The Divine Word College Board of Administration announced recently that classes will restart in August with in-person instruction. That’s good news for the school’s international students, who last year accounted for more than three quarters of the DWC student body.
On Monday, the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students may not enroll in programs that are online-only.
Twenty-one of the 24 new students originally expected to enroll at DWC this fall are international students. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and the inability of international students to visit U.S. Consulates to complete their student visa interviews, DWC administrators now expect only a fraction of the students who were accepted to start in August. Currently seven students are in the United States and therefore are expected to arrive, as planned. One student from Haiti has obtained a visa and is working to secure a plane ticket to the United States but there are no guarantees.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, 125 students were enrolled at DWC. Twenty-nine of them called the USA home. Only eight were born in the United States, while nine were naturalized U.S. citizens and another 12 were U.S. permanent residents. The remaining 96 students came to the school from 18 other countries: Angola, Cameroon, China, Columbia, Ethiopia, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Uganda and Vietnam. The diversity of the student body at Divine Word College contributes to an intercultural atmosphere, which prepares missionaries to live out a life of service to the poor and marginalized all around the world.
Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone at the College and in Dubuque County, a number of precautions are being taken to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. These include staff members adhering to daily temperature checks, those who live off-campus wearing facemasks while in public spaces at the College, encouraging frequent hand washing and reducing seating in the dining room. When students return to the College in August, they will be asked to observe a two-week stay-on-campus policy. Since these policies were first put in place in March, there have not been any COVID-19 cases reported on campus. In fact, there have not been any cases of the flu or common cold reported, either.