UPDATE FROM PRESIDENT, JASON S. WOOD, Ph.D. – March 24, 2020
Greetings College Family,
This email, like the first announcement over a week ago, is going to the broadest college audience possible and will be forwarded to all students. To review previous communications, please visit our COVID-19 response website. Please note this email will be more message with fewer announcements or details. Tomorrow’s email will be more detailed and include a summary of our discussions and decisions from our internal leadership meetings.
Please remember all of the work we have done to be prepared for COVID-19 cases to impact our communities. We are all currently working remotely with a plan to continue for the foreseeable future. The best thing we can do is to stay home and that is exactly what we will do. As a college, one of our greatest strengths is our faculty and staff who care so much about the safety and well-being of our students and communities.
With that said, we learned this evening that a student has reported being exposed to COVID-19 through an immediate family member. Based on the information available to us, the student has been experiencing symptoms, was also tested, and the student’s test came back negative. While we will protect the identity of the people who test positive for the virus, please know we have notified those who may have come in contact with the student during the week of March 2-6.
We are grateful public and healthcare officials acted quickly, and we understand that appropriate protocols are being followed. The college is working with the Iowa County Health Department to determine the appropriate recommendations for people who have come into contact with this student. Additional information will be shared with you tomorrow.
We knew the virus would affect the lives of people in our communities at some point. We have taken the necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of as many people as possible to the best of our abilities. We are following our plan to work from home while providing as much remote and virtual instruction and services to students as possible. We now understand the work from home order extends to at least April 24, as directed by Governor Evers. While we will overcome this crisis, it is natural to be afraid or distraught as this sickness comes ever closer. Acknowledging the struggles and embracing our human limitations can provide an opportunity to step back, reflect, and then choose to proceed with self-care and service to others.
Please remember to wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, cough into your elbow, keep your distance from others, and stay home as much as possible. These precautions give you the best chance of staying healthy while also limiting the spread of the virus. Being confident in our plan and using precautionary behavior will allow us to turn our fear into empathy and kindness. It must be scary to get sick or have other health issues right now. Our compassionate humanity will mitigate many of the secondary threats, like loneliness and depression, that are beginning to emerge.
You can help others by reaching out virtually and connecting with people. It’s important to express your appreciation for a colleague or give a peer a compliment. Some people are ordering meals to be delivered to friends from local restaurants or sending a simple gift from a local retailer with online options. A good old-fashioned letter or card is also a simple yet meaningful way to let someone know you are thinking of them. There is also nothing wrong with using zoom for a virtual hallway greeting or exchange of family updates. And, if you need something, please let someone know so we can do our best to help. Not only is it okay to ask, by doing so you are humbly providing an opportunity for someone else to serve. Through a stream of tears I’m asking you to please share your needs with someone. It’s that important.
Please remember our priorities during this crisis: 1) Take care of our faculty and staff so they can 2) take care of our students so they can 3) serve our communities and businesses as competently trained professionals. Yesterday’s message had specific details on our efforts to accomplish these goals and tomorrow’s note will outline the progress we have made since Monday.
Finally, as we brace ourselves and our loved ones for what’s ahead we can be confident in our commitment to stay healthy and limit the spread of the virus. We can take comfort in knowing how much we care for each other. Please remember the words of the author, Matshona Dhliwayo, “Beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences” and author, Rikki Rogers, “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.” We will overcome this and our souls will emerge more beautiful than ever.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and I’ll try my best to help.
Creating Happiness Reminders – If you are so inclined, I would appreciate hearing about your efforts to do any of the following as we experience this crisis together – words, pictures, or videos are great! We are compiling our stories which will be shared to inspire each other. It is also helpful to know of your successes so we can find ways for you to mentor others who might be struggling. Again, it would make me and many others happy if you would be willing to share. 🙂
- Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you’re grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours.
- The Doubler. Take one positive experience and spend a few minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.
- The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like walking the dog around the block. If you can’t go outside, look for free workouts and exercise routines online. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.
- Meditation. Every day take a few minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.
- Conscious Act of Kindness. At the start and end of every day, call or send a short email/text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.