Click for complete Epidemic Response Plan -- April 2020


The Emergency Committee and the Board of Administration meet on a daily basis to adapt to the changing recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Divine Word, in coordination with state and local public health experts, continues to closely monitor reports and recommendations from national and regional health departments regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as it relates to the health and well-being of our campus community.


March 31, 2020

The Business Office will be working reduced hours during the month of April. On Mondays and Thursdays, from 9:00 to 10:30AM the staff will be on campus to attend to the following:

Otherwise, the Business Office staff members will be working from home to complete their usual responsibilities including payroll, finance reports, paying bills and responding to business calls. If you have a question or are in need of help, please contact them by email.

Package deliveries will be left at the front entrance or moved into the gallery. Delivery services have been given a separate code for the front–outside door. The normal code will also continue to work on the front door. Please check for packages if you are expecting a delivery.

The copy machine will be overseen by Fr. Thang. Please contact him if you need paper or have other problems.

We are still illness free here at DWC. However, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Dubuque County Public Health Department expect a surge in COVID19 illness in the coming two weeks. As a result, the Stay on Campus Policy is extended throughout the month of April.

Our efforts at remaining on campus, disinfecting surfaces, handwashing, and maintaining a social distance have kept flu and colds down to zero over the past week and a half. The same practices are also our best way to slow down the COVID19 virus.


March 30, 2020

The Recognition and Award Luncheon scheduled for April 30 is cancelled. An announcement will be made of the various awards and honors. It may also be possible to present and celebrate the awards during the Opening Prayer Service in August.

The Retirement Party at The Barn on April 24 is cancelled. The party was scheduled to celebrate the retirement of Ms. Connie Simon, who will be retiring after 22 years of service. The party would also recognize others leaving at the end of this academic year. Perhaps we will be able to hold a barbecue in June for Connie and her guests. We can also find a time to acknowledge Connie’s retirement during a normal lunch so the students can say their farewell.

A Commencement ceremony will be held on May 15 as scheduled, however, it will be a private gathering with no guests attending. Plans are being made to video-stream the events of the day. Archbishop Michael Jackels has been invited to give a commencement address, but we will ask him if he prefers to videotape his remarks. Off-campus faculty will not be expected at the ceremony. In a discussion with the External Affairs Council, Public Relations will try to get a greeting for each graduate from a family member or friend that can be streamed at some point during the day. Fr. John Szukalski will work closely with the Graduation Committee to make appropriate plans for the celebration.



March 25, 2020

Following the guidance of the State of Iowa, the DWC pool has been closed until further notice.

Individual Rooms: With the recent departure of several students who will continue their formation and studies from their homes, it is now possible to place all students in individual rooms. The Dean of Students, in consultation with the Rector and the Director of the Pre-novitiate Program, will be reassigning rooms in the coming days. This will allow for greater social distancing.

Currently, no one is on the sick list. However, we continue to plan for the possibility that COVID19 will make an unwelcome appearance on campus.
If you feel sick:

If a COVID19 infection is confirmed:


March 24, 2020



Paid Time Off (PTO) & Vacation
: All employees should use accrued PTO and vacation time to cover absences due to illness. Please stay home if you are sick! Do not return to work if you are exhibiting symptoms from colds and flu. Call your doctor if you suspect you have COVID19.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Some employees may be able to adjust their regular work schedules based on their own unique circumstances. A flextime schedule can take many forms, including, variations in arrival or departure time, or other changes to the employee's typical work schedule.
Remote Work Arrangements: Employees may seek the option of working remotely on a temporary basis. Employees who work remotely must comply with all College policies and procedures, including adequately safeguarding and securing any restricted or confidential information with which they work. These arrangements will require access to a private network.
The above options are not mutually exclusive. An employee and/or their supervisor may elect to make use of Flexible Work & Remote work, if doing so meets the unique needs of the employee and College.
Approval: Flexible Work and/or Remote Arrangements must be approved by staff employee’s direct supervisor and the College President. Please contact your direct supervisor for details. Faculty members should make appropriate arrangements with the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
DWC is requesting that supervisors be flexible in establishing alternate work arrangements. However, the nature of some positional and departmental responsibilities may not allow for flextime scheduling, and therefore direct supervisors in consultation with the College President, must approve such arrangements.
Furthermore, the College reserves the right to implement changes to the work arrangement as may be required for operational continuity. Employees should speak directly with their supervisors to determine whether any of the above options is feasible and to establish the details of such arrangements.



