Virus prompts shift to online classes at Iowa colleges

Friday, March 13, 2020

Iowa’s three public universities announced Wednesday they would shift to only online classes beginning March 23 in an effort to keep students and faculty safe from the new coronavirus.

The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa said they would only offer online classes after students return from next week’s spring break. The online courses would continue for at least two weeks, with officials reassessing the situation during the week of March 30.

All of the universities will allow students to return to on-campus residence halls and note that dining services will remain open.

Some private colleges are making similar moves.

The president of Grinnell College has told students they must leave campus by March 23. Classes will continue to meet through Friday, the last day before spring break. After March 30 the college will shift to online classes for the rest of the semester, President Raynard Kington said.

Drake University in Des Moines also will switch to online classes from March 23 to April 3 and “strongly encouraged” students to remain at home during those weeks. For those who need to be on campus, Drake will keep residence halls and dining services open.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Most people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Fourteen cases have been detected in Iowa as of Wednesday evening.