to remote teaching the same highly personalized, student-centered approach you do in person.

Staff, you’ve moved quickly to ensure the safety of our students and the continuity of our operations. Many of you have also set up essential new systems to keep us connected and to support our teaching.

We’re a family. We know each other well and care about each other deeply. Distance does not change that. Just as when family members must be away from home for a while, we continue to support each other in every way we can no matter where we are. Here are just a few of the ways we are doing that.

Central’s Website as a Central Repository

For the time being, Central’s campus is closed to the general public and visitors for everyone’s safety. I urge you all to check your Central email account and the Central coronavirus webpage frequently for updates.

The webpage has a list of announcements and resources to help you, along with instructions about how to access many college services. You’ll find separate buttons on the coronavirus page for FAQs; student, faculty, and staff communications; and an updates button that directs to this page and connects you with communications from me. You’ll also receive messages in your Central email accounts and a great deal of that communication will be archived on the website for your convenience.


One way we can stay connected remotely is through social media. I encourage you to use #CentralConnects in your Central-related social media posts.

ITS Help Desk Extended Hours

Our ITS team is offering extended hours to help the Central community navigate remote learning. Beginning Monday, March 30, the ITS Help Desk will be available via phone and email during the following times:

  • 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday
  • 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday

To request tech support, faculty, staff and students may call 641-628-7010 or send an email to

Student Account Adjustments

Many of you have asked about adjustments to room and meal plans. Each student’s situation is unique and calculations based on move out dates are in process now. By mid-April, we will provide details to each student, who has completed the move out process, about their specific adjustment. Students will not be required to request an adjustment. Students who were studying on our international programs also will be receiving this information in mid-April. 


While we are disappointed we cannot celebrate as planned in May, please know we are working on details for a commencement ceremony in the fall. We look forward to celebrating the academic achievements and accomplishments of our graduates! As soon as we identify the specific date and time, we’ll be in touch with our graduates, their families and our community. It’s going to be a very special time for all of us.

Hoo-Rah Day and Central Cares

We still plan to host our annual Hoo-Rah Day on April 7 to help and celebrate the entire Central family. Your participation celebrating Central on social media during this special day will show the world how extraordinary it is to be part of the Dutch family.

As part of the day, we will offer friends and donors the opportunity to support a new fund called Central Cares. This fund has been established to assist Central students experiencing extreme hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. It is our intent that contributions to Central Cares will be awarded to students demonstrating need for emergency assistance due to changes in economic or health conditions. Please watch for future communications providing additional details about this program and how students may apply for grants from it to ensure a successful educational experience.

Other Spring Traditions

In addition, we are evaluating other spring traditions that we know are important – and fun – for the Central community. Student Development, in collaboration with student leaders, is working to bring some of these traditions to you remotely. Again, please stay tuned about how we can stay social distantly while social distancing.

Spirit Shoppe

Due to the recent expansion of restrictions for businesses, the Spirit Shoppe is closed but still taking online orders.

Summer Study Abroad, Chicago

Because of the continued global risks associated with the COVID-19 virus and related travel restrictions, off-campus summer programs (including study abroad) will not be offered this summer (2020). Students who applied have been notified. 

The Family You Choose

You are all part of the family I choose to be a part of. I’ll be in touch frequently in the coming days and weeks and encourage you to be as well.

Please take care of yourselves. Thank you all for embracing the challenge of continuing Central’s mission while doing everything we can to keep one another as safe and healthy as humanly possible.

These are extraordinary times. I am proud, impressed and deeply moved by how you’ve all risen to the challenge.

Mark L. Putnam
President, Central College

March 21, 2020 | Expand

Dear Central family,On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health sent out notification that there are 23 new additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19.

As part of the announcement, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds advised:

“Iowans who have traveled recently for business or spring break vacations, whether internationally or domestically outside of Iowa, should strongly consider self-isolating for 14 days. This will support Iowa’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and limit the introduction of the virus from other points of travel.”

View the full report.

At this time, I request that Central students, faculty and staff who traveled out of Iowa during spring break to please consider self-isolating and avoid campus if you are not already approved to live on campus. This measure will help to inhibit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people, with the goal of stopping other people from getting the coronavirus.

