Moving Forward Together or Apart

Dr. Stanley T. Wearden
Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,
I hope seeing that the President of the United States and several other key leaders have become infected with COVID-19 was sobering for everyone, as it was for me. I also hope it makes us all that much more aware of the vital necessity of vigilance. I pray for a speedy recovery for the President, all these national leaders and all others who have become infected with this deadly virus.
Methodist University has made it very clear that masks must be worn at all times, indoors and outdoors, on campus except when students are in their residence hall rooms without visitors, when faculty and staff are in their offices without visitors, and when people are eating or drinking. We are doing this to keep COVID-19 from spreading at Methodist University and to help us keep the campus open for in-person learning, which I know we all want.
Over the past few days, I have become concerned about the increasing number of people I am seeing outside without masks. Although the outdoor environment poses somewhat less risk than the indoor environment, the outdoors is not completely without risk, especially when groups are gathered. Keep in mind that the White House event where the COVID-19 infections appear to have taken place was a mostly outdoor event.
So, I am again asking for your cooperation. None of us like wearing masks. I personally find them uncomfortable. But we are called now to make sacrifices for the greater good. The wearing of masks protects both the wearer and those with whom the wearer comes in contact. If we want to have any hope of remaining open, we must wear masks.
I know many of you are much younger than me and feel less of a sense of risk. Please keep in mind, though, that there are plenty of cases of younger adults becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. And even if they are asymptomatic, anyone infected with the disease can infect others, including older faculty or staff members.
We all want to return to that which we call “normal.” But, I want to point out to you that “normal” is a kind of illusion. There is no static, set “normal.” Normal shifts constantly as circumstances change. Our normal now is that we are in the midst of a deadly pandemic. We must adapt to the normal of this moment. We have the choice of pitching in together to defeat this virus or letting it defeat us. It is in our hands.
I know that at this special place, we have the will and the spirit to do this. But we must summon that will and spirit every day. We will get through this. The question is, will we move Forward Together, doing all we can to keep in-person learning going at MU, or will we move forward apart, isolated in our homes with remote instruction? Moving Forward Together is in our hands. Let’s show we can rise to this challenge.
Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.