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Mount Mercy University is committed to keeping in communication with the campus community as the rapidly evolving coronavirus COVID-19 situation unfolds.

For more information and updates, visit our Coronavirus webpage.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mount Mercy University is committed to keeping in communication with the campus community as the rapidly evolving coronavirus COVID-19 situation unfolds. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community continue to be our priority as we navigate this global health issue. It's especially important for members of the MMU community to support one another through this ever-evolving time.

How is MMU monitoring the situation?

We're regularly reviewing information from the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health, and Linn County Public Health regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus. We'll continue to follow the latest guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in conjunction with recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Linn County Public Health.

The best way to prevent any illness (including COVID-19) is to practice good hygiene and common measures, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you're sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects (i.e. doorknobs, light switches, countertops, keyboards, cell phones, etc.) and surfaces by using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Improve your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
  • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask:
    • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
    • The use of face masks is crucial for health care workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Recent Campus Updates

Hello everybody and happy Monday to you and yours.  During this time of physical distancing, please make sure to keep socially connected with your friends, family, faculty, coaches, mentors, colleagues, and classmates during this time.  Even though we can’t be near each other, let’s make sure to continue to lift each other up as we know we have better days ahead together.

  • Campus: As of today, we have ~70 students that have been approved to continue to live on campus with several essential personnel supporting the health, safety, and wellness of our students, employees, and campus community.  Thanks to our partners at Aramark, students will still have access to breakfast, lunch, and dinner in addition to those employees still here on campus, please visit the McAuley Dining Center for access to a bagged lunch in appreciation for your ongoing support.
  • Library: Today at 11am, Governor Kim Reynolds issued additional guidance on closures for certain businesses and libraries have now been included in that update.  We are thankful for our Library staff for being open and available the last few weeks. Beginning tomorrow  the Library will be physically closed with online access still continuing.  You may contact the library at: General assistance: library@mtmercy.edu, (Brightspace) brightspace@mtmercy.edu, (Password assistance) brightspace@mtmercy.edu and help@mtmercy.edu.   Students who have been using reserved textbooks in the library will find those books in ACE.  If students need access to computers or WiFi, please know the University Center is open for student access and the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE in McAuley Hall) has additional computer access. The hours for ACE are Sundays 6-9pm (Closed April 12 for Easter); Monday – Thursday 8am – 9pm.
  • Mustang Market: With the closure of our Library, the Campus Ministry staff will be moving the Mustang Market (on-campus food pantry) to the Campus Ministry area (Busse) with available access from 12-4pm Monday-Thursday. If students or employees need access to the Mustang Market outside of those hours, please contact Helen Blevi (HBlevi@mtmercy.edu).
  • Holy Week: Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week.  As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold nation and worldwide, we hope you will take time to join our campus in prayer for all as each of us have been or will be impacted by this situation.  Mission and Ministry has offered Catherine McAuley’s Suscipe as a daily prayer for any that are interested to remind us of our community and Catholic faith.
  • Registration: Last week we had a great start to the registration for courses next year from our undergraduate through graduate programs.  If you have not had a chance to register for courses during this next academic year, please connect with your faculty advisor to set up a time to review your plan and register for classes.
  • Commencement: We received many great ideas via email and had over 60 graduating students on a Zoom call this last week to chat about commencement weekend activities.  The commencement committee is meeting today to discuss all the options and we will communicate the final update by this Friday, April 10, 2020.

In honor of Holy Week, please remember what our foundress reflected on, “All are good and happy.  The blessing of unity still dwells amongst us and oh what a blessing, it should make all else pass into nothing.” 

Remember to continue to both check-in on your family, friends, and colleagues while also making sure you take care of yourself. Our Mount Mercy COVID-19 website is updated daily with information for you and our coMMUnity.

Welcome to Monday y’all, hope the weekend allowed for a chance to recharge and get some fresh air wherever you are planted these days. We are sending this update a bit earlier today to keep the campus informed about our campus coMMUnity.