Students: If you fall into this category, please do not return to campus to gather your personal items. If you need to self-isolate or if your home is under shelter-in-place orders, please contact Charlie Strey, dean of students, who will work with you to make appropriate arrangements. If you have been granted temporary approval to remain on campus, please notify Charlie about the need to self-isolate.

Faculty: If you have been traveling out of state, please notify the vice-president for academic affairs about your need for self-isolation. Please see this information for guidance.

Staff: If you have been traveling out of state, please notify Human Resources and your supervisor about your need for self-isolation. A remote work assignment, if applicable, will allow you to work from home. Please see this information for guidance.

I also request that our faculty and staff members please be mindful of the potential need to shelter in place or lockdown as many other states have done in recent days. I encourage you to be ready to work completely from home with a 24-hour notice should Gov. Reynolds decide to take this action.

Central will continue to modify policies, procedures and operations over the coming weeks as circumstances develop. As needed, the senior leadership team will continue to provide updates to these plans to Central faculty, staff and students.

Thank you all for your resilience, resourcefulness and flexibility.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information, please continue to monitor:

Continue to wash your hands frequently, avoid groups of more than 10 people and remain more than six feet from others whenever possible. Working together with a common purpose, we can reduce the spread of infection.

Thank you for taking special precautions to protect yourself and others, and for helping the college do the same.

Mark L. Putnam

President, Central College

March 19, 2020 | Expand

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I continue to be so appreciative for your patience during a time of careful reflection, evaluation and decision-making. The fluidity of our current national and regional situation due to the spread of the COVID-19 Virus makes planning especially challenging. Our aim has been to ensure organizational stability in the college to preserve its future, while also being responsive to rapid change. Our first priority is the well-being of everyone in our community. That certainly includes health-related risk, but also potential financial impacts and stress related to varying family situations. The complexity can be overwhelming. Still we need to make thoughtful and balanced decisions that are consistent with our values.

In the paragraphs that follow, I will outline a set of organizational adjustments that seek to be responsive to differing work and family situations while maintaining the overall capacity of the college. No approach in these difficult circumstances can be a perfect fit, but by combining flexibility with clarity, we hope to do our best. We will begin to employ these changes beginning Monday, March 23, through Tuesday, March 31. We will then evaluate the situation on a week-to-week basis, notifying everyone in a timely manner of any changes along the way. We hope for a return to normal operations in the not-too-distant future.

Alternative Work Assignments. The normal work activities for some of our staff will be significantly impacted by the absence of students on campus. We are planning to arrange alternative work assignments for those affected and temporarily redeploy individuals as needed to advance the college’s interests. In some cases, this might mean playing a different role within the college for the time being. For others, it might mean taking on special projects that will enhance our operations. Our Vice Presidents and Athletics Director will be working with supervisors to outline alternative assignments where appropriate in the coming days. Our intent is to ensure that everyone employed at Central is meaningfully and productively engaged in the ongoing work of the college.

Alternative Work Settings. We are using three categories for permitting flexibility in determining the appropriate work setting:

Work From Home. Some of our staff are in a position to work entirely from home during this period given the nature of their assignments and access to technology.

Hybrid On-campus/Work From Home. Some of our staff need limited access to our campus to effectively work but can spend considerable time also working from home. We will seek to ensure that those in this category feel safe coming to the campus as needed.

On-Campus Work. Some of our staff can only carry out their assigned work on campus. Their safety is maximized by reducing the overall number of employees accessing the campus daily.

Our vice presidents and athletics director will work with supervisors to determine how members of the staff can effectively work in each of these contexts. Such decisions will take into consideration the individual circumstances of each employee.

Alternative Work Schedules. It may be that the daily schedule for our work will be a factor in each of the settings described above. Social distancing may be enhanced by arranging access to the campus at alternative times. It may also be necessary or appropriate for some to work outside of normal business hours. It should be noted, however, that we still must maintain an active and energetic presence during the typical workday to be responsive to students, parents, partners and vendors. We also need to be widely available for each other during business hours for video or tele-conference meetings. I urge everyone to be active and responsive in maximizing business continuity during these days.

