Return to Campus Health Initiative

Dear Central Family,

Have a heart for others.

That’s the lead of this note to you.

It’s also the Central College way and the culture of who we are as a community.

The global pandemic we find ourselves in the midst of has mandated a need to make changes for a yet undetermined amount of time to enable our students to participate in learning at Central. These changes are practical and based on science – and, at their core, all about having a heart for others.

Over the past two months, we have been busy preparing for the arrival of our students on campus in August. The college has engaged in significant research and effort with assistance from experts on two different task forces. Our goal has been to help Central resume our mission of educating tomorrow’s leaders with maximum safety. The work of creating protocols and expectations that reduce the known risks of the coronavirus has been done in a framework of having a heart for — and a responsibility to — others.

We have recently launched a new health initiative website that outlines our expectations for the Central family as we approach the beginning of the fall semester. The coronavirus will remain a fact of life for some time. The nature of how we understand the virus is continuously evolving. As a result, some approaches on the site may change over time as we learn more about the virus and as therapeutic and vaccine solutions are realized.

As you might anticipate, out of respect for the health of all, we expect members of the Central community to:

  • Wash hands frequently and avoid touching face and eyes.
  • Carry a personal supply of hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask and/or face shield when working indoors or near others outdoors.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance from each other whenever possible.
  • Avoid congregating in hallways and common spaces.
  • Stay home or in the residence hall when sick.

From this list, the most debated is wearing a mask. As a campus society, we won’t mandate their use outright — although under certain circumstances they can be required or alternatives be mandated. For example, face shields will be required in language courses because it’s important for faculty and students to see each other’s mouths for optimal learning.

As you make plans to return or come to campus for the first time, it is essential for you to have a heart for others. Please carry a mask and/or a face shield with you and wear it when you are indoors and in close proximity to others because the research is finding that the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the air we share. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone wear a mask as a way to beat the pandemic and keep the world open. Right now, these steps are the best we have until a vaccine is found.

We all have a role, and a responsibility, in ensuring the health of our college community. I thank you in advance for familiarizing yourself with the guidance shared as part of our ongoing health initiative.

Yours in health,

Mark Putnam

About the Author

Mark Putnam

I'm the lucky individual who carries the title, 21st president of Central College in Pella, Iowa. Passionate about higher education and the issues facing it and the world today, I hope to invoke an engaging conversation with all who are ready to dig in, make a difference and build for the future. Share your thoughts. I'm listening and interested.