Coronavirus outbreak affects Simpson travel plans


File photo of Kent Campus Center.

by Corinne Thomas, Staff reporter

COVID-19 is taking over students’ lives, even if they aren’t infected. The coronavirus has affected travel plans for students all around the world, as well as scheduled events for Simpson students.

Simpson students received an email at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, sparking fears among students with upcoming travel plans.

Vice President for Student Development and Planning, as well as a chairholder for the Crisis Management team, Heidi Levine sent out a campus-wide email Monday morning to confirm that the virus is being closely monitored.

This email consisted of information from the Iowa Department of Public Health, easy ways to prevent the virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and travel tips. The team at Crisis Management has also created a website ( to contain updated information.

A few important notes of the email are: do not travel if you are sick, wash your hands often, especially before eating and after making contact with other people, cover coughs and sneezes and the risk of influenza is much higher in Iowa than COVID-19 at the moment.

Email updates are expected to arrive every Monday, according to Levine’s email. Similar emails are forwarded to family and guardians of students.

The Speech and Debate team recently got the notification that the Pi Kappa Delta comprehensive national tournament, held at San Diego State University, cancelled the event. Due to this cancellation, Speech and Debate cannot defend their national title.

Baseball and softball teams still plan on attending their trips. The scene looks different for women’s soccer.

Women’s soccer planned on traveling to Costa Rica to compete in the Costa Rica Soccer Tours. Coach Jeremy Reinert seemed optimistic in his email on March 9 to the athletes going on the trip, but informed them of the possibility that the trip could be canceled.

His fears became a reality on March 10, when the athletes were notified that the trip was cancelled.

Students currently studying abroad in French Polynesia, Chile and other independent studies in Europe are being closely monitored by Jay Wilkinson, Director of International Education. Wilkinson has been in touch with students to ensure the safety of the Simpson community.

May Term trip cancellation decisions have yet to be determined.

Dean of Students Luke Behaunek attended a meeting with the Crisis Management Committee.

“Jay Wilkinson and the Academic Dean Cheryl Jacobsen were also part of that meeting and we briefly talked about that topic, but most of the conversation was focused on campus planning, here in Indianola,” Behaunek said.

With optimal traveling times arriving, spring break trips have been reevaluated by students. One student, senior Sam Adeniyi, chose to not go on a cruise this spring break due to the virus outbreak.

Students, faculty and staff reporting their spring break trips were not a concern to the committee. They believed it wasn’t a good use of resources to make students report their trip. Following up with students that stayed in, or visited, a hard-hit region would be a better use.

Faculty and medical professionals are monitoring the virus closely. The CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, as well as the new COVID-19 website established by Simpson, will have the most recently updated information.