The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) was passed by Congress and has been signed by the President. We expect further details to be available in the coming weeks.

New Federal Benefits for COVID-19: The Act requires most health plans to cover costs related to COVID-19 testing. The Act requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for certain employees who are affected by the COVID-19 virus.
New FMLA protections: Private employers of any size must allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for certain qualifying reasons beyond what is currently permitted under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including the need to stay home to care for a child due to a “public health emergency” that would include the closure of schools or daycare facilities.



Br. Mike is managing the "sick list" at DWC. Today there are three students recovering from colds/flu. That is fewer than usual for us during the cold/flu season. Apparently, the efforts at hand washing, disinfecting and keeping social distance are having an effect.
No students, staff, faculty or SVDs have complained of symptoms suggesting a COVID19 infection. Br. Mike screens people who feel ill according to the instructions of our local health care providers. It is really good to have Br. Mike here since his is a Licensed Practical Nurse.


In order to keep the kitchen workers and the kitchen safe, please refrain from visiting in the kitchen. Only kitchen workers (including community service/work study students) or administrators should enter the kitchen.

Starting today, some "grab-and-go" containers are available in the dining room. If you would like to take your meal to another part of the building, you are welcome to use the containers. Please dispose of the containers appropriately. If possible, take them to the outdoor bin.


Starting today, all classes are conducted through distance learning. POPULI, Zoom, email messages, teleconferences, allow for students to continue their studies in the midst of this unusual situation. Special thanks are due to the faculty who have worked to shift their means of instruction in mid-semester.


March 19, 2020




For Students and SVDs, please stay on campus until April 1. All non-essential travel should be avoided. Please do not walk through town, nor visit businesses there.

We are taking these unusual steps, along with many other people around the country, to help slow down the virus and to help protect LIFE for those most vulnerable to the COVID19 illness.


Though public Masses have been discontinued until further notice, private Masses are celebrated each day at DWC. One Mass is celebrated in the main chapel; another is celebrated in the Crypt. Please keep a safe social distance from one another at Liturgy.



March 18, 2020

Tonight is Formation night at Divine Word College. Formation groups meet most every Wednesday, and they take up topics relating to personal growth, spirituality, mission, etc. Tonight the conversations will be about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One major concern is learning to manage stress and fear. Currently in the United States, there are about 5000 confirmed cases of COVID19 illness. Doubtless, there are many more undocumented cases because of the lack of adequate testing. However, there are about 350 million cases of FEAR of the pandemic in the USA. Our politicians, and our media have been talking about it non-stop for the past couple of weeks. Some of our students, and some of our faculty and staff seem to be very afraid, even panicked.

The attached document from the National Center for PTSD outlines some of the ways to help manage stress and fear in the face of the pandemic. Five responses are especially recommended.

  1. Increase your sense of safety by practicing good hygiene.
  2. Stay connected to other people, whether through telephone, messaging or face to face conversation.
  3. Cultivate calmness by recognizing your fear, reduce newswatching, exercise, meditate.
  4. Improve your sense of control by setting realistic goals for this new reality.
  5. Remain hopeful by keeping a longer view, celebrating successes and cultivating your personal spirituality.


In the coming weeks and months, more classes will be conducted through distance learning, and more staff will be working from home. We have contacted our internet provider to increase our internet speed to 1Gig/sec. We will also be looking into placing cameras in many of the classrooms so that virtual classes are more productive.

We expect that the current situation will extend throughout this semester and into the summer. These investments will help prepare for the long road ahead.


March 17, 2020


On March 16, the Archdiocese of Dubuque canceled all Public Masses and other conferences and archdiocesan events until further notice.
Following the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, there is no Public Mass until further notice at DWC. Our College community continues to pray for you as we navigate these uncertain times.

The decision of the Archdiocese means that all of our supply commitments at parishes and retirement facilities are canceled until further notice.


The White House has recommended that for the coming 15 days, all non-essential travel be avoided. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol have also endorsed efforts to slow down COVID19 during these two weeks.

