Read the Weekly COVID-19 Update from October 20, 2020. 

 I am writing in place of Dr. Spicer again this morning because we will be modifying the operating level on Wednesday, but with a bit of a twist.

Dashboard and Trends Report

The latest dashboard numbers are available here, historical numbers here, and the latest trends report from Siouxland District Health is here.

Operating Level Change & Rationale

Based on this data, we have made the decision to move the campus to an Operating Level YELLOW-ORANGE this Wednesday, Oct. 21. All academic elements of the campus have the option to return to YELLOW, while all non-academic elements of the campus will remain in ORANGE. Here’s why:

  • As the end of the semester approaches, we know it is important for you to have the opportunity to attend classes and labs in-person where possible. 
  • Since we have been in orange, quarantine guidelines have changed so that as long as all parties are masked if someone tests positive for COVID-19, individuals who had close contact do not have to quarantine. This lessens the chance that individuals in classrooms and labs might need to quarantine so long as individuals are properly masked. As a reminder, neck gaiters and face shields are NOT considered a face covering that meets this standard by public health.
  • Overall, students, faculty, and staff have done an excellent job of working together to stabilize our numbers. This operating level change reflects the good work of those who have followed guidelines and done their part to take care of one another.
  • The vast majority of isolation and quarantine cases we are seeing continue to be from individuals who choose not to wear masks and/or gather in large groups outside of the academic setting. This past weekend, we had an instance of one person testing positive for COVID-19 who had close contact with numerous individuals who were not wearing masks. As a result, all individuals are now in isolation or quarantine. It is essential that students wear masks and limit close contact with others.
  • Finally, hospitalizations and positive cases in Woodbury County remain high. We don’t want to add further stress to our local health care providers, nor do we want to add to the spread happening in our area. Keeping elements of campus life in orange is one way we can be responsible citizens and help care for our community.

For these reasons, starting this Wednesday, Oct. 21, campus will move to Operating Level YELLOW-ORANGE.

Stay The Course

I want to emphasize this change in restriction does not mean you should stop adhering to our COVID-19 guidelines. If anything, the last few weeks have been evidence that following guidelines slows the spread of COVID-19. We have a little more than a month until the semester ends, and none of us want to see those numbers rise as they did in mid-September.


  • Go to class and study.  We want you to end this semester successfully.
  • Wear your masks as often as you can.
  • Wash your hands as often as you can.
  • Refrain from large gatherings and physically distance when possible.
  • Rest and eat well.
  • Make good decisions.

Spring Semester

Speaking of ending the semester successfully, I also want to give you a brief update on Spring Semester. We have made the decision to leave the Spring Semester 2021 academic calendar as is, and proceed with our start date, breaks, and end date as scheduled. Our hope is this small adjustment will help everyone enjoy a little more balance next semester. You can see the planned Spring Semester 2021 schedule here.

Stay strong these remaining weeks of the semester, Morningside. Please keep making me #MsideProud by making good choices, wearing your masks, studying hard, and ending the semester strong. You can do it.

Be well,
John Reynders