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Coronavirus Information

Coronavirus Information

Earlham President Anne Houtman Announces Plan for Fall Classes on Campus

May 22, 2020

Today, Earlham President Anne Houtman announced plans for holding classes on campus this fall and the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year that involve an August 10 opening and extensive health precautions.

“Thank you for your patience as we have worked through various scenarios for reopening the Earlham campus for classes this fall,” Houtman wrote in an email to students. “In all of our internal discussions, our objective was to identify a course schedule and develop safety measures that would provide the very best classroom experience possible while protecting the health of students, faculty and staff. I’m pleased to report that we have developed a plan to achieve those goals and bring you back to campus.”

The academic calendar has been restructured to create a system of seven-week terms that will enable the College to open on August 10 and complete two fall terms by Thanksgiving. Students will be able to remain at home for a good part of the winter flu and virus season, complete a fully online January term, if desired, and return for two spring terms on February 1. Further details are bulleted below. The new structure will decrease the number of faculty and students each individual will interact with and make it easier to augment courses with online instruction as needed—or transition to distance learning, if that becomes necessary due to new developments with COVID-19.

“It is very painful to know that many of our international students and some of our domestic students will be unable to return to Indiana in the fall,” Houtman said. “For all of you, please know that we are testing technologies that will bring the classroom to you in real time, and planning for online instruction for as long as necessary. Additional information will be provided in the coming weeks. Our faculty now have the advantage of time over the summer to develop online strategies that can provide a richer experience than was possible with our sudden shift to online teaching in March.”

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is gradually returning the state to normal operations with social distancing and sanitation protocols in place. Earlham is following his lead and that of local authorities in reopening, while working with regional and state authorities and local healthcare facilities to ensure appropriate testing and contact tracing should a student or employee show coronavirus symptoms. A list of the safety precautions that the College is implementing is below. Students will continue to be informed of critical information they will need for fall registration via email, but they and their parents are encouraged to monitor this site for general updates throughout the summer and fall.

Under the new term system, all courses will be four credit hours. Taking two courses in the first seven-week fall term and two in the second seven-week fall term will accrue 16 credit hours, and the same will hold true for the two spring terms. Thus, a student can earn 32 credit hours for the year by taking courses two at a time—a total of four in the fall and four in the spring—with the additional option of earning credit during the January online term. Here is a brief summary of these changes:

  • For the coming 2020-21 academic year (and likely 2021-22), classes will be held on campus using seven-week terms—two seven-week terms in the fall and two in the spring, with an optional January online term.
  • Distance learning will be available for students who cannot return to campus;  technology is being explored that will bring the classroom to them.
  • The first fall term will begin August 10 and end Sept. 25, with finals and grading the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.
  • The second fall term will run from Oct. 5 to Nov. 20, with finals Nov. 23 and 24, right before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26).
  • Students will remain off-campus from Thanksgiving through the end of January.
  • An online-only term will be offered in January, with dates to be determined.
  • The first spring term will begin Feb. 1 and end March 19, with finals and grading the week of March 22-26.
  • The second spring term will run March 29 through May 14, with finals May 17-18.
  • All courses will be offered for four credits, thus permitting students to take two courses each term, for a total of 16 credits in the fall and 16 in the spring, and another 4 credits possible during January term.

The College is prepared to continue this schedule for up to three years, depending on when a vaccine is available.

The Department of Athletics is working closely with the campus Crisis Management Team and following the guidelines and recommendations from the federal, state and local authorities, public health officials, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference as it plans for a safe return of student-athletes to their programs.

Campus Safety Protocols for Fall Semester

As Earlham College brings students back to campus for the fall term, we are taking many precautions to safeguard health. Here are the steps we are taking to prepare for the resumption of classes:

  • Evaluating our campus instructional space and scheduling classes in appropriate room sizes, as possible, to facilitate social distancing
  • Implementing a plan to increase cleaning and disinfection practices to keep all areas of campus, particularly high-traffic areas, sanitized throughout the day
  • Partnering with our food service provider, Metz Culinary Management, in modifying our dining arrangements to follow cleaning protocols and enable social distancing
  • Installing protective barriers in customer service locations, where possible
  • Maintaining quarantine locations and procedures
  • Maintaining telehealth capability for health and counseling services 
  • Making hand sanitizer available throughout campus
  • Implementing protocols for use of masks when social distancing is not possible
  • Ensuring the proper operation of ventilation systems
  • Restriction of nonessential visitors to campus and limiting the size of gatherings
  • Educating students, faculty and staff on good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs
  • Adopting guidelines for students, faculty and staff to follow for self-isolation in the event they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Evaluating the feasibility of temperature and symptom monitoring of employees and students
  • Posting signs, floor markers and/or guidelines around campus to remind students and employees to maintain a separation of 6 feet between individuals
  • Ongoing wellness education for students and employees

Past Announcements

In-person classes anticipated in the fall; online components will be available, as necessary

May 19, 2020

Earlham College is planning and expecting to have in-person classes for fall semester 2020. Online components will be made available to students who are unable to return to campus safely.

