Please see below for messages from the President and Provost of Drake University.
Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 infections across Greater Des Moines and Iowa, we will move to full virtual delivery of classes starting tomorrow (Wednesday, November 11). This includes all courses across all academic units and programs. Students in clinical and student teaching placements should continue to go to those sites if allowed by the external supervisor. Originally, the return to virtual delivery was scheduled to begin the Monday after the Thanksgiving break (November 30). All classes will stay in virtual delivery for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester.
Our current campus COVID-19 numbers:
As you can see, we are still in a manageable situation regarding the existence of COVID-19 on our campus. Nevertheless, we are moving to full virtual delivery early because of the increasing incidence of the virus in the community around us and the strain this is putting on local health care resources. Last night, the CEOs of the three major hospital systems in Des Moines issued an extraordinary public health announcement noting that hospitalizations are higher than at any time during the pandemic and pleading with the public to strictly follow the COVID-19 protocols that are so familiar to all of us in the Drake community. In the words of these health care leaders, “[t]he situation is very real and urgent.”
All students are highly encouraged to use the flexibility provided by this initiation of virtual delivery to ensure that if you travel home for Thanksgiving you do so when you are confident you are virus free. To prevent transmission to families and friends, we will offer free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all residential students and for any off-campus students who are taking at least one class on campus this semester. Students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must continue to be tested at the Student Health Center for free by calling 515-271-3731 to schedule an appointment. The free asymptomatic testing will be available as follows:
Details regarding the place and time for the free asymptomatic testing will follow shortly in an email from Dean Jerry Parker. In order to concentrate our resources on providing this service, the surveillance-testing program is suspended as of tomorrow. That program will resume when we return to campus for the spring semester.
Students in our residence halls are highly encouraged to use the flexibility of full virtual delivery and the availability of a free COVID-19 test to ensure that they are healthy before they travel home. Residential students are highly encouraged to return home as soon as you are able. If you are confident in your health, you should travel home immediately. If you have any question about your health, please take advantage of the free COVID-19 test and leave as soon as you get your negative result. We will be communicating both positive and negative results from the free asymptomatic testing within forty-eight hours of the test.
To forestall a flurry of inquiries on the topics, we will not move to credit/no credit grading or issue room and board refunds for students who depart ahead of the originally scheduled date of November 20. Please do not let the latter deter you from departing as soon as you are confident you are COVID-19 free.
The imperative for all of us to practice our #DrakeTogether COVID-19 protocols has never been more urgent. Unlike in September when our COVID-19 cases increased due to specific spreader events, the isolation and quarantine cases detailed above are almost entirely due to general community spread. This means that all of us must redouble our efforts to wear our masks and practice social distancing and good hygiene at all times. There can be no exceptions to this if we are going to stay healthy and protect our community.
Please watch for additional messaging concerning the free asymptomatic testing and, for residential students, moving out of the residence halls. Again, the surveillance-testing program is suspended and any student who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must still be tested at the Student Health Center. Do not attempt to secure one of the free asymptomatic tests if you are experiencing virus symptoms.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
We are more than halfway through the fall semester, which means you are only weeks from becoming a Drake graduate, and I cannot think of a class more deserving of their diplomas than the Class of 2020.
Since last spring, you have faced a tremendous amount of adversity with strength, resilience, and character. As much as I wish that we could celebrate your achievements by me shaking your hand, presenting you your diploma, and watching you walk across the Knapp Center stage, it continues to be the case that a large, in-person ceremony poses too much risk to you, your family, our faculty and staff, and the greater Des Moines community. Therefore, the University will hold a virtual commencement in December for both undergraduate and graduate students. We are working with student leaders on plans and will communicate more details in the coming weeks. While this is not the commencement any of us hoped for, please know we are doing all we can to make this occasion as meaningful as possible.
As you probably know, our May 2020 graduating class also celebrated their commencement virtually. We plan to build off and enhance the platform that was used for that celebration. In addition, we will invite all of our 2020 graduates—May, August, and December—to participate in the University’s next traditional, in-person commencement ceremony, which we remain hopeful can occur in May 2021.
While your final semester has brought many challenges, your graduation is a time for optimism and celebration. As you prepare to begin this next chapter of your life, I am confident that you will go forth with the skills and knowledge necessary to overcome any obstacle. Let these final weeks of your semester be marked with newfound hope for a bright and successful future.
As announced earlier this week, spring semester will begin on Monday, Feb. 1. We are making two significant adjustments to better protect the health and safety of the Drake campus community:
These changes, discussed and approved by President’s Council yesterday, will allow two weeks of structured quarantine for students. This extra time for quarantine will help reduce the risk of transmission, given that 14 days is the evidence-based incubation period for COVID-19.
Students who want to take all of their Spring 2021 semester courses virtually must complete this form: Request for Remote Course Delivery form by Friday, January 22. Students who were attending classes virtually this fall and want to continue to do so must submit the form again. If approved, all coursework must be completed remotely.
Fall residential students who wish to complete all of their Spring 2021 coursework remotely and wish to live off campus, can request a housing commuter release application by emailing email@example.com. Once approved for commuter release, their housing deposit will be refunded to their student account. Students can use the $250 housing deposit to cover the $250 breakage fee, if applicable.
Thanks for your flexibility and understanding as we navigate this pandemic.
The following message from Faculty Senate President Shelley Fairbairn and me communicates changes to January Term (J-term) and the Spring 2021 academic calendar. These changes—while difficult—were determined to be the safest way for us to proceed with the academic year.
All on-campus J-Term classes will be conducted virtually. This may be disappointing news as J-Term is often an exciting time of exploration both on- and off-campus. However, our faculty and staff are determined to embrace this change as an opportunity to expand the J-Term experience. Students participating in travel seminars have already been notified that their program has been cancelled or will be shifting to either May 2021 or J-Term 2022.
For the first-time in Drake history, J-Term courses will be open to first-year students. This is an exciting change as it essentially means making J-Term opportunities and experiences accessible to all students. As a result, several faculty members are offering new courses, and several existing J-Term courses have added additional capacity to allow first year students to enroll. The course schedule will be updated to reflect these new offerings in the coming weeks and designate which courses are available to first-year students.