In consultation with Fr. Thang Hoang SVD, the rector of the Epworth SVD community, I give the following directive to eliminate discretionary, non-essential travel. Until April 1:

March 16, 2020

DWC's plan of response is being discussed by the various departments. The three most important parts of the DWC plan are:

  1. Education about Coronavirus – Don't Panic
  2. Staying Healthy and Slowing Down the Virus
  3. What To Do if You Are Sick

Information about these points will be shared through the usual means of communication: email, the LOG, bulletin boards, and announcements at Lunch.


Many of us will likely be infected by the virus; though for younger, healthy people, the resulting sickness is relatively mild. For some, the illness may require hospital care. Our efforts to slow down the virus will keep people from getting severely sick all at the same time. That way, the hospitals will not be overwhelmed with too many severely sick people.

We should take this as part of our mission at DWC. We are doing what we can to protect LIFE. It is not just about our own personal safety, it is about protecting the life of those who are most vulnerable: elders, people with chronic illness, and those with weakened immune systems. We certainly need to pray for those suffering from COVID19. We can also DO SOMETHING.


  1. Slow down the virus by washing your hands with soap and water several times every day. Use the hand sanitizer before and after meals. It seems that the major way spreading the virus is by touching an infected surface and then touching one's face. So – Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Maybe you can pray a Hail Mary or Our Father at the same time for a blessing on all people with the disease.
  2. Please help to wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant. Wipe your phone, your keyboard, and other places in your room. Help to wipe down doorknobs, light switches, keypads and other public areas throughout the school. More information will be available on Tuesday.


Slow down the virus by staying about six feet away from others.

  1. Don't shake hands when meeting someone, avoid touching one another. Though it may feel strange and even inhospitable, it does help to protect the most vulnerable.
  2. We will limit the number of people gathered in the chapel and the dining room at one time.

      3. Please avoid visiting the kitchen and the small dining room.



March 13, 2020

Stay Calm, Don't Panic

CoVid 19 (Corona Virus Disease) is spreading widely around the world, and in the USA. Cases of COVID infections have already been found in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. With more testing, still more cases will be identified. It is doubtful that a vaccination will be available for a year or more.

Very likely, we will experience cases of COVID19 at Divine Word College, this Spring, or over the Summer, or next Fall... Most cases of COVID19 are mild. Older people and people with other ongoing health problems are the ones most vulnerable to severe cases.

How serious is this pandemic?

As of March 13, 2020, in the whole world, there have been 5,088 deaths related to COVID; in the US there have been 36 deaths. Those numbers will grow. In comparison:

We don't panic over these other chronic situations, though they are massively more lethal than COVID. COVID 19 is a serious virus outbreak, but it is not a cause for panic.

For up-to-date information please visit:


Stay Healthy, Help Slow Down the Virus

Some disease experts at Johns Hopkins University predict that up to 40% of the US population will become infected with COVID19. Quarantines and closures are being used to slow down the virus so that health care facilities are not overwhelmed.

How can you help slow down the virus? The CDC recommends:

If You Are Sick...

The principal symptoms of COVID19 infection are: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. What should you do?



Larger universities and schools have canceled classes and some have made plans to provide all instruction online. We are a much smaller operation, even when we are all present we do not reach 250 persons. That is under the threshold of what are considered "large gatherings."

Most of our students have nowhere to go other than at DWC. Cancelling classes would not change their living situation nor help to keep them safe. They would still be gathered here to study (whether online or face-to-face), to eat, to pray and to carry on with their lives. For now, we are continuing operations as best we can. If classes must be suspended at some time in the future, a decision will be made at that time.

At present, most classes will be held face-to-face.

Faculty members have been requested to make provision for online learning in the case of quarantined students or instructors. Through Populi and other online resources, we will try our best to provide some online instruction where necessary.

Additional information

Other ideas are most welcome, and ongoing planning is occurring. If you have an idea or a question, please contact:

Mr. Steve Winger – Vice President for Operations
Fr. John Szukalski SVD – Vice President for Academic Affairs
Fr. Bang Tran SVD – Vice President for Formation and Student Life
Fr. Tom Ascheman SVD - President

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