Travel. All college-related business travel, both international and domestic, is now prohibited. Exceptions may be granted upon the recommendation of the relevant vice president or athletics director and with the approval of the president. I urge everyone to also avoid personal travel that would expose others in our community to potential risk.

Emerging Federal and State Regulations. Both federal and state authorities are developing new legal or regulatory provisions to support employees during this time of national crisis. The college will fulfill its obligations related to quarantine orders, family medical leave and other related policy frameworks. Please contact Human Resources if you become ill, think you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 Virus or to consult on any personal matters of concern.

The circumstances we are facing are unprecedented. Accordingly, I ask everyone to maintain a calm and flexible spirit as this situation unfolds. Please be generous to each other. Support each other in our shared work and be responsive to requests for help. Let’s ensure that our communication with each other is cordial and constructive. Above all, please maintain good practices in hygiene by washing your hands and keeping surfaces and equipment clean. Thank you for your dedication to our campus community.

Mark L. Putnam
Central College President

March 17, 2020 | Expand

Gov. Reynolds Issues State of Public Health Disaster Emergency

Gov. Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan effective at noon today.

It takes significant steps to require social distancing and limit community spread of the virus by implementing temporary measures including moving restaurants to drive-through, carry-out, and delivery only and closures of certain entities such as bars and recreational facilities. The proclamation also allows state agencies additional flexibility in responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, and supports the critical work of public health.

A portion of the proclamation is below.

NOW THEREFORE, I, KIMBERLY K. REYNOLDS, Governor of the State of Iowa, by the power and authority vested in me by the Iowa Constitution, Art. IV, §§ 1, 8 and Iowa Code §§ 29C.6(1), 135.140(6), and 135.144 do hereby proclaim a STATE OF PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER EMERGENCY throughout the entire state of Iowa and do hereby ORDER and DIRECT the following:


Pursuant to Iowa Code § 29C.6 (1) and (10), I hereby activate the public health response and recovery aspects of the state disaster emergency plan applicable to this public health disaster and authorize the use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as are reasonably necessary pursuant to those plans to assist those citizens located in the counties subject to this proclamation.


I hereby direct the Iowa Department of Public Health, in conjunction with whatever further direction I provide, to take those reasonable and necessary actions authorized by Iowa Code § 135.144 to address this public health disaster, including but not limited to mobilizing as many public health response teams as are necessary to supplement and support disrupted or overburdened local medical and public health personnel, hospitals, and resources, as allowed by Iowa Code § 135.143 and 641 Iowa Admin. Code 113.2 (1), with the understanding that the registered members of those public health response teams providing assistance under this authority shall receive the protections and benefits of state employees as allowed by law.


Pursuant to Iowa Code § 135.144 (3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, unless otherwise modified by subsequent proclamation or order of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I hereby order that effective Noon today, March 17, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2020:

  1.   Restaurants and Bars: All Restaurants and Bars are hereby closed to the general public except that to the extent permitted by applicable law, and in accordance with any recommendations of the Iowa Department of Public Health, food and beverages may be sold if such food or beverages are promptly taken from the premises, such as on a carry-out or drive-through basis, or if the food or beverage is delivered to customers off the premises.
  2. Fitness Center: All fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers are hereby closed.
  3.   Theaters: All theaters or other performance venues at which live performances or or motion pictures are shown are hereby closed.
  4.   Casinos and Gaming Facilities: All casinos and other facilities conducting pari-mutuel wagering or gaming operations are hereby closed.
  5. Mass Gathering: Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are hereby prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of this disaster.
  6. Senior Citizen Centers and Adult Daycare Facilities:  All facilities that conduct adult day services or other senior citizen centers are hereby closed.

Read the full text of the proclamation here.

March 16, 2020 | Expand

Update on Spring Semester

Dear Central College family,

As you know, the world continues to grapple with how to respond to the coronavirus. Over the weekend, several events occurred that have required Central’s senior leadership team to consider how to best keep our community safe.

