Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Latest update

Update for March 25, 2020

Bethany Lutheran College has implemented and periodically updated a campus action plan regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Bethany Lutheran College Administrative Cabinet has been actively monitoring, and discussing daily the measures that must be taken on the campus in light of the fluid and ever-changing coronavirus situation. Below is a synopsis of the decisions that have been made.

March 12, 2020
Bethany implemented a one-week extension of spring break.

March 17, 2020
Bethany continued with spring break until March 22, 2020, and decided to resume classes in an online format on March 23 until at least the conclusion of the Easter break, April 13.

March 25, 2020
Bethany Lutheran College extended the suspension of in-person classes, and made the decision to continue teaching students through online delivery for the remainder of the 2019-20 Academic Year. The 2020 Spring Commencement Ceremony has also been cancelled.

Please read the latest announcement from President Pfeifer here.

Frequently Asked Questions and Information

Yes, Bethany will continue teaching students through online delivery for the remainder of the 2019-20 Academic Year.

Bethany’s Spring Commencement Ceremony scheduled for May 8 is canceled. May 2020 graduates will be welcomed back to campus to participate in the December 2020 Commencement Ceremony, which will take place on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at 10 a.m. May 2020 graduates will also receive their diplomas by mail after the completion of the Spring Semester.

Yes, the campus will be closed to the public and anyone not authorized until further notice.

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • 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 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; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
More resources

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
Call your doctor if you…

Develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 OR have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
  • Avoid public areas: Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Limit contact with pets and animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

Information taken from CDC website. Read more.

Student Information

Yes, Bethany will continue teaching students through online delivery for the remainder of the 2019-20 Academic Year.​ Check your Bethany email inbox frequently for information and updates from Dr. Jason Lowrey, Vice President of Academic Affairs, as they become available. Watch also for information from your instructors regarding online class delivery.

In light of the ongoing disruption to on-campus learning we’ve partnered with our eCampus Online Bookstore’s digital course materials platform, VitalSource, and leading publishers to launch VitalSource Helps, a program offering free access to ebooks for students who may have lost access to course materials with the rapid move to distance learning.

VitalSource Helps Frequently Asked Questions
How do students access VitalSource Helps content?

To get started, students should visit Before students can begin searching for and reading ebooks, they will need to log-in or create a Bookshelf account with their institution-provided email address.

It is important to note that, while students at your institution may use Bookshelf today as part of an Inclusive Access program, they may access content via an LMS integration that does not require an email address, or their account may be linked to their personal email address. To access VitalSource Helps free content, students must use their institution-provided email address (

  • For students accessing Bookshelf for the first time: Here are instructions on creating a Bookshelf account that you can share with students and instructors. Once students create an account with an institution-provided email address, they should login and click on the “Explore” tab in the upper left corner of the screen.
  • For students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address: Students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address will see a new tab called “Explore” when they login. This tab provides access to the freely-available ebooks.
  • For students with existing Bookshelf accounts NOT linked to their institution-provided email address: Here is an article explaining how a student can check the email account associated with their Bookshelf account, and how to change it to an institution-provided email account to access VitalSource Helps ebooks.
How long is the VitalSource Helps program available?

We and the publishers are offering free access to ebooks through May 25, 2020, to ensure affected students are able to use required learning materials through final exams. Once the free access period ends, students will maintain access to their Bookshelf account. However, ebooks provided during the VitalSource Helps program will no longer appear.

How many titles may be accessed for free as part of the VitalSource Helps ebook program?

Users may add up to seven titles to their account for free. There is a “counter” in the lower left corner of the Bookshelf screen to help users keep track of the number of books accessed.

What type of content is available as part of the VitalSource Helps ebook program?

VitalSource, publishers, and resellers have worked together to make tens of thousands of ebooks available to allow students to find their required learning materials. Students may access up to seven titles.

Where should students go if they need support?

Students can check out a list of frequently asked questions here.

What if students or instructors on my campus cannot find the ebook they need?

If you do not see the publisher of a book required on your campus on this list, or can’t find a required course material by searching for its ISBN, title, or author then that material is not available as part of VitalSource Helps. Most custom content is not included in VitalSource Helps.