First-year students will be eligible to register for J-Term in November during the same time they register for Spring classes. Registration for all other students (other than first-year students) is already open. Students, please watch your inbox for more details on the registration process.
No on-campus housing is available during the three-week J–Term. However, for those international students or other students with specific challenges, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Semester 2021
The Spring 2021 semester will begin on Monday, Feb. 1, and the first week of classes will be virtual. This is how we began the Fall semester. Students living in the residence halls will move in as planned Jan. 23–24. By delaying the semester one week and holding the first week of classes online, 14 days will pass, the accepted incubation period for COVID-19. This extra time will help to minimize the risk of transmission.
Faculty Senate voted to move Spring Break from March to Jan. 25–29, immediately following J-Term. This change is designed to help minimize the campus community from leaving the Des Moines area to travel to potentially high-risk COVID regions, then return to campus. In addition, by moving Spring Break to January, students, faculty, and staff will receive a break between J-Term and the start of Spring classes.
The President’s Committee on Commencement has begun the process of evaluating the options for December Commencement. No decision has been made about whether December commencement will be held virtually or in-person. Please know we will communicate plans as soon as a decision is made so students and families can plan accordingly.
As always, protecting the health and safety of our campus, while ensuring an exceptional learning experience, endures as our top priority. We sincerely thank you for your continued understanding, resilience, and commitment to remaining #DrakeTogether.
Sue and Shelley
Subject: Student Participation in Drake's COVID-19 Plan
As has been shared in previous COVID-19 messages, our strategy for managing the coronavirus within the student body rests on three practices. First, identifying positive COVID-19 cases. Second, isolating positive or presumed positive COVID-19 students to prevent the spread of the virus. Third, tracing all primary contacts from a positive or presumed positive COVID-19 case to identify those students who need to quarantine in order to reduce the possible spread of the virus. Each of these steps is critical to protecting the health and safety of our campus and each step requires the full participation of our student body in order to be effective.
We are identifying positive COVID-19 student cases through three on-campus testing regimes. First, consistent with NCAA directives, we are testing student athletes who are engaged in organized team activities. Second, all students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 can be tested at the Student Health Center. Third, we are carrying out random sample testing on a recurring two-week cycle for all students who come to campus for any purpose. All of this testing is free of charge and only requires a student to provide a saliva sample, a far less intrusive process than the widely reported nasal swabs. Of course, any student is free to secure a COVID-19 test off campus as noted in our August 28 COVID-19 Update. If a student tests positive in an off-campus test, the Drake Together Compact requires that student to notify the Dean of Students by email at DOS@drake.edu.
Student participation is the key to our COVID-19 identification effort. While our student athletes are required to provide tests as a condition of their team activities, symptomatic and random sample testing requires each individual to secure their COVID-19 test from the University. Please do not delay getting a free COVID-19 test at the Student Health Center if you experience symptoms consistent with the virus (see poster below). Securing a test as soon as you experience symptoms will make a tremendous difference in our ability to contain the coronavirus. Additionally, we need better student participation in our random testing program. We came up short in our first two-week cycle and as of this morning we still need eighty students selected for the second two-week cycle to sign up for their test slot. I cannot state this too strongly – it is imperative that you comply with the direction to secure your COVID-19 test within your assigned two-week window if you are selected for random sample testing. The efficacy of this program depends on your full participation.
As soon as a positive or presumed positive COVID-19 case is confirmed, our contact tracing team connects with the student to offer support and to make sure they follow the isolation protocol. On-campus residential students can isolate in a University facility or off campus, while off-campus students will isolate in their own residence or another location of their choosing. The number of students in isolation at any given time is the number of students who are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive. It is critical that students placed in isolation remain there until the recovery criteria are satisfied.
Based upon their interview of a positive COVID-19 student, our contact tracing team connects with students who might have been exposed to the infected student. This is done by phone (515-271-2353) and email. Students who have experienced a “primary exposure” are placed into quarantine in their current residence or a location of their choosing. Again, the purpose behind quarantine is to limit the movement of someone who has been exposed to the virus, but is not currently identified as a positive case. Our goal is to break COVID-19 chains before they have a chance to grow to the point of significantly affecting the health and safety of the Drake community. Just like participating in the testing program and complying with the isolation protocol, students must strictly follow quarantine directives. Additionally, it is imperative that COVID-19 positive individuals be forthcoming in sharing all contacts in their confidential interview with the contact tracing team.
The efforts described above produce three sets of data that we are monitoring regarding health and safety on campus. First, the number of students in isolation tells us the detected presence of COVID-19 on campus. Again, all positive or presumptive positive cases are placed into isolation and tracked. Second, the number of students in quarantine provides an indicator of what we can expect within the coming weeks. It is likely that some quarantine cases will turn into positive COVID-19 cases. Third, the results of our continuing random sample testing program provide insight into the undetected presence of COVID-19 on campus. This is the data we are tracking to inform our decisions and this is the data that we will share with the community in our continuing COVID-19 updates.
I close with the same admonition that has been at the end of our last two COVID-19 Updates – Stay Diligent. While we cannot expect to be free of the coronavirus, we can manage through this in a way that allows us to protect health and safety while still enjoying a modified version of campus life. It is critical that everyone keeps wearing masks, social distancing, and practicing good hygiene. This is true whether you live on or off campus. Indeed, as Provost Mattison noted in her August 31 message, research has shown that off-campus students have a higher replication rate when it comes to spreading the disease than on-campus students. All of us must constantly adhere to our COVID-19 protocols no matter where we find ourselves.
To our campus community,
The Des Moines Register published a front-page story today with the headline "Petition pushes Drake for virus data: School is not revealing real-time test numbers." Several days before the article was published, the reporter received evidence that we already shared important and actionable statistics with the entire campus (included again below), but published the article anyway, which included other misinformation. In my opinion, the reporter took the easy way out and opted for a story, rather than searching for the truth. I will continue to read her work, but with a much more critical perspective, and honestly, perhaps that's a good thing.