Considering these significant changes (outlined below), Central will not have in-person classes resume March 30 as we announced last week. Instead we will move to remote teaching and learning for the remainder of the spring semester. Only by exception will students be able to remain on campus. All major events and activities have been canceled until further notice.

Federal and Iowa Updates

  • Today the CDC issued new guidance about gatherings of 10 people or more. The CDC recommends no gatherings with 10 people or more take place for the next 15 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
  • In Iowa, at this hour we have four new cases of COVID-19 (for a statewide total of 22). It is believed three of Iowa’s cases come with no identified travel-related risk or exposure to a known COVID-19 case, indicating community spread. At this time, there are no known cases of coronavirus on Central’s campus or within our community.
  • Late Sunday evening, March 15, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health, announced it is time to move to the next level of response. She is recommending all Iowa schools close for a period of four weeks to help mitigate the spread of the disease.


Classes will resume remotely March 30; between now and then faculty members are preparing to shift their instruction.

Central is committed to making it possible for all students to complete the semester without losing financial aid or progress toward graduation. We will do so while maintaining a strong educational community, ensuring academic integrity and employing sufficient flexibility to adapt to fluid external conditions.

All registered students will complete the semester through remote access to the courses in which students are currently enrolled. Information about how to access classes will be shared on or before Friday, March 27. There are unique circumstances we will need to work through: internships, community-based learning course components, laboratories, undergraduate research, etc. Those conversations with students will be in progress this week and next; please be patient and watch email for further details.

Moving Off Campus

Some students may wish to get belongings sooner rather than later. Others may wish to delay, and we can accommodate that as well. We request students let us know intentions by completing the form at as soon as possible. This will permit student development staff to prepare for students’ return to campus to check out of rooms.

For the safety of others, students should not return to campus if they or a family member is not well or believe they have been exposed.

Students with exceptional circumstances or reasons to remain on campus may use the same form to provide rationale to do so. Examples may be geographic, academic or personal. College staff will review requests and grant or refuse permission no later than March 27. We will make individual exceptions. Please contact Charlie Strey, dean of students, at with questions.

Campus Activities and Commencement

It is with great regret and sadness we also announce that all college events, including athletics, scholarship dinner and large group visit days are canceled until further notice. Commencement is unlikely to occur in its original format. If circumstances permit, we will consider an opportunity to recognize our graduating students in the weeks ahead.

Student Accounts

The college will consider adjustments to student accounts later as we get more clarity on each student’s unique situation. We sincerely appreciate your patience as this work is done. Once we have details, we promise to share them. Right now, our focus is on the health and safety of all for the greater good of our students, campus community and the world.

We wanted to inform you about our decision that the semester will be completed by remote access as quickly as possible. As we have indicated, more information will be coming as decisions are made about how this will affect daily operations and people around campus. You may also visit regularly for the most up-to-date information and frequently answered questions. We will continue to update the FAQs as needed.

Thank you and be well.

Mark L. Putnam
Central College President

March 12, 2020 | Expand

Central College has made the decision to delay the start of the remainder of the semester by one week – through March 30. We believe this adjustment is important amid global coronavirus concerns. The purpose of this adjustment is to ensure your health and safety as well as your successful academic career – all of which are the college’s highest priority.

We intend to use the one-week delay to get technology in place to allow faculty to prepare for the option of remote access to our campus-based courses as needed for those who are unable or elect to not join us in person on campus.

Central’s leadership team appreciates the patience you have demonstrated as we have worked to be strategic about keeping you healthy and safe while also ensuring you benefit from the Central education you have chosen. I appreciate the phone calls and emails from everyone who contacted us with advice and expressions of concern. Your insights have been helpful in informing our thinking.

What the adjustment means

  • Spring break begins at the end of the day Friday, March 13.
  • Classes on campus will resume on schedule Monday, March 30.
  • Students have the option to join us on campus or to take advantage of remote access to our classes.
  • Next week, we will provide an opportunity for you to inform us of your decision to either return to campus on March 30 or participate remotely in classes. As you leave campus for spring break, please consider preparing accordingly.
  • If you select to participate in on-campus classes remotely, your account will be credited on a pro-rated basis for room and meal plan charges.
  • Discussion is in process for classes that involve experiential learning such as ensembles and laboratories. Your professors will be in touch with additional information.
  • We do not plan to extend the semester beyond finals weeks ending May 14.
  • Campus will remain open for all business functions.
  • As a reminder, we will make decisions about summer programs April 3.