As Earlham continues to follow the global situation surrounding COVID-19, a planning group has been formed to explore our educational options.

The group will identify several scenarios to consider as the College continues its planning for Earlham students to return to campus and resume in-person classes. The planning group will make recommendations to President Anne Houtman by the end of May, in time for discussion with the Board of Trustees in early June.

A formal plan will be announced in mid-June.

In following state and federal action to stop the spread of COVID-19, the College has canceled in-person classes and college-sponsored events and travel for the remainder of the summer

All employees have been required to work from home with the exception of designated, “essential personnel” responsible for maintaining campus operations, ensuring business continuity, and supporting students who have been unable to return home.

Virtual Commencement to be held May 9

May 5, 2020

Earlham College will celebrate the Class of 2020 with a virtual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9, as a result of the closure of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions. There will be no event on campus.

The virtual event will be accessible at and will follow the College’s traditional timeline for commencement exercises: A baccalaureate video will be shared at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern), and a graduation ceremony video will start at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)

During the graduation ceremony, each graduate’s name and degree will be announced. Graduates from the undergraduate college, the School of Religion and the Graduate Programs in Education will be recognized. Read more at

Decision on fall semester expected in June

April 30, 2020

Earlham College remains hopeful about the prospects of reopening for the fall semester. As we continue to follow the global situation surrounding COVID-19, a planning group has been formed to explore our educational options.

The group will identify several scenarios to consider as we continue our planning for our students to return to campus and resume in-person classes. The planning group will make recommendations to President Anne Houtman by the end of May, in time for discussion with the Board of Trustees in early June.

A decision is expected in June.

In following state and federal action to stop the spread of COVID-19, the College has canceled in-person classes and college-sponsored events and travel for the remainder of the spring semester and summer terms.

All employees have been required to work from home with the exception of designated, “essential personnel” responsible for maintaining campus operations, ensuring business continuity, and supporting students who have been unable to return home.

CDC adds new symptoms to its list of possible COVID-19 signs

April 28, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its list of possible symptoms of the COVID-19 virus to include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Read more at The New York Times.

Alumni support for students during COVID-19

April 6, 2020

Hundreds of Earlham College students have benefited from alumni support in recent weeks following campus action to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

About 75 gifts have been made to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund from alumni and other supporters to address the College’s most pressing needs since the suspension of in-person classes on Friday, March 13.

These gifts have funded emergency air travel for students and transportation to airports for students with high financial need. Groceries and catered meals from locally owned restaurants have also been purchased during the weekend to supplement regular dining services for all students remaining on campus due to international travel restrictions or other unique situations.

Help Earlham support students during the global COVID-19 pandemic by donating to the Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

Earlham College announces ‘The Pulse’ to keep campus community connected

March 27, 2020

Earlham College has launched a new website called “The Pulse” ( to keep the campus community connected during the COVID-19/novel coronavirus pandemic.

Earlham, in following state and federal action to stop the spread of COVID-19, has canceled in-person classes and college-sponsored events and travel for the remainder of the spring semester and summer terms. Effective Tuesday, March 23, employees have been required to work from home with the exception of designated, “essential personnel” responsible for maintaining campus operations, ensuring business continuity, and supporting students who have been unable to return home.

Pulse will collect news, videos, stories and photos that members of the temporarily far-flung Earlham community post to social media using the hashtag #EarlhamPulse. Campus photos and announcements will be posted there as well.

A key component of Pulse is the debut of “Flat Earl the Squirrel,” a paper figure inspired by the campus fascination with squirrels that can be downloaded, printed and incorporated into social media posts. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take selfies with Earl in their new work or study area, or from other spaces in their social-distancing location, and to share other news and observations using the special hashtag.

Earlham announces 'essential personnel only' workforce policy

March 20, 2020

Effective Monday, March 23, at 5 p.m., Earlham will implement an "essential personnel only" policy for its workforce in light of more stringent measures taken by local and statewide government to contain COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Only individuals Earlham has identified as critical to ongoing operations and business continuity will be permitted to come to campus. All nonessential personnel will work from home until the policy is lifted.

Essential personnel include Public Safety, Facilities, Mail Room, Housekeeping, Dining and Residential Life employees. A few additional individuals in other offices may be identified due to their special skill sets and the needs of the College.

Offices will still be reachable by their listed phone numbers and email addresses. Office phones will be directed to personal cell phones when possible. For those phones that have not been redirected, leaving a message will trigger an email that includes the voice message. If members of the public are having any difficulty reaching someone, please call the main switchboard at 765-983-1200.