As we publicly shared in the Campus COVID update on Monday, we are tracking and reporting two numbers that will drive our actions – we are at less than 10% of our capacity to support symptomatic students on-campus in isolation, and our ongoing surveillance testing showing zero asymptomatic cases in the most recent two week testing period. The data are immediate (within two days for testing results), not a month old or based on incomplete data. In addition, we know that a positive test is a lagging indicator of illness by a week or more, so those campuses that report the total number of tests since campus opened are not providing information that can guide action in the community. This again highlights the importance of real-time surveillance information.
Here are some hypothetical examples to work through. If we were to hit 50% of isolation capacity, or found 20% of asymptomatic cases through surveillance testing, that would forecast challenging weeks to come, and we would adapt accordingly in terms of, for example, virtual delivery of content and COVID-19 protocols in our residence halls. As with the reporting of any data, those decisions would require knowing much more context.
Nearly every weekday morning from March 15 to today, the Emergency Operations Committee meets, to review the number of cases, to talk about remediation, to discuss situations from the perspectives of the faculty, human resources, administrative staff, residence hall staff, facilities workers, campus leaders, and so many more, to execute on our COVID-19 plan and to forecast new needs and challenges to come. No one is sitting around waiting to see what happens.
Our efforts to date are as a result of, as much as any other single factor, our contact tracing team. They are tracing contacts, sometimes within 5 minutes of a case receiving a positive test result. Contact tracing and surveillance testing are what the evidence tells us are critical to preventing outbreaks. We are not turning a blind eye, but rather an entire team is working tirelessly on every case and every contact, to protect those we are here to serve.
My response may sound frustrated, because I am frustrated. As an epidemiologist and an educator, I have taken time to reply to every legitimate question from students, faculty, staff, and parents, and will continue to do so. But I’m going to stop responding when the person asking questions seemingly already has their mind made up about the answer, about whether I’m telling the truth, with the story already written. These types of questions are a distraction from the meaningful work we all are doing. I’m a scientist and I believe in science. I really have zero time for that laziness.
I’ll close with this: Education is not a luxury, nor a product. Students are not customers. Professors are not tools. The university is not a factory. We have incredibly difficult and meaningful work in front of us, and every one of us is looking to two guiding principles – ensuring the safety and health of our community, and delivering on the Drake mission promise. Please let's not put up with those who would have us take the easy way out – we are better than that.
Please take good care,
Thank you all for your generosity and grace as we made our way through the first week of virtual classes. And a worldwide Zoom outage on the first day of class – we’ll add it to the 2020 list. I’m writing today to share my gratitude for your hard work, and to provide you with a small part of the scientific evidence and processes for some of the decisions we have made, as well as some to come.
You’ve all seen the COVID update email this past Friday describing the random sample testing we will use in our surveillance process. You may be surprised to know that some of the best peer-reviewed research on disease surveillance comes from the large animal veterinary epidemiology literature (1, 2). Entering characteristics into a validated model (2) such as population size, rate of disease transmission, specificity and sensitivity of the screening method, and desired confidence in the power and accuracy of results, we established the bi-weekly random sample size required to determine the onset of any outbreaks.
We are not testing faculty and staff based on evidence showing the rate of transmission (R0) for various campus populations. You may have read that the goal of mitigating disease spread is to arrive at an R0 at or below 1.0. Evidence shows that on average, students living on campus have an R0 = 1.0, students living off campus have an R0 = 2.0, and faculty and staff have an R0 = 0.5 (3).
The population from which we are drawing the sample for testing includes any student who has the opportunity to be on campus during the semester – all undergraduate students (including those who have chosen virtual course delivery exclusively), and graduate and professional students who come to campus (e.g., Law, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Athletic Training, Education, etc.). Those selected students who have chosen virtual delivery and are not local are not required to come to campus for testing. By utilizing a random sampling method (i.e., each student has the chance of being selected more than once), we are better able to control for extraneous variables, producing results that are generalizable to the entire student population. By looking at trend data, we can determine the presence of an outbreak or that we are approaching our capacity to respond. The model establishes a sample size of testing 215 students in a two-week period. These students will provide saliva samples for COVID testing at the Student Health Center. We will also consider regionally reported hospital data indicating utilization and capacity, as that is a better indication of COVID spread within the community than information provided by the state.
I am heartened to hear that so many Drake students who live off campus, including a large proportion of students in fraternities and sororities, are already taking advantage of free COVID testing at certain Hy Vee food stores and Walgreens, and through Test Iowa. I recognize and appreciate how seriously and responsibly most of our students are behaving.
We must hold each other accountable, because we are talking about risk to lives, families, and jobs. We have continued to reinforce accountability measures for those who neglect to uphold the University’s expectations and ultimately place others at risk. For those students who make a legitimate mistake, we are showing the grace we expect from everyone and are using the opportunity to educate.
We will monitor the trends in our surveillance testing results, as well as our capacity to isolate students who have tested positive and to serve quarantined students identified through our contact tracing program. So far, the number of students testing positive and in quarantine has been well below capacity.
We are not publicizing test results because a reported positive test is a lagging indicator of number of cases, even if a person has symptoms. The time from infection to symptoms (the detectable pre-clinical phase) to testing to receiving results is likely a week or more. If we calculate a prevalence rate of 0.5, that may have been true a week ago. If trends in our surveillance test data and our experience of isolation and quarantine move in the wrong direction, we will let the campus community know immediately and inform you of next steps.
The most important point is that knowing the rate of cases a month ago, a week ago, or today should have no impact on our behavior or preventive actions. We should always behave as if the people on- or off-campus with whom we come in contact are COVID-positive, because someone likely is. Wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand sanitizing work (4).
I hope this information helps you feel better about our response to the pandemic. I am confident we are making the right decisions and will act responsibly and in the best interest of our community.
Instead of using this update to share poetry, I’m providing a link to the Library of Congress website of the Decameron Project. Ten musicians were commissioned to create original works of music for the pandemic, thematically based on a novel written in the 14th century by Giovanni Boccaccio during the raging bubonic plague pandemic. https://www.loc.gov/concerts/boccaccio-project/
Very best wishes to you for the new academic year,
Student Message from President Martin
Subject: Welcome to the Fall 2020 Semester
Welcome to the fall 2020 semester at Drake University. It is good to have you back – whether in person or virtually – as we start a new academic year.