To reiterate, we will resume classes March 30. The semester will end May 14.

Please stay tuned. As you know, the guidance from public health care experts and others evolves daily. I am grateful to you for your understanding as we work to develop this new institutional process for optional remote access following spring break.

Central will continue to post updates at


Mark L. Putnam
Central College President

March 11, 2020 | Expand


Central College leadership continues to monitor the emerging global COVID-19 situation with the health and safety of students and staff as a priority. The college’s emergency management team continues contingency planning related to the potential for disruption of activities (domestically and internationally) and the potential of an outbreak on campus.

Central’s planning continues to be based on CDC guidelines. At this time, we plan to continue to hold classes in Pella after next week’s spring break. Our intent is to complete spring semester programs with minimal disruption and maximum support for the health and well-being of students and employees.

We recognize this is a fluid and evolving situation. Please be assured that we remain in frequent contact with local and state public health officials as we monitor and assess this situation. The CDC recently issued new recommendations on additional precautions to take if you are at a higher risk of getting sick from the coronavirus. If you are part of a high-risk group, please review and take the necessary precautions.

Central will not sponsor travel or programs, including support for conference travel, in any country designated by the CDC as a Level 3 because of the new coronavirus.

Student, Faculty and Staff Travel

Students, faculty and staff planning to travel (during spring break, vacation, etc.) are advised to monitor travel information from the CDC regarding the COVID-19 virus and are strongly urged not to travel to Level 3 countries or travel on a cruise ship until those restrictions are lifted.

Central is not responsible for expenses, inconveniences, quarantines or other disruptions that may occur as a result of personal travel. This situation is fluid and disruptions may occur with little or no warning. Different countries, universities and international housing arrangements may limit your return and/or require you to self-isolate or quarantine at your expense. This includes the Pella campus, the Merida house and homestays, and partnership schools and housing in London, Bangor, Granada and Vienna.

At this time, all other planned domestic and international travel and programs sponsored by Central this Spring 2020 semester will continue. Some experiences may need to be modified or curtailed. Students, faculty and staff will be asked to sign an informed consent form for programs involving international travel originating in the U.S. to be sure that each is aware of the CDC recommendations for travel. If a student, faculty or staff member is uncomfortable or concerned about participating in a college-sponsored program involving travel this semester, that individual may opt out by contacting the campus program organizer. The college will reimburse fees paid to the college by that individual.

Off-Campus Programs

Central is in communication with host universities in Granada, Bangor, Vienna and London as well as programs in Chicago and Washington, D.C. If any of these partners decide to close, or if the CDC calls for an evacuation, Central will work to coordinate the return of participating students.

  • The University of Vienna has announced its intention to move to “electronic learning” starting Wednesday, March 11, 2020, with no exams and/or lectures with physical presence presumably until Friday, April 3, 2020. Our director in Vienna will continue to deliver the Central Culture course in person.
  • Program directors in London, Bangor and Granada also are in regular communication with the Pella campus team regarding any anticipated changes from our host universities.
  • Our director in Merida similarly keeps the Pella team apprised of any developments.

We will communicate decisions about summer programs, on campus and at international sites, Friday, April 3, 2020, as additional information is gathered over the course of the next few weeks related to this dynamic situation.

If you show signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and are contacted by the health department to monitor, quarantine or isolate, please take the following steps immediately:

  • Students: Notify the dean of students.
  • Faculty: Notify the vice president of academic affairs/dean of the faculty.
  • Staff: Notify the director of human resources.

Please continue to monitor Central’s webpage for information about the coronavirus outbreak. We will continue to update the site as new information becomes available.

Please stay safe and alert and take care of each other. And remember, handwashing – with soap and water – is truly the best defense.

Mark L. Putnam
Central College President