  • Impacted Student: One MMU non-residential student has tested positive for COVID-19, that student is now self-isolating and is doing well recovering at home. All students and employees who may have been in contact with the student have been notified and have self-isolated. We are following our previously established protocol as we anticipated this possibility (available on our website) and encourage the campus community to continue to engage in physical distancing while staying socially connected.
  • Student Meetings: Students are continuing to connect with each other in class and we ask that if you are a part of any team, club, organization, or group, make sure to find ways to stay connected. Several of us are meeting with the Class of 2023 later today at 3:30pm to check-in and on Wednesday, we will meet with the students set to graduate in May to talk about career service support and commencement. Be on the lookout later today for the Student Services email that will highlight virtual engagement opportunities for the campus coMMUnity.
  • Registration: This week students returning in the fall will have the chance to register for their courses. If you have not yet checked in with your faculty advisor to go over your 2020-21 academic plan, please be sure to do that yet this week so you can register for courses online.
  • Workout/Fitness Spaces: Due to the new guidance from the Federal Government to extend physical distancing through April 30, 2020, we will be extending the closure of Lundy Fitness, Rinderknecht Athletic Center (RAC), and Hennessey Recreation Center until May 1, 2020.
  • Check on each other: Remember to continue to both check-in on your family, friends, and colleagues while also making sure you take care of yourself. Our Mount Mercy COVID-19 website is updated daily with information for you and our coMMUnity.
  • COVID-19 Updates: We will move to a weekly vs. daily update at this point in time (pending any new state or federal action). The Pandemic Response team continues to touch base daily.  Thanks to the diligent work of every student and employee on campus as we continue to meet the needs of the time in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to update our website (www.mtmercy.edu/coronavirus) as we learn more and help to #FlattenTheCurve.

In honor of National Women’s Month, this week’s Catherine McAuley quote seemed most fitting, “Whatever be the station women are destined to fill, their example and advice will always possess influence.” 

Remember to continue to both check-in on your family, friends, and colleagues while also making sure you take care of yourself. Our Mount Mercy COVID-19 website is updated daily with information for you and our coMMUnity.

TGIF all, hope you have had some time to breathe some fresh air today, connect with a friend, and maybe even find a recipe for a tasty fish sandwich on this Lenten Friday. As we celebrate and reflect on today as Catherine did back in the day, let us remember that, “No matter how small the gift, God gives the increase.”

Counseling Support: We wanted to follow up about the support our students and employees in the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program are providing to our coMMUnity. With the focus on social distancing for the foreseeable future, the MFT team will be going virtual/online as well offering telehealth counseling support for our students and the community. 

  • Students: If you would like to talk with someone virtually/by phone, please email counselor@mtmercy.edu to set up an appointment. Students can access these free and confidential resources if they are still living in the state of Iowa and for those outside of Iowa, due to current state regulations, we will work to connect you with local resources as well (www.psychologytoday.com).  
  • Employees can also use MFT program for support. If you would like to talk with someone virtually/by phone, please email counselor@mtmercy.edu to set up an appointment. They can also contact Mount Mercy’s Employee Assistant Program through  Lincoln financial. Our program is called EmployeeConnect and you can contact them at www.GuidanceResources.com or call 888-628-4824.

Remember to continue to both check-in on your family, friends, and colleagues while also making sure you take care of yourself. Our Mount Mercy COVID-19 website is updated daily with information for you and our coMMUnity.

Enjoy your weekend we’ll connect again via email on Monday as March inches closer to April.   

Good day all and happy Thursday to you and yours.  As we continue on this educational journey together, I found a very fitting quote from Catherine whom was way ahead of her time, “Compassion should be our animating principle when undertaking instruction with children and adults, since they are made in God’s image.”

Academic Support: As a follow up to the e-mail students received yesterday, ACE resources continue to be available through this challenging and uncertain time.  The goal is to provide the same, if not better academic assistance, support and guidance our Mount Mercy students have come to expect and utilize.  The Peer Tutors, Writing Center Tutors, and the Peer Academic Coaches are working with students, answering questions, sharing valuable information, and  addressing academic concerns via e-mail, skype, and some in person.  The ACE staff is available to students for academic support and assistance as well. ACE has posted the on-line tutoring schedule, directions on connecting with a tutor, and the attached document highlighting recommendations from the Peer Educators for successful on-line learning. If you have any questions or need some assistance or guidance please do not hesitate to contact us however you are most comfortable. The Ace webpage can be found here or the general ACE e-mail is ACE@mtmercy.edu.