We are embarking on a semester unlike any other in our history. As we have been sharing throughout the summer and with ever-greater intensity as we have approached this day, we have in place a wide-array of COVID-19 protocols and practices that are essential to our ability to deliver our educational program to each of you. I remind you again to be diligent in protecting yourself and others by complying with all of these directives. Our collective welfare is the responsibility of every person at Drake.
Our faculty and staff have worked throughout the summer to be ready to welcome you to campus and to your classes. This has required major modifications to just about everything we do. When it comes to delivering our courses, it has meant that our faculty have prepared themselves to serve every one of our students no matter their circumstance. Your professors will be delivering content in the classroom with everyone wearing masks and social distancing, and they will be delivering content virtually to students near and far. Additionally, if circumstances demand that we modify this plan in ways big or small, our faculty and staff are ready to meet the challenge. I am very thankful for their dedication to you and our educational mission, and I am sure you feel the same.
While COVID-19 prevents us from enjoying some of the things that make life at Drake so special, it is not going to stop us from meeting the essential promise that we have made to each of you. We are still going to provide you with an outstanding education that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. As has always been the case at Drake, this is not a passive experience. It requires you to fully engage and take advantage of what is on offer. So, whether you are in a classroom or working with your peers on Blackboard or Zoom, participate and contribute. Make the most of the situation.
We go forward fully appreciating that we are in the midst of a “once in a hundred years” event that requires us to set some things aside for the time being and to take on new responsibilities. We are going to wear our masks, practice social distancing, and wash our hands, and we are going to be patient and kind towards each other along the way. I wish you all a healthy and productive semester.
Student Update from President Martin
Subject: The Drake Together Compact
In a little over a week we will welcome our new first year class for a Move-In Day unlike any other in the history of Drake University. Instead of each vehicle being greeted by a horde of faculty, staff, and students ready to move our newest Bulldogs into their residence halls, there will be just a few volunteers offering check-in directions. Due to the need to social distance in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Move-In Day tradition has to give way to prioritizing the health and safety of our community. This will be the first of many changes you will experience as we get underway for the fall 2020 semester.
We have shared messages with you throughout the summer previewing how we will live and learn together this fall. These messages have covered mask wearing, life in the residence halls, social distancing, and so much more. I highly recommend you take the time necessary to familiarize yourself with all of the details that will govern life on campus. It is critically important that you know what is required of you as a member of the Drake community and that you be fully committed to meeting your responsibilities. Our ability to be on-campus in any form depends on all of us being our best selves in caring for our own health and the health of our friends and colleagues. If anyone is unwilling or unable to comply with the University’s health and safety directives, they must not come to campus. Instead, they should register here to take their courses remotely for the fall semester. This election must be made by no later than August 14.
As a declaration of just how important it is that each of you fully comply with the University’s COVID-19 directives, we have developed the Drake Together Compact. Every undergraduate student is required to review and affirm this Compact as a condition of being a student at Drake University this coming academic year. Beginning move-in week, students will be prompted to review and electronically accept the terms of the Drake Together Compact when they sign into MyDUSIS. Failure to do so will prevent students from accessing their class schedule, student account, and other features in MyDUSIS, including registering for spring courses. Every student must complete the process by no later than August 28.
From the beginning of the onset of the coronavirus last spring we have been guided in our response by medical and public health experts. This has continued throughout the summer and has been particularly intense in the last few weeks as we approach the start of the fall semester. These experts are affirming of the steps that we are taking to deliver our academic program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they also all express the same reservation – it is imperative that each member of our community comply with the directives in order for all of us to be safe. There can be no exceptions to this. All must comply at all times.
For those who are young and healthy the threat of the coronavirus might not seem that significant. However, we cannot predict with certainty the impact of the virus on any specific person and all of us can endanger others as a carrier of the virus even if we experience no or only mild symptoms. As a potential host of the virus, any student can endanger our faculty and staff, the greater Des Moines community, or the health of a fellow student whose underlying vulnerabilities are unknown to others.
All of the procedures and directives we have put in place to combat COVID-19 apply to all of our students no matter where they reside. We have seen too many examples across the country of students choosing not to follow reasonable safety measures at off-campus events and gatherings. If that happens here, we will not allow the participating students back on campus until we are certain they present no threat of spreading the virus. This behavior could also trigger action under our Code of Student Conduct.
Confronting COVID-19 presents the opportunity for all of us to demonstrate what it truly means to be part of a community that cares about others. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to do the right things to combat the spread of the coronavirus – wear a mask, practice social distancing, regularly wash our hands, and quickly and honestly report symptoms. If we – and I mean all of us – do these things without fail we greatly increase the likelihood that we can stay together to live and learn at Drake University this fall.
Pandemic-proofing the Fall 2020 semester
Yesterday was the first day of virtual orientation for new students, which reminds me how quickly the summer will pass. I sincerely look forward to seeing you again on campus this fall. On that note, I am writing to update you on the University’s plans for Fall 2020.
First, I must acknowledge the trauma that our entire country is experiencing. I am so deeply troubled by the death of George Floyd and others—recent incidents of injustice across the country. Now, more than ever, Drake students, faculty, staff, and alumni are called to be leaders of change in their communities, united in action by a desire to stand up for what’s right. And in the midst of so much pain, I witness strength, resilience, passion, and action from students, faculty, and staff, and I’m confident that brighter days are coming.