All campus buildings with the exception of residence halls still in use will be closed as of 5 p.m. Monday and remain closed indefinitely.

The offices of Student Life and Residence Life will continue to inform students of services available in some form on campus or via distance technology, such as counseling and summer advising, . For students remaining on campus, pick-up meals will continue for the short term. Preparations are being made for alternative distribution longer-term.

Other cancellations announced by Earlham include EPIC summer programs and collaborative research, both on- and off-campus. EPIC summer programs include EPIC Advantage/LIFT faculty-led programs, internships, community-based service and learning, and Senior EPIC projects. May Term and on-campus summer conferences also have been canceled.

The administration continues to discuss possible alternative formats and dates for Commencement.

Finally, regarding the admission of new students, the May 1 deposit date for incoming students starting this fall has been moved to June 1.


All Earlham students studying abroad notified to return home

March 20, 2020

Earlham College has notified all students studying abroad to book flights back to the U.S. or their home country as quickly as possible in response to a U.S. Department of State Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory covering all international travel that was issued yesterday. The State Department is asking U.S. citizens to not just avoid international trips, but also, if overseas already, to arrange for immediate return to their home.

With airlines canceling international flights and many countries closing borders, travelers may find themselves stranded indefinitely, the State Department warned. The Level 4 advisory further noted: On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification.  These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.

Earlham President Anne Houtman announced on March 9 a policy to suspend student travel to areas designated Level 3 (essential travel only) by the Centers for Disease Control or Level 4 (do not travel) by the State Department. At that time, only China, South Korea, Italy and Iran were so designated.  In compliance with the elevated State Department warning covering all international travel, the College is now pulling students from New Zealand and Japan—the only study abroad sites where Earlham students remain. 

All affected students have been notified, and Earlham faculty and staff are working with them and their families to get them safely back home--including seven students from other colleges who were enrolled in Japan Studies.

President Anne Houtman announced these changes in a campus email. “I want to again emphasize the extremely fluid circumstances we are now operating under,” she said. “As much as we hate to see disruption to students’ studies and had hoped to maintain some continuation of study abroad, where possible, there are many circumstances beyond our control. Our goal now is to get all of these students safely reunited with their families.”


Athletics & Wellness Center closing for indefinite period

March 19, 2020

Under an order of the Wayne County Health Department, Earlham’s Athletics and Wellness Center will be closing indefinitely as of 8 p.m. tonight.  Wayne County Health Officer David Jetmore, MD, announced a directive today to close gyms, fitness centers, spas, nail salons, tanning and beauty salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors until further notice, effective no later than 9 p.m. today, as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

"It is imperative that over at least the next two weeks the public limits their movement to essential services only," Jetmore said in the announcement

Today’s directive comes on the heels of a Level II travel advisory issued for Wayne County on Wednesday, restricting travel to essential purposes only, such as to obtain food or medicine.

Spring Semester goes online

March 18, 2020

Accelerated timeline announced for vacating campus housing 

With Wayne County on a Level II travel alert (only essential travel permitted) and additional travel restrictions highly likely in the coming days, Earlham College has notified students who could not vacate campus last week due to extenuating circumstances, to find alternative housing arrangements by Sunday evening, March 22. 

  • All domestic students previously approved to stay now need to make arrangements to go home or find accommodations outside the college. Domestic students should be checked out of college housing by 5 pm Sunday, March 22. 
  • International students who can go home or who have a place to stay off campus should also relocate.

The College announced March 12 that students were being sent home and would complete their coursework online for the duration of the Spring Term to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Most students immediately began packing and returning home; however, some were unable to do so for various reasons, and the College began making preparations to accommodate them.  In the ensuing days, the local travel restriction and other developments caused the College to reevaluate the situation. 

“If we are mandated to close the campus, we are concerned that we will not be able to provide resources necessary to support you,” Vice President for Student Life Bonita Washington-Lacey said in an email to students. “At this time, if we are mandated to close, all employees will be sent home as has occurred at other campuses this week. If airports are directed to close, you will not have access to travel home if you must fly. Please note that this is a difficult situation, but we are trying to respond as proactively as possible to enable options for you and your safety.

“We could have never imagined being in this position as you are always our first priority in our effort to manage this situation,” she noted. “As such, we seek your patience and continued commitment and partnership toward keeping all of our community safe even as we are inconvenienced.”

The college will be issuing refunds for room and board charges, prorated based on date of departure from campus housing. Students concerned about having access to an appropriate computer for remote learning were instructed to contact Information Technology Services at prior to leaving campus to discuss availability of a laptop to borrow. 

The new Level II Travel Advisory for Wayne County and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our region warrant a re-evaluation of on-campus staffing and reduction in personnel on site. Should a closure be mandated by the state or federal government, the College would not have enough personnel on site to provide basic food or support service to the number of students currently on campus. 

