Morningside College and Dordt University announced Wednesday they will shift all courses to online instruction for the remainder of the spring semester, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
As part of this decision, Morningside will close its residential halls at noon April 8, though students are encouraged to move out at their earliest convenience. Students are asked not to return to campus if they or anyone they've been in contact with experience coronavirus symptoms.
Morningside president John Reynders acknowledged some students, due to special circumstances, will not be able to leave campus. The college's Residence Life office will be working to accommodate those individuals.
"Please know that theses decisions were not easily reached, but are in accordance with the recommendations we have received from local, state, national and global leaders," Reynders said in a letter posted Wednesday. "I value each ad every member of this community. It is important to me that Morningside carries out its mission of civic responsibility by doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. As such, these actions are necessary to protect your health and well-being."
Students will receive a yet-to-determined refund or credit for vacating residential halls early. Those details will be worked out in the next few weeks.
The private Sioux City college said its May term classes have been canceled. Any junior or senior who hasn't completed a May term before graduating in May will have that requirement waived.
Dordt had initially planned to resume on-campus instruction on April 13, but decided to suspend in-person classes through the end of the semester.
President Erik Hoekstra said Dordt leaders determined that more than one-third of the students at the Sioux Center, Iowa, university would not be able to return to campus, and those who could would need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
Dordt will host commencement on May 8, but Hoekstra said it is anticipated the event will be a virtual experience.
Morningside and Dordt join a long list of colleges and universities, including Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, that have ended in-person classes this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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