Almost inconceivably, we are experiencing these calls to action while navigating a global pandemic. As I noted calendar changes in my previous message, I also wanted to share how faculty and staff are creatively working to ensure the Drake experience remains extraordinary. We have two overarching priorities as we “pandemic-proof” courses and co-curricular activities—protect the health and well-being of every member of our Drake community, and deliver on the Drake mission promise to provide an outstanding educational experience—with faculty and staff who care about you as an individual and who will prepare you to thrive throughout your life and career. We continue to think big and bold as we finalize plans for in-person classes, science labs, the fine and performing arts, clinical experiences, and practicums. Whatever the challenge, we will be ready. Here are just a few of the many strategies we are implementing:
These are only a fraction of examples showing how our world-class faculty and dedicated staff will serve students and provide an outstanding educational experience. And as your provost, I am committed to equity and inclusion throughout every aspect of the Drake experience, whether we are together on campus or connecting virtually throughout the world. Your education here will open opportunities for you to change the world.
Please take good care, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Fall semester calendar change
Summer is just getting underway—I very much miss seeing you on campus. I hope you and your family are safe.
As we continue “pandemic-proofing” fall semester, I want to share several significant changes we are making to the academic calendar. Our intent is to prioritize health and safety, do all we can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and ensure an exceptional learning experience.
These changes include shifting the two days of fall break to Thanksgiving week. In other words, there will no longer be a fall break (i.e., classes will be held Oct. 14 and 15), but there will be an entire week off at Thanksgiving. Additionally, with only one week of classes following Thanksgiving, the final week of classes and all finals will be delivered remotely. I would encourage those of you who leave campus for Thanksgiving week not to return to campus until the start of spring semester. We will not require students to leave the residence halls, and some might choose to stay through the end of Finals Week.
This revised calendar will prevent you from having to leave and return to campus twice in the semester, during fall break and during Thanksgiving break, and allow you to be home when the next peak of COVID-19 is theoretically predicted to begin. This decision will require some shifting in your plans for fall. Thank you for being understanding and adaptable.
Very best wishes,
Campus Update from President Martin
As we come to the end of the second week of delivering our classes remotely, I want to thank everyone for how well this institution keeps functioning. Our faculty members continue to deliver courses through a combination of skill, innovation, and determination. Our staff colleagues continue to keep the university operational through a combination of adaptation, self-discipline, and teamwork. Everyone has stayed the course driven by a commitment to deliver on our mission promise.
A powerful example of rallying to the cause is the work so many of you have been doing to recruit our next first-year class. Today, we are up thirty-four deposits versus this time in last year’s recruiting cycle. Although this gap has shrunk due to the effects of COVID-19, we are still well into positive territory. Additionally, our two Virtual Admitted Student Days (the second of which is going on right now) have engaged over 450 potential new students for Drake from twenty-five states and seven countries. This level of participation far exceeds what we are normally able to generate through our on-campus Admitted Student Days. We will be holding additional VASDs, as well as putting on virtual visit days for high school sophomores and juniors. We must continue to find new ways to spread the word about Drake University to as many prospective students as we can.
As we confront the unprecedented disruption of the coronavirus, the challenge is to continue to do our best no matter the obstacles placed in front of us. That is what I see you doing now and that is what I am confident each of you will do going forward.
Credit/no credit coursework option for students
In light of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Drake University will be allowing more flexibility to students who are worried about maintaining their GPAs during this extraordinarily taxing semester. All undergraduate and graduate students, excluding the programs/courses listed below, will have the option to convert any or all of their courses to credit/no-credit grading. The deadline for selecting this option is Friday, April 10, at 4:30 pm.
All courses for which students receive credit (CR) grades will be counted toward degree requirements; this includes major, minor, concentration, honors, and area of inquiry courses. In addition, there are no limitations to the number credits an undergraduate student can convert to Credit/No-Credit grading for the Spring 2020 semester. Graduate students must check with their advisor to determine if their program has limits. A studentreceives credit (CR) for a course in which they earn the equivalent of the grade “C-“ or better. Credit/no credit grades are not included in a student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA).
The following programs or required coursework are excluded from Credit/No-Credit grading option:
Students must submit the Spring 2020 Course Change Form (here) by 4:30 pm on Friday, April 10.
Students do not need the approval of the instructor to make this change. The Office of the Registrar will notify the student’s college/school dean’s office and instructor of the change.
This information, along with credit/no credit FAQ’s will be included on the COVID-19 link of the Drake website
www.drake.edu/coronavirus/ under the “Academics” section.
I want to begin with words of gratitude. I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. I am thankful for the partnership and leadership of my President’s Council colleagues. I am thankful for the talent and dedication of our faculty and staff. I am thankful to be part of a community that includes our wonderful students, parents, and alumni.
The spread of COVID-19 has continued to accelerate, as has the intensity of the responses of both state and local governments. Starting this past Saturday, numerous Midwestern states and cities have issued some variation of a “stay-at-home” order. The duration of these orders go out as far as April 24, but all are subject to extension if necessary.
The continuing impact of the coronavirus, along with the directives of local, state, and national authorities, make it clear that we cannot return to in-person classes any time soon. Accordingly, we will continue the remote delivery of our classes through the end of the spring 2020 semester. I know that while we all appreciate the necessity for this, it is nevertheless a sad and unwelcome reality. The second half of the spring semester is a particularly special time at Drake and it is painful to lose this. However, this action is in the best interest of your health and safety, and in the best interest of our broader community.
The necessity to move to remote delivery for the remainder of the semester also requires that we cancel our live commencement ceremonies scheduled for the middle of May. These events gather large groups of people from many different places into confined spaces – something that will not be safe for some time into the future. Additionally, given the scope and scale of these events, we would have to start entering into contracts and ramping up our planning efforts if we were going to hold our commencement ceremonies in May.
Understanding that earning a higher education degree is a seminal moment that deserves public recognition, we are working on alternative plans to celebrate our May 2020 graduates. This will include an invitation to each graduate to attend our December 2020 live commencement and an opportunity to participate in a virtual commencement in May.
With the extension of remote delivery for the remainder of the spring semester, we will begin processing prorated refunds of room and board fees for our students who are no longer in their residence halls or utilizing meal plans. This will be done no later than Monday, April 13. Thank you for your patience as we work through this process.
We will share information about the move out plan for our residence halls in the near future. For now, please do not come to campus to move out of your room. The same reasons we have to extend remote delivery and cancel live commencement strongly counsel against having students and families come to campus at this time.
