DES MOINES, Iowa — Just days after the Drake Relays a spike in COVID-19 cases is pushing Drake University to end the final week of the semester online.

According to a letter from Drake University President Marty Martin sent to students, staff and faculty members there are now 255 confirmed student cases of COVID-19 as of May 4th. According to University data, on April 29th the University reported zero student cases.

Professors have the option of moving classes online for the remainder of this week. Next week, the last week of the semester all classes will be online with the exception of the law school and John Dee Bright College.

To help stop the spread students on campus that are in isolation are being encouraged to move off campus to a hotel that the university has contracted with.

All remaining extracurricular activities will either be postponed, moved online, or canceled as decided by event organizers. Further information will be forthcoming from the organizers of the events impacted by these changes. The letter does not specifically mention Drake University athletics events.

Graduation is still being planned as normal and further information regarding masking will be updated as necessary.

Full statement from President Marty Martin:

Good evening,

The University is continuing to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases among the student body. We currently have 255 confirmed student cases, an increase from the 107 reported yesterday. Of these 255 cases, 75 are residential students to whom we are providing housing. You will recall that Drake follows the CDC recommendation that positive COVID-19 cases isolate for at least five full days and then wear a mask for an additional five days when around others.

Classes and final exams. Following consultation with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, we will move to full remote delivery of the academic program for the last week of the semester (May 9 to 13). The exceptions to this are the Law School and John Dee Bright College. Law students will continue to take their final exams in person following the COVID-19 protocols that have been established in that school. John Dee Bright College students will continue to meet on their unique academic schedule following the COVID-19 protocols that have been established in that college.

As shared in yesterday’s message, faculty remain empowered to choose whether the remainder of this week’s classes are in-person or online, and whether they require masks or distancing in the classroom for the rest of this week.

Residence life. With the move to on-line finals, all resident undergraduates who are not in isolation are encouraged to move out of the residence halls as soon as you can. This will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus, thus freeing up resources to support those residential students who need to isolate due to infection. Residence hall students will soon receive a message from the Office of Residence Life regarding express check-out.

Isolation. There are over 500 student COVID-19 tests yet to be analyzed and we expect the demand to grow for isolating on-campus residents. To meet this extraordinary demand, we are contracting with off-campus hotels. These hotels have internet connectivity and students will be fully supported by Drake staff, including making provisions for dining needs. 

Extracurricular and co-curricular events. All remaining such events will either be postponed, moved online, or canceled as decided by event organizers. Further information will be forthcoming from the organizers of the events impacted by these changes.

Commencement. We still intend to have in-person commencement celebrations. We will closely monitor the presence of COVID-19 on campus and in Polk County as we get closer to these events. We will share further information regarding masking at commencement closer to the events.

Remote work. Managers are encouraged to allow staff to work remotely for the next two weeks where practicable. Individual departments and managers will determine and communicate changes regarding remote work based on departmental needs.

The situation continues to evolve rapidly and colleagues on the University’s Emergency Operations Committee are working hard to ensure those impacted have the support needed to complete the academic year. Thank you for your commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. 

Best,

Marty