Dear Parents and Guardians,
Below is my Thursday community update. We are now finishing week four of the semester and I am so proud of our students. I am also keenly aware of how challenging this moment is for them. Nothing about this semester is normal or easy. Please know that we are working hard -- faculty, staff and administrators -- to support students, help them create connections and build relationships in this unusual environment, and to create a culture that is conducive to both social wellbeing and fun.
We want to make sure students are doing okay and we want to provide support to students who need it. And so I have a favor to ask. I know you are connecting with your student. As you are doing so, ask them how their academics and social life are going. If they are studying remotely, ask if they are connecting with faculty and other students. Encourage them to participate in activities and clubs in person or remotely.
If after speaking with your student you sense they are struggling, please tell them to reach out for help - that is what we are all here for. They can talk to anyone they are close within the campus community. Encourage students to talk with their faculty advisers and/or other faculty. They can talk with student development staff, coaches, and others around campus with whom they have connected. Residential Communities student staff (CAs) or professional staff (CCs) who live in our residence halls can help refer students quickly to the many resources on campus. Or you or your student can reach out directly to the following offices:
- Dean of Students Office(Dean Fox and his staff oversee our CARE system referrals for all students)
- First Year Office(Dean Moller and his staff provide ongoing support for the Class of 2024)
Even more than ever, we must work together to ensure that our students are successfully navigating the many challenges of this semester.
Dear Campus Community,
We continue to have no confirmed cases on campus. We have administered 81 tests so far this week. This is lower than the last few weeks, but we will be ramping up our testing protocol and will begin administering more signal tests starting next week. As of today, we have 75 test results back and we have no positive results so far. Currently there are 11 students in quarantine.
Pulse Surveys: Thank you to all the students who are filling out the weekly pulse surveys we are sending out. This week 497 students participated. The results are being read by a group of senior administrators and student development staff. We are using your feedback to help drive decision making and make changes. Nothing about this semester is normal or easy. We are walking a fine line. We want to manage COVID on campus while also giving students a good and fun semester. This is hard. It's complicated by the fact that students (and faculty and staff) are in very different places with regard to how much risk we think we should manage and how we should manage that risk. Getting perspectives, observations, and ideas from students is important and helpful. Please keep participating.
Campus Life: We have various groups of students and staff working together to create more options for social life and a more normalized campus experience.
- Expanding Social Opportunities in Residential Halls: Our top priority is expanding options for students to socialize in each other’s residential hall rooms and other residence hall spaces. We have had some good conversations with students over the last few days, and hope to implement something soon.
- Co-Curriculars and Social Activities: A second top priority remains getting more co-curricular activities and social activities up and running. As part of this effort, we are working to aggregate all the information about activities and events happening on campus and remotely (academic, arts, athletics, clubs, CLIC-sponsored programs, etc.) and will be providing a more comprehensive list each week in the Fall 2020 student and family newsletter sent on Fridays.
To enable more activities and social life on campus, we are going to keep our current guidelines in place for restricting off-campus travel. We need to make the trade off and hold the line on off-campus travel so we can loosen things up on campus.
A Question: I may cut my twice a week email updates back to once a week. A few students have suggested that a once a week email is more likely to be read. I am interested in hearing whether you agree. My plan would be to send something out on Mondays and then only send a communication later in the week if there is something new and important to report.
A Favor: I would encourage student groups to reach out and invite other students to join what you are doing. If you are holding events that are open to all students, please make sure you add them to the My.Denison calendar and/or to the My.Denison featured events carousel so all students know about them and we can make sure to include them in the weekly newsletter.