Additional information regarding all of the above
items can be found at drake.edu/coronavirus
A couple of years ago we went through a process to redefine the core values for Drake University. One of the four we committed to is that we are all in this together. The genesis of this value is that it was something that Paul Morrison said every day during his over eighty years of working and volunteering at Drake. Paul did not claim to be the original author of the phrase, but he did rely on it to remind himself and others that no person stands alone. No one is the lone creator of her or his life blessings or burdens. We are an interdependent species, always called to be in fellowship with each other.
As we struggle with the present, we look forward to the future. Drawing upon our 139-year history, our commitment to education and service, and the power of our community, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than we were when it started.
Dear students and colleagues,
I hope this message finds you healthy and continuing to take appropriate precautions to guard your health and the well-being of others. As we have heard many times over, it is only through our collective commitment that we will manage our way through this public health crisis. We all have our role to play in combating COVID-19.
I have received messages over the last few days asking to extend the remote delivery of classes through the spring semester. At the same time, I have received requests not to take that action and not to cancel our live commencement celebrations in May if we do extend remote delivery. I appreciate the sentiments and motivations behind all this outreach. We are confronting something that is unprecedented for all of us.
Provost Mattison’s March 11 message to campus stated that we planned to deliver our courses remotely, at least until April 6. While many colleges and universities have extended remote delivery for the rest of their spring semester, I am not prepared to make that decision today. The consequences of doing so on the totality of the student experience and our May commencement exercises cautions against rushing to that action. It is certainly highly unlikely that we will be able to return to on-campus classes on April 6; however, we can take a little more time to determine if a return to on-campus classes later in April is possible. I promise to communicate with you again on this topic no later than Wednesday, March 25. Any decision will be based solely on your safety and the safety of the community around us.
Because some of you have already raised the issue, I will take a few moments to contrast the postponement of the Drake Relays with the action of moving to remote delivery for the remainder of the semester. First, the widespread suspension of high school and college/university athletics and the ramp-up time needed for the Drake Relays left us with no choice but to make the decision to postpone that event earlier this week. Second, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s large gathering guidance explicitly applies to events like the Drake Relays, but does not apply to the normal educational operations of a university. Third, we still intend to hold the 2020 Drake Relays as contrasted to the finality of a decision to move to remote delivery for the remainder of the spring semester.
On Monday, we will experience the new reality of delivering all our courses remotely. There will undoubtedly be some glitches as we launch, but I am confident in the commitment and ability of our faculty, supported by staff, to meet the challenges and in the capacity of our students to achieve their goals in this new paradigm. Everyone needs to bring their best selves and best effort to the forefront. I know you will.
We continue to monitor the progress of the virus and the advice and directives from local, state, and national authorities. Stay safe and healthy. Again, I will communicate with you on the topic of remote delivery no later than Wednesday, March 25.
Drake University has postponed the 2020 Drake Relays presented by Xtream powered by Mediacom, along with related special events and programs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 111th edition of the event was scheduled for April 22–25 at Drake Stadium.
Recent directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health, and City of Des Moines regarding large gatherings make it clear that postponing the Drake Relays is necessary. We will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and will work with local, state, and national officials to reschedule the Drake Relays at a date that ensures the health and wellbeing of participants and fans.
Our goal is to hold the 2020 Drake Relays early this summer. Student Affairs staff will work with the SAB Relays Committee to organize some student activities around the rescheduled Relays, recognizing there may be minimal attendance. Assuming public health officials deem it safe for spectators to attend, students would be permitted to enter the rescheduled Drake Relays for free by showing their Drake ID. Keep in mind, per usual Drake policy, residence halls will be closed over the summer, excluding orientation, camps and conferences, and summer school.
The postponement of the 2020 Drake Relays also impacts all events associated with the Relays. The Spring SAB Concert is cancelled. We are working on a plan to hold the SAB Relays Carnival, SAB Blast OFF Breakfast, and Street Painting, to include the Paint it Black event, during Spirit Week in the fall. You can find more information on the Drake Road Races and the Grand Blue Mile here and on the Beautiful Bulldog Contest here.
The postponement of the Drake Relays also impacts all alumni programming scheduled to take place in conjunction with the Relays. Here are the details:
Certainly, the postponement of the 2020 Drake Relays and related events will be disappointing for many. However, in this extraordinary time, postponing Relays is the right decision in order to help protect the health and safety of our campus and extended community. Thank you for your support and understanding.
As we enter spring break and the uncertainty of what the weeks ahead will bring, I encourage each of you to take care of yourselves and those around you. It is only through a unified and lived commitment to the welfare of our community that we will be able to control the spread of COVID-19.
Although what we are facing is unprecedented in our lifetimes, we know what we can do to mitigate the risk to others and ourselves. Practice all of the hygiene tips that we have been hearing about every day (washing our hands, not touching our faces, etc.). Avoid large gatherings of people. Maintain social distancing of at least three feet, particularly if you encounter someone who is symptomatic. Limit travel to only that which is absolutely necessary. At the first sign that you might be infected, put yourself into isolation. Our collective safety depends on the diligence of each and every person.
We will continue to communicate frequently with you as the situation evolves and as we confront this virus together. Our primary objectives are to keep our community safe and to continue to deliver our educational program for your benefit. Neither is without significant challenge, but we are called to deal with what is put in front of us to the best of our ability and that is what we are doing. I know that each of you will do the same.
Be safe and ever diligent in protecting the health and welfare of others. Ground yourselves in patience and kindness as we travel this journey together. We will get through this.
Effective immediately, any travel outside of the state of Iowa on behalf of the University is suspended, unless deemed critical and approved by the senior administrator in your area. This policy applies to all University-sponsored travel, including international, academic, athletic, conferences and workshops, and research-related travel, and will continue through at least April 5, 2020. Please work through your direct supervisor, who will escalate the request to senior administration.
If you have booked travel, please cancel reservations and seek refunds for payments already made. Short’s Travel Management can assist with cancelling airline or other reservations initially made through Short’s. Many airlines are allowing cancellations without penalty or are providing vouchers for future travel; the Short’s agents can assist with these details.
