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 17, 2020
NO PUBLIC MASS AT DWC
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.
NO NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
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:
- All students are to remain on campus. No student cars are available.
- All SVDs are to remain on campus.
- Exceptions are made for medical appointments, for mail pick-up, and for purchase of essential supplies. Requests for supplies or for permission to leave campus can be directed to the Dean of Students or to the Rector.
- All faculty and staff are likewise requested to eliminate non-essential travel. It they do travel outside of the Dubuque area, I ask that they notify their supervisor in case the information is needed by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
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:
- Education about Coronavirus – Don't Panic
- Staying Healthy and Slowing Down the Virus
- 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.
SLOWING DOWN THE VIRUS – OUR MISSION
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.
HYGIENE AND DISINFECTING
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We will limit the number of people gathered in the chapel and the dining room at one time.
- This week, we will have two masses each morning at 8AM, one in the chapel and the other in the crypt. This way there will be enough room to spread out and keep a distance from one another.
- Beginning Thursday, there will be no public masses in line with the decision of the Archdiocese.
- In the dining room, faculty and staff and members of the dishwashing crew begin lunch at 11:30. Others begin at 11:55. This will limit the number of people in the dining room at the same time.
- The tables will have four chairs each. This will help us to spread out throughout the dining room.
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:
- In this current flu-season (October to May), there have already been an estimated 40,000 flu-related deaths in the US alone (CDC).
- Every year more than 35,000 die of auto accidents in the US alone.
- The CDC estimates that 480,000 people die of cigarette related illnesses (CDC).
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:
- Wash your hands. Use soap and water and wash thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, a hand sanitizer is good. The Purell bottles in the dining room and elsewhere contain 70% alcohol. That exceeds the CDC standard of 60%.
- Avoid touching your face. In part, the COVID virus is spread from one person to another when touching an infected surface and then touching one's face. The virus enters through the nose, mouth and perhaps through the eyes.
- Cover your cough. Be sure to cover a cough or sneeze with your arm (not your hand) as the virus is especially spread through droplets from a cough or sneeze landing on another person.
- Keep Social Distance. Avoid close contact with other people to make it harder for the virus to move from one to another. Experts recommend avoiding large gatherings of people, especially more than 250. Try to keep a distance from other people, 6ft or more if possible. Don't shake hands. Be especially considerate of older people and greet them from a distance.
- Help CLEAN! Use a disinfectant to clean frequently touched objects and surfaces. Wipe the doorknobs to your room, your key board, your phone. Spend a few minutes each day wiping down surfaces in the bathrooms and in public rooms. Wipe the tables in the dining room after every meal.
If You Are Sick...
The principal symptoms of COVID19 infection are: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. What should you do?
- Stay home.
- Separate yourself from others as best as possible. At DWC, we will do our best to provide separate housing for students who get sick.
- Call ahead before going to urgent care or to visit you doctor.
- Wear a facemask.
- Remain in "isolation" until your symptoms have passed. Usually this will require an additional two or three days after your fever has subsided.
- If you are sick, please stay at home.
- Contact Wellmark. If you have insurance through Divine Word College, you may want to contact Wellmark for information on health plan benefit updates. As a reminder, Wellmark offers virtual health care visits through the Doctor on Demand app and through the BeWell 24/7 service. Please click on the hyperlink for more information. wellmark.com/about coronavirus
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.
- Respect our elders. Our elders are more vulnerable to COVID19. Please respect them and keep a distance. Avoid visits to the small dining room.
- Help clean and disinfect. Each dorm room will be provided with disinfectant wipes as soon as available. In the meantime, use spray bottles of disinfectant and paper towels.
- Fitness room. Be sure to disinfect the equipment in the fitness room before and after use.
- Janitor closets contain disinfectant spray, paper towels and other disinfectant wipes. Let someone know if supplies have run out.
- Kitchen. Please limit traffic to the kitchen. Student workers need to be in the kitchen, but other visitors, student and staff should limit their visits.
- Apostolic activities have been cancelled until further notice.
- Communion in the hand. For the sake of greater safety for the community, please receive communion in the hand, rather than on the tongue.
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