UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT, JASON S. WOOD, Ph.D. – March 19, 2020
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment but we must never lose infinite hope.” Thank you for all you are doing to help our students maintain hope in their education. We will find a way for them to learn and succeed and we will do so by extending trust to each other like we never have before. I am so inspired by the reports I am hearing of our faculty and staff choosing happiness despite the trials and struggles and bringing joy to each other through selfless service. We learn who we really are during the most difficult experiences. I’m learning our faculty and staff are more amazing than I ever imagined. Please accept the following as my update for the day:
- Compensation: We do not want your compensation to be a source of stress or uncertainty. After consulting with Chuck Bolstad, Chair of the Board of Directors, and with Caleb White, VP Finance, I am pleased to announce all faculty and staff, full-time and part-time, will be paid as planned through June 30, 2020. We expect as many people as possible to work as planned albeit remotely and/or flexible/alternative schedules. If you are unable to work, we understand and we support you. You may use current leave balances. If you run out of paid leave, the College will cover your time through June 30, 2020. In between now and then, we will work to submit a budget for 2020-2021 for consideration by the Board of Directors. We understand federal legislation has been enacted and we are working through how to implement the new benefits which include additional paid time off to address the virus. More details will be shared as we develop solutions.
- We are aware there are students who need computers or internet access and that it may take some time to figure out the needs of every student. Faculty are actively working with their students to determine their IT needs – thank you for going above and beyond to reach your students. Faculty are to let Heath Ahnen know if their students need IT equipment or support. Thank you to the entire IT team for your exceptional service with a tremendous increase in work. We will try and find computers for students whenever possible and there is a limited supply on hand. If more are needed, we will do our best to get more. There are many internet options for students. Darnell Wiegman has compiled a list which is at the end of this email and available on Yammer – thank you, Darnell!
- Please know that Kim Maier has agreed to keep Schoology courses open through the entirety of the semester. If you need a class to remain open longer, please let Kim know and they will do their best to accommodate the request. More instructions regarding incomplete grades, extensions, and other accommodations will be developed over the next few weeks.
- On the Home Front
- Home School, Charger Style: Many of our faculty and staff have school-aged children who are now learning from home. We are re-discovering how much we admire and appreciate good teachers as our children need help and we don’t know the answers. It is also difficult to work from home when kids need help. I am grateful for the leadership of Julie Pluemer, Krista Weber, and Katie Garrity who are working with our part-time childcare providers and part-time Adult Basic Education instructors to develop a home school support program. We anticipate tutoring and learning support to be offered online to the children of our Southwest Tech faculty and staff at no cost to our employees. This innovative offering will help our faculty and staff by supporting their children and providing meaningful work opportunities for part-time employees. Win-Win-Win!!!
- Little kids need plenty of things to do. Check out this link for a daily animal feature courtesy of the Cincinnati Zoo. My younger children like it. J
- COVID-19 Related Expenses: If you purchase supplies or materials because of COVID-19, please log the information here so we can track expenses. It’s very important we keep a detailed listing of our expenditures for possible reimbursement, other claims, or fundraising opportunities.
- Early childhood instructor, Renae Blaschke, has a son, Nick, who is spending his time composing music. Check out his most recent release. If you are on a zoom meeting with Renae, you may hear her family performing in the background. J
- Staying Connected, the Power of People: There are many, many examples of people finding ways to create a meaningful human connection with someone else. Thank you. There are also people who continue to feel lonely or isolated. Please find ways to reach out to each other, to neighbors, to anyone. If someone comes to mind, I encourage you to act on the prompting and connect with that person. There are many tender mercies which occur when we sense someone else is in need and we find a kind way to help them be happy. Please share your experiences with me so I can tell them to a broader audience…in this way, your impact influences countless others.
Finally, please stay home as much as possible. The next couple of weeks are bound to be difficult but our best hope of overcoming this crisis is to limit the spread of the virus. If you do need to go out, please do your best to maintain your distance from others, don’t touch your face, and keep your hands washed. We all hope for each other’s health and well-being. Let’s get through this together.
P.S. Internet connectivity for students and staff who don’t have it
- 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 2 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.
- Spectrum: free wireless hot spots
- Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).
- 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 (I expect others will follow).
- TDS COVID-19 response: offers free broadband access to low-income individuals and/or families with children and college students for 60 days.