We strongly encourage you to share any personal travel plans through April 5 with Human Resources via http://drake.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2fURdl1hjCS2pff.
On March 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Advisory Warning Level 3 for Europe's Schengen countries. On March 12, spring study abroad students studying in Europe's Schengen countries were notified that they must return to the U.S. by March 20. President Trump also announced that all travel from mainland Europe to the U.S. for foreign nationals would be suspended for 30 days starting at midnight (EST) on Friday, March 13. Please note this travel ban does not apply to U.S. citizens; however, U.S. citizens will likely encounter enhanced screening procedures at U.S. airports upon return from Europe. We are following guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding protocols for individuals returning from a CDC Warning Level 2 or 3 country, which includes voluntary self-isolation for 14 days. As of March 12, all countries in the world are considered to be CDC Warning Level 2, and would require this self-isolation protocol.
Given the rapidly changing travel restrictions and protocols within and outside the U.S., we ask that you strongly reconsider personal travel outside of Iowa. It is important to keep in mind possible restrictions that may be put in place while you are away. Certain regions within the U.S., as well as domestic air travel, present a significant risk of infection, and in the interest of protecting our community and lowering the impact on our local health care system we have already requested of students and may request of employees self-isolation for 14 days following return.
We are constantly evaluating new information in this unprecedented environment with a commitment to the safety and security of our faculty, staff, and students. Thank you for your continued attention, diligence, and cooperation.
Campus Update from President Martin
Drake University is a mission-driven institution. Our promise to provide an exceptional learning environment that prepares our students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments, and responsible global citizenship guides everything we do. Since the middle of March, the onset of the coronavirus has necessitated changes in how we strive to keep this promise, but that in no way has lessened our commitment to do so. Indeed, the Drake Commitment, the translation of our mission promise into action, is more relevant and imperative than it has ever been. No matter the circumstances, we will always deliver:
Personal Mentorship. Drake surrounds you with dedicated faculty and staff who support and guide you while you are at Drake and serve as mentors for life.
An Opportunity to Serve. Drake provides dynamic service experiences – on campus, across Des Moines, and around the world – that expose you to diverse perspectives and allow you to make a difference in the lives of others.
The Power of Community. Drake connects you with diverse learning experiences, a dynamic city, and a vast network of alumni eager to help you succeed.
A Lifetime of Value. Drake delivers hands-on academic and co-curricular experiences that prepare you to make an impact in your community and navigate an increasingly complex world.
As we anticipate the start of the fall 2020 semester, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of not knowing what the future holds regarding the continuing impact of COVID-19 on our lives. Therefore, we are preparing for an array of possible scenarios guided by the Drake Commitment, the imperative to maintain the health and wellbeing of our community, and the conviction that together we can overcome any challenge.
It is our intent to offer both in-person instruction and a residential experience for our students this fall. To do this will require innovative practices touching most of campus life – classroom usage, occupancy levels in residence halls, dining schedules, engagement with student organizations, athletic practices and competitions, cleaning protocols and schedules, and many other activities. Every aspect of how we live, learn, and work is being evaluated against our goal of returning to campus in August. We are determined to do everything in our power to enable our students to come back and be a part of one of the most positive and impactful campus communities in the country.
While our planning for returning to campus continues, I want to share a few specific practices that will be in place when we come back to Drake at the start of the semester. Informed by our experience this spring, the conversations we have had with many of you over the last two months, and guidance from local, state, national authorities, we will:
We will share more in the weeks ahead regarding the innovations that will greet you when you arrive on campus in August, but as you can see, we are already well underway in our preparation. You can count on Drake.
We are building safeguards into our plans to minimize disruption in the event we have to return to full remote delivery of our courses at any time in the fall. For the last month, Provost Sue Mattison has been leading an effort to “pandemic proof” the Drake educational experience. This planning is progressing assuredly – we will be ready, if necessary, to teach our entire curriculum with high quality, real-time, online pedagogy. This experience would include meaningful experiential learning opportunities and a wide array of co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings. Additionally, whether participating in-person or remotely, students will engage directly with their faculty and classmates in collaborative, student-centered learning that is responsive to their individual needs. Finally, all students, whether on or off campus, will have access to the full range of Drake support services, including tutoring, library resources, advising, career and professional preparation, and student accessibility services. This work continues guided by our promise to deliver an exceptional learning environment no matter the challenge. We will have more to share on the “pandemic proof” Drake experience in the weeks to come.
Two months have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our daily routines and way of life. Through it all, the Drake community has shown tremendous adaptability, resilience, and generosity of spirit under incredibly disruptive circumstances. This crisis presents an opportunity for us to use our intellect and ingenuity to reimagine how we live, learn, and work. That is what our faculty and staff have done and will continue to do, as this great University upholds our mission promise.
Congratulations on reaching the end of the spring semester and best of luck with your finals. Your perseverance over the course of this challenging time has been inspiring.
In order to help minimize spread of the coronavirus and protect our campus community, Drake University will deliver all courses remotely from March 23—April 3, 2020. Students are strongly encouraged to remain at home for the two weeks following spring break, although residence halls and dining services will remain open. Importantly, there are no confirmed cases on our campus or in Des Moines at this time.
If students plan to be on campus between March 23 and April 5, they must return by March 23 and notify Residence Life using this form: http://drake.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3CrEJJxVc3bw08B. Please note that guests will not be allowed in the dorms during this time. Students who do not complete the form by Monday, March 16, will have access to residence halls disabled during this period.
(Note: This survey is only intended for students who live on campus.)
Students who have experiential learning obligations such as clinical experiences, student teaching, internships, etc., are expected to report to those sites unless they are specifically told not to report. Some organizations such as hospitals and pharmacies are likely to move to a scenario where students aren’t allowed, but until that time please remain in communication with the sites.
Faculty and staff: campus operations are proceeding as normal during this period.
Faculty are expected to deliver all courses remotely as provided in the plan submitted to deans. IT will be providing three Blackboard training sessions, as well as an email with advice. The Chronicle of Higher Education had an excellent article on emergency, short-term remote delivery of courses: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Going-Online-in-a-Hurry-What/248207.