Please continue to refer to our COVID-19 website and update your families on the happenings on the Hill. Be well y’all and take some time today to connect with a classmate you have not talked to in a bit by sending a text of encouragement, FaceTime call, letter, or one of those old fashioned phone calls.

Happy middle of the week Mount Mercy coMMUnity. As courses continue online/virtually and we each are diligent about staying connected with each other, remember these words from Catherine, “All are good and happy.  The blessing of unity still dwells amongst us and oh what a blessing, it should make all else pass into nothing.”

  • Campus Access: As we continue to practice physical distancing in our own personal and campus life, we also needed to adjust the way in which campus is accessed.  We are continuing to keep campus open for current students and employees only through card access.  We have stopped in-person campus tours while thinking differently about how we engage prospective students virtually.  Only essential outside vendors and contractors are allowed on campus at this time.  If you need to connect with an employee on campus, email is the best way as most employees are working from home.  Attached you will find contact information for various areas on campus.

Our Pandemic Response Team appreciates everyone’s continued efforts to support each other as each new day brings both challenges and opportunities.  Students, be sure to share our updates and/or the Mount Mercy COVID-19 website with your families to keep them up to date.

I am looking forward to connecting with our social media video challenges this next week as we continue to serve our students and – students – as you continue to take steps towards your goal of earning a degree from Mount Mercy University.  

The Mercy Way

The Mercy Way: Statement of Equity, Respect, and Inclusion During COVID-19 Crisis

As an institution committed to upholding the Mercy way, let us be reminded: Our name is Mercy. Our spirit is compassion. As a Catholic Mercy institution of higher education, we uphold the inherent dignity and worth of all people. We denounce all acts of hatred and seek to build equity for all.

COVID-19 has affected everyone, across all nations and among all people—it is not discriminating. Please ensure that, as members of the Mount Mercy University community, we are representing our commitment to a just and compassionate world. This is not a “China virus,” and we will not represent any group of people in a demeaning way.

Due to COVID-19, many have chosen to wear masks as a courtesy and precaution, which may protect themselves and others. This is out of respect and should be treated in that way.

We are all in this together! Wherever we are in the world right now, we are all part of the Mount Mercy University community and are expected to reflect global consciousness and behave in the spirit of compassion.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

General questions

All courses for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester will be offered online/virtual. Thank you to our dedicated faculty who have spent the last month thinking about and working to transition their courses online. While they may prefer to teach face-to-face, we feel this is in the best interest of the common good. Making the decision now allows our faculty and students the opportunity to plan for the rest of the semester instead of changing week-by-week.

  • Clinical/Field/Internship Experience: Those students participating in a clinical, finishing field experience, or at an internship (either on or off-campus) are continuing as they are scheduled, although that may change with your particular site. Like other state and accrediting organizations, we will be flexible and proactive with monitoring the situation so you can make progress towards graduation. Please connect with your clinical/field experience/internship advisors if you have questions or you hear differently from the places you are working.

  • Registration: Many students have asked about registration for classes this next year, and while we know that can seem like a long ways away, it’s important that students identify the courses they need in partnership with their faculty to achieve their goal of degree completion.

  • Academic Support: We know that switching to online learning is new to many students. While there can be greater flexibility with online learning, there must be a corresponding increase in dedication to the course. We suggest that students develop a routine for completing coursework like you do now. The routine will help you stay on track. If you need assistance please know that our resources are available to you. Here are email connections for various support services; Library (Library@mtmercy.edu), Academic Center for Excellence (ACE@mtmercy.edu) and the Registrar (Registrar@mtmercy.edu).

  • Student Support: If you are in need of support outside of academics including mental/physical health, career support, student engagement, residence life, diversity, or others, know that members of the Student Service team will be on campus during this time in the University Center, or feel free to connect via email (nklein@mtmercy.edu) if you have any questions.

