Toward Together 
 Graceland University's Plan to Return to Campus 

Graceland University is excited to welcome students back to its campuses. During the past several months, our administration, faculty and staff have been focused on four key values as we work to redefine ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The health and safety of Graceland’s students, faculty and staff,
  • The quality of our students’ educational experiences, whether they are remote or face-to-face,
  • Providing rich student engagement and experiences, and
  • Graceland’s sustainability.

With these core values in mind, Graceland’s board of trustees approved the recommendation from the administration that Graceland will return to in-person instruction in the fall.

Several policies and procedures have been adopted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic that will help provide the safest environment for Graceland students and the Graceland community at large. The reopening plan and its policies and procedures (viewable in the tabs below) will be known as the “Toward Together” plan.

Graceland is looking forward to welcoming students back to campus. The values of learning, wholeness and community drive the university to move forward in creating the safest environment we can for all Gracelanders. These policies and procedures will be in constant review for improvement and adaptation as more information becomes available. Graceland will always seek to follow the CDC’s guidance and will put the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff first in all considerations.

Changes to the academic calendar

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First day of classes: Monday, Aug. 17
Last day of finals: Tuesday, Nov. 24

This calendar begins the semester one week earlier than scheduled and ends on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The calendar also removes fall break and will make Labor Day an instruction day. With the earlier start and the removal of fall break and Labor Day, the instruction time for the semester is exactly the same as it would have been in previous semesters. Graceland is thrilled to be able to offer its students the same high-quality educational experience they have come to expect.

For our online and Independence campus programs, the academic calendar remains the same.

Health and safety policies

In preparing health and safety policies, Graceland considered all guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local health department guidelines. With those considerations, the following policies will be followed.

Face coverings required in public spaces

Cloth masks will be worn at all times in all public spaces, including but not limited to classrooms, dining halls, hallways, social areas, public restrooms, stairwells and elevators. All students, faculty and staff will be required to complete training on the proper use, removal and washing of face coverings. Cloth masks are not surgical but can provide protection to other people in case the wearer is asymptomatically infected. Cloth masks will be provided to all students, faculty and staff upon their return to campus. Students, faculty and staff will be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their own masks.

Social distancing in classrooms

Keeping space from each other is an important part of keeping our community safe. Six feet of space will be maintained in classrooms, labs, restrooms and common areas. There should be no sharing of objects in classrooms for group or partner work. If social distancing in classrooms is not possible, plans are being developed by the faculty-led Creative Design Team. Students should sit in the same seats in classrooms on every occasion and the instructor will create and maintain a seating chart. Cleaning supplies will be available in all classrooms, and Graceland’s Facility Services team will ensure common work areas will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected per CDC recommendations.

Social distancing on campus

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Campus visitors

Graceland will continue to welcome visitors to campus in a way that respects the health and safety of students, employees and the visitors. All visitors will be expected to comply with all of Graceland’s COVID-19 guidelines, as well as to register their presence on campus at the time of their visit.

Training and etiquette

Graceland recognizes that making sweeping changes like this can be overwhelming. Mandatory training will be provided for all students, faculty and staff on all new COVID-19 protocols and policies, including but not limited to proper hand hygiene, handwashing and respiratory etiquette.

Testing and health care access

Graceland will follow all guidelines in regard to testing and screening requirements. The Community Health Center of Southern Iowa in Lamoni is a certified testing location, and the Decatur County Hospital in Leon is the central hub for Decatur County for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. These nearby resources provide students, faculty and staff with excellent and convenient resources should symptoms develop.

Protocols for illness

Should a student, faculty or staff member experience any COVID-19 symptoms, they will be asked to stay home or in their room. They should not attend any classes, clinical/practicums, student teaching, internships, sports activities, or go to work. Once they have quarantined themselves, they should contact the Student Life office or their residence hall director to coordinate with them and the COVID-19 Coordinator on how best to proceed. Areas of campus have been set up for isolating students who are ill or who have been exposed. Students should not return to campus activities until they have been cleared by the COVID-19 Coordinator.

Should an illness occur on campus, contract tracing will be executed by the Decatur County Health Department or the Jackson County Health Department in accordance with local guidelines. Additionally, Graceland has developed an extensive quarantine and isolation protocol for residential students on the Lamoni campus, which will be strictly followed should illness occur.

Residential living and dining policies

Single- and double-occupancy rooms will be available.

As Graceland prepares to welcome students back to campus, the university acknowledges that there will be a variety of needs and desires for housing. Some students will want a roommate for social, academic or health reasons. Others will feel more secure in an individual room. While it is not traditionally Graceland’s policy to offer these options to all students, the executive council is making an exception to the current policy for the 2020-21 academic year, giving students the ability to request an individual room, should they so desire.

Single- and double-occupancy rooms carry different costs. This year, the difference in room rates will be waived for students with greater financial need, based on estimated family income on their filed FAFSA, to ensure equity for all students as they make their choices.

The decision to make this housing policy exception was not made lightly. Research suggests that students with roommates tend to have more opportunity for connections that positively impact students’ emotional and mental health than students without roommates. This mirrors the observations made by Graceland’s residence Life team. House presidents and house council members will be encouraged to pay special attention to and check in with students in single rooms, making every effort to connect them with house and campus activities.

Dining protocols

Graceland has worked closely with its partner Sodexo to ensure that all CDC guidelines are met. Sanitation protocols have been expanded, and improvements have been made to takeout and packaging to help ensure safety and flexibility in dining options.

  • Floor decals and consistent signage will reinforce traffic patterns and social distancing.
  • All food stations will be attended by uniformed staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • All food options will be served in disposable containers if the student chooses to take their food to-go.
  • No personal refillable containers will be allowed.
  • Prepackaged items, including salads, deli sandwiches, desserts, baked goods, condiments and beverages will be spread across stations.
  • Tables will be spaced to accommodate proper social distancing guidelines.
  • Outdoor seating options will be provided.
  • Visible, constant sanitation by uniformed staff will be performed, disinfecting tables after each use.

Athletics: Return to play

Graceland believes a vibrant athletics program is vital to the student life experience and plans to participate in all athletic competitions this fall in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines. The NAIA has provided existing guidelines for competitions that are detailed here.

Additional policies and procedures regarding practices, conditioning, competitions, locker room usage and other considerations are being finalized in accordance with the NAIA, the Heart of America Athletic Conference and the CDC guidance for athletics.

Know the Symptoms of COVID-19

Know the symptoms of COVID-19 - Fever, Cough, Shortness of Breath

Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Others

COVID-19 Care Icons

There are several steps everyone should be taking to remain vigilant in the spread of the virus. That includes:

  1. Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces regularly.
  3. Keep your distance from those who are showing symptoms.
  4. Stay home when you are ill or are experiencing any symptoms.
  5. Cover your cough and sneeze.

On the lighter side

First Thursday at Noon recital - April 2020

2006 NAIA Men's Soccer Championship Game

2018 NAIA Men's Basketball Championship Game

Please keep your eyes on our website, on the daily announcements, and on your Sting email, as we will be sharing new information as it becomes available.