What if a student is trying to access his or her Bookshelf account from the campus LMS?

Any content typically accessed via the LMS, such as Inclusive Access content, will still be available on LMS-integrated accounts. However, ebooks that are part of VitalSource Helps are only available through the Explore tab at and within all native Bookshelf apps (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, etc.).

It is important to note that, while students at your institution may use Bookshelf today as part of an Inclusive Access program, they may access content via an LMS integration that does not require an email address, or their account may be linked to their personal email address. To access VitalSource Helps free content, students must use their institution-provided email address (

Can students download materials?

Yes! To access ebooks offline, students and instructors should download the Bookshelf app on their computer or mobile device. The Bookshelf app is available free on all major app stores. Learn more about the Bookshelf app here.

Students may download ebooks on two desktop/laptops and two mobile devices.
If a user reaches the activated devices limit, she can deactivate devices to activate other devices in her account settings. Learn more here.

Does Bookshelf allow users to print portions of books?

In most cases, yes. However, printing restrictions are set by each publisher.

Is the Bookshelf platform accessible for students with special needs?

Yes. We take accessibility seriously. You can find our VPATs here, and relevant support articles here. We ensure all materials meet a minimum standard of accessibility, and the Bookshelf platform supports even more accessibility features, but publishers determine enhanced accessibility for their own content.

What is VitalSource’s privacy policy?

VitalSource does not share user data and all participants of the VitalSource Helps program will automatically be opted out of marketing initiatives. To learn more, click here to view our Privacy FAQs.

I need help with a topic that is not covered here.

Click here to get support.

Bethany is a member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The UMAC has cancelled all competition and championships, and the NCAA has cancelled national championships for Spring 2020. Bethany has decided to cancel the remaining spring athletic season, including all practices, competition, and non-traditional seasons and team activities.

All art, drama, and music events scheduled are canceled. Directors in consultation with administration may choose to determine alternative delivery methods for these events if possible.

Students may consult with library staff via email for academic research help.

The IT help desk will be available for assistance and questions about online course access.

The Academic Resource Center will continue to provide tutoring and other services online. Please see the Academic Resource Center page for more information.

The Writing Center will continue to operate in an online capacity. View their web page to learn more and schedule a virtual appointment.

If you feel that the safest, healthiest, and most practical place for you to be at this time is at Bethany in our res-halls, then we welcome you to stay! You should have already completed the Intent to Continue Living on Campus form so we know who is here and how to serve you.

Rest assured that dining services will continue to provide meals for you. Please adhere to the modifications the College has made to campus life that are designed to keep you, our campus community, and society safe. Continue to watch your email for updates and directions.

Only students who have declared their intent to reside on campus are permitted to be in the residence hall. There are no open visitation or guest hours until further notice, so students are only permitted in the residence hall in which they live.

If you would like your existing first class mail forwarded, please inform us by emailing the bookstore. You may need to make arrangements to retrieve any packages already delivered to campus. Please modify your mailing address so that any future packages are sent to your home address.

UPDATED 3/25/20

If you are currently living off campus or if you are on campus but planning to return home, we realize that having your belongings in the Res Halls may present a challenge for you. You have a few options:

  • OPEN ACCESS TIMES: You may drop by your Res Hall to pick up any essentials. Your FOB will work in your Res Hall 8:00 a.m. Thursday 3/26 until 9:00 p.m. Friday 3/27. FOB access will be declined after 9 p.m. Fri. 3/27 in accordance with the Governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ directive which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday 3/27.
  • OPTION 1 – MOVE OUT NOW: Please know that we are not requiring you to move now, but if you choose to entirely move your belongings out during the open access times this week, we ask that you stop by your Res Hall Coordinator’s office to drop off your key and sign the check-out form before you leave.
  • OPTION 2 – MOVE OUT LATER: We realize these are unique times and you still have many belongings in your room. That’s okay. If you have items you need and are able to get them during Open Access Times this week, feel free to do so. If you can’t access your room this week, that’s okay, too. If you leave belongings in your room, you will have the opportunity to return to campus and move them at a time yet to be determined after the ‘Stay at Home’ order is lifted by the State of Minnesota.