Please note the following: 

  • FCC agreement stating that providers will waive late fees, not cut off service for lack of payment, and open hot spots.
  • Comcast COVID-19 response: offers free WiFi for two months to low-income families, plus all Xfinity hot spots are free to the public during this time.
  • Charter free internet offer for 2 months
  • AT&T COVID-19 response: offers open hot spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low-income families.
  • Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.
  • Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and starting 3/17/2020 will allow all handsets to enable hot spots for 60 days at no extra charge.
  • T-Mobile COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot spots for 60 days at no extra charge.

As you know, the coronavirus poses a health threat to our entire population, especially to those over the age of 60 and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.  All of those residing at Sacred Heart fall into this “higher risk” category.

Our main priority is to protect the health and safety of those living at Sacred Heart. To this end, we are constantly reviewing the latest recommendations from our local and state health departments, as well as Mercy Medical Center, the CDC, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in order to provide the safest possible environment for our Sisters of Mercy and staff.

Based on the latest available information, one important way to enhance our health and safety is to reduce our exposure to potential disease carriers. The fewer people you come in contact with, the less likely you will be to contract COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. 

We will be making some changes to ensure our safety over the next month.

Effective immediately, we are restricting visitors to Sacred Heart. For the immediate future, only visits from community Sisters of Mercy and those ministering at liturgy will be permitted.

 

Class/work absences and personal health

Please seek medical advice if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in, or have recently traveled from, an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms, as well as your affiliation with Mount Mercy University as an employee or student.

Employees, please be sure to proactively enter your time off online or through your supervisor, so we can properly track those people who are away from campus. Also, if you have questions or need support, please contact Michelle Snitselaar (Director of Health Services319.363.1323 x1283 or msnitselaar@mtmercy.edu).

We have been working diligently to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of our employees as we continue to serve students living on campus and studying throughout the United States as well as abroad. You will be receiving communication over the next day that our Human Resource department has put together about what our work will look like going forward.

We owe a great debt to many essential personnel on our campus, including our facilities department that has been busy cleaning, disinfecting, and restocking our campus in response to COVID-19.

Due to the new guidance from the Federal Government to extend physical distancing through April 30, 2020, we will be extending the closure of Lundy Fitness, Rinderknecht Athletic Center (RAC), and Hennessey Recreation Center until May 1, 2020.

Events

While we know our MMU commencement is scheduled after the CDC’s recommended 8-week period of social distancing we are in right now, we want to start generating ideas from our coMMUnity about how we might celebrate it differently if we have to. We know how big of a day this is for so many of you–whether the first in your family as an undergrad, a parent going back for grad school, or our first doctoral graduates–so we are seeking feedback from our campus on creative ideas and thoughts about how we can best celebrate your accomplishments. So, if you have ideas on how we can best celebrate our students for commencement, please share your ideas by clicking here so we can start alternate plans if we need to.

According to the Archdiocese of Dubuque guidelines, all public celebrations of Holy Mass are cancelled. Therefore, we will not be having Mass in the Chapel of Mercy in the foreseeable future. All Catholics in the Archdiocese of Dubuque are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

During this time, the Archbishop will live stream a celebration of Holy Mass each Sunday, as well as the Chrism Mass (and the services for Triduum(Holy Week), if the situation has not changed by then), and will lead the Rosary each week on Thursday. Click here for more information about these live-streamed events.

For international students

The President of the United States recently suspended most travel from Europe. We've been in contact with one Mount Mercy student in Europe, and we’re working on a plan to continue their progress toward graduation. We will also be meeting with our international students in the coming week to talk about current and summer plans for travel.

Please contact Keesha Burke-Henderson if you have any questions about your travel plans.

Re-entry into the U.S. for people traveling from or through impacted countries is outside the control of the university. MMU strongly recommends that everyone reconsider travel to any country outside the United States. We encourage you to monitor developments through the U.S. Department of State and CDC websites.