International students unable to return home or without alternative housing locally will be provided meals from a central location for as long as advised. If it becomes necessary for those students to remain in their living space without permission to leave, meals will be delivered to each occupied facility for distribution by available Residence Life and Student Life staff. However, students were advised that a government mandate preventing personnel living off campus from reporting to work could prevent meal distribution altogether. In that circumstance, the College will provide a stock of food to be distributed among those remaining on campus, but will not have the employees from off-campus available to help prepare or distribute.  

For the health and safety of students remaining on campus, residents are being assigned to select buildings where resident assistants and their live-in supervisors are available. The following halls will remain open only for students unable to leave campus: Barrett, Mills, Warren, and Wilson Halls. Residents approved to remain for the semester who are already assigned to those facilities will likely stay in their currently assigned space, unless there are two residents of the space. Double occupants will be split up, as only one person is now allowed per room. 

The Campus Village apartments are being prepared to serve as quarantine space should it be needed. 


March 12, 2020

Initial announcement of shift to remote learning

In response to concerns within the Earlham College community relating to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, President Anne Houtman announced today that students will be sent home and all undergraduate classes will be conducted online for the duration of the spring semester. Earlham also is suspending the Athletics spring schedules and all college-sponsored student travel through the end of the spring term. Face-to-face classes will end this week.

Decisions about Commencement, May Term and summer travel will be made later. For the time being, Earlham's graduate programs in education will continue as scheduled. The Earlham School of Religion is moving to online course delivery.

Although there are no known cases or known exposure on campus or in Richmond, Houtman said she made this decision to keep the Earlham community safe and to aid in efforts to prevent the spread of disease.  Earlham recruits students from all 50 states and around 70 countries, and has extensive study abroad programs.  Though some colleges are moving classes online for just two weeks after their spring break, Houtman felt it was necessary to consider the uncertainties and challenges a temporary closure might pose for students, particularly Earlham's international students who cannot go home for two weeks and return later. And given the current spread of COVID-19, it is unlikely the situation will improve sufficiently to allow Earlham to return to its regular course delivery at the end of March, she explained.

Earlham expects students who are preparing to leave campus for the spring break to pack before leaving, following end-of-year protocol, and return to their homes, if possible. Students who notified the College of their need to remain on campus during the break were instructed to begin making plans to depart by early next week. Students with extenuating circumstances affecting their return home have been advised to consult with the Office of Residence Life. Every effort will be made to work with Earlham's students.

Earlham faculty are being asked to prepare to resume classes online by the Wednesday following spring break — March 25. 

Administrative faculty and staff were instructed to report to work as usual while administration continues to monitor the situation and make any adjustments necessary for health and safety.

Earlham has established a call center to receive questions from parents and members of the public. The call center number is 765-983-1870. The College also has established an email for questions:

Update - March 17, 2020: There has been a case of coronavirus reported in Wayne County, a person from Franklin County who sought treatment at Reid Hospital here in Richmond. For further updates on the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 in Indiana, including cases by county of residence, please visit the State of Indiana's Coronavirus Response page. Earlham is located in Wayne County.


There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. Closely following recommended prevention measures is the best method for protecting yourself from sickness.

Symptoms? Need to reach a medical professional?

Be mindful of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

According to the CDC, "Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases." 

For more information about symptoms, please visit the CDC COVID-19 Symptoms page.

Need to talk with a medical professional?

General questions from the public or healthcare provider inquiries about COVID-19 may be directed to the Indiana State Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center at the toll-free number 877-826-0011 (available 24/7) or email

The campus health services information hotline is still available at 756-983-1328.

Reid Health offers virtual screenings through mobile app

Reid Health has made a free virtual COVID-19 screening tool available through its "Reid HealthNOW" urgent care app.

"This is an ideal tool for people who suspect exposure and/or have mild symptoms as a way to get medical attention without risking travel to a healthcare facility," Craig Kinyon, Reid Health president/CEO, said in a statement.

The app allows people to use a smartphone or computer to connect with a nurse. Reid began using the virtual urgent care option several years ago.

"This potentially eliminates the need for people to go to their doctor, an urgent care or an emergency room, or possibly get help determining if they need to seek care," Kinyon said, "thus also helping reduce spread of infection."

Because of high demand, wait times might be longer than normal.

To access and create an account:

Download the free app through Google Play or Apple's App Store or enroll on your computer through the site.

  • Create a free login and complete your personal profile
  • Connect with the virtual hub, select "Coronavirus Screen" and find the appropriate pathway for care;
  • Be sure to allow access to your camera and microphone if you are using the app.
  • If you connect through a computer, be sure to test your settings.

If the screening determines you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you'll be instructed what to do next.

Further information

COVID-19 is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.

Where is it spreading?

Here are the links to organizations that we continue to monitor:

The New York Times created a graphic to compare coronavirus with the seasonal flu:



Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.