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


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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