Students living on campus

Residential Students and Adjustments to Student Accounts

Due to additional guidance shared by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Linn County Public Health, Mount Mercy University is now limiting the occupancy of the University operated housing to students with essential needs only. 

Students with essential needs are defined as those meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Housing or food insecurity
  2. Physically or emotionally unsafe home environment
  3. Unsafe conditions at home due to your own or a family members’ health conditions, including possible COVID-19
  4. Difficulty arranging travel by April 5 (i.e. verified international students or those living >500 miles away)
  5. Lack of reliable internet at home to complete coursework

We are asking all other students to make plans to leave campus as soon as you are able and no later than Sunday, April 5, 2020. Please know that this situation may change again as local, state, or national guidance is received so we recommend you move off campus soon. 

Students - Fill out the Spring 2020 Residency Form by tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 by 5 pm CST. Requests submitted via this form will be reviewed for approval by Residence Life and the Vice President for Student Services as quickly as possible, and no later than Friday, March 28. Please understand that due to the design of our residential facilities to have many shared spaces, we are very limited in how we can appropriately isolate individuals to meet recommended guidance from state and local health officials.

Student Accounts: You may receive an adjustment to your student account per your individual housing contract. Additionally, your financial aid may be adjusted based on your specific circumstances. 

The Financial Aid and Student Accounts Offices are working as quickly and accurately as possible to make the adjustments.  Following is a timeline of what you can expect as of today.  However, the changing environment may necessitate future timeline changes.

  • March 23-April 10: Process changes in student billings and financial aid for those students moving off-campus
  • April 15: Student account statements posted; no March statements will be published
  • April 17: Refunds for Spring changes processed no later than this date
  • April 22: New Cashnet auto pay date; delayed from April 15

If you have questions about your financial aid and/or student account please call 319-368-6467 or email finaid@mtmercy.edu or studentaccounts@mtmercy.edu.

If you need assistance during this time please contact our residence life staff (ResLife@mtmercy.edu) and our staff will do our very best to assist you.  Please also share this information with your parents/families so they can understand the update on this situation, we will be updating our website with this information yet today.

The MMU dining hall will re-open as planned at 4:45 PM on Sunday, March 22, and continue with normal hours starting Monday, March 23. All meals will be served to-go style. Students will not be allowed to gather and dine in the cafeteria as we encourage social distancing at this time.

As of March 19, while the campus remains open, we are going to transition to card access only throughout the day for each of our buildings on campus.

Spiritual Resources

God our Father, we come to You in our need
to ask Your protection against the coronavirus
that has claimed lives and has affected many.

We pray for Your grace for the people tasked
with studying the nature and cause
of this virus and its disease
and of stemming the tide of its transmission.

Guide the hands and minds of medical experts
that they may minister to the sick with competence and compassion
and of those governments and private agencies
that must find cure and solution to this epidemic.

We pray for those afflicted. May they be restored to health soon.
Grant us the grace to work for the good of all
and to help those in need. 

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever. Amen. 

In these trying times, spiritual nourishment can be hard to come by. To aid you as you search for ways to join others in prayer, liturgy, and reflection on how to follow Christ in this new situation, please see the following links below:

  • Bishop Barron is offering daily and Sunday mass through Word on Fire, available for live streaming and on-demand.
  • Notre Dame offers daily and Sunday mass.
  • Mass livestream and rosary livestream are available through the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
  • Oregon Catholic Press has a list of mass, prayer resources, daily scripture, music, and inspiration.
  • Archbishop Michael Jackels for the Archdiocese of Dubuque has an announcement about abstaining from meat.
  • Stay up-to-date with statements from Archbishop Jackels and from his office.
  • St. Louis University’s Center for Liturgy allows you to look at the upcoming Sunday, reflect on the Scripture, “pray to Sunday," and more.

Videos of your local parish’s mass celebration or other prayers can be found on their websites; pastors and parishes are doing their utmost to make spiritual resources available to all who hunger for them.

Mount Mercy will be sending out a weekly newsletter with prayer, reflection, and suggestions for how to live compassionately and mercifully in these new and challenging times.