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Thanksgiving Statement from President John Ottosson

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude for the work that has been done to continue providing the safest possible learning environment for our students, faculty and staff. It is important that you as parents know the steps being taken here at William Penn University as we address COVID-19. We have faced the challenges with resilience and I believe we will
come through this stronger than ever.

Through the generosity of donors, we are equipped with four Abbott ID Now rapid testing machines on campus to test for COVID-19. Gateway testing was done before the Fall Semester began and we have continued to offer testing for suspected cases and surveillance testing. In addition, gateway testing will occur as students return to campus for Spring 2021 classes.

There are many individuals on campus and in our local community who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help everything run as smoothly as possible. A few highlights of our Fall Semester:

  • Faculty members have risen to the occasion and served students both in face-to-face settings (with proper
    modifications) and via classroom technology for those students in quarantine, isolation and those approved for remote
    learning for the semester.
  • Athletics put in place guidelines for safe practice and game environments, allowing our fall student athletes to
    participate in their sports. All of our fall teams saw competition and were responsible for very few postponements or
    cancellations.
  • Residence Life staff have served all isolated and quarantined students on campus. This has required quickly addressing
    student needs including, but not limited to, additional counseling service resources, custom food services, mail service
    and trash service.
  • The Advancement Office has provided goodie bags to students in isolation and quarantine.
  • Faculty and staff have also worked together to allow flexibility for courses after Thanksgiving, enabling students to
    make location decisions that are best for them and their families.
  • Our local public health partners have been extremely complementary of our mitigation and testing efforts, as well as of
    our cooperative and polite students.

It is important to note that we have an exceptional COVID Taskforce made up of a collection of WP employees. They have been tremendously efficient in their quick response to positive cases and contact tracing. The rapid testing machines allow us to know test results within 15 minutes. Such quick results enable us to begin the contact tracing immediately in a positive case and quarantine
necessary individuals. This efficiency limits exposure and the disruption quarantine can bring to the life of a student, staff or faculty member. It has been a remarkable coordinated effort that will continue into Spring 2021.

Although 2020 has been an extremely challenging year, there is much to be grateful for. William Penn University will return for Spring 2021 with face to face instruction. We will continue to collaborate with Mahaska County Public Health, Mahaska Health Partnership, Mahaska County Emergency Management and the Iowa Department of Public Health to ensure our proactive approach continues. We believe there is great value in the William Penn experience, we will work diligently to provide that opportunity for our students. Please encourage your student to check their WP email often throughout the rest of the year for pertinent information related to Spring 2021 semester.