Craig Owens, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, and Christina Trombley, executive director of Drake Online, will be available from 9 am – 4 pm on Monday and Tuesday next week (as well as the remainder of this week), if faculty would like to discuss issues surrounding remote delivery of their courses.
Communication from faculty to students is key. For advising in the next few weeks, please make plans to communicate with students through Blackboard, email, phone, etc.
Staff operations will proceed normally during this period, unless otherwise notified. Our action will be informed by guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Polk County Health Department.
Be mindful about travel the next few weeks. If you’re visiting a high-risk area, you may be subject to quarantine upon return. University-sponsored spring break domestic and international travel has been reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and programs that have been suspended have been notified. For students that are currently studying abroad, please continue to follow the plans and protocols of your on-site provider. Drake continues to communicate with providers and monitor international developments.
Gatherings pose unique risks. For that reason, most on-campus events will be canceled starting Saturday, March 14, through Sunday, April 5. Organizers of these events will be contacted, or they may contact the event office directly. We will continue to monitor and assess the risk for any events beyond April 5, including Drake Relays and commencement. For now, those events are expected to continue as planned.
Be assured that we intend to return to normal campus operations as soon as possible. We will continue to consult with public health officials in order to make the most prudent decisions. Please know that we will share updates as soon as we can. In the meantime, rely upon our COVID-19 website, , for answers to frequently asked questions, tips on how to keep yourself healthy, and details on our response to the outbreak.
Finally, we are in extraordinary circumstances. I ask that each of you show a generosity of spirit when things don’t go as expected. Thank you all, take good care.
Yesterday evening, Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Health announced that Iowa has its first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, found in three Johnson County (eastern Iowa) residents who recently returned from a cruise in Egypt. I want to assure the Drake community that the University has been actively engaged in preparing for this eventuality. As always, the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.
We remain in ongoing communication with local and state health officials and have been monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with careful attention to the impact COVID-19 could have on our campus. The special website we have developed to provide information about COVID-19, , includes answers to frequently asked questions, tips on how to keep yourself healthy, and updates on Drake’s response to the coronavirus situation.
Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, University leaders have been meeting regularly to assess conditions and develop response plans for a variety of possible scenarios. Students - in the event of a disruption to campus operations, all faculty members have provided their deans and me with a description of how they will use technology for distance learning to allow Drake students to continue their studies even if campus has shut down.
University-sponsored spring break domestic and international travel has been reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and programs that have been suspended have been notified. As stated in our written protocols, Drake University will automatically suspend and restrict international travel during the period of time that a US Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory, or a CDC Warning Level 3, is in effect. Due to such travel advisories currently in place surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak we are restricting travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. This includes all University-sponsored travel, including study abroad, academic, and research-related travel.
The University is currently assessing domestic travel on a case-by-case situation, and suspending travel to areas where the number of cases elicit a formal state of emergency declaration. Please keep in mind that with the fluidity of the situation, any University-sponsored travel may be canceled with short notice. We will keep campus updated with the latest information and decisions.
Regarding the upcoming Spring Break, we strongly recommend all members of our community consult the CDC travel information page prior to any travel. Individuals planning any personal travel do so at their own risk. Additionally, while no current domestic travel restrictions or isolation requirements are in place for personal trips, this may change with little to no notice. Based on the quickly evolving travel guidance, your return to the United States or to campus may be interrupted by federal or state restrictions.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will respond accordingly, including providing you with updates.
As the situation around the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 evolves, the University has published an informational webpage to serve as a reference point on questions related to the outbreak. The page, , will be updated regularly as new information comes to light. It is also important to know that the Iowa Department of Public Health will contain the most current general information about the situation.
Many thanks to everyone involved in developing this outstanding website resource.
Concerns are increasing surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. I want to assure you that campus leaders have been working diligently to prepare for a possible outbreak. The safety and welfare of the entire Drake community is our highest priority.
We are grateful to have experienced team members and processes in place to follow in preparation for catastrophic disruptions to campus, such as epidemics and pandemics, and acts of nature or violence. Regarding the novel COVID-19 virus, the University adheres to protocols provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Polk County Health Department, and the United States Department of State. We are monitoring the latest developments continuously; refining our response plans near daily; and communicating with local, state, and federal authorities. We have and will take action immediately when appropriate.
As stated in our written protocols, Drake University will automatically suspend and restrict travel during the period of time that a US Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory, or a CDC Warning Level 3, is in effect. Due to such travel advisories currently in place surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak we are restricting travel to China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. This includes all University-sponsored travel, including study abroad, academic, and research-related travel.
Drake International continues to work closely with our affiliate study abroad providers and international university partners, and consults the US State Department and CDC in making any decisions regarding Drake students currently studying abroad in other countries. We will communicate and work directly with students and their families if the status of a student's program changes, or if a new travel restriction is put in place. Students who were scheduled to be in China for the semester made alternative plans last month. Drake’s affiliate Italy programs were suspended this past weekend. We are in regular communication with these students and their families.
Before traveling for spring break or other reasons, we encourage you to check the latest travel warnings and alerts on the Department of State and CDC websites. This information can change on a daily basis, so please check regularly and be aware of developments that may affect travel to and from your destination. The University strongly discourages any personal travel to a location with a CDC Level 3 Travel Advisory (currently China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran). Personal travel to these locations could result in an assessment with a health care provider and a required 14-day self-quarantine upon return.
The Student Health Center is following guidance from the Polk County Health Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students’ symptoms that suggest additional testing will be referred to community providers. In the meantime, two of the best things you can do to protect yourself and the rest of the Drake community from illness is to practice good hand sanitation and stay in your residence if you are not feeling well. That standard advice pertains to helping restrict the possible spread of influenza A and B viruses, COVID-19 virus, and many other communicable illnesses.
The CDC urges each of us to:
The situation surrounding COVID-19 will continue to evolve in the coming days, weeks, and likely months. We will share timely updates pertinent to the Drake community, as necessary and appropriate. In the meantime, please continue relying upon the CDC for the most current information and advice.