Dear Methodist University Community,
Outside of my office I can see the United States flag, hung at half-staff today in honor of the victims of 9/11. Though it was 19 years ago, I can remember vividly where I was that day and the feelings of anxiety, sadness and concern that I experienced. It was a day, which then became an extended period of time, which I will always recall in abundant detail.
Though not comparing 9/11 to our challenges today specifically, I do believe now is a time we will all remember quite vividly for years to come, as well. These times are unquestionably unique with the spread of COVID-19, full of both significant challenges and also quantifiable achievements.
At Methodist University, over the past several weeks, we have seen incredible teamwork and care from our students, faculty, staff and others. Compliance with safety guidelines from the vast majority has allowed us to remain open on campus, when dozens of other institutions have shut their doors. It’s a remarkable achievement.
We also do, however, have significant challenges ahead. To keep our students safe and our campus open, we must get the entire MU community to follow safety protocols. If we hold ourselves and others accountable, and are willing to sacrifice in the short term, we really do have a fighting chance in the long term. It takes some difficult decisions, with all of us on board and doing our part, but it is possible.
As I mentioned in previous correspondence, we are returning to in-person classes on Monday. Our detailed contact tracing is showing no signs of virus spread in classes, but we are seeing clusters in some residence halls. As a consequence — and the need for safety and the reduction of density in those particular halls — some students will be going home until it has been determined (based on safety analysis) they may return. Our goal is two weeks. I am sorry for the anxiety and inconvenience that accompanies this decision, and I am deeply grateful to those called to make this sacrifice.
For those heading home, thank you. Most of you have followed safety protocol, show no signs of contact or symptoms through your daily monitoring data, and are being moved for the reasons mentioned above. It’s against state and local directives to move those in quarantine or isolation, so while there are no guarantees with COVID-19, we are left with this as our most viable alternative for trying to keep the campus open. We want to re-iterate to everyone that remote learning from MU (which we did in the spring and have been doing for a week now) is the same high-quality instruction from the same top-tier professors.
The achievements since the fall semester opened a month ago have been extensive, the sacrifices have been commendable, and the challenges ahead remain expansive. Yet, this community has shown the fortitude and resiliency necessary to continue moving forward together. As students have been promoting lately all across campus, “It’s In Our Hands!”
As many of you have, please continue using our Forward Together COVID-19 Resource Website (www.methodist.edu/forward). It has a wealth of information, contacts for everything from athletics and academics to the latest updates and dashboards. As always, if you can’t find what you need on Forward Together, reach out to us at email@example.com.
Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.