If you choose to return to campus on 3/26 or 3/27 to retrieve belongings, we ask that you are prudent about entering the res-halls. If you or any family members are feeling sick or may have been exposed to coronavirus, we ask that you not return to campus. Please restrict the number of people helping a student move out to two and keep in mind the need for social distancing (at least 6 feet apart).

The College has modified dining times and format in the interest of student safety. There will be no all-day continuous access or late-night services until further notice. Self-service has been eliminated, and a number of offerings and service stations have been modified to protect from the spread of virus. Do not bring your BLC cups or any other food containers into the Dining Center. Pioneer Food Service will sanitize the Dining Center between meals. Effective 3/23/20 the Dining Center will not be available for employees. Weekday meals will only be available to pre-approved residential students at the following times:

Breakfast: 8 – 9 a.m.
Lunch: 12 – 1 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Weekend Dining Center hours:
Lunch: 11 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

To reduce face-to-face patient encounters, Bethany’s Mayo Express Care Clinic has suspended on-campus operations until further notice. Anyone with questions about potential COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to call their primary physician, or call Mayo’s Mankato Eastridge Clinic at 507-594-6500. You may tell them you are a Bethany student and have access to our on-campus Express Care Clinic.

The Christian Family Services (CFS) counseling center on the second floor of Luther Hall will be open periodically. They are also available to tele-counsel. Appointments can be made online or by calling 1-800-438-1772. If you currently work with one of the CFS counselors, contact them to make the appropriate arrangements for their continued services.

You may pick up your paycheck at the Business Office by Friday, March 20, 2020, after which they will be mailed to the student’s address that is on file.

On campus employment will be limited during this period of online learning. Currently, only Admissions and Advancement student workers are approved to work. Please contact your supervisor regarding specifics about your position.

Returning students please watch your Bethany email inbox for information regarding Advising Day and Fall 2020 class registration options.

Bethany Lutheran College has moved all classes to online instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. The residence halls remain open to those students who submitted the ‘Intent to Continue Living On Campus’ form to the Residential Life Office.

Those who elected to return home or elsewhere, may receive a prorated refund, after a determination is made considering Title IV (federal regulations) and the implications on those charges. 

  • Students with outstanding balances will have this credit applied to the balance due. 
  • A refund check will be issued to any student whose account is paid in full. The refund check will be written in the student’s name and sent to the legal home address on file.  

Bethany hopes to have refunds determined and the process implemented by May 1, 2020.’

Faculty and Staff Information

All departments of the College now have the flexibility to work from home. The process to define how this work-from-home scenario is implemented for each department will be determined by the vice presidents and department leaders in consultation with their employees.

If you must be on campus, please limit your personal interaction with others, maintain the six-foot social distancing rule, and work behind a closed door if at all possible.

For all employees, do not come onto campus if you are not feeling well. Your presence puts everyone at risk. If you have influenza-type symptoms, you should stay home. You are most contagious when you have a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius). You should not return to work until you are fever-free without fever-reducing medication for 36 hours.

Please do not schedule meetings on campus, don’t gather in common areas (coffee machine, copiers, lobbies), and DO NOT come to campus if you feel sick. This is for the safety, and out of respect, for those employees who are at higher risk for a severe reaction to the COVID-19 virus.

All non-essential college travel, domestic and international, will be suspended March 16 through April 13. A faculty or staff member who believes that he/she has an essential business reason to travel can seek approval through the divisional vice president.

Bethany’s buildings will be closed to the public until April 14, 2020, and no facility rentals will be allowed during this time. Future rentals will be considered on an individual basis. Notable regular and special events cancellations:

  • Weekly Wednesday Vespers Services are cancelled.
  • The Glen Taylor Leadership Institute Luncheon on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 is cancelled.
  • The XR Festival on Saturday, April 4, 2020, is cancelled.

Campus Emergency & Closure Notifications

The Bethany Lutheran College messaging system is a key component of the college’s emergency notification program. In the event of a campus emergency or closure, the College will send notifications through a number of communication channels including text